Two modules to start form July

Thinley Namgay 

In a bid to teach students the importance of heritage conservation, final-year architecture and engineering students at the College of Science and Technology (CST) will have the opportunity to study Bhutanese Heritage Conservation starting July this year.

Two modules, Heritage Conservation One and Heritage Conservation Two, will be introduced as elective subjects.

Until now, there was an elective module called Architecture Conservation at CST, focusing on world heritage sites in Europe and India, but lacking coverage of Bhutanese heritage sites, which are integral to the national identity.

Recognising the importance of conserving Bhutanese heritage, CST and the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development (DCDD) decided to introduce a module for  CST students.

Considering that not many lecturers at CST have knowledge about Bhutanese heritage sites, DCDD has been conducting training for 13 lecturers from the Department of Architecture and Engineering since February 12 on the conservation of heritage buildings at Pangri Zampa monastery in Thimphu.

The training will end on April 1, marking the third training conducted by DCDD since 2022, with 18 architects and engineers completing the training in the past two years.

Participants are learning about mural paintings and their importance, documenting old temples, unique features of Bhutanese traditional buildings, and receiving presentations on case studies. DCDD is also organising site visits and imparting knowledge on conservation techniques.

DCDD’s Deputy Executive Phuntsho Wangmo (PhD) said the training of lecturers is crucial to effectively teach the students.

She emphasised the need for CST to groom students in Bhutanese Heritage Conservation, stating that the department will outsource conservation projects from the 13th Plan, involving private firms.

She noted the scarcity of people in the market with knowledge of conservation and stressed the importance of CST imparting this knowledge and skills to students while still in college.

Chimi, a lecturer with the Architecture Department at CST, expressed that the ongoing training will help students  to understand traditional conservation values and approaches.

He noted the limited knowledge among students regarding traditional buildings, their features, and significance. Chimi highlighted the timely training by DCDD and said that CST is confident in starting the Heritage Conservation modules on time.

The first module will cover different areas of conservation, while the second module will focus on  management plan, which Chimi said,  is less relevant for engineering students who focus more on structural components.

After graduating, students will undergo further training at DCDD and become certified trainers.

Tshering Tobgyel, a lecturer in the Engineering Department at CST, stressed the responsibility of all Bhutanese to maintain cultural and traditional values.  He said that CST is  venturing to impart such values, emphasising that such knowledge should be imparted from schools if possible.

He highlighted the absence of documents on the standard practice of Bhutanese construction, suggesting that modules in CST could address this issue in the future. He said  culture is an important component for improving the economy.