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Planners come up with ideas for use of heritage NGEF land

Rasheed Kappan, DH News Service, Bengaluru, Jul 27 2017, 1:18 IST

Suggest art space for a Bengaluru Biennale, transport museum or a gallery of memories

Energised by the Karnataka High Court intervention in reactivating the 119-acre NGEF land at Baiyappanahalli, a collective momentum in now building up to push for a creative makeover of the heritage plot. A green public park is what most citizens want in the open space, but what about the over 10 lakh sqft of built-up area?

One big idea is to retrofit and repurpose the buildings as exhibition spaces. Urban planners and heritage experts want the government to emulate what other big cities within and outside have done with their retrieved spaces.

“The India Habitat Centre in Delhi is one such,” points out heritage/travel writer-curator, Aliyeh Rizvi. “Salvage whatever is left to create a gallery of memories, about Bengaluru's rich industrial heritage. It would help revisit the past in a positive way.”

Visualising the industrial sheds as a constantly evolving public exhibition space on science, technology, engineering ecology and sociology, Environment Support Group coordinator Leo Saldanha has a model to follow: The transformation of Old Montreal’s old dockyards. “It is a big hit amongst the local population and tourists,” he says in a Facebook post, sparking a debate.

The space, so transformed, can be a tribute to lakhs of artisans, engineers, planners, ecologists, sociologists, medicine and scientists who built Bengaluru, turning the city into a aeronautical, manufacturing and IT hub.

This platform for free exchange of knowledge will require a mega partnership of public sector undertakings such as HAL, BEL, ITI and NAL, academic institutions such as IISc and ISEC, and the private sector.

Saldanha is convinced that if done well, “it can rival the best of such social/ecological/science parks in the world. Imagine the excitement of millions of students and the wide public when they walk through such installations, interactions and introspections.”

An industrial complex, repurposed as a dynamic, thriving transport museum of repute in Budapest is civic evangelist, V Ravichander's model to emulate. Visited by thousands of tourists, the museum today features a fascinating collection of large-scale models of historic locomotives, vintage bikes and horse buggies besides a railway station from the 1900s.

How about a Bengaluru Art Biennale at the refurbished space, something on the lines of what Kochi achieved with its fantastic convergence of installation artists from all over the world? This is another, eminently workable visualisation by lawyer Raghu Tenkayala.

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