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RESTORATION OF FORT HIGH SCHOOL
CHAMARAJAPETE  BENGALURU

This project aims at restoring and preserving the century old Fort High school, Bengaluru, Karnataka in India. Major works included site management, site documentation, photogammetry, and other site work supervisions.

The government of Mysore established Fort High School in Chamrajpet in 1907. Situated on a three-acre plot, it holds the distinction of being the first school in the former princely state. This historic building is of great significance in the history of Bangalore. It was the first "Anglo-vernacular" school, offering instruction in eight languages at its inception: Telugu, Tamil, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, English, and Kannada. Spanning approximately 15,000 square feet, the building features rooms with roofs made of Jack Arches or Madras terrace material. The walls are load-bearing, and teak wood frames provide support to the upper floor. The conservation efforts for Fort High School were led by INTACH Bengaluru, under the guidance of Conservation Engineer, Mr. Balehozur.

HISTORY

The restoration of Fort High School in Chamrajpet, Bengaluru, India involved a comprehensive onsite work process to bring the historic building back to its former glory. As a site conservation architect, my work involved managing the site, overseeing aspects of the restoration, including project management, onsite management, and photo documentation.

As part of the process, non-destructive testing (NDTs) was performed to assess the structural integrity of the building, and traditional building materials were prepared to ensure an authentic restoration.

 

Documentation on the entire restoration process was meticulously recorded for future reference.

Photodocumentation was used to record the progress of the restoration and provide a historical record of the project.

 

Cost estimation was an important part of the project, with the team working to ensure that the restoration was completed within the budget constraints. Conditional mapping was used to identify any areas that required special attention, while documentation was maintained throughout the process to track progress and ensure that all work was completed to the required standards.

 

Photogrammetry technique was used to create precise measurements of floral details, using photographs. It involved capturing multiple photographs of a floral mural details,from different angles and then analysing the images to extract information about accurate dimensions about size,depth and shape of details .

Special attention was dedicated to meticulously documenting surface treatments, while collaborating closely with masons to ensure the preservation of their historical significance and uphold the structural integrity of the Fort High School.

 

WALL AND CORNICE RESTORATION

The majority of the classic mouldings on Fort High School's exterior have deteriorated over time due to their age. To restore these mouldings, the team needed to comprehend the materials and structure of the original moulding feature, which was created using a brick corbelled system.

The restoration process involved reproducing the brickwork and subsequently crafting the mouldings. Throughout the entire procedure, detailed documentation was maintained.

WALL RESTORATION

To conduct tests on mortar quality:

  • Prior to testing the slaked lime or mortar mix, ensure your safety by wearing protective gloves and goggles.

  • Examine for any granules or impurities present in the mixture.

  • Perform a flip test by taking a portion of the mortar on your palm and flipping it to observe its consistency.

For the dry test, observe the mortar after approximately ten minutes to identify the presence of any white patches.


Plastering:
The prepared lime mortar is taken to site and mixed and prepared again. For mixing to get elasticity and sticky character to the mortar, bel fruit is soaked in water and kept for 2-3 days, and bel water is made. For a wall ,on site the mixture is made in batches .The applying mixture(here) has a composition of:
Lime mortar(12 mixing tubs) + bel water (3 mugs) + jaggery (3 mugs) + surkhi (brick powder-half tub)


Application:
The surface of the wall, is washed with lime water first. Lime water is a composition of lime, bel water,and water. When the surface is still semi-wet with lime water, the prepared mortar mix is being applied to the wall,which can be called the first coat.


Marking:
Since this project had remnants of existing old plaster level,the same same was marked from vertically and horizontally and first coat of mortar was marked likewise and applied. This marking is done by using threads, levelling bob and trowel and is done by the most experienced mason in the team. The first coat is comparatively coarser than the second coat. Its 1 inch in thickness.Plaster is applied in and angle with much force and skilled labour is needed for this process.
Beating:
After the first coat is almost dry,we can see minor or major cracks appearing on the surface because of differential expansion and contraction. These cracks are beaten using wooden planks or with the back side of a hammer,in which case the beating surface should be perpendicular to the wall surface.
Inspection:
While the plastering is happening, continuous check on the plaster being prepared and the cracks that are formed , should be done. If any evident flaws or problems are seen, solving it on site should be done or it should be communicated to the principal architect directly.
Second coat
After three days , the wall surface is ready for the second coat of plastering. Second coat is more like fluid in state and is done after a lime wash on the first coat. The second coat is less than half an inch.While applying, the leveling using the long wooden plank is also done simultaneously.

Friction Marking:

After completing the application of coats, it is important to allow the surface to cure uniformly. Once the second coat is applied, the surface is marked in organic shapes ( such as waves in this case) to create a rough and porous texture. This allows the wall to breathe and prepares it for the application of the third coat.

CRACK STITCHING

Prior to plaster application, the structural integrity of the wall is assessed to identify any cracks. Specifically, cracks that extend from the surface to the depth of the wall and span across the gaps between bricks are carefully examined.

Upon analysis, the affected bricks are removed and substituted with new ones that match the original specifications.

To illustrate, if the cracks traverse a single brick's length, two new bricks are installed side by side with their headers facing outward.

This process effectively "stitches" the cracks. Additionally, minor cracks or damaged bricks are addressed by applying mortar or utilizing smaller brick fragments within a mortar bed.

WINDOW MOULDING DOCUMENTATION

The north-facing arch windows were both identified and recorded, with distinct features found on each.

Alongside a central keystone moulding, a set of curved mouldings were present on every window.

Additionally, decorative drops resembling hanging elements were observed at the arches' springing points.

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Fort High School after Restoration.jpg

 

In essence, the onsite restoration work encompassed a holistic approach, leveraging a range of disciplines such as project management, architectural conservation, and application of traditional knowledge skills.

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