Nossa Senhora Do Carmo

Do the ruins of an 18th-century chapel and convent feature in the aspirations of a village, under pressure from the growing city?

Based on a talk at CCF by;
Fernando Velho, Architect 
along with
Erica De Mello, Student at Goa College of Architecture

In the previous blog ‘A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities’ the problems and pressures on the Goan village of Chimbel were illustrated. Within that context, there arose a need for a public space that could serve as a commons for the village. 

Amidst the fight for a better quality of life for the people of Chimbel lies the ruins of the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Carmo – a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel. The site has been abandoned since the 1950s, but citizens recall an annual festival that continued to be celebrated, among the ruins, up until the 1980s.

The site is incredibly important not just historically, but also culturally, because it was one of the first convents run and led by clergy who were native Goans. The building is a stunning example of a specific style of architecture known as the Goan Mannerist style, a very late interpretation of Renaissance architecture, influenced by Portuguese naval architecture and executed by local artisans. 

The original owners of the site were a group known as the Tertiary Carmelites. They were a local Goan religious order who occupied the convent till 1835. After the expulsion of the religious orders from Goa in 1835, the property was seized from the Tertiary Carmelites and handed over to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia, the precursor of today’s Provedoria, (a semi-government institute for public assistance). The convent was then re-purposed as a home for destitute women and girls. In the 1930’s, Goa’s first mental health hospital was also set up at the site

mt chimbel

View of the nave of the chapel from outside.
Source: Fernando Velho

The ruins cover an area of approximately 2,500 square meters and occupy a site of over 8.6 acres, the site is full of natural vegetation including many old large trees.

01 model

Model of the ruins of Nossa Senhora Do Carmo
Source: Erica De Mello / Goa College of Architecture 

Fernando Velho and Dr. Sidh Mendiratta, supported by Fundação Oriente and the Goa College of Architecture (GCA) studied the ruins, prepared detailed existing and reconstructed drawings. The report of this study and the drawings are available at the CCF, Fundação Oriente, and GCA Libraries. 

The impact of Fernando and his colleagues’ efforts has been highly inspirational, a reporter named Paul Fernandes took up the cause of the chapel and has written many articles in the news. The Goa Heritage Action Group & other independent platforms joined in a social media campaign to raise awareness around this site. These efforts have collectively led to some Chimbel residents banding together to make a collective, known as the Mount Carmel Restoration Forum. 

The site has been pinned on google maps, however, there is a wall around the perimeter and people cannot visit it without permission from the Provedoria. Nonetheless, interested people may view the site and leave favorable reviews.

6 Dennis Figureido.JPG

Drone image of Indiranagar Chimbel, the density of the settlement can be observed and inadequate open space, compared to the population is noticed.
Source: Dennis Figueiredo, URBZ

Fernando highlighted some of the developmental pressures on Chimbel and he argues that:

“In the village of Chimbel you will struggle to find a single public bench for people to sit on”

Chimbel village needs an equitable public space, one where children from Indiranagar can come and play with children from the old village, a space without discrimination. If not for us then at least for the next generation. But such a space cannot be superimposed on the residents, as Jane Jacobs (1961) states: “Parks are not automatically anything” it is only when people accept public space that it becomes truly useful. 

Therefore in the case of Chimbel, can this space be one of importance? As illustrated in the previous blog  ‘A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities’  Chimbel is a heavily divided village, It needs a public space, and that space should be one that is inclusive to residents from both the Old Village and Indiranagar, one with a history of public use, and one with heritage value? Can that space be Nossa Senhora Do Carmo

10-Chimbel Commons.jpg

Fernando Velho addressing the audience.
Source: Lester Silveira/ The Balcaö

The Charles Correa Foundation has also come on board to provide mentorship and technical guidance to the Chimbel residents. The Foundation has significant resources on heritage grading and conservation. The Foundation is also bringing in experts like Prof. Edgar Ribeiro who understand both the legislation and a sensitive way to take this project further. This will be ideated in the next blog titled ‘Ruins, a site for recreation?’

Further Reading

Paul Fernandes Articles on N.S. Do Carmo

  1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/chimbels-ruins-with-church-facade-on-archaeology-radar/articleshow/68662042.cms
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/mt-carmel-ruins-have-tourism-scope-save-it-chimbel-locals/articleshow/66092680.cms

State Department of Archives and Archaeology takes notice of the ruin:

http://englishnews.thegoan.net/story.php?id=50351

Article on the public forum in the Goan Everyday Newspaper:

http://englishnews.thegoan.net/story.php?id=51729

CCF’s Project on Heritage Listing

https://charlescorreafoundation.org/2019/05/25/panajis-forgotten-resource-old-buildings/

Prof. Edgar Ribeiro’s talk on development in Heritage wards

https://charlescorreafoundation.org/2019/02/22/participatory-development/

Part 1 of this blog

Panaji’s forgotten resource: old buildings

The CCF team talks about heritage in Panaji, and CCF’s 2014 Heritage Listing Project.

 

As Goa’s capital, the city of Panaji draws tourists for attractions that are uniquely its own: its heritage precincts and structures. As observed over recent decades, however, unregulated developments within the heritage areas fail to respect the context. These precincts and structures lose their heritage value when new developments overpower the visual fabric of heritage neighbourhoods.

There is a clear need for conservation of the precincts. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, “conservation” means “the processes through which material, design and integrity of the monument are safeguarded in terms of its archaeological and architectural value, its historical significance and its cultural or intangible associations.”

The Goa (Regulation of Land Development and Building Construction) Act 2008, passed by the Legislative Assembly of Goa, mandated the grading of listed buildings, precincts or conservation zones in the Goa, initiated by the Conservation Committee. It was decided that it would be mandatory to indicate a grade for every listed building or listed precinct or conservation zone.  

IMG_7260A need for a notified heritage listing of structures and precincts in Goa had been recognised.

In 2014, CCF conducted a documented study on Heritage Listing in Panaji. The listing and grading project was commissioned by the Department of Town and Country Planning, Government of Goa. The purpose of the documentation of heritage buildings in Panaji was to notify structures of heritage value, thus producing a reference for protection of heritage buildings in Panaji.

The study identified, mapped, listed and graded heritage structures based on a survey conducted to note the historic and architectural significance of a structure along with its contribution to a heritage streetscape. The heritage areas include: Sao Tome, Fontainhas, Mala, Portais, CBD (Central Business District), Altinho, Campal and Ribandar.

The survey conducted was based on detailed inventory-making of each building with various parameters. The information gathered on heritage structures include observing the access, ownership of the property, usage, style and architectural features. It also involved examining the materials used and making an overall assessment of the condition, which would help to understand the threat to the building. With a team of project consultants, the structures were then graded based on their Historic, Architectural, Cultural and Streetscape value.

listing1

Structures which have high value under all the above criteria are listed as Grade I. Similarly, structures having values in lesser criteria are listed as Grade II, III and IV accordingly. Based on the grade, the activity of protection for the building is recommended by the Goa Land Development Regulations 2010.

listing2

Based on the research and documentation, CCF created a set of maps and guidelines to document important heritage structures in the city.

140903_Listing and Grading of Heritage Structure in Panaji-51

140903_Listing and Grading of Heritage Structure in Panaji-25

In total, around 900 buildings were documented as part of the study. With the increasing awareness of the significance of conservation in recent years, the heritage list plays a crucial role in framing guidelines for upcoming developments in heritage precincts in Goa.

Heritage listing is an important tool to indicate way-forward steps for conservation of heritage structures in a city. Are the heritage structures in your city or district being conserved? If not, are they on the notified conservation list? What can we, as citizens, do to ensure that significant-but-forgotten heritage structures get notified? Comment below with your ideas!