Reprogramming Sacred Monuments: Giving New Life to Stepwells in Gujarat, India
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This research is based within historicism and its inherent practices to conserve obsolete and symbolic structures. Due to their sacred nature these types of structures are often preserved, remain untouched and left to decay, or are forgotten altogether. Historically the Western Indian stepwell archetype provided public access to water and therefore, it served as an important public gathering space that was predominantly used by women. This thesis proposes that obsolete sacred spaces like the stepwell that no longer serve their intended utilitarian function can be trans-programmed and re-contextualized as public infrastructure serving the contemporary needs of the community. Studying specifically the Adalaj Stepwell, it explores how renewed public space can be created by deeply rooting thoughtful architectural interventions in the collective memory of the building. These interventions balance preservation with revitalization by providing the services and spaces needed to give the historic monument new life as a contemporary public library.