Historic Fort High School set to regain original charm

Historic Fort High School set to regain original charm

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) is working to restore the heritage structure of Fort High School in Bengaluru. DH PHOTO

From getting tools designed for retaining the structural intricacies to reading through several texts to ensure that they have the details right, a group of city architects are working their minds to give a city's heritage school a facelift.

The challenge, however, they feel is to get it to its functional best while its structural originality is retained.

The century-old Fort High School building behind Tipu's summer palace has been crying for attention. Come rain, water seeps into the classrooms. Besides, broken tiles and missing window planes are only a few issues to name.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has sought permission from the state and has now shouldered the responsibility of having the structure restored.

As he walked DH through the heritage structure on Saturday, Pankaj Modi, one of the experts with Intach, explained that the structure dates back to 1907 when the first phase of the construction was completed.

"It started off as an Anglo-vernacular school for the natives. We assume that it was constructed in three phases. Wooden truss, Madras terrace and lime plastering specific to buildings that have both a colonial and vernacular character give the structure a heritage look, besides the sloping roof, courtyard, polonceau truss and use of local stone," he pointed out. The foundation, they believe, stands firm even after a century.

"When we study the structure in detail, it is understood that it was built in three phases. The designs on the windows, the thickness of the wall and mortar is an indication of the same," he said.

The challenge, he said, was to retain the originality. "To understand specific elements was a challenge. We are now looking at ensuring that this building is redone to help the school's functionality without making any major changes in the structure."

It took them two years to start off with the project, explained Arvind, another volunteer with Intach. "It is a Rs 2.4-crore project and took us a lot of time to find someone who was willing to fund. The government has only granted permission and has no role to play financially," he said.

A specialised team from Dharwad has been hired for the job. "They have been working on heritage structures and know best how it has to be restored," added Arvind.

The area was thrown open to students and enthusiasts for a visit on Saturday. Visitors could also try their hand at lime plastering. He said that work is estimated to be completed in 18 months. While restoration is under way on the first floor and the outside of the structure, classes are under way on the ground floor. Later, the other half would be completed.


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