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The classic Roshanara Club gets new stunning design - Aug 18, 2006

A report on the redesign of the old block of the Roshanara Club dating from 1922. The report is based on the conclusions drawn from a number of site visits and condition assessment carried out in conjunction our Structural Consultant. A Structural Report, Photographic analysis, measured drawings, research and other secondary data supplement the report.

The Old Club-House, designed in the early colonial style has several unique features, the most prominent of these being the Dutch gables, tiled pitched roofs, the ionic arcade (now glazed) and various string courses and cornices. The restoration of the building will emphasise the historic character of the building and its association with the past.


In the course of the past seven decades, the building fabric has undergone major additions and alterations to both its basic structure and to its interiors. Some of the changes, though pragmatic at that point of time, have not enhanced the original character of the building. The current appearance of both the entrance facade and the main field-facing facade leaves much to be desired. Another area of concern is how the historic structure addresses the two adjacent building. The proposal envisages the removal of unsightly and incongruous additions and accretions which detract from the character of the building; restoration, repair and reinstatement of historic elements be wherever they have been damaged or removed and the sensitive insertion of new elements which are in keeping with the existing architectural elements. The entrance facade of the club should reflect the dignity and character of the institution, currently this whole facade is completely nondescript and run down, new elements including a port-cochere to emphasise the entrance and some formal facade treatment along the whole entrance facade is proposed.


The structural report is explicit about the fact that excessive moisture penetration has dangerously weakened the building and that timber trusses in the roof RBC slabs and some walls will have to be replaced. In the proposal, we are proposing to retain the field side facade and some of the main masonry walls within while accommodating an RCC framed structure within the existing footprint.


The current structure is additive in nature, where various rooms have been added as and when the need arose; due to this the organisation and disposition of spaces within is neither efficient nor appropriate to the use. With the construction of additional facilities, some of the service spaces in the old block are in disuse these could now be used to house expanded and new activities. In the proposal the internal spaces have been reorganised in a cohesive, symmetrical manner around a large lobby with other functions clustered around it. The proposed room layouts are symmetrical and formal and room size is optimised. The proposed through link with the two new blocks adjacent to the old structure would help in knitting these together as a functionally cohesive complex. The overall aim being to recreate historic ambience while providing members with additional amenities and comfort.


CONDITION ASSESSMENT

A. STRUCTURE:

Based on detailed inspection it would seem that the old structure consists of 13Ĺ and 18inch walls spanned by a composite roof slab consisting of baked c-tiles and steel rods with a lime concrete infill. Timber trusses support the sloping roofs; at places, these roofs are largely ornamental as a flat slab continues below the trusses.


The walls are in a generally acceptable condition and wherever these are to be maintained minor repairs and pointing would be recommended. However, the roof structure has outlived its lifespan, in particular the steel members in the slabs seem to have been substantially corroded particularly in the areas adjoining the reception lobby. Roof timbers in the trusses are affected by wet-rot.


It would seem that the major problem areas are the additions to the original building and their lack of proper adhesion with the parent structure, the result is severe rain and moisture penetration at the junction of the old and new structure and the resultant weakening of the structure. It would therefore be prudent to recast the roof slab completely and create a new RCC frame within the envelope of the existing structure, while undertaking the retention of the historic facade of the building. The pitched roofs should be dismantled and reconstructed on new timber trusses exposed within the rooms below.


Keeping in view the heritage character of the club it is recommended that the historic features of the building be retained in any renovation, renewal effort. An attempt should be made to minimize the amount of interventions both structurally and visually while redesigning the structural members of the building, particular attention should be paid to facade retention and wherever required repair and replication of decorative features and elements of the facade.


This work is of a specialized nature and it would be important to select contractors with requisite experience to undertake it.


B. EXTERNAL FACADE:

The external facades of the building have a few prominent features, including the gables and the ionic colonnade facing the cricket pitch. A number of lesser elements including cornices, dados, copings, parapets, balusters and minor moldings etc are also partially visible. The previous additions to the building have not always attempted to follow the same vocabulary as the older building, the character of these extensions would need to be harmonized with the older structure using symmetry and common typology of features.


The Pitch Facing Facade


This is the most prominent face of the building and underpins the unique identity of the club. The distinguishing features of this facade include an ionic colonnade, the florid gable ends, chimney pieces, a heavy cornice band and entablature, and the terrace balustrade. Almost all these features have been altered from the original. The positioning of elements has been modified to suit the footprint of the club building the which has been much enlarged over the years.


This facade being the most prominent in the building it is proposed that it should be retained in its current form. Some of detailing of the Ionic order could be improved and elaborated, it would also be necessary to replace the large plate glass openings with more traditional french-doors and louvered shutters.


On the terrace level, it is recommended that the gable ends be repaired and all obstructions placed in front including the cooling tower, etc. be removed.


The Entrance Facade


Though this facade is the first experience of the club for all members and visitors, it has neither the character nor the proportions of an entrance-facade, it may not have been originally intended to serve as the entrance to the club. It is recommended that while maintaining the overall length and height of this facade and the level of the topmost cornice line, the whole elevation should be redesigned in the austere colonial style of the club. It is also recommended that a portico should be added to highlight the entrance.


The Side Facades


These facades have been neglected and are in a state of disrepair, a number of additional structures and temporary lean-toís have been built up against these facades. However some interesting eaves details and cornices are still evident along thee facades. It is recommended that these facades be retained wherever possible and elements along these be restored and extended.


C. INTERNAL ORGANISATION:

A number of areas of the old building are now in disuse, primarily the areas in active use are the reception, offices, lobby and billiards rooms whereas the bar, restaurant, kitchens, library, card room, cloak rooms, etc have been moved into the adjacent new blocks.


The current internal organization is such that a large amount of space occupied by the old kitchen is now redundant. Additionally, the old bar and dining room are unusable. The old library area, menís locker room and staircase are all structurally unsound and unsafe to use. As per the structural report the whole structure is unsafe and should be vacated at the earliest to avoid any untoward incidents.


A tall jet (80 mt ) fountain in the center of the fountain pool adds to the visual coherence of the park by acting as a focus along the visual corridor.


It is proposed that the whole space is reorganized. The visitor would enter through a spacious grand reception / lobby area flanked by offices and a new staircase leading onto the landscaped viewing terrace above. The reception would lead into the reorganized lounge having sufficient seating capacity organised in a more user friendly yet intimate arrangement around which all the other functions would be clustered. The enhanced functions would include a consolidated cards room and an enlarged billiards room accommodating two tables, a bar with a capacity in excess of 100 persons, a servery and pantry for snacks, a staff lounge, a new reorganized library and reading lounge and sufficient toilets etc to meet requirements. A new linking corridor connecting the old block to the new blocks on either side would complete the ensemble and add further connectivity within the club while allowing for better servicing.


D. SERVICES:

WATER SUPPLY & SEWERAGE


It is apparent that the current condition of a majority of the piping installed in the building is not satisfactory, at places the corrosion of pipes chased into the walls is severe. The large amount of leakage and resultant dampness is apparent in a number of areas. Following the proposed modifications to the layout it would not be necessary to maintain the current plumbing layout. It is therefore recommended that the old plumbing and piping be removed and replaced.


ELECTRICAL


The wiring and electricals in the building need to be brought up to current safety standards. Given that the conduiting in many of the rooms is corroding and that new wiring would need to be cast into the roof slabs, it would be prudent to replace the existing wiring and circuitry. The other advantage would be the provision of up to date circuit diagrams, which would be useful for maintenance and further addition in capacity etc.


AIR-CONDITIONING


At present, the building is air-conditioned using a combination of split units and a central system. It was not possible to gauge if all the components of the system were functioning. It would be necessary to reconfigure the system to achieve maximum efficiency and economy both in terms of capital and recurring expenditure. In this context the opinion of a specialist consultant needs to be ascertained.


PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

The section below briefly outlines a strategy to proceed with the project. Given the fact that it is still an initial report, it would be better to mention at the outset that the data mentioned in this report is liable to be modified when a detailed report is prepared.


It is assumed at the outset that the pending clearances from the various civic bodies including MCD, DUAC, etc will have been obtained, as this will minimize delays.





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