Court Ruling Expected for Iconic Modern Site in India
When Raj Rewal won a competition to design the Hall of Nations Building, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of India’s independence in 1972, no one would have expected that his masterwork would be threatened with a wrecking ball just 44 years later.
A court ruling expected in mid-December of 2016 will inform the fate of this modern Indian landmark.
In 2013, Raj Rewal’s Hall of Nations building was one of 62 modern sites built since 1947 in India’s National Capital Territory that A.G. Krishna Menon, of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), submitted to the government, requesting heritage protection.
Designed as a truncated pyramid, with chamfered corners inspired by the tomb of Mughul Emperor Humayun, the striking exhibition pavilion has perforated skin that refers back to the traditional jali, a geometrical pattern of perforation that provides shade and air circulation at the same time.
When news leaked out that the government was going to permit demolition of the Hall of Nations while Menon’s proposal for the protection of modern sites was still under consideration, Menon filed suit.
According to Menon, the state has an appointed Heritage Conservation Committee, whose duty it is to evaluate and rule on issues related to the protection of sites of cultural heritage. If the government allows the demolition of the Hall of Nations while Menon’s proposal for the protection of modern sites is still under consideration, Menon argues that the Heritage Conservation Committee will have failed in its job, and the government will have failed to protect his rights as a citizen.
Menon’s hope is that the case will force the state to act, hopefully in favor of protective designations for all 62 of the modern sites that he identified. Menon has been arguing the case in court this week and expects a ruling in mid-December.