Philip Davies, Founder and CEO of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum (fourth from right) meets Nilina Deb Lal, Programme Director Roxburgh Project (second from left), Dr Ashiho Mao, Director of Botanical Survey of India (third from left), Ashish Sharan Lal, Alleya and Associates (third from right) and wider team at the Old Herbarium, AJC Bose Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata, 7 January 2023. Photograph taken by Soumen Bose, Administrative Assistant.

The Commonwealth Heritage Forum’s Queen Elizabeth II Heritage Skills Training Programme has commissioned a Vision Statement for the Roxburgh International Hub Project in the AJC Bose Indian Botanical Garden. The project led by Simpson and Brown Architects, Edinburgh, and Alleya and Associates, Kolkata, envisages repurposing Roxburgh House, the Old Herbarium and the Old Seed Store, to create a visitor destination within the Garden. Roxburgh is one of the main priorities for action under the Commonwealth Heritage at Risk Programme and is already featured on our website.


8 young professionals working in architecture, conservation, and education participated in a one-day Condition Mapping Training Workshop on Saturday 11 February at the Old Herbarium, AJC Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Kolkata. The training was delivered by Sue Whittle of S&B Architects, Edinburgh, and Ashish Sharan Lal, Alleya and Associates, Kolkata, and incorporated both theoretical and practical teaching on condition mapping.

The trainees’ main focus was the Old Herbarium, where with guidance from Sue Whittle and Ashish Sharan Lal, they learned to analyse the building fabric and map the condition onto drawings. By the end of the training all 8 participants felt that they had a stronger understanding of the methodology involved in investigating building fabric, and the agents of decay.

Sue, Sharan and trainees gather together at the start of the training.

Sharan and trainees examining parapet conditions.

Sue, Sharan and trainees on the initial recce walk around the Old Herbarium.

Sue explaining plaster delamination & the impact of vegetation growth.

Developing the 'Key' to be used for the mapping of defects and decay.

Proud trainees with their completed drawings.

All photographs taken by Sneha Das and Shagun Kapur, Interns. 


Dr Nilina Deb Lal presented the Roxburgh International Hub Project at the Botanical Survey of India International Symposium, on Monday 13 February. The audience listened attentively and appreciatively to the presentation, welcoming the proposed repurposing of the historic Roxburgh House and Old Herbarium. The concluding remarks by the Chair demonstrated the keen interest of the stakeholder international community of botanists and their goodwill towards the project.

Dr Nilina Deb Lal presenting the Roxburgh International Hub Project. Photograph by Ashish Sharan Lal.


From 13–15 January, a training workshop took place at Roxburgh, led by Rupert Mann, and facilitated by Ashish Sharan Lal of Alleya and Associates and Nilina Deb Lal. Rupert is a built and cultural heritage specialist, with a background in community-led advocacy for improved heritage protection, traditional repair skills, and capacity-building.

The training workshop focussed on precinct mapping, working towards increased public access to the gardens. The aim is to increase public engagement with the gardens at Roxburgh whilst conserving its unique built, cultural, and natural heritage. Trainees worked to understand how people living locally to the gardens view them and its potential, including the relationship of the gardens within the wider urban context. Trainees will now propose financially and environmentally sustainable options to increase access to the gardens. This work will contribute towards the completion of the Vision Statement commissioned by the Commonwealth Heritage Forum.

Trainees and Rupert Mann meet and begin the precinct mapping workshop. Photographs taken by Sneha Das, Intern.

Learn more about Rupert Mann and the trainees selected for this workshop

Rupert Mann: Training Lead

Rupert Mann is a built and cultural heritage specialist in urban environments. He has a background in ethnography, community-led advocacy for improved heritage protection, community engagement, particapatory design for public space upgrades with marginalised groups and a wide range of experience related to the management of heritage assets including regulatory reform, governance, drafting law, heritage list and conservation area creation, along with advocacy, post-crisis reconciliation and traditional repair skills and capacity-building.

He has lived and worked in Myanmar with the Yangon Heritage Trust over the last 10 years and has worked with remote tribal groups in Papua New Guinea, Australia’s first nations; in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Cyprus. He is also a writer whose work focusses on alternative heritage through long-form journalism and photo essays.

Ashruti Singh

I have completed a Bachelor's in Architecture and I am currently pursuing a Master's in Urban and Regional Planning from IIEST, Shibpur. Being born in the city of Lucknow, heritage has predominantly been a part of my everyday life. I have a love for old structures and monuments. In addition to being an advocate for conservation and history, I am also interested in climate change, public policy, and visual art. I have experience working on the technical and design aspects of architecture, as well as research, and creative writing. My interest lies in participatory research and documentation, and I strive for a career that would create a meaningful impact on the lives of other people.

Sreya Paul

I’m from Sankrail, Howrah, West Bengal, India and I graduated in Architecture from OmDayal School of Architecture. At present, I’m pursuing post-graduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning from IIEST, Shibpur. I’m very excited to join this project as the location is very close to my home and I’ve visited it many times. I’ve seen how over time it has degraded. As my house is also a very old building, I have an emotional connection with heritage buildings. So, when given the opportunity to work on this project I didn’t have any second thoughts about it.

Mohit Kumar Singh

In 2018, I majored in Architecture with a strong emphasis on urban planning. I enrolled in IIEST Shibpur in 2021 for my master’s in Planning. Prior to starting this course, I had 2.5 years of professional experience in a public sector company that works on large-scale construction projects, primarily for the government. As an architect in this firm, I was part of a team that worked on projects such as the Naval Base for the Indian Navy in Karwar, Karnataka, and the Indian Coast Guard Academy in Mangalore. Professional experience has given me more confidence and helped shape my attitude toward the profession. However, my fascination with older and heritage buildings has created an inquisitiveness because I believe they are both beautiful and structurally complex. I'm hoping that this workshop in collaboration with Roxburg will be beneficial and add a new direction towards conservation works.

Pamela Barua

I am a resident of Kolkata, also called the City of Joy, located in the state of West Bengal, India. I completed my schooling at BDM International, Kolkata. Presently I am a student at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur (formerly Bengal Engineering College), pursuing my Masters in Planning (Urban & Regional). I graduated as an Architect from the same institute. Living in a city with heritage roots in the British Colonial era has helped pave my interest and historical buildings have always fascinated me.  They speak of the bygone period- giving us the chance to perceive and experience what was there before our generation and how different the time was.  Conservation of old heritage structures is our chance to keep this interaction between the past and present alive. I am intrigued and I am looking forward to gaining experience in this field.

Jyoti Sarkar

I am a Master's student in Planning at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur. I completed my Bachelor's in Architecture at Jadavpur University in the year 2021. I did my schooling at Aditya Academy at Barasat. I have lived in Bamangachi, near Barasat, a suburban area since childhood. Living in a village and traveling to the city every day for college has always fascinated me with the changes and similarities that have helped me develop an interest in architecture and planning. I am also interested in heritage and conservation work which was sparked when I did drawing as part of the curriculum of architecture in Jahaz Mahal, Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, and an old residential house near Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur.

Two architectural interns have already started work with the architectural practice, Alleya & Associates, on all aspects related to the Roxburgh, helping to draft plans and assisting the staff with coordinating a conservation management plan. These are paid positions, and both interns are in post until April 2023.

Learn more about the Interns:

Shagun Kapur

I hail from the City of Joy - Kolkata. My interest in architecture developed over my high school years when the contrast in the skyline of the city, ranging from ever-present colonial buildings to the new-age contemporary constructions caught my attention. I completed my undergraduate studies in architecture from Manipal School of Architecture and Planning, Manipal in the year 2020. During my course of study, heritage buildings piqued my interest with their intricate details and engineering. Since then, I have been involved with various heritage conservation projects in and around Kolkata, and when the opportunity to work on Roxburgh House amidst the vast Botanical Gardens, presented itself, I was instantly drawn in. The Roxburgh International Hub project resonates with the kind of work I see myself being involved with throughout my career, and I believe that this learning experience will prepare me for my future in heritage.


Sneha Das

I am an architect and heritage enthusiast, based in Kolkata. I completed my undergraduate study in Architecture, and I am currently pursuing an M. Tech degree in Infrastructure Design and Management from IIT Kharagpur, India. My undergraduate thesis titled "Metamorphosis of a Riverine Edge, Kolkata: Bridging Urbanity with its Industrial Heritage" was selected for the COA National Awards for Excellence in Architectural Thesis 2020. My present research area focusses on the retrofitting and rehabilitation of masonry structures in Indian heritage context. My interest in sustainable architecture combined with heritage conservation led me to work with Alleya and Associates, and that further presented the opportunity to work on the Roxburgh International Hub project, helping me to strengthen my academic interests with practical experience. I am thrilled to be involved in the restoration of the Roxburgh House and I am certain that these 5 months will be an unparalleled experience.

Philip Davies, founder and CEO of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum visited Roxburgh on Saturday 7 January – he was pleased to meet with the team on the ground, including the two interns, and enjoyed discussing progress made on the Vision Statement with Nilina and the wider team.

Philip Davies meets Nilina Deb Lal, the Interns, and wider team for discussion and site tour at Roxburgh. Photographs taken by Shagun Kapur, Intern.


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