Three years ago, when Devaki Nandan Bagla decided to do interiors, he wanted glitzy tiles and other modern props for his ancestral haveli at Chhota Bazar, Kashmere Gate.
The haveli is very old, marked in Delhi's maps as old as from 1850s. For Bagla, the haveli has an emotional bond. It was originally owned by and known as 'Seth Ramlal Ki Haveli'. Bagla is a grand nephew of Ramlal, who had bought it in 1905.
But when he came to know that his haveli has been listed as a grade II heritage structure and that he cannot add any modern things to it, his whole perception towards the house changed.
The haveli has a courtyard planning, thick masonary walls, brick vaults, multi-foliated arches, pointed arched windows with intricate jaalis, a carved entrance gate with a grand façade (now altered quite a lot), stucco detailings and some really vintage concepts such as a fireplace, mantles, cast iron raisings. But the 19th-century haveli has had several 20th century additions.
"As and when needed, we had made alterations and treated it just like any other house. But today, I am proud to be the owner of this grand heritage," Bagla confessed.
"My challenge was to create a 21st century modern dwelling within a historic building by respecting and enhancing its intrinsic design quality. The theme of the design is to bring back to the haveli its lost grandeur while meeting the requirement of modern living," said Aishwarya Tipnis, conservation architect.
She had to start the work literally from a scratch. A complete set of measured drawings was prepared to understand the architecture. Detailed documentation showed challenges such as settlement, water seepage and deterioration of architectural details.
Both Tipnis and Bagla are looking at the project as an opportunity to conserve the building for it to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area.
While Bagla is busy procuring antique furniture, Tipnis is busy sourcing hand-made tiles and getting cast iron grills and jaalis redone.
"We have obtained permissions from the Competent Authority and the Heritage Conservation Committee too has given us an in-principle go ahead. The work will start as soon as we get written permissions," Bagla, an exporter of steel utensils, said.