Someone rightly said ‘Old is gold’ and reminds us of it every time we pass by an ancient colonial building. We wish to stand and stare and let time stand still. But how long before it is razed to the ground only to be replaced with an urban multi-storeyed apartment or a hotel and lost forever? Fortunately, here is an individual who believes in preserving the beauty and charm of such century-old buildings (in a digital format), giving birth to ‘Colonial Bungalows’, a community-driven project on Facebook. The project is about capturing digital memories of these buildings and saving them for future generations.
But can he help save these majestic bungalows? Sadly, no! “Saving these buildings from demolition is a very difficult act, time consuming and bereft with legality. It’s not something that I can do full justice to. But what I can do is form a community of heritage lovers and document these beautiful residential colonial bungalows.”
He is the multifaceted Kiruba Shankar who has always believed in the power of social media and it brings us great delight in sharing this grand initiative by him. On being asked ‘Why Colonial Bungalows?’, Kiruba expressed about his fascination with heritage buildings. “They have such an amazing aura. Old buildings add true character to our cities. They remind us of the time much before we were born. To see such magnificent, history-filled buildings being demolished really hurts. It’s a shame to lose such beautiful landmarks. The most vulnerable are the colonial bungalows because they are usually present in a large plot of land. Just the ideal target for construction companies to build a high-rise building.”
Facebook being the perfect platform for discovery, conversations, pictures, stories, movements and more, seems to be apt for ‘Colonial Bungalows’. However, there are more reasons for choosing Facebook. Kiruba truly believes that social media has a very important role to play in such projects which are spread across South East Asia covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines, Burma and Hong Kong. “Because of the wide geographical spread, it can get very expensive and very time consuming for one person or one team to document all the buildings. That’s why it makes perfect sense to use social media as a way to rope in people who are passionate about preserving heritage and history in their respective countries.”
The use of social media in ‘Colonial Buildings’ is interesting. People tend to know their local places better and now armed with a camera and some passion, they can preserve heritage too, by contributing their photos and descriptions to the Facebook community page. “All the contributors will get access to post them directly on to the Colonial Bungalows Facebook Page. It’s a true collaborative, crowd-sourced project. This is a pure non-profit venture. People who join in do so because they are not only interested but also want to contribute their bit.”
The first phase of the project will cover bungalows in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Poised to be completed by September 2013, the findings of the project will be compiled in a coffee table book titled ‘Colonial Bungalows’.
Right now, it’s only through word of mouth and people from Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore have chipped in. The community has 55 members as of now and one can see that the Facebook wall is plastered with pictures of old, majestic buildings accompanied by descriptions of the building. More details on this project can be found here and these are the many ways one can contribute to this project:
- Identify bungalows that can be documented
- Send photos, videos, postcards and information about bungalows in your city/town
- Join the project team to review and collect information on these sites
- Help in making, editing and marketing of the book ‘Colonial Bungalows’
Kiruba and team will soon reach out to people from different countries to spread the word but the most encouraging news now is that the Malaysian Tourism Ministry has shown interest in supporting the project!