Demolish & Reconstruct
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Demolish & Reconstruct

May 5, 2022

By V.N. Prasad

Playing proverbial ‘PING – PONG’ with Lansdowne Building and Devaraja Market

Regarding demolition or reconstruction of the dilapidated, heritage buildings of Devaraja Market and the Landsdowne Building, the “Costs Vs Risk Analyses’’ needs genuine intents.  Bold approach is essential for Engineers of the Government to submit analytically sound reports for the politicians to take rational decisions with conviction. Appeasement reports will only cause hurdles than offer solutions.

We have seen catastrophes with onset of monsoon every year.  Just imagine a situation when the market is full of people and a major collapse occurs —God forbid. And, our systems know that Indians have very short memory, much to their advantage.

Lansdowne building
Lansdowne building

I enumerate my thoughts while I say with conviction that both the structures need to be demolished and reconstructed.

1. ‘Lime Paste’ was in use those days from foundation up to parapets. No doubt, churning used to be very efficient. Bonding used to be excellent. Roofs were built with wooden beams, bricks and lime mortar; termed ‘Madras Roof.’  But when structures exhibit fatigue and failures, more rational approach to residual lives of structures need a critical analysis.

2. With time, lime mortar renders ‘Hygroscopic’ — a phenomenon that retains moisture and weakens structural elements over times. Both the structures seem to be under this distress. 

3. During excessive rains, one can expect shock failures — meaning any portion can disintegrate and fall off.  A time-dependent phenomenon called ‘Creep’ sets in; that causes differential deterioration and/or failures in different parts/sections of the structure. This is cancerous in nature, as failures/collapses are unpredictable.

4. Further, ‘Expansion and Contraction’ during summers and monsoons add to weakening of lime masonry and roofs; once creep has set in.

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5. One may argue that structures like Dams and several major structures were also built during the same time — with lime mortar — and have sustained. Stringent maintenance routines are key to sustenance and these structures, Lansdowne Building and Devaraja Market, were grossly neglected ones, apparently.

6. Highly vulnerable is the foundation in various parts.

Invariably ancient structures that have taken beatings under differential weather conditions will have developed stresses that are extremely difficult or impossible for analyses microscopically. Critical of all is the foundation. Differential settlements of foundation will result in several unpredictable fatigues and/or failures.

Walls and roofs are likely to have developed internal cracks and are vulnerable to failures. Such failures will only manifest under critical weather and/or load conditions — where we virtually have no control. So, technically it is desirable to reinvest.

In my opinion, both Lansdowne Building and Devaraja Market have served the needs of the society long enough to retire them honourably. Both need to be demolished and reconstructed. The demography over the decades has changed drastically. Space utility to suit prevalent situations and projections over the decades going forward needs thorough examination. Surely, we have Architects who are competent to replicate the glory of ancient architectural features. Redesign and reconstruction will accommodate sufficient parking, loading/unloading zones, garbage/waste clearing facilities, better toilets and several other features that will be largely beneficial to the society  in the long run.

More or most importantly, best of foundation engineering techniques can never assess the existing condition of foundation in entirety. Therefore, additional loads during renovations/restoration works will surely add loads on the foundation. Such added loads may cause differential settlements. My observations, in particular to the Market, is that it is in a ‘low-lying area’ where ‘Water Table’ appears high. And, therefore the existing foundations may not sustain.

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In all my articles in the columns of Star of Mysore, my intentions have always been technically sound and not popular. I am ready for ‘brickbats.’ But am strongly of the opinion that both the buildings need to be demolished and reconstructed. I am prepared to anchor an open seminar on this. In this endeavour, it may not be a bad idea to approach huge corporates who have had excellent Balance Sheets for year ending 2021-22 to undertake total works on ‘Turnkey’ basis — with MINIMAL or NO interference by the local Government. Such corporates would  perhaps benefit under the CSR.

A professional team of ‘Project Management Consultants’ with all the tools of pre-commencement routines and ‘QAC’ (Quality Assurance and Control) during execution would be imminent.

Mysuru has waited for more than a decade for a wise and technically sound decision. Revenue-strapped Governments would have done well to demolish and reconstruct the captioned buildings long time ago, when much less of tax-payers’ money would have been consumed. We trust best sense will prevail.

V.N. Prasad

[V.N. Prasad is an independent consultant for highways and bridges and is a project management consultant (retired). A civil engineer with specialisation in design of highways and bridges, Prasad has served in African countries for over 13 years and also served on highway projects in India]

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Demolish & Reconstruct”

  1. Raghu C says:

    Well thought written article….kudos.

  2. Captain Jack Sparrow says:

    So this person designed highways and bridges. Looking at the staes of highways and bridges-full of pot holes in highways and bridges are in constant repair, it doubtful that he is qualified enough to pass judgement on the the builings like Lansdowne building and Devaraja market building , where good knowledge and experience of structural engineering is needed.
    IHe cannot claim that demolishing and reconstructing those buildings some how make them heritage-wise appropriate. Heritage value is in those buildings, and this process of demolishing and constructing, removes that value.
    If those buildings need to be demolished, ,one can see how a reconstructed Devaraja market building could be used. But what about a reconstructed Lansdowne building? Would it be the same sort of building , with match box sized small shops, which were found to be very inadequate space-wise for business even in 1980s, and hence the shop owners abandoned them ?
    Better to construct any other building for a specific use, and put large plaque prominently in front of the new building which says:” here stood the famous Lansdowne building”.
    For the information of this ignorant highways and bridges civil engineer: Those days, buildings used ground mortar, with the grinding machines stationed nearby. English engineers /engineers trained by them-like those involved in the construction of the sturdy KR Sagar Dam, must have been involved in the construction. These ground mortars were of high quality, and hence these buildings lasted more than a century.
    Buildings of these days, hardly last 2 decades, without major repairs. Such is the quality of material and workmanship!

  3. R RAJA CHANDRA says:

    Some one like him must have designed elevated expressway near Peenya which is now open only for LMH within 10 years of its construction.
    Star of Mysore unashamedly promotes destruction of Mysore Heritage.

    I have got a report by an eminent professor on the market ! Are you willing to publish ?

  4. Mann Ki Baat! says:

    A massive number of non-Mysoreans arrived to settle in Mysore during the late 1970s, one of them was the owner of this SOM. He has no concept of the Landowne building or Devaraja Market heritages, as he was driving around with his Mercedes-which meant that he never shopped in the Devaraja Market or walked along the Lansdowne building enjoying its heritage beauty., its shops and the unique customer services they provide-like Murthy’s second hand book shop.
    These days, the majority of residents in Mysore are non-Mysoreans, not many of them speak Kannanda and still less of them have any idea of what Mysore was during the last Wadiyar -JC Wadiyar days.

  5. Q says:

    Indian heritage, in particular, the heritage of Mysore and Bangalore , particularly what they were , has been destroyed by a combination of massive influx of people from outside the state, and the terrifying rate of growth of India’s population.
    Since early 1980s, Bangalore became a huge outsourced work dump, employing cheap IT techie labour who do the software coding work that the Western companies have given them. Hence, Large and small IT sweat shops have been created expanding Bangalore to a level unseen before.
    Peenya, the above poster mentions was a distant village, which was served by at best 4 busses a day those days. Now, it is aprt of Bangalore city.
    Cheap t IT techie work, without any innovation based on the USD-INR conversion rate made Bangalore a big dump of cheap IT techie labour.
    Heritage then? What heritage?

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