A non-profit heritage restoration & conservation initiative from JIA Studios LLP for ‘The Cha Project’.

Kolkata of India was a ‘City of Palaces’, and its Chinatown used to be bustling town with active Chinese community in India. However the population of Chinese dwindling to just an estimated 2,000 and the Chinese heritage is crumbling. There is an utter lack of awareness among heritage building owners in Kolkata of the huge economic potential of old buildings. Most heritage buildings are dilapidated and poorly maintained and not put to any economic use.

Rinkoo Bhowmick, a Kolkatan residing in Singapore found the non-profit initiative ‘The Cha Project’ to bring back the old glory to Chinatown. She led the community to fight hard to save the beautiful Toong-On Temple building from the demolition. By helping to restore it and putting it to economically viable uses, The Cha Project will help create awareness of the worth of old buildings and sensitive owners, the government, and the public into attaching more value and respect to heritage structures.

Rinkoo approached Jackie of JIA Studios LLP to be part of the team providing design support for this initiative. The result was very encouraging and the West Bengal government’s ministry of tourism agreed to support the initiative, which comes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission’s heritage component.

JIA Studios proposed the artist impressions around Damzen Lane to be transformed from a quiet warren of lanes and by-lanes to a food street that comes immense potential, targeting shops that can revive some of the traditional trades and crafts that are fast disappearing. JIA hopes to spruce up the streets, the buildings, the neighbourhoods in Chinatown to set an example for the rest of the city to follow.

The Cha project is made possible with the assistance of conservation architect Mr Wong Chung Wan and urban-planning solution by Ong & Ong Pte Ltd.

Attached is the news article mentioned on the Cha Project in China Daily January 2014