Delhi-based conservation architect Aishwarya Tipnis has been chosen for France's top cultural award for her "outstanding commitment" to the preservation of French heritage in India. The 37-year-old architect is slated to be conferred the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler at a function to be held in Kolkata tomorrow. "I have the great pleasure of informing you that you have been appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight in the National Order Arts and Letters) by the Ministry of Culture," reads a communique issued by the French Embassy here. "I warmly congratulate you for your distinction, which comes especially in recognition of your outstanding commitment to the preservation of French heritage in India," it read. This prestigious award honours people who have distinguished themselves in the field of art. Ebrahim Alkazi, the grand old man of Indian theatre, was conferred the distinction in 2012. In her field, renowned architect Raj Rewal is the recipient of the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour), the highest French civilian distinction. An alumnus of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in New Delhi, Tipnis, devoted herself to conservation of heritage in the country, and has worked on several landmark projects, which have won laurels for the country. In 2016, her work on Mahidpur Fort in Madhya Pradesh won an Award of Merit while a restoration project at the Doon School in Dehradun, earned an honourable mention in the UNESCO Award for Heritage Conservation in the Asia-Pacific region. She has worked extensively on identification of shared built heritage of French in India and has brought a change in approach to urban heritage conservation due to her pioneering work on Chandernagore. Tipnis holds a Masters degree in European Urban Conservation with distinction from the University of Dundee, Scotland, and was also involved in bringing attention to the shared Dutch heritage in Chinsurah, West Bengal through adopting a digital humanities approach to heritage conservation in India. This year, she has also been associated with the ongoing 'Bonjour India 2017' as the curator for the multi-faceted 'Know Your Indo-French Heritage' in Chandernagore, a former French colony in West Bengal. She is also part of the UNESCO expert team on the preparation of a 'Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan' for Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a World Heritage, as well as the consultant to the Doon School on the restoration of their historic buildings.
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