Ruins, a site for recreation?

A further insight into the discourse on the situation and vision for Nossa Senhora Do Carmo, Chimbel.

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

This blog is the last in a series around the chapel of Mount Carmel, in Chimbel, a village in Goa. The context of Chimbel village can be understood from the blog ‘A Search for Commons in the Pressure of Growing Cities’ part 2 of the blog titled ‘Nossa Senhora Do Carmo’ explains the role of this Chapel in the settlement and the steps a local architect, Fernando Velho has taken, in tandem with the villagers of Chimbel to breathe new life into the space.

modil pic

Model of a design intervention overlayed with the ruins of Nossa Senhora Do Carmo
Source: Erica De Mello /  Goa College of Architecture

To stir up some imagination in the public consciousness, Fernando Velho invited Erica De Mello to present at the Charles Correa Foundation, Erica is a student of the Goa College of Architecture (GCA) who had recently proposed a design intervention in this very site. Erica’s design approach was guided by Mr. Sameep Padora who was a visiting professor at GCA, under the Charles Correa Chair. Erica’s proposal for the site was to turn it into an artists residency.

front-elevation.jpgArtistic representation of how the proposed structure would look.
Source: Erica De Mello /  Goa College of Architecture

Ruins with an Alternate Future

Erica spoke about approaching the existing structure through layers, in contrast to “follies” in English landscape, for example, the Capel Manor in England, where the designer constructed an artificial ruin, in contrast, here in Chimbel one can find an existing ruin. Erica tried to approach the structure and “to create within ruin”. Her proposal entailed:

  1. Structural stabilization of the existing ruins.
  2. Reconstruction, through a lightweight frame that gave the essence of the original space. 
  3. A public space which would have exhibition zones and facilities for the community.  
  4. Living and working spaces for the artists in residence.

iso.gifAnimation of the various design approaches, overlayed.
Source: Erica De Mello /  Goa College of Architecture

The proposed design would have various features which express reverence to the ruin while still creating conducive space for artists. 


Representations of the spaces within the proposed design
Source: Erica De Mello/  Goa College of Architecture

Discussions and Deliberations

The discussion after the talk was lively and interesting. Former Chief town planner of India Prof. Edgar Ribeiro commended the Chimbel Villagers for approaching the issue in a bottom-up approach and getting the support of the ward councillor (Pancha). 

Edgar also clarified the terminology of an ‘archaeological park’. The Town and Country Planning Office, New Delhi envisioned this zone for places where there were a large number of important national monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in a fixed radius. Mehrauli was the first such archaeological park where Prof. Nalini Thakur from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi oversaw the entire process. In the Regional Plan 2021, Old Goa is denoted as an Archaeological park because there are 14 ASI monuments in a close radius.

13-Chimbel Commons.jpgProf. Edgar Ribeiro explaining the vision for an archaeological park.
Source: Lester Silveira / The Balcaö

Arminio Ribeiro asked the Chimbel residents about their vision for the space. The residents discussed the possibility of preservation of the structure, and the amount of development they envisioned for this space.

The villagers recalled memories of feasts and christenings which used to happen at the site long after it was abandoned. A question arose as to why the church was eventually abandoned by the villagers. 

Following the talk, a leader of the delegation of Chimbel residents, Mrs. Ana Gracias, asked Prof. Edgar Ribeiro and the CCF team if we could sit and discuss the issue in a private meeting. This meeting happened on the 29th of May. The meeting was attended by the leaders of the Mount Carmel Restoration Forum – a group formed from Chimbel residents, a priest from the Archdiocese of Goa, Edgar Ribeiro, Fernando Velho, and a few other architects. 

In the meeting, The following steps were explored in regards to the way forward for the preservation of the structure. The ground reality is that the government does not see any site as heritage unless it finds mention in one of the State drawn plans, in this case, the site must reflect in the Goa Regional Plan 2031. There could be three possible approaches to get the site demarcated here.

Approaches towards conservation 

1. As a National Protected Monument

It is extremely unlikely for this particular site to become a monument to be protected by the Central Act- ‘The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) , 1958’. It is not of national importance and the ASI presently protect over 3650 monuments. 

2. As a State Protected Monument

There was discussion to list this site as a state protected monument and the villagers had already petitioned the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology (DAA) to take this case forward. The CCF team however feel that  in listing the site as a state protected monument, the DAA becomes another important decision maker in any proposal for re-use of the site. This means any conservation effort would not only need permission from the owners of the site (Provedoria) but any maintenance or conservation done to the monument, would be subject to restrictive measures of ‘Restoration’ put forth in the ‘The Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Act, 2010’

3. Get the site on the list for Conservation.

The  ‘Goa (Land Development and Building Construction) Act’. in section 6B.2.C has a section titled ‘List of Buildings and sites of Historic and Aesthetic Importance in State of Goa to be notified under these regulations’

There is merit in listing the site as conservation instead of preservation because the site can be developed out of the restrictive definitions within the ‘The Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Act, 2010’ , while still having to go through checks and balances put in place by the Conservation Study Committee of the Town and Country Planning Department, Goa.

07.jpgMeeting between Prof. Edgar, Fernando, Clergy, and Chimbel residents on 29th May 2019 at the Charles Correa Foundation.

Vision for the site

The meeting concluded with the residents and architects contemplating a vision for the site in the near future. A consensus was reached to turning the 4000 square meters (that encompass the ruins and the access to them) into a park for Chimbel Village. Structural preservation would be implemented on the ruins and the rest of the space be notified as green space in the Regional Plan for Goa 2031.

In this regard the Charles Correa Foundation has written a letter in support of this initiative to the Minister of Town and Country Planning, Goa. On the 21st of June 2018, the Minister accepted the request of the Chimbel residents, citing the Charles Correa Foundation’s letter as documentation for significance of the site. 

The Bigger Picture

Since 1984, in the state of Goa, no new structures have been listed for conservation. With the success of this initiative, the CCF team believes a precedent has been set. A successful listing and conservation of Nossa Senhora Do Carmo have illustrated that a building of heritage value deserves to be, and can be conserved through public demand. 

In the context of  Heritage sites in Goa, both ancient and relatively contemporary being threatened. And with certain elements in the State making a case for the demolition of one of the few equitable, civic buildings in the capital city of Goa, Panaji – Kala Academy, we believe, now more than ever it is important for us to be watchful and work to conserve our heritage spaces.

Do you know of a monument or site in your locality that deserves recognition? Write to us on and we can advise you on the way forward. 

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.


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.


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!


A forum for citizens to understand and discuss the city.


“In this dependence on maps as some sort of higher reality, project planners and urban designers assume they can create a promenade simply by mapping one in where they want it, then having it built. But a promenade needs promenaders.”

-Jacobs, J. ‘The Life and Death of Great American Cities’ (1961)


Throughout our architectural education and our professional life we as architects live and strive to make space better. We toil to design buildings, spaces and systems that people should use in a certain way to improve their quality of life. This top-down approach has led to many city-centric designs that are effective on paper but often fail in the eyes of the public. A part of the problem is that the design community has fallen into a rut of “the people should…” instead of trying to understand what it is that the people actually do.

Good City is an experiment through dialogue; in the city, with citizens, and stakeholders. It aims to undertake participatory exercises with citizens and bridge the gap between designers, government and citizens. The forum may serve as a platform to mediate between development and conservation, public projects and private interest, all in the vision of a better city for us all.


Good City Meet 1 – Bookworm Library, Mala, Panaji

The first meeting brought together people of various backgrounds—a pharmacist, an artist, designers, architects and a policy strategist. Held in Bookworm library on a Sunday, the 5th of May 2019, the meet provided a platform for participants to vocally express what the city meant to them, and what this group can do as a collective to better understand the city. Short-term and long-term goals were envisioned, one of which is representing ideas on a ‘good’ city through visual media: photography, videography, drawings and writing.

Meet 2 02

Good City Meet 2 – Charles Correa Foundation, Fontainhas, Panaji

The second meet was held at the Charles Correa Foundation, on a Friday, the 10th of May 2019. Participants discussed the Foundation’s photoblog titled, ‘Late-Night Stroll, Anyone? Assessing Safety in Panaji’s Streets’. In the photoblog, the CCF team approached the dimension of safety in Panaji’s streets through the concepts written by urbanist Jane Jacobs in her famous book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’. This prompted the discussion of urban theories postulated by Jane Jacobs, and their relevance based on citizens’ observations in Panaji and Mapusa.

A key takeaway was the need for engagement with diverse sections of the public in order to understand a holistic perception of good urban space.


Good City Event – Jardim, Garcia D’Orta, Panaji

The third meet took the form of a social experiment, based on a suggestion to talk to citizens in the Municipal Garden. On 11th May, a children’s event prompted a large turnout which was ideal for a mood-mapping exercise with children and their parents. Using a colour-coded system ranging from Green (very positive response to a space) to Pink (very negative response to a place), participants of the exercise responded to spaces in the vicinity by placing Post-Its on a map of the area.


Good City Event – Jardim, Garcia D’Orta, Panaji

With at least 40 children and 20 adults participating in the exercise, a significant amount of data was gathered, including the ages of the participants and their reasons for liking or disliking the spaces. The next step is to repeat the exercise with larger sections of people and analyse the assimilated data.

What do you think makes a ‘good’ city? Comment below or write to us of your thoughts, ideas and experiences of similar initiatives!

The Good City Citizens Forum happens weekly in Goa.  It is publicized in most newspapers; you can join our discourse in person or follow our progress online, either on social media or subscribe to our mailing list here.


Further Reading:

CCF Blog

‘Late-Night Stroll, Anyone? Assessing Safety in Panaji’s Streets’

Participatory exercise with children in U.S.A.


Late-night stroll, anyone? Assessing safety in Panaji’s streets

In a photoblog, the CCF team observes footpaths in Panaji from Jane Jacobs’ perspective.


Think of a city and what comes to mind? Its streets. If a city’s streets look interesting, the city looks interesting. If they look dull, the city looks dull.

– Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’

As an activist for better cities, Jane Jacobs was very vocal about the failure of planning policy by ground-reality measures. Her 1961 book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ was avant-garde in its city planning principles, of which safety of the city was key. According to the urbanist, people feel a city is safe or unsafe depending on how they perceive its streets and footpaths.  

What does safety of footpaths entail? In the chapter ‘The uses of Sidewalks: Safety’, Jane Jacobs explains that peace on the streets is maintained by a “network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves, and enforced by the people themselves.” She breaks down the success of good city neighbourhoods into three main qualities:

  • A clear demarcation between private space and public space;
  • There must be eyes upon the street;
  • Footpaths must have users on them fairly continuously, both to add the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch them.


People’s love of watching, activity and other people is constantly evident in cities everywhere.

– Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’

The qualities seem like easy goals, but it is not simple to achieve them. As Jacobs puts it simply, “You can’t make people use streets they have no reason to use. You can’t make people watch streets they do not want to watch.”

The CCF team observed Panaji’s footpaths during various times (office-closing and shop-closing hours, for instance) on a weekday evening to understand the dimension of safety in the city.

Panaji map.jpgKey plan

1. D.B.Road, near Children’s Park (3)

Despite having good lighting and footpath conditions, and vehicular activity throughout the night, the primary street lacks concrete reasons for using or watching it, thus lacking the checks and inhibitions exerted by eye-policed city streets.

2. Governador Pestana Road, near Panaji Market (6)

The commercial street sees late-night activity, and consequent surveillance, on account of the local food vendors.

3. M.G. Road (2).gif

The mixed-use street draws people late into, and throughout, the night due to the presence of eateries, ice-cream parlours and a 24-hour pharmacy.

4. 18th June Road (1)

The well-lit commercial street sees constant activity until late into the night. Shopkeepers are an unconscious source of vigilance, and shop activity on the footpaths—people buying, eating and talking— attracts more people.

5. Dr. Dada Vaidya Road, near the Mahalakshmi temple (4).gif

The well-lit mixed-use street sees no activity on its footpaths beyond retail-shop closing hours.

6. Ramachandra Naik Road, Altinho

Despite being well-lit and completely accessible to public use, the interior residential street is closed to public view and is blank of built-in eyes.

7. D.B.Road, near Captain of Ports (4)

The well-lit primary street sees activity, and consequent surveillance, until late into the night due to the casino commerce.

8. 31st January Road

31st Jan road

The mixed-use street in the old Latin quarter of the city sees activity, and consequent surveillance, at night due to the presence of restaurants and the local bar.  

9. Nanu Tarkar Pednekar Road, Mala (5).gif

The residential street lacks sufficient lighting and sees no usual evening activity that attracts eyes.

10. Patto, near the KTC bus stand (7)

Despite sufficient lighting and footpath conditions, the street in the Patto Central Business District does not see activity on its footpaths after the closure of the bus stand and lacks built-in eyes.

As observed, the problem of insecurity cannot be solved by spreading people out into suburb-like neighbourhoods that require watchman patrol, or by good lighting alone. The observations back what Jacobs stresses on: a well-lit footpath in a dense, mixed-use neighbourhood, having late-night people-attracting ‘activity points’—eateries, bars, movie theatres, et al.—and unconsciously surveyed by ‘built-in eyes’ (such as residences above the commercial fronts) is a safe footpath!


jacobs2Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail. The impact of Jane Jacobs’s observation, activism, and writing has led to a ‘planning blueprint’ for generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists to practice.

Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, short blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centered approach to urban planning in both New York and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by helping stop the expansion of expressways and roads. She lived in Greenwich Village for decades, then moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and writing on urbanism, economies and social issues until her death in April 2006.

A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work, and play. (Source: The Center for the Living City)


The CCF team wishes to thank Tahir Noronha for his contribution to this blog.