Coming to the Adyar estate, the headquarters of the Theosophical Society-Adyar, one senses a touch of paradise, but it is a paradise in decay.
A Bayan Tree and a Canon ball Tree, both nearby Leadbeater Chambers and the dining hall
While looking around the question arises: “Where do we start with the renovation?”
Some photos from Headquarters Building in bad shape, inside and outside
There is a huge amount of work to be done on the buildings and the grounds, so it was decided to draw up a 20-years plan for renovating the whole estate divided into four five-your plans. The first five-year plan started in 2015 and will be completed by the end of 2019; the start of the second five- year plan is in 2020.
On 257 acres (about 100 HA) there are at least 116 buildings, mostly in a poor condition. A large number of the buildings is empty and not in use, a small number is in daily use and a limited number of them is only used during a certain time of the year.
A map of the Adyar Estate with 88 of the buildings on it, a more recent one doesn’t exist
There are buildings which are considered to be worthy monuments (over 100-years-old) or memorable because of historical reasons. Others are already in such a bad state that repair doesn’t seem to be useful.
It is clear that the budget for maintenance and possible repair of the buildings is limited and that therefore priorities must be set. At first most of all the buildings were inspected and catalogued in order to prioritize them. To make the right choices for the most urgent cases to start with, a system of prioritizing each building was created.
Based on use:
- Daily used (offices/residential)
- Regularly used (events)
- Seldom used (storage/overflow of visitors)
- Empty and without function
On the basis of cultural and/or historical value:
- Monuments of Cultural Heritage
- For historical considerations regarding the TS
- Valuable and useful
- Valuable, but without direct purpose
- Not valuable, but useful
- Not valuable and without function
Based on the condition:
- Good condition (having little or nothing to be done)
- Reasonable condition (minor repairs and some maintenance)
- Poor condition (much damage due to lack of maintenance)
- Very poor state (almost ruined)
These data can be processed in a matrix from which a clear outlook on the priority for the buildings emerges. This priority is to be divided as follows:
|Now, addressing directly in its entirety, do emergency repairs (leaks, drains) and start making plans for recovery and arrange financing.
|Emergency repairs (leaks, drains) and make plans for recovery and arrange financing.
|Only emergency measures to prevent further deterioration, and later plans for recovery.
|Only emergency measures to prevent further deterioration, no plans for recovery during the first ten years.
|Currently no action, to demolish later.
The system of prioritizing of the buildings
All and all 105 buildings were inspected, but when all the different lists with results were put together there were still 11 buildings to go.
An example of the prioritizing list with all the visited buildings listed
On the left side we see some numbers of the prioritization until now. That means we have 6 buildings with an AA qualification, 11 buildings with an A qualification, 36 buildings have a B priority and there are 49 buildings with a C priority, which means we won’t deal with these buildings in the next ten years to come. So far 3 buildings already got the D qualification that means we will break them down as soon we start renovating buildings nearby.
Now the process of prioritizing is clear, with six buildings with an AA status, we will start with these. These AA buildings are:
- The Besant Bungalow
- The Blavatsky Bungalow
- Headquarters Building
- Leadbeater Chambers
- Raja House
From left to right: the Besant Bungalow, the Blavatsky Bungalow and Headquarters Building
From left to right: Leadbeater Chambers, Raja House and Sevashrama
Because of the expected costs and limited budget we will start in the first five-year plan with only four of these six AA priorities: the Blavatsky Bungalow, Headquarters Building, Leadbeater Chambers and Raja House. That means that the Besant Bungalow and Sevashrama, both residential buildings, for the time being stay in the bad condition they are in now.