The Getty Foundation has announced the last tranche of its fantastic “Keeping it Modern” grants for the conservation of C20 buildings. They have made a final allocation of $2.2 million to thirteen projects including sites in Senegal, Nigeria, Chile and Kuwait, as well as Europe and North America.
The successful applicant most familiar to C20 members will almost certainly be one of my favourites: Dudley Zoo (which you can join our talk about on 10th August). More concrete testing, structural surveys, and site investigations will be carried out on the Lubetkin designed animal enclosures and facilities. This will enable new use studies and costing plans to be drawn up to restore long-term operations to the Tropical Bird House, Elephant House, Education Centre, and Queen Mary Café. Animal welfare standards have improved so that the enclosures are no longer suitable for their original inhabitants, and the early construction date means that the concrete was designed with a niave optimism and needs extensive repair..
Those of you who came on our Barry Arden-led Porto trip will be pleased to learn that Alvaro Siza’s Swimming Pools at the nearby seaside town of Leça da Palmeira, will be getting a conservation management plan, which will be particularly interesting as Siza is still very much alive and will be participating in the process. The board marked timber intervention on the rocky beach is spectacular—but its exposed location makes it very vulnerable to storm damage. I am yet to manage to visit when it’s possible to actually swim in it, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.
Last November when we were in India we saw a great deal of evidence of pretty extreme concrete problems so it’s really encouraging to see that two of the buildings we visited have got Getty grants: Charles Correa’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, 1966, in Ahmedabad and the Gandhi Bhawan, by Pierre Jeanneret, 1962, at the Panjab University Chandigarh.
The stadium project aims to have a wider impact by increasing local knowledge regarding the care of exposed concrete buildings, and there are certainly many other buildings in the city which could benefit. The Gandhi Bawan is an exquisite three-winged pavilion inspired by the shape of a lotus-flower. Its reflecting pool is currently empty and it would be wonderful to see it reinstated.
In seven years Keeping It Modern will have supported a total of 77 projects in 40 different nations. I was delighted to be a project accessor for much of that time, and to see word of the grants gradually spreading around the world. As well as the direct benefit of individual projects it has done a lot to support the growth of international awareness about the need for thorough research and planning before getting stuck into conservation work. It’s also highlighted the amazing legacy of C20 buildings currently in urgent need of repair.
The Keeping it Modern website will stay up and continue to archive completed Conservation Management Plans, making it a growing source of freely available expert information and knowledge for anyone working on a similar building anywhere. The grant programme has definitely been a massive success and I am incredibly grateful for the Foundation’s generosity and imagination in devising and mplementing it. I am sure many of the recipients will be suffering from the financial impact of Covid-19 (not least Dudley) and now more than ever the combination of practical financial support and influential advocacy is something to be celebrated. Sadly Getty funds now are being redirected to other causes, but that does not mean that there is not much more still to do.