Aishwarya Tipnis a été décorée « Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”
L’Ambassadeur de France en Inde, S. E. M. Alexandre Ziegler a remis les insignes de Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres à Mme Aishwarya Tipnis, jeune architecte indienne.
Kolkata, 11 January 2018
Indeed, I am truly delighted to be here this evening to celebrate with all of you the accomplishments of Aishwarya Tipnis and to bestow upon her, one of France’s most distinguished titles, that of Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters.
Aishwarya, you are an alumnus of the School of Planning & Architecture of New Delhi.
You also have a Master’s Degree in European Urban Conservation. You are the recipient of the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship 2011, Scottish International Scholarship 2006, as well as the Gus Austley Award 2007 and Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland Award 2007. You have also won two UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award of merit. You have more than a decade of experience in the field of architectural and urban conservation, running your own eponymous architecture firm, and have pioneered several urban conservation and building restoration projects in India. You have authored a book on "Vernacular Traditions in Contemporary Architecture" as well as multiple articles on heritage conservation in leading publications.
But we are here to celebrate tonight you history with France. This history is closely linked to a city of West Bengal, not very far from here, the town of Chandernagor.
Chandernagor is one of the oldest French settlements in India. But while the unique heritage of the former European trading colonies of West Bengal had long been recognized, Chandernagor remained a sleeping beauty, until you, a determined and passionate architect, got interested in it. In 2010, following an invitation to France, you launched a project to study the French heritage in India, supported by the Embassy of France, the Vieilles Maisons de France and late Francis Wacziarg.
Thus began the need to identify and study in detail several dozens of beautiful Indo-European houses. The ultimate goal was to reflect on the need to protect this heritage and to complete its inventory with a tourism enhancement project. And you haven’t stopped here. In 2015, you have conducted a community engagement and digital project known as the “Heritage & People of Chandernagor” where the youth of the town were appointed ‘Citizen Historians’ to help collect oral histories while at the same time creating a global inventory of all the heritage buildings by crowdsourcing memories of Chandernagor from across the world.
This passionate effort has continued in the framework of Bonjour India. This week, you are conducting, in Chandernagor, a 7-day intensive workshop involving French and Indian students of architecture, in connection with the local communities, focusing on the restoration and reuse of a French heritage building, the French Registry Office, which has been renamed by you as “House of the Moon”.
Tomorrow will be the last day of the workshop, and I invite you all to come to Chandernagor to discover their research and creative work in an open-air exhibition on the Strand.
You have also conceptualized a contest mobilizing students from 80 schools, showcasing how heritage can become a source of economic growth and employment. And last but not least, you are now planning a crowd funding campaign in order to finance the renovation of the House of the Moon.
I know, dear Aishwarya, that you will not stop until you achieve our common dream : the complete restoration of the unique Indo-French heritage of Chandernagor.
For all these reasons, I have the honour and the pleasure to bestow upon you today the insignia of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, an Order which is one of the most prestigious national order, precisely created to honour people like you, for their outstanding contribution to the influence of the arts and letters in France and in the world.
Madame Aishwaya Tipnis, au nom du Président de la République et en vertu des pouvoirs qui nous sont conférés, nous vous faisons Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.