Under the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Culture conducted the “1st training course on conservation of heritage buildings” for the local Bhutanese technical personnel. The training began on 14 February 2022 and concluded on 31 May 2022. The closing ceremony was held at the conference hall of the Department of Culture on 02 June 2022. The Honorable Minister, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, graced the occasion.
The Department trained five architects and five engineers from the private sector. During the closing ceremony, the ten participants received their certificates of completion. The resource persons for this training program are the in-house experts from the Department, and the resource person received the certificate of appreciation. The trainees were assigned practical assignments in a group of two, consisting of an architect and a civil engineer, for a month. Mr. Thinley Jamtsho Tshering and Ms. Ugyen Wangmo received the best presentation award among the five groups.
Background of the training course:
A limited number of skilled heritage professionals in Bhutan have experience in the conservation and management works on heritage buildings. The conservation of heritage buildings requires exemplary skills developed over the years of practice. Presently, the Department of Culture is responsible for regulating and executing conservation works on heritage buildings. But it is imperative to develop the skills and capacity of local Bhutanese technical personnel who have minimal or no experience in the heritage conservation field. Therefore, the Department of Culture planned and conducted the first-ever training course on the conservation of heritage buildings for the technical personnel in the private sector. This training course is provided free of course for the selected applicants. Moreover, we hope that this training will equip the participant to develop their skills and provide a platform for generating job opportunities to cultural enthusiasts. In a border sense, this program will fulfill the aims of professionalizing National heritage experts and privatizing works on heritage buildings.
Modality of the training program:
The course curriculum was designed for participants to learn the approach toward working in the conservation of heritage sites holistically. The national experts from the Department of Culture delivered the lectures in distinct yet interconnected sessions. The course was announced on 23 December 2021 to the public via different means of advertisement. The Department selected ten technical professionals (5 architects and 5 engineers) from a pool of applicants. The duration of this intensive training program is for more than three months, and the trainees had to compulsorily attend all the lectures and practical sessions, followed by a practical assignment for certification. The details of the course are as follows:
- Session 1: Understanding cultural heritage of Bhutan- Heritage Sites of Bhutan
- Session 2: Identification and evaluation of Cultural Heritage Values
- Session 3: National and global perspectives on principles of heritage sites conservation
- Session 4: Methodology and documentation of heritage sites
- Session 5: Analysis and Interpretation
- Session 6: Integration of disaster risk reduction to cultural heritage
- Session 7: Conservation approach and technique- case studies
The trainees visited the Pangrizampa Restoration project, Thimphu for three days and a study tour to the Restoration and Adaptive Reuse of Wangdichholing Palace project, Bumthang. After completing the practical and lecture sessions, the trainees were divided into five groups (a team of an architect and an engineer) to work on the heritage building identified by the Department for one month as per the guidance provided. The five teams prepared a detailed report and presented their work to a panel of experts. They were assessed and evaluated based on both the report and presentation. Furthermore, the participants also had the opportunity to hear and learn from the internationally renowned cultural heritage experts in special lecture sessions.
The first cohort of trainees now has the basic knowledge and skills to work on the heritage sites of Bhutan. They can avail further opportunities to upgrade their skills by attending advanced level training (in the development phase) to be recognized as heritage managers. More importantly, the Department will create various opportunities for the trainees to continually practice their skills. There will be employment opportunities and job creation in the market in the conservation of heritage sites. This training program will also fulfill the Department’s aspiration to address the pertinent challenge of unwarranted works that will cause irreversible damage to heritage buildings.