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Synthesis of an ‘Image’ into ‘Reality’

Understanding an Innovative exemplary from the roots of Traditions

A dissertation leading to a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the School of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India Student : Avnish Mehta, Guide : Prof. Kireet Patel

section 1 Part 1

On the Origins of Architecture There is no doubt that architecture was invented by man, but we cannot be certain who was the first man to build houses and habitations. It is to be believed that when Adam was driven out of Paradise, it was raining. Since he had nothing else at hand to cover (himself), he put his hands over his head to protect himself from the rain. Since he was constrained by necessity to (find his) living, both food and shelter, he had to protect himself from bad weather and rain. I incline to the affirmative, (for), if the earth was to produce its fruits, it had to rain. Since both food and shelter are necessary to the life of man, it is to be believed for this reason that after Adam had made a roof of his hands and had considered the need for his sustenance, he thought and contrived to make some sort of shelter of branches, or a hut, or perhaps some cave where he could flee when he needed. If such were the case, it is probable that Adam was the first. Translation by John R. Spencer, copyright 1965, Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Illustration 1

Illustration 2

Illustration 1. Adam against the hostile Nature and, Illustration 2. Him making some shelter to protect himself from Nature’s vagaries. Both Illustrations from excerpts on the origins of architecture, by Antonio di Piero Averlino, known as Il Filarete from Book I, Folio 4v,Treatise on Architecture, composed between 1461 and 1464.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

BACKGROUND Man’s position in nature as its social being is a unique attribute which differentiates him from other living species. The ability to mould his environment around him, because of its hostile nature is significant in defining his existential footprints. The world that Man has made around him is a result of his imagination and his abilities to create, It is at the same time exemplary of the fact accrediting his potentials and abilities that he is capable to shape his environment at his will against nature’s hostility. These responses towards sustenance result into acts where he seeks in simultaneous, the need to situate himself in his environment. These responses are acts over the time immemorable where his quest entails recurrence of such responses till finding an appropriate form. Thus to create and re-create his immediate environment with changes occurring in it to suit himself and to adapt to the ever-changing hostile nature, forms his struggle for living. Man understands this very character of his environment, of its changing and evolving nature, and thus each response of his, in his age, is guided by making evolutions to the solutions which were devised in the previous age to make them relevant and validated for his time. This struggle in nature, specific to each age demands from his nature of creation, forms which will make his existence conceivable and in turn will define his existence, specific to his time. The idea of validation of his self-made environment does not refer only towards finding physical solutions to the changing environment, but also towards the fact related to his social being which imparts a social character to the making of his environment. These solutions are rationalized on aspects which are satisfied by both, the physical and non-physical parameters of his being. Thus, it is the art of Man to respond for his existence in nature, unique to him, which is of significant importance. Even more significant, as this art concerns his struggle, it results towards understanding of his own self. Thus, in the purview that it is desirable to Man trying to understand his being, it is important that he has developed his methods to approach the same. Like other species, the methods here in concern are of his personal physical environment - of his built surroundings. In that regards, what is charactertistically important with Man is his power of imagination and creation. Together, they make him achieve his objectives to shape his environment, using architecture as the tool.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


3. Illustrations representing “origins” of architecture, identifying them as “images” by Victor F. Christ-Janes, 1980. Displaying the nature of responses of Man from the early beginnings in caves, to the time when he started taking control of his will to create for survival, he created in the very first, ‘a mound’, which stays as primal image for Man. Assigning it the first act of creativity he asserts this ‘making’ of great consequence, where Man becomes “maker” and this forms the “origins” of human poetic response to nature.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

This syllogic association between Man, the hostile Nature and his creations, confirms the need to evolve his creativity in the context of ever occuring changes. The disposition of these parameters is set in the realm of the virtual and the real world.The existence of Man and Nature of the real world significance, while his creativity to formalize the solutions of his environment, of the origins of the virtual world. ‘Nature is thus at the beginning of architecture. Sky, sun and stars, elements, geology, the flora and faunas, elaborate structure and complex shapes, and last but not least, all those natural shelters which existed as a part of the natural world long before man appeared : nests, caves, hives, shells...’ - A Perez-Gomez in Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (Steil, 9) Man discerns Nature from the time he was born and thus the rules which guide nature were never in his control. It was always the need of Man to find its own position in nature in its infinitely extending timeframe. And thus the need to assert his position by moulding its constituents to find his relevance and validation remained the reason for his struggle leading towards making of his environment and eventually towards the idea of his own definition. The virtual and the real world here, are not defined by the ocular-centric definition but representing the non-physical parameters of nature which makes his environment. His power to imagine in the virtual and create in the real, is the relation that is significant to the idea of architecture, which is explored in time immemorable. It is this gap between the virtual and the real which Man tries to bridge in his struggle. It sets for him, the objective and the object of realization, respectively. And this involves a process of synthesis, where transmission happens from virtuality to reality, by the act of creation of an Idea into a Form. Thus, concisely, it is the creation of an image which drives the struggle for its realization, signifying the bringing of virtual imageries into the real world. This fundamental human nature of, creation, with this above stated need to find the relevance of his existence and of such essential existential reasons, involves a consequential attempt towards the ‘making’ of that image into reality. And this transmission happens through a process defined as synthesis. As understood that architecture is the tool to shape the relationship between Man and Nature, it is the medium for manifestation of this process of synthesis. And this manifestation incorporates all the ensembles of the two worlds - virtual and real, whose analogous interpretations can be termed as Ideas and Form respectively. Thus an image is not restricted and understood of its visual purpose only but is a resultant of his observations in nature and its subsequent formalization towards reality. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta






The mound is primal and its “making” is at the core of human intervention in nature. From the humble burial mound to the building of the pyramid, the mound authenticates the need for human commitment to “making” its simple beginning. The life of underworld opened the imagination, as the ancients gods of the family lived in the underground in their sacrificial pit.

The totem as an image fulfills each cultural demand, associated with the myths determining their existential demands. Whether obelisk, Eskimo totem, church steeples, or monuments, the totem is a universal image.

As an extension of image of making of a mound. It is earth extended. It stands as one of the greatest acts of “making” performed by humans. Stripped of its cultural context, the wall is shared human experience.

Intercedes between earth and sky, made by humans, it gives in a sense a remaking of the sky in human terms. From a simple gateway to the monumental Roman archway, the endless variations speak to the creativity of this recurrent image.

Display of specific images on “origins” of architecture indicating the instinctual act in priority to the intellectual act of man. The notes represent the quest for “origins” and an attempt to identify the “origins” as images. These images prioritize the role of poetic mode (instinctual) over the intellectual mode, where they are understood to be having no reference to time other than their ancient beginnings. 4. Illustrations representing “origins” of architecture, identifying them as “images” by Victor F. Christ-Janes, 1980.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

IMAGE AND REALITY “In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it, and over it.” - Johann Wolfganag von Goethe, Conversations with Eckerman (Greene, 9)

An image is a product of our mind percieved as the mind’s ability to create. This creation being present in mind is virtual because of its non-existent physical manifestation. As an act of perception it results in making of an idea which is informed by clues of the past. As said by Herb Greene in his work, Mind and Image, “Images offer us unique opportunities to become aware of the ingredients, the complexities, and the changes in our concepts so that we can reflect upon their significance. With the stabilization of specific sense data in an image we can ask questions about the origins and relevancies of concepts and feelings that are associated with the data. It is the mind’s ability to perceive the differences and similarities between a given perceptual act and a variety of past experiences permitting visual cues to produce a complex branching reaction, constituting itself ”. And thus understood further, Image, is an imitation, copy or a representation of something which creates a visual impression of a type or a typical example. An image, thus is a pool of information and knowledge, enriched with the existence of the past, and the present. And, its realization, the method to assert its ‘being’ in the present and the future. The term ‘image’ has varied formative usages - imagery, imagination, imaginal, imaginary and imagine, taking its relation from real to virtual with its synthetic interpretations. As understood above, the definition of IMAGE, essentializes the idea of re-making of something as representation of such impressions of the typical. While the term Reality is defined with the relation to realization as, fruition of something which is not merely pretended or imagined. “Thus an image is built up of many discernible components and is an organization of these components in a system that they do not remain as an assemblage of unrelated bits”. (Greene, 9) It is thus seen as an act of ‘assemblage’ in architecture, where it organizes components to create a singular impression or a representation, called an Image. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Illustration 5.The Sydney Opera House by John Urtzon, 1965

Illustration 6.Church Ronchamp, Rome by Le Corbusier, 1950-55

Illustrations representing an image (expressed by a sketch) percieved tranformed into reality (a building).


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

An important aspect of architecture, is to transform this ‘image’ into ‘reality’. The idea of this transformation permeates from their own defintions, where an image is understood as a representation or imitation of the impression of the type and reality, the manifestation of those notions from image. There it essentializes for one to know of this impression which is created from the type or the typical example, and the idea of typicality is grasped from finding the commoness from the existants. This commonality for typicality, is seen across the width and depths of our cultures and the forms of its representation.Their subject can vary from studying such models within different disciplines, but as we concern to Man’s built environment and his surroundings, we look across for such ideas, which make architecture. With this mention we understand, that we grasp from our existing world and understand about the factors that make our environment a result of habitual practices, defined as ‘traditions’, which are continued again and again due to their eternal values of success over time in the cultures that they are situated. ‘One way such continuity has traditionally been maintained is through the use of particular forms or objects that are culturally meaningful.’ (Greene, 9)

Solutions to our built environment of the time that we realize them, are a result of the changes that have occured and are constantly evolving and thus there is an element of change whose interpretations are integrated in the manifestations, which form the set of variation of interpretations. In the purview of the changed societies and our everchanging cultures, the roles that society plays in this process of synthesis of forms also change and thus from a traditional society1 where the collective is the reason for creation, it shifts to individual, who is the reason, in the contemporary time2. This shift in the role that collective and the individual play in the conception of forms is well documented and is an established thought. Thus, in the light of this paradigm shift of roles, we understand our cultures and societies contemporarily of the role of the individual, who is supposed to have grasped and is assumed as the source for representation of the values of past, present and future.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


An individual as seen as the representation of the resultant of society is positioned significantly in the contemporary culture2 and his being is understood to comprise of the two habits of his - the intellectual and the instinctual. Intelligence is the nature of his habit which is shaped by the existing environment, from which he grasps and develops ideas for forms in continuation of the existing world. Thus, it forms to him, the pool of information where from he starts to build, with the knowledge of how things exist, and is thus, essential to him and his society, as the initiative for the beginning of all creative acts. While on the other hand, the instinctual habit of man is a result of reasoning which is developed subconciously as a result of his changing environment and thus imbibes the values which drives his quest for creation of ‘new’. The rationale behind this instinctual thinking of an individual is reasoned in the fact that changes brought in nature can be accounted with changes in his living environment and his observence of such successes in nature give him the strength and reason behind devicing methods to bring such changes, to make him adaptive to his changing world. This quest brings compulsion to integrate the values of changing times, while innovating to create ‘new’, and form the reason for variations that are brought of his existential defining characteristics, as a species.

Illustration 7

Thus, in this matrix of combinations of virtual-real, image-reality, and their overcoming by the actions of his abilities, their essence can be understood within the terminology of architecture as - Ideas and Form. Where the understanding of the ‘virtual’ and ‘image’, of non- physical charateristics is permeated into the term, Idea ; while of those of ‘real’ and ‘reality’, with the term, Form. It is significant of Man’s built environment that the aspect of physicality has to be brought in direct concern, as it forms the essence of its understanding. Thus these interpretations are essential to appreciate as one approaches to the understanding of architecture, in its own language. Thus, as one begins to bridge this difference between thought and action, one follows to the concretization with translation of these Ideas into Form. Since this translation gets influenced by the existing world, a more adaptive way, is towards re-making by re-interpreting the existing models of nature. Thus, to re-make the existing forms for the present time or, to re-interpret the existing forms in the context of changing times, proves to be the methodology for architectural production. This is followed in similitude to the idea of an image, being an imitation or a copy of the existing.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

The idea of re-making involves re-interpreting the existing and adding what it lacks with respect to the changed environment. This element of integration is a resultant of the contemporary values and aspirations for our future. These values are unique as they are representative of specfic times, of their spirits frozen. The notion of re-making, imbibes in its meaning, these similar values which are unique, integrating them in their process of conception and realization, thereby leading to the enrichment of the existing set of values. This process of continuation of the established values assimilating the newer values is the nature which builds up the stock of our habits and traditions. And the assimilation of these newer values add on to this stock. The definition of re-making, itself inherits the idea of newness in integration, is the underlining premise in its understanding. And thus this undoubtedly leads to the addition of values inherently which are unique, to the existing or the previous. Such unique responses are a result of individual instincts rather than the intellect which is influenced more with the commonalities of the time. Thereby essentializing unique or new, during this remaking of plastic forms, as a part of its process. With the synthesis of this ‘realization’, as a subsequent act, it confirms to the urge of man for validation of this reality with the image. This is an important aspect which inspires to look back at his relation in nature, to assert his presence in nature and is the source of finding relevance of the integration of those unique values, of their presence. But the nature of such a confirmative act initiates an enquiry into the search of its source or origin. This search for origin is an inevitable act where man rationlizes his creation within nature. And this is a process which is recurrent over time. During this process because of the quality of architecture - of permanence of its objects, there is a heap of such images present, when one looks back, and in an unquestioned and an apparent manner, all the models3 produced by architecture of man , also failingly seen to become representation of the models of context and Nature. These models, especially in primitive cultures1, as seen by us in the contemporary times are also seen as models of nature, on the belief that their existence over the centuries give them the credit of their acceptence in harmony. And thus to understand this aspect of its validity, its significance creating its Identity, their appropriateness in time, is tested against their originals.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


This study is an attempt to understand that quality in architecture, of validation, of the ‘new’ with the ‘original’ by analysing it with concern to the aspect of its making. It is discovered that the context of traditions, in general supposed as the limiting factor while working with the individual’s creative potentials, is explored to re-affirm the fact that, it itself, is the source of imitation, understood as truly inventive and creative process of the discipline. Thus this study sees architecture, to meet its need for source for creation, actualised by the act of imitation, whereby involving re-interpretation of the originals, attempted over the time. And thus in this cumulative work of centuries it is understood as the process of integration or assimilation, in continuity which actualizes the making of, ‘new’. The case study selected to understand these aspects belongs to a primitive culture located in the southern hemisphere, in the Pacific Ocean, which is colonised by the French and thus dominated by colonialism, seeked a medium for re-assertion of its cultural heritage in the contemporary time. Thus the background of the project is laid with a historical, cultural and mythical heritage of the society for whose revalorization is the project been concieved, in a cross cultural mileu of the client, the architect and the users. Besides technical innovation, this project is also an example of social innovation which so much is understood by its architectural qualities, supporting such a cause.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

section 1 Part 2

Illustration 8 Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, Habitations of Man in All Ages.1875 Illustration demonstrating the form of the basic need of Man, of shelter, as original form in architecture.

Illustration 9 A Gazebo is a construction erected still with the idea of minimal elements arranged in the basic hut form, demonstrating the idea of continuity of the forms towards context where there is the need for the most basic forms of shelter.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

ARCHITECTURE - its nature ‘Architecture being understood as a practice where there does not exist any universal application, unlike other practises, whereby it essentially includes the factor of it being craft and an act of creation of the place.’ (Frampton, Tectonic, 24) The above expression essentially imbibes the idea of architecture being the art of ‘making’ as its criterion for definition, constant throughout all ages.The drift from the classical definitions of it being originated from craft to the modernist abandonment seeking towards the idea of bringing universalization in its physical nature, it followed by the end of modernity and emerged in the context of Phenomenology. Architecture thus, annexed in its definition of its art of making ‘forms.’ Contemporarily, it essentially looks back to itself in accretion with the notions of, Regionalism. And thus, claiming to stand distanced with other sciences and arts. “Unlike technoscience where there are universal parameters to be applied, architecture stands different. The proliferation around us is with technology, with its maximization (of industrial production) and consumption, which is aggravated, whereas architecture which as a craft and an act of place creation is excluded from this process of proliferation. Technoscience regards past as a series of obsolete moments for its upward trajectory of hypothetical progress, human sciences like architecture, cherish this lived past, and intends to reintegrate in the present.” (Frampton, Tectonic, 24) Thus it is a characteristic feature of architecture as a discipline to integrate its past to define and shape its present and future. Whereas, one understands architecture as the medium linking the two times, it responds to the fulfillment of the needs of the present, informed by the set of knowledge and information from the past, understood as traditions. With the purpose of creation in the present and the utmost likeness to preserve it for future, making of forms which respond to the changes of both the times (present and future), architecture integrates these aspects of change while re-making or innovating. Summarisingly, the defining characteristics of the discipline are : its nature implicit of the craft mentality4, as an act of creation of the place, with the idea of its dependence on its past, to integrate in its present, for future and thus establishing its presence across time in Nature. And this relation is further understood under its broader categories spanning over the two phases, discretely combined : past and present defining traditions, present and future defining innovations. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


TRADITION AND INNOVATION TRADITION Tradition is the notion which expands to cover ideas and thoughts across the past, the present and the future. Its definition inherently implicates towards all the three times, with which it shares the relationship - of its demands to look at our past in the present, to shape our future. It is the carrier of knowledge and information of our culture and thus as referred by Quatremere de Quincy, in his text, On Imitation (1823), and elaborated further by other authors, in and as, Tradition is the vehicle by which culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. The very word tradition is defined, in one of its senses, as ‘opinion or belief or custom handed down’. and thus, Tradition is an inheritance which we claim for future generations but do not own. (Greenberg, 40) Thus it essentializes, to be traditional, is by definition, to be both alive in the present and connected to the past, forming the source for its future. (Greenberg, 40) And as understood earlier, the need for Man to find validation of forms created by him, it is in the purview of the ideas of tradition that he tries to find relevance of his existence by checking against the forms already created due to such traditions. The idea of tradition as spans across all the three times, it in turn allows man to assure himself distancing from the history. Thus as Quatremere de Quincy informs again, helping us to understand the relationship by essentializing its spirit and its essence understood to be attainable only by distancing oneself from history. And this dependence on traditions for its manifestation is appropriated by imitation, as the source of architectural production. ‘Architecture has to depend on tradition, as appropriated by imitation. Neither Zeitgeist nor genius 1oci can be grasped by individuals or groups in specific periods without a historical distance.’ (Steil, 9)


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

INNOVATION The need for appropriation or relevance in the present times, in the purview of the fact that their solutions respond to the changed and changing issues of our environment, introduces the need to innovate. Which is the means to validate Man’s existence in the present and future. And this need to innovate, is shared by all acts of human existence, including architecture. As, Vittorio Gregotti said reflecting the need to innovate with traditions, Architecture cannot live by simply mirroring its own problems, exploiting its own tradition even though the professional tools required for architecture as a discipline can be found only within that tradition.(Frampton, Tectonic, 26) And as Kenneth Frampton describes establishing the relationship between the two, as, The transformed, transforming real is thus constituted not only by the material circumstances obtaining at the moment of lntervention but also by a critical intersubjective deliberation upon or about these conditions, both before and after the design and its realization. Material constraints aside, innovation is, in this sense, contingent upon a selfconscious rereading, remaking, and re-collection of tradition (Andenken), including the tradition of the new, just as tradition can only be revitalized through innovation. (Frampton, Tectonic, 23)

TRADITION AND INNOVATION - THEIR RELATION And thus one acquires the understanding from the above mentioned, and follows the relationship between the two as complementary. (Illus. 10) To understand this relationship, one considers tradition, providing the ‘context’ to work with where it provides the set of knowledge to apply in order to build. While on a successful event, it is this innovation which defines and set emergent and evolved meanings for traditions, which in turn will be accumulated in its heap of practices building traditions.

Illustration 10

And thus, ‘Architecture always sustain itself on tradition; it is a repetition, perfected imitation; it is both new and old at the same time.’ (Greenberg, 42) and in similar, as architecture depends on traditions to evolve, it is, the act of innovation which builds and enriches the culture of tradition. Where, innovation is defined as a resultant of a creative pursuit. Thus, Imitation becomes the tool to integrate traditions while making something ‘new’.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Illustration 11 : Elevation Drawing of the Altes Museum by Karl Friedich Schinkel, 19th century. Based on the principle of imitation by combination of ‘elements’ and ‘parts’ of an authentic ‘model’ of classical time (of Hellenistic origin), to give rise to a new building adapted to new programmes.

Illustration 12 : Sectional Drawing of the Gardener’s House, Charlottenhof, Potsdam by Karl Friedich Schinkel, 19th century. Based on rural vernacular models (the ‘primitve hut’) and classical fragments from ancient models, superimposed on new buildings.

Illustration 13 : Images of the interior of - Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris and Bibliotheque Ste Genevie, Paris; both by Henri Labrouste, 19th century. Based on use of new iron technology on traditional historic models of classical period, an authentic invention resulting from a ‘combination of models’.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

IMITATION Allan Greenberg, in Thoughts on Freedom and Imitation, says, Imitation was the method to approach design most used by architects of ancient Greece and Rome, the Byzantine and Gothic periods, and the Renaissance, and thus derived from this context it associates to the following meaning, “The process of Imitation is a means to confront and discourse with the past in order to assimilate and transform it according to present needs, where,... Rejection, acceptance or modification of norms as well as experimentation and innovation could be calculated at controlled by comparison with precedents.” As mentioned by, Quatrermere de Quincy, in his work Dictionnaire and On Imitation, develops an argument establishing mimesis or imitation as the common starting point for any process of artistic production. “Imitation is the basis of ‘invention’, which simply consists of a new combination of pre-existing elements: It is agreed, in effect, that man does not create in the elementary sense of the word. but that he simply finds new combinations of pre-existing elements; the same is true for the inventor who also finds such combinations . . .” (Linazosoro, 11)

Assuring that all the arts have, in the field of imitation, inexhaustible resources for satisfying this appetite, he argues further that “the principal enjoyment in a work of art lies in comparing the image with the model.” (Linazosoro, 11) And this precisely is the attempt in the thesis. Condillac went further and wrote in defence of the idea that imitation was the special attribute of man: ‘Man ended up being so different only by virtue of the fact that he started out as a mimic, and continues to be so; and the reason why animals of a single species don’t all act in the same manner is that they don’t have the same ability to copy that we do. Their society is not capable of those acts of progress which vary both our condition and our conduct.’ (Garric, 17) Mimesis or Imitation is the common starting point for any process of artistic production. Thus imitation ‘proves to be fictitious in relation to the reality of the model’ and, in its turn. ‘the image proves to be incomplete in relation to the imitation’. (Linazosoro, 11)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


It is the nature of Imitation, that it is a truly inventive and creative process which combines the seriousness of true scholarship, the talent of true and the intelligence of true inventiveness, the skills of true craftsmanship and the imagination of true creativity. Its objective is to create something ‘new’ out of the synthesis of an original model. (Steil, 9)

And thus, Imitation is the reconstruction of an original, ... (Steil, 9) Imitation mediates actively between tradition and reconstruction. It contributes to the constant enrichment of architecture and city building by new originals. It is concerned with the nature of things, their true appearance, and it reestablishes economy, propriety and beauty as the first principles of architecture. Imitation actualises the modernity of tradition in the context of reconstruction in which ecological, economic, humanistic and cultural concerns are intelligently integrated. (Steil, 9) The process of imitation as summarised by Sir Joshua Reynolds in his discourse VI, “Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images, which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory; nothing can come out of nothing.... if we were forbid to make use of advantages of which our predecessors afford us, the art would be always to begin, and consequently remain always in its infant state.... I am persuaded... that by imitation only, variety, and even originality of invention, is produced.....” (Greenberg, 43) Thus, imitation is the method to achieve inventiveness with our traditions while making or re-making, and is thus, the truth of the method for architectural production, instituting the idea of continuity, as a method to represent past or traditions, while integration as the process which help achieve it. CONTINUITY AND INTEGRATION Imitation culminates in assimilation or integration.(Greenberg, 43) Imitation then also functions as a means by which norms are passed from one generation to the next and adjusted to present needs. It is a way of expanding tradition by engagement with the past. And thus, Architecture, more than any other art, requires this integration for we see the cumulative work of centuries in one glance in our great cities. (Greenberg, 44) And thus, continuity as representative of the idea of traditions and integration as the method for innovation, where imitation, is understood to be the essential part of the synthesis of architecture. That as understood from mentioned above, eventually invites our enquiry for its sources of origin. 28

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

ORIGIN AND ORIGINALS Imitation invites an enquiry for the knowledge of its inspiration. ‘What are the roots of its origins?’, is thus often asked. ‘The first principle of imitation would thus be to study the originals to study them radically as first works and consider them as if nothing had come before them and nothing was to come after. The first step we have to make is to examine, if we are allowed the term, the genealogy and relation of our ideas, the causes that have given rise to them, and the characteristics that distinguish them: in a word, to return to the origin and generation of our knowledge.’ (d’Alembert, Discourse pre’liminaire to the Encyclope’die) (Steil, 8)

‘Origin here means that from and by which something is what it is and as it is. What something is, as it is, we call its essence or nature. The origin of something is the source of its nature.’ (Heidegger. Poetry,

Language, Thought) (Steil, 8)

It is the process of imitation which re-constructs the forms of origin, as originals. ‘By its constant reflection of origin, imitation becomes the legitimate source of originality. In the context of continuity, originals themselves become legitimate objects of imitation. They represent the immense patrimony of architecture, the most genial and original invention of mankind accumulated through millenia of imitation. This nature of imitations is the ‘reality’ of architecture. However one crucial question remains unanswered: if imitation is the very issue of architectural invention, and if origin is the very object of imitation. what then is this origin? (Steil, 8) Seen in the context of primitive culture, where it would be easily distinguishable, if one achieves the original and the imitation, as model (of reality) produced from an image, one will be tempted to find the first and the simplest reference of Man to shelter the hut, as origin, almost in all cultures. ‘The famous ‘primitive hut’ is but a metaphor for the origin of architecture in nature. It is however the most radical and inspiring way of exploring the nature of architecture, emphasing the mythical character of origin. What we reconstruct with the primitive hut has no memory; it itself becomes the original paradigm for architecture, the poetical evidence of archaic memories.’ (Steil, 9) ‘The primitive hut is a mythical, philosophical and artistic reconstruction, an original model which can be imitated and is thus the very nature of architectural invention.’ (Steil, 9)

And this forms the premise for the thesis to base the understanding by studying the model with its image, of the contemporary to the traditional. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Illustration 14 : Acquired from a friend in Goa, India, the following illustration interestingly shows the meaning of building or a shelter in its conventionally primitive sense, that all of us draw, when required to communicate. A hut, which represents buildings irrespective of its function and type.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


SEMPERS FOUR ELEMENTS Making of architecture in primitive cultures comprises of elemental entities, which are inherently tectonic5, because of their response to basic needs with the materials and techniques. Kanak culture, because of its Pacific origin is also primitive and thus, their dwellings - primordial. The use of ‘imagery’ of villages and huts in the conception of the design entails the comparison to its originals. A ‘hut’ seen as the origin of architecture, takes the proposed system of classification of an architectural entity based on anthropology and its theory of tectonics on ethnology. Forwarded by German architect, Gottfried Semper from his text, ‘The Four Elements of Architecture’ (1851), the classification distinguishes, the process of building and, by extension, craft production into two sets :

12 3 4

Figure 1

1. tectonics of the frame, in which light-weight, linear components are assembled so as to embody a spatial matrix, 2. the stereotomics of the earthwork, formed out of the repetitious stacking of heavy-weight units. 4

3 2 Figure 2

The four elements categorised under are : (1) hearth, (2) earthwork, (3) framework, and (4) a light-weight enclosing membrane (1) hearth : As representational of the first human settlement around fire and the community, it is the place of communal gathering as well as worship. As a moral element, it holds everything together around it. (2) earthwork : As base of the buidling, it connotes to, the way a building meets the ground and the way, the ground modulates for establishing its relationship with the building.

3 Figure 3

(3) framework : As elements present in the structure of walls and roof, it defines the structural hold of the building. (4) enclosure : As an element which separates outside to inside, a lightweight enclosure, it represents the skin.

1. hearth 2. earthwork 3. framework 4. enclosure Illustration 15 : Figures 1, 2 and 3 are drawings - Plan, Elevation and Section (part) respectively, based on Semper’s representation of the Caribbean hut. Illustration 16 : Semper’s classification of the role of two options.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

Understanding the architectural tectonics in terms of ‘building’, re-interpreted by Kenneth Frampton, mentions that, the tectonic element must have both ontological (technical) and representational (symbolic) qualities. Ontology explaining - reason for its ‘being’, as part of a structural function. In other words meaning that the structure should define the reason for the existence of an architectural being, and thus it is the reason for its ,’being’. Representational characteristics addressing the significance of the role it plays in the structural whole of a building. Appropriating it as hearth, representing the sense of purpose of the building and its idea of identity. podium (earthwork), gaining emphasis over the time, gives new importance to the non-spatial element, hearth. frame envelope

Illustration 17 : Frampton’s interpreted classification of the role of two options.

Illustration 18 : Relation of the elements to the options.

The following study seeks the understanding of both qualities of an architectural entity. It forsees the ontological nature as the rasion de e’tre of the structure categorized in the earthwork and the framework, while the representational nature in the hearth and enclosure. And at times it crosses across to define each self. As a general observation the reason and the rationale of the technical nature for the case study is found in the mythically traditional world and its direct or literal representation in the contemporary model, while the reason or rationale for the symbolic nature is found in the representation of newer ideas of identity, placed in the contemporary world as reflection from the traditional. In other words the point of departure for its need, for the technical nature is the traditional world, while that for the symbolic nature is contemporary. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


“...we understand history not simply because we make it but also because it has made us; we belong to it in the sense that we inherit its experience, project a future an the basis of the situation the past has created for us and act in light of our understanding of this past whether such understanding is explicit or not.� (Frampton, Tectonics, 24)


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

“…[E]very image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably…To articulate the past historically, does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it really was’… It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger…The danger affects both the content of the tradition and its receivers. The same threat hangs over both: that of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it. “

(Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History” [1940; pub.1950]; in Walter Benjamin Illuminations, Hannah Arendt (ed. and intro),(New York: Schocken, 1969) p. 255.) (Murphy, 77)


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


LOCATION Kanaks have settled over all the islands of New Caledonia and Dependencies between the continent of Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific (Illus.19). And in specific to the Southern Provincial harbour city, Noumea, in New Caledonia, (Illus. 20) which represents the community in terms of its identity, because of its pervasive population. CLIMATE Lenient Tropical climate with occasional storms tossing from the Pacific Ocean. Strong south-east Trade winds characterizes the climate of the place. LANDSCAPE The relief comprises, several hills, spread in sparsed fashion all over the peninsula. The lagon on the south-east end and the calm lagune, on the north-east side charaterize its local climate. VEGETATION Tropical types of typical pines, coconuts and the palm trees dot the place, alongwith luxuriant forest cover, covering the island throughout with many endemic species. HISTORY Occupying the island over three thousand years and later colonized by the French, they are presently governed by them. The community has not developed a national culture of its own. Thought of ‘culture’, as national by the indigenous population, their claim for independence was forwarded from the late quarter of the 20th century, as described by Caroline Graille from her work, Inheritance and Identity Kanak In New Caledonia, in the following phases : 1. 1970-1988 (politicized and militant) Marked with the assertion and the institutionalization of a representation of “us” kanak, their idea of its representation is built around an idealized common antiquated past. 2. 1988-2000 (pacifist and quasi-consensual) The Agreements of Matignon (1988), marking the need for development of the Territory with the creation of institutions and the implementation of measures dedicated to the culture Mélanésienne. Thereby, characterizing the nature of their culturism to be recognized as “retro-projection” of the present in the past. SITE The center is located on a promontory in the narrow Tina Peninsula, 10km from the capital city of Noumea. The entire complex is 230 metres long and enclosed in a setting of great natural beauty. (Illus. 21)

Same as that of the festival, Melanesia 2000 (organized in the year 1975), the site selection is representative of the mobilization of Mélanésiens around their identity, purposefully flashing their indegenious culture to the white world and with the objective of marking their not only cultural and artisitic, but also ideological and political inheritance. It also is the witness to the remarkable assertion of their traditionalist vision of the indegenious culture and the construction and the objectivation of an identity symbolic system. (Graille, 4) 36

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

Illustration 19

Illustration 20

Illustration 21

Maps showing the location of the Center.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta



ARCHITECTURE Relation to nature and the landscape forms the center of their idea of living. Myths, told and re-told as anecdotes contribute towards making of their villages and habitats, based on the conception of their mythical world. The Kanak Mythical world The Kanak Mythical World comprises a path explaining the five sequences of life with vegetation, of undifferentiated relations to the nature and the landscape around. Called as ‘The Kanak Path’, it is a result of such beliefs. First stage: CREATION, which is explained by the myth that one day, the moon lost one tooth, and this tooth fell to the earth, in the water. There was a plant in the water, and as the tooth fell, from a hill came a small worm, and between the plant and the worm, came the first Kanak. Second stage: AGRICULTURE (nourishing earth), believing that the first Kanak arrived there were small red men, all around him, who took him by hand and brought him on the earth to explain him how to live with nature. Third stage: ENVIRONMENT (habitat) and where the red small men explained to the first kanak how to build the hut. Fourth stage: the country of the DEAD, which is a taboo place. Fifth stage: RE-BIRTH, which believes that when you die, your spirit goes out of your body through the stone of the sea and then into the sea. (Mlyake, 99) KANAK VILLAGE

Illustration 22

Schematic Layout pattern (sketch) of Kanak village.


Kanak tribes live in community villages, as the highest form of congregational community living structure. Built as a series of huts which distinguish the different functions and hierarchies of the tribes and a central alley along which the huts are dispersed, the village structure characterizes dwellings as, ‘Great Houses’, linked by a long, gently curving enclosed pathway, which winds through the dense natural vegetation. Kanak village embibes the idea of its essence, with the central alley leading to the approach of the chief’s hut while the huts of people occupy the landscape across this alley in natural vegetation where there is clear area for construction of their dwellings. A harmonious relationship, they assert with the making of their dwellings is characteristically specifc, alongwith the linear character of their villages. The path cuts through the dense vegetation flanking on the sides of the alley gives it the character of intimate space, which while opening into the space of their dwellings is representative of the release of space and assertion of the earth sky relationship, of each dwelling. (Illus. 22) Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

KANAK DWELLING (Hut) Illustration 23

FORM There are varying proportions for the traditional hut, (Illus. 23) but most are tall in nature, sometimes achieving proportions of upto nine metres diameter by twelve metres height. In general, they are around five meters(radius)with height of eight meters, with a high crown like wooden structure dotting the apex of the roof. A flexible constructional system makes it resistant to cyclones. STRUCTURE

Illustration 24

Illustration 25

The Kanak huts have paved ground with sand which is hollowed out for the centre post. Taken from a large tree, moved and erected on site this big column (center post) is placed in the center representing the big chief, and the columns around symbolize the small chiefs, protecting the big chief, forming the main structure.(Illus. 24) The secondary wood structure connecting the columns represents the spirit because the big chief and the small chiefs are in relation by the spirit. To hold the structures together, a rope made from coconut fibre made by women is used, who are considered as connecting the relations between men, between men and spirits. Subsequently, palm leaves are weaved in the secondary structure with grass over it to protect from running rain water, leaving their ends free on the outside. (Illus. 25) Woven diagonally in a criss-cross fashion with the purlins, they are tied in layers, leaving only the leaves or grass to be seen from outside (Illus. 26), retaining the structure visible from inside. (Illus. 27)

Illustration 26

CONSTRUCTION The Wall : The traditional hut has primary structural system comprising of the centre-post with the peripheral columns which are interspersed with thin columns. All these columns are tied with rope to the horizontal running purlins, making the secondary structure. For infill, grass is woven tightly vertically.

Illustration 27

The Roof : Constructed of slant beams over the columns, they are tied to a horizontal rim at the junction of wall and roof. Similar rims run horizontally as primary rafters while the secondary rafters run vertically in full length completing the framework of the main structure. Purlins distanced diagonally to the rafters give additional structural stability. Palm leaves tied to the purlins run vertically in weave fashion, purposes for enclosure.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


PRESENT STATE OF ARCHITECTURE AND TECHNOLOGY The skills that come with the practical making of their dwellings using traditional knowledge and skills is loosening up.Their dwellings were condemned by the administration as unsanitary and are replaced by Europen style constructions. However, the closed hut is much better adapted to hot days, cold nights and mosquitoes of most rural areas, than the corrugated iron shacks that are bulit to replace them. With time, the exible construction of the traditional hut came to be appreciated, making it resistant to cyclones. (Dahl,Traditional)


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

The following part of the discussion reflects on the non-physical parameters as mentioned previously which relates to representational or the symbolic aspects of the factors of making. In other words they form the reasons behind the idea of making of the Center, as they represent significance of historical, social, political alongwith the mythical factors.


1. A result of The Agreement of Matignon, (1988), imagined in appreciation of the fight for recognition and revalorization of Kanak cultural identity and their inheritance, the Center came out of a design competition floated in 1989, by French Government’s recognised administrative entity called Kanak Cultural Development Agency (ADCK), who became the client for the project. This was won by Renzo Piano, of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in 1991. 2. Marking the memory of struggle of the man who came to personify it: Jean-Marie Tjibaou, whose idea of representation of traditions and the changing values of the time, were understood to be embodied in the manifestation. And in honour of such strategically unusual innovative position, of claiming for recognition and renewal, beyond a direct return to its traditions (Murphy 79), the idea for Center’s conception was to be influenced in this historical context. 3. Last of the seven Grand Projects “Grands Travaux de la Republique” of the government of Francois Mitterand (along with the Louvre Pyramid), this was in many ways the most innovative of the projects recording the historical ambition of Mitterand’ presidency. (Murphy 81) 4.The first piece of architecture representing Pacific culture to the world (Walker), as described by Marie-Claude Tijibou, wife of Jean Marie Tijibou, in her words mentioning the significance of the need for the Center, as, “Before there was no one place in New Caledonia, the country of the Kanaks, containing all the available information about our society.The Territorial Museum [devoted to traditional Melanesian culture] represents the memory, while the Cultural Centre, although it is partly the memory too, is primarily our present and future mark on the landscape and the architecture. It will be a mirror for our continuous development and for the upheavals in our society and in our lives ... But the Cultural Centre is also a very suitable place for welcoming other cultures, those of the other people of this country and also the cultures of the world.” (Murphy, 82)

This is further established in accord to significance, as explained regarding the objectives of the Center, by Octave Togna, the Director-General of the ADCK team,

“The ADCK’s four objectives also reflect the two-fold dimension which always suffused his approach: roots in the past, but a concern to integrate culture into contemporary society. The heritage collection and research objectives frame the two others: cultural exchanges in the Pacific and identification of new modes of expression.” (Murphy, 82)


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

Summarised essentially situating the significance of the project lastly, by Emmanuel Kasaherou, Cultural Director of the Center Culturel Tijibou, as, “The Centre’s history is also imprinted with a broader vision, a reflection on

the relationships that develop between a local culture moving towards various transformations and a universe in perpetual motion.The Centre asks questions about the globalisation of cultures as well as universality”


As a result of colonization and what is defined as ‘colonial tragedy’ in reference to the events of the late 1980s of the region, the remarks by Alban Bensa, the anthropologist who worked most closely to Renzo Piano throughout the whole project, indicate towards the political will for such a place. In his words, “The Centre would never have come into existence if it weren’t for the

events which between 1984 and 1989 propelled Kanaks onto the national and international political scene...” (Murphy, 80)

Thereby initiating, 5. The claim for the right to political autonomy with the reification of national culture, which was understood to be achieved through two ways : its safeguarding and its development. Wherein the idea of safeguarding maintained by achieving the recognition of the ‘State Kanaky’, while the later by formalizing public institutions which will become the guarantors of conservation of their indigenous cultural tradition. And thus a museum is of primary importance in their combat which people carry out, a nation for the re-conquest of its identity lost at the time of the period of colonization. (Graille, 7) Another reason marking the political will for the Center was due to, 6. The loss of a major part of their artistic inheritance destroyed at the time of evangelization, collected over a period of time were dispossessed to the Occidents and thus are required to incarnate their nation from its reduced inheritance, Thereby transforming their old museums of “curiosities” into a true place of national memory. Marking the remembrance of the Festival “Melanesia 2000” (1975), where they appeared to become aware of their inheritance, beyond their regional idiosyncrasies for the representation of a national cultural unit. The festival found its significance perceived like cultural or artistic, but well like ideological and political concerns. (Graille, 8)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


The need to represent their cultural and social identity, expressed in terms of its representation of the memories of their past looking forward to their future, is the underlining thought contributing towards the making of the image. SOCIO-CULTURAL Factors

7. Jean Marie Tijibou’s influence : The notion to distance oneself from past to assert their presence in the present and for future in a cultural context formed the idea for the conception of the Center. This was derived from Jean Marie Tijibou’s assertion towards bringing an innovative historical consciousness in the contemporary times as against the tragedies due to their colonization. He was the leader of the pro-independence movement in the French Territory of New Caledonia during the 1980’s, who fought for recognition of the cultural identity of the Kanak people. As the Center is named after him, his contribution towards the revival of their cultural heritage is earmarked with what he said in reference to their idea of cultural representation.

“The return to tradition is a myth… No people has ever achieved that.The search for identity, for a model: I believe it lies ahead of us… Our identity lies ahead of us.” (Murphy, 77)

Tijibou’s rejection of an ‘archaeological’ conception of culture, anchored in fixed tradition, called for a new conception to be pursued. In his own words, he posed the post-colonial vision for New Caledonian society, questioning the idea of traditions as, (Murphy 79) “Pacific islanders, once assured of the conventional forms of response of their traditional cultures, which confirm them in their feeling of continuity and permanence, need new responses, suited to their new circumstances and using strong communication techniques...We are always talking about traditional culture; but what does traditional mean? … I think our conception of culture is too archaeological; people seem to think that authentic culture has to come from the past; on the other hand, all contemporary creativity is perceived as having to be authenticated, perhaps by time ...The existential dimension of our heritage is now emerging with today’s youth in styles of music and new formats, which do not express centuries-old life but speak of today’s suffering and joy, life as it really is today.”

The congruence of this memory of past and the engagement of both tradition and social evolution to mobilize and move forward into a world of change, was decisive in forming the background for comprehending the essence and spirit of their culture. (Murphy 78) And this formed a task for representation of this image, in the Center. 8. The dominance of the cultural legacy associated with the need to represent aspects of their cultural anthropology, defined as Ethnology, the Center in such context demanded a synthesis of such aspects in its making. And as aptly defined by Alban Bensa, the Center being a result of an ‘ethnological synthesis’ (Bensa, L’Ethnologue), followed in a decisive turn towards the realization of such images from the Kanak culture 44

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

9. In response to the idea and the philosophy of the ADCK team, “to create a ‘symbol’ : a cultural center devoted to Kanak civ-

ilization, the place that would represent them to foreigners and that would pass on their memory to their grandchildren.”(Mlyake, 92), the following


remarks, mark the position that Renzo Piano took on philosophical grounds after winning the competiton for the Center, in agreement to his own understanding of the notion of ‘culture’. “When we say ‘culture’ we usually mean our own : a fine soup blended from

Leonardo da Vinci and Freud, Kant and Darwin, Louis XIV and Don Quixote. In the Pacific it is not just the recipe that is different but the ingredients as well.We can approach their soup with detachment, bringing our own cutlery. Or we can try to understand how it was born, what philosophy of life has shaped it… I didn’t bring my own cutlery. All I brought were my skills and those of the building workshop : the techniques needed to create spaces and construct buildings. My proposal had made the effort to be born there, thinking Kanak.Working in the antipodes, with people whose existence was almost unknown to me just a few months earlier, was a wonderful challenge... The spirit of the Pacific is ephemeral, and the constructions of the Kanak tradition are no exception.They are born out of unity with nature, using the perishable materials it provides. The continuity of the village in time is not based on the duration of the individual building, but on the preservation of a topology and a pattern of construction. When drawing up the project, we worked on both lanes. We sought a strong link with the territory, which would embed the center in the geography of the island. From local culture we stole the dynamic elements, the tension that would serve to bind the construction to the life of the inhabitants...” (Mlyake, 92)

In response to his understanding and belief towards the need to achieve recognition of their culture in the global context, the following comment summarizes his ideology for the project. “True universality in architecture can be attained only through connection with the roots, gratitude for the past, and respect for the genius loci. Balance and harmony, integration and mediation, cultural and ecological sensitivity, are themes of an architectural language that can produce innovation without ignoring context.”(Mlyake, 93)

The above mentioned remarks emphasize to interpret the building from its contextual resources forming part of his belief that architectural invention cannot ignore history or tradition, when he said, “...These elements are the basis, the form on which to build, uti-

lizing only the basic skills of an architect to translate history, geography, geology, and climate into architectural innovation.” (Corciega)

Thus, the choice of integrating correspondences of plastics between its creation (reality) and the kanak universe (image), over the decision of taking the image as reference and imagining rigorously functional spaces, formed the concious premise for the architect. (Bensa, 8)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


FORM Piano’s remarks on the challenge that involved in the making of the formal expression of the Center, gives an important insight into the idea of imitation, as the method for architectural production for the Center. In confirmation to the continuity of traditions and appropriation of form, associated with the idea of rationality and validation (as mentioned earlier), the following remark signifies the attempt towards it. “The project for the Tjibaou Cultural Center…was the most reckless of my many ventures into other fields. The dread of falling into the trap of a folkloric imitation, of straying into the realm of kitsch and the picturesque, was a constant worry throughout my work. At a certain point I decided to tone down the resemblance between ‘my’ huts and those of local tradition, by reducing the length of the vertical elements and giving the shells a more open form; in the final version, in fact, the staves no longer meet at the top as had initially been planned. The wind tunnel [test] proved me right, showing that this produced a greater effect of dynamic ventilation…”(Murphy, 85),

Further, as Emmanuel Kesarherou expressed on the remarkable aspect of Piano’s adaptation of traditional Kanak building idioms, is the element of an ‘incomplete’ architecture. “For the main part of the [centre]…Piano has incorporated the Kanak concept of a central avenue aligned with groups of grand case (Kanak chiefs’ houses). However, Piano has translated this form, giving it a profound new expression: the circular structures of the ‘grand case’ soar up to thirty metres in height but they are not thatched nor are the walls fully clad. ‘Reminiscent of (Kanak) houses but opening onto a dream of the future’, they have a feeling of incompleteness, bringing to mind that Kanak culture itself is not static but is always open to change.” (Murphy, 85)

Thus, from Pacific culture Piano took the ideas of the village cluster and the ribbed huts, creating an explicit visual link from the buildings in the vernacular, to the curved structure of the abstracted huts within the cultural center. These huts are constructions of a dual purpose, as they serve to link the new architecture with tradition and form a balance between nature and building.And this relationship seen in the context of transcultural associations reach towards a new kind of organic unity, returning towards some of the early modern and even pre-modern aspirations within architectural history. It, thereby seeks a new kind of synthesis, arousing awareness of the past, but avoiding postmodern devices of quotation. (Murphy 83)


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

STRUCTURE AND CONSTRUCTION The language of construction, materiality, and spatial permeation in relation to the site are prominent aspects explored within the building design. Expressed by Piano on the aspect of selection of the language of construction, in his own words, the following mention explains his idea in concern of making. “I think it is important to work on the intangible elements of space. Light, transparency, vibrations, grain, colour… In order to enhance the intangible elements, I started from…lightness. The need to lighten teaches you how to work on the form of the structures, to learn the breaking strength of the pieces, to replace stiffness with flexibility… The quest for lightness automatically brings us to something very precious, and very important in poetic language: transparency.” (Murphy, 84)

Significant in the relation to the detailing of the architectural language of the center by Piano, the following statement by Emmanuel Keasarherou, is worth quoting,

“Renzo Piano felt that the material covering the facades should evoke the idea of weaving, a kind of frugality in the natural material. Using references such as basketwork, mats and fishtraps, the architects did extensive research on how to use the materials, the structures of traditional objects, the various strata which overlie each other, to create the current façade with its overlapping wooden slats. You can sense the outline of a piece of weaving work, the interwoven materials which make full and empty spaces, light and shade.... The house designs also result from a long process of trial and error. The first attempts were not satisfactory and the ADCK representatives could not identify with them. The architects ended up by basing their design on pictures of traditional building in which bindings and structures are always visible. Similarly, the details of the structural timber and the steel can easily be seen here.” (Murphy, 85)

Concludingly, as defined by the client ADCK, the cultural center was intended to be the visible focus and physical manifestation of their mission statement, in the light of the historical, political, and other socio-cultural context, put concisely as, the purpose for the museum,

1. Documentation, promotion and development of Kanak cultural heritage (archaeology, ethnology, linguistics…) both inside and outside the country. 2. Promotion of contemporary forms of expression of Kanak culture (creativity). 3. Study and development of cultural practices, enabling definition of a cultural policy turned towards the future, together with institutional partners (the three provinces) and cultural associations. 4. Promotion of international cultural exchanges, especially in the Pacific region. (Murphy, 87)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


CONCLUSION : As mentioned previously the role of physical context as represented by the architecture of the Kanak villages and their dwellings, against the non-physical context due to the presence of its historical, political, mythical and socio-cultural history, the formation of ‘Image’ and its synthesis into the ‘Reality’ presented the inherent knowledge for both. As explained by Alban Bensa from his work, the project demonstrates exemplary model for such a process where anthropological aspects are in synthesis with architectural processes seeking an innovation of social transformation. And seen in that perspective the Center, is a representative of this integration, where physical models3 from the traditions are assimilated with the changing values of the time. The idea of imitation from the originals/precedents as presented from the culture taken forward for transformation into forms which reflect employment of techniques in contemporary relation, while making the Center. Further in relation to the method of ‘making’, the idea of innovation in architecture as assemblage of its elements, and not any re-invention in absolute, is recognized in words of Alban Bensa, again,

“ create... does not mean that he invents it, as one is too often likes a statement today, but that it arranges certain elements of them so that they have a direction with the eyes of those which do not know it.”(Bensa, 11)

From this further, a reflection on the architect’s practise will explain on the background of the individual’s creative pursuits. Thereby allowing an insight into the creative aspects associated to the making of the project, characterstic of the general to that of the specific for understanding of this thesis.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

ARCHITECT’S PRACTICE HIS BELIEFS Grounding beliefs of the architect demonstrated from his practise, have been looking towards, the ‘art of making’ as the method to approach architecture. With the emphasis, his practice gives on re-establishing the importance of ‘making’, the craft mentality, with the need for assertion of technology to work for the contemporary requirements, the tag of ‘hi-tech’ conferred to his works, though is diverted towards soft objectives which it is reconfirmed in his own words, as, ‘architecture is a contaminated art on which everything impinges, its not about drawing but about making of things, it requires a balance between science and craft, head and hand, experiment and memory; it is not necessary for technology to be incompatible with nature and history.’ (Leyveld, 19)

His belief that as in science the first hand observation, analysis and decipherment of the physical environment, without insisting on morphological reproduction and mimetic representation of the natural world, exists. It is at the same time imperative for architecture to follow in similar suite, while instituting the language of architecture to be followed by a creative individual. His work has been concentrating on a defined path, even from the time of inventing the space frames in the workshop. The understanding that, his attitude may be considered naïve, but has believed in the know of the problem, which is to dissect and memorize the structural factors, the visible aspect of constructional processes. (Massimo. 7) His trust on his instincts to seek most natural and least contrived solutions to design pursues flight over architectural dogmas and theories. This has led to the two indespensable characters of his works : taste for methodological experimentation and a refined understanding of the techniques of making. And in the same, his rejection of the restoration of formalism, mannerisms, and the exhibitionist iconography, in the times of Post-Modernism, (dismissing it as an“aberrant phenomenon”), places the creative impulse before construction techniques to redirect the new generation along a path of aestheticism. This complicated but precise nature of his understanding of the changing times and thus the methods for production, emphasize on his urge to integrate both - the scientific methods with the artistic skills of creation, in his practise. The underlining frame of thought is demonstrated through his ouvre, beginning with his contribution in the Centre Pompidou with architect, Richard Rogers till the present time works, in light of the Kansai International Airport, where his search orients towards the idea of an organic unity in emergence, This is in respect to the present time demands from architecture responsive to the occurence of changed perceptions and changed methodologies of its production. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Illustration 31 : IBM Travelling Exhibition

Illustration 32 :The Menil Collection, Houston

Illustrations showing the characteristic methodology undertaken in the practice by the architect, from a sketch, as representative of the ‘image’ through the process of experimentation and prototyping till the final creation, as representative of ‘reality’.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

And thus, the employment of technology and its characterstically neutral and ‘hard’ nature, as he believes should be integrated with the humanistic inclination of our times, where social and cultural objectives and their attainment encourages the role of architecture, relevant to the present needs. The idea of social responsibility as the emergent need, is in significance here, that architecture has to shape it, through its making. This was demonstrated with his projects on the Mobile Workshop for Senegal and the Neighbourhood Workshop for Otranto, from 1978-79. The nature of his practise in the early years laden with the search and further experimentation with newer materials and technologies to achieve solutions for changed needs are reflective of his inquisitive nature, where the focus relies on finding local solutions for specific problems. Even with the increased international exposure in his practise, the emphasis still stays on finding the local solutions for issues which are specific to the land or the region. And thereby his belief in architecture, that it should not stay stagnant, depending on the methods of yore years and its subsequent laurels, it should look at each oppurtunity to devise its own working solutions. His belief in the presence of contradictions in such an enlarged context, becomes important, which should be integrated in all architectural practises, as he believes. But the nostalgia of the art of making should guide the way towards its attainment, stays as his founding methods of practising architecture. Thus, in the light of his insistence on the craft mentality in architecture, as its characterstic nature, becomes a significant aspect to study this present work. HIS PRACTISE The diverse nature of his works demonstrate his unflagging inventiveness and a precision to response to the particulars of the project, are due to his understanding of the world as, ‘ever changing’- a sense that we are living in it and must be true to such changing times. Exploiting the former, by combining and finding new potentials in materials and pushing forward the frontiers of technology as well as of being involved in the very physical nature of prototyping and construction.While the later, based on his instinctual trust and non-dogmatic confirmation to ‘bogus creativity’ and community participation as design guidelines to adapt and reshape the specific needs. (Massimo, 9) That besides, his practice adopts and iterates the inspiration of modernity, of transparency and lightness (the antithesis for gravity), a quality he is obsessed with. And the demonstration of which has followed from the early works of his career, from IBM exhibition through the Menil collection and the Kansai Terminal in Japan.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


The insistence that archiecture should take a forehand approach towards social and cultural revolution that is happening all around, is noticeable specifically in the present work.The idea that in the present perspective, architecture should not only associate itself with the demonstration of technological innovation but also, social innovation, is the reason that the thesis premise is influenced with. This, in reflection to what Vittorio Gregotti mentions,

“In the course of [the lastJ thirty years, during which the obsession with history emerged and developed, the belief has taken root that architecture cannot be a means for changing social relationships...” (Frampton, Tectonics 26)

seems to be taking shape. Returning back to his practise and elaborating on the pre-stated idea of non-confirmation of his practise to architectural theories can be confirmed by the following quote,

“Honestly, architecture is a very dangerous profession....You develop a kind of style and you get trapped in the style... The only way to escape is to give priority to the emergent part of the iceberg, everything that is not really visible but that makes architecture. That is topography. That is geography. It’s history. It’s society. It’s anthropology...The idea that what is supporting architecture is not architecture. It’s actually everything that gives the sense for architecture.” (Lelyveld, 19)

While the idea of contradiction present and responded through his practise, is asserted when he says, “I believe in contradiction. I

really believe that we should not even try to sort out those contradictions. Architecture is about contradictions. Its about stability and instability. It is about memories and invention.... Architecture is very materialistic. But at the same idealistic.” (Lelyveld, 19)

And this nature shall be seen in the course of study while anlysing the decisions that made the making of the Jean Marie Tijibou Cultural Center. HIS LEARNING People and their influences on his career, concisely, can be expressed as under, Frie Otto, of his experimental work and curiosity to natural world, Z.S. Makowsky – of his mathematical approach , Pier Luigi Nervi to Jean Prouve – of conceptual gestation and execution, concept and craftsmanship, Franco Albini- of his stubborness to reject slipshod, Marco Zanuso – of handling material, Kahn – of dedication and of the most, his contractor dad for the ‘love’ of ‘making’.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

“The Reality emerges seeking balance between history and new technology, in an answer, considered once, impossible, of sharing the universality of a modern architectural language with the obscurity and tradition of the Kanak culture. An experiment of ethno-architecture leading to the invention of plastic forms, it establishes to arrange certain elements to set the directions with the eyes of those which do not know of the culture.” (Bensa,11 )


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Illustration 33 : Site Plan of the Center


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

section 2


STEREOTOMICS OF THE EARTHWORK marking the site SITE The site is located on the southern part of the island in the capital,Noumea. A place where urban Kanaks can rediscover their roots and non-kanaks can discover the universal elements from the Kanak culture. Its locationing on the site of the festival Melanesia 2000, commemorates the significance of their demand for recognition of their indigenous culture, to celebrate which the festival was organised in 1975.





SITING The site is separated from the mainland and lies in the midst of natural beauty, surrounded by trees, on a peninsular territory, with a lagune on the north-west and a lagoon on the south-east end. The curve along the promontory ridge, gave the idea for alligning the circulation spine of the scheme(A1), while the three bare patches on the site extending down the gentle slope to the lagoon, gave the idea to site the spaces for ‘villages’(A2) there. All this without touching the vegetation formed the premise, considering its significance as an integral part of the design. Significant in terms of the landscape, it provides and later the scale for the ‘cases’. (A3) This was a result of what, the architect had earlier classified as hard and soft sides of the site, which followed in the making of the form, with the south-east side of the sea recognizing the sectional asymmetry of the site, by the tall curved srokes resembling the ribs of the final cases, rising above the steep slope from the sea. This was the hard side, while the soft side had horizontal strokes, the flat roofs, descended over the less steep slope to the lagoon. (A4) The siting of the center on a separated part of the mainland is symbolic of the idea of keeping the center in quietness, its presence on the peninsular edge of the mainland open towards the sea, also marks the idea of the Kanak culture wish to reach to the world for recognition. The sensitivity in the conception of the plan to place the larger space of the auditorium on the north-west bulge of the site, utilizes its advantage further by erecting a colonnade structure at the edge of this part of the site with a path laid extending further into the sea. This structure provides a point of rest along the Kanak Path and takes the visitor to the extreme end in that direction, where the whole building spans in opposite direction to the view at the height of the ridge.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta







Entrance to the site is from the north, with car parking between this and a gatehouse that controls vehicular access to the rest of the site. Beyond here, the road passes a vehicular drop off, which loops off the road between the gatehouse and the path leading to the cultural center.(A5) The road then extends past a short road leading to the service tunnel beneath the cultural center (from which an offshoot can take emergency vehicles to a terrace besides cafeteria) to reach a group of flat-roofed buildings in the southerly arm overlooking the sea. These are a restaurant, accomodation for visiting school children and artists, studios for the latter. (A6) At the end of the looping, a paved path descends to, and edges, the lagoon, before climbing through dense vegetation to meet the corner of the flat roof projecting forward furthest towards the lagoon.(A7) From here, two paths could be taken. One, a broad straight path, sheltered by colonnade on one side , leading up to the entrance of the center. (A8) Other, plunging down in the vegetation, called the Kanak Path, based on their mythological and cosmological beliefs. (A9) Thus the building can be approached from two points, but not from ends.This is due to the Kanak belief, that such a direct path could only be taken by the chief and thus for approach for others, an around path is made, thereby leaving the ends without any entrance points, but in turn enchancing the experiential possibilities of the building by following the indirect path for entrances. Following the Kanak path, allows one to be exposed to the flora and fauna of the region, marking the significance of theirs, in the Kanak living environment. All the aspects of their anecdotes of life, from birth to death are represented on five points along this path. The approach to the building can also be experienced with the duration between the approach and the entrance. Here in the Center it allows for a short length from the drop off point to the entrance, while another one of the Kanak Path which is long, curves in the vegetation along the edge of the peninsula. The short approach is paved and drops initially until it reaches to the edge of the colonnade where from it rises towards the entrance.Thus involving an experience of plunge into the vegetation and then the building which appears to be emerging , alligned directly in line to the medium case of village 1.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta



Such an approach marked with distancing on the north-west stretch all along the building on the steep slope side of the lagune (refer A7), produces experiences by accentuation of the open side of the form.(A10) While at the same time the kanak path running on the south-east side attaches itself to the ridge where the cases with their evocative heights are situated. Thereby again producing accentuation of experiences of scales and heights, by altering in the distancing of the path. (A11) A11





The situating of the building on the ridge asserts a value of and as an artefact to the building, circulation around which is made, all over. (A12) Thus the entrance to the building is through two points (A13), the former from the south-west end between village 1 and village 2, where the cases present a progressive organizational layout, representative of the linear conďŹ guration, of the nature of the Kanak village. The entrance here brings a direct entry into the central alley, with dense vegetation on the opposite side, thereby conďŹ ning the entry between high rise of the cases and the vegetation. The entrance here is direct into the central alley unlike the distinctive north-east entrance. (A14)

The north-east entrance with transition from an open outside approach to the intimidating volume of the central alley at the entrance produces harmonious contrast, as the sense of sight could still experience the presence in the environment due to the glass walls along the length of the alley but the sense of sound changes. With this transition from an open volume to lower volume which is quiet. Also this transition is marked with a dark shaded entrance of the center than the open outside of the approach. (A15) This free nature of volumes is further continued once entering the cases, whose volumes are larger than the central alley volume. Also the two entry points (refer A13) which are staggered along the length of the building, convey the meaning, thereof of the circulation alley in the Kanak village attached to which are their dwellings, distanced in the vegetation, and it being a free path. The similar nature has been kept in announcing such an ideology for approach to the building. Contrastingly the points of entry to the central circulation spine are normal to the length. Another marked contradition to the idea of approach in the buidling with the Kanak alley of the villages is the nature of approach. In Kanak village it conďŹ rms to a divergent approach, while in the Center its representation in the form of the central spine follows a convergent approach, due to the stacking of the cases along the central spine. Thus the idea of approach is inverted in the center.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


The nature of the approach with the entrance, is also in sync with the feel of the outside environment. (A16) Once passing through the landscape, the entrance with the slated roof and the slated ribs give an image similar to the experience of light filtering through the trees, which can be understood in similitude with the pathway of the Kanak village covered on the sides with dense vegetation, allowing filtering of light on the pathway. ENTRANCE A16


The entrance to the Center leading to the reception, marks visually the asymmetrical distribution of the cases, which is planned to house the artefacts from the Pacific culture in the two cases on the left.They are relatively more public and thus open in character, separating it with the right end of the Center which houses activities of semi-formal to formal nature in length and public to private under cases and flat roof, respectively. (A17) This entrance is marked only by the Reception desk, while no other structure defines it.The dark nature at the entrance is soothing to the visitor as it functions as an end of recluse at the end of the approach path, signifying the approach and destination analogy.(A18)


The roof recedes at the entrance creating a gesture of inwardness, so much a character of the Kanak culture, evident from their village structure which is inward looking. This is an experience of articulation of light as an architectural element to mark the entrance, where serrated light through its flat roof is present on the other sides. (A16) CIRCULATION



The form and scale of the circulation space, which is a linear linking element,(A19) in the form of a curve following the topography of the site follows the notion of a village path, on sides of which lies the huts, representing the ephermal character, in complete translation. In contrast to the village huts which follow a path of approach as an extension, which was used in design in literal sense at initial stage, was refined to the cases attaching themselves to the main circulation alley. This in the stages of development of design was a significant change, as the deisgn shifted from a tourist village idea to the present form of stacked cases as an institution. In contrast to the earlier designs, where the circulation path was segregated in the similar pattern of the Kanak village with an analogy of the pattern of leaves,(A20) the design was refined into one linear circulation path with spaces placed on its both the ends, and thereby it becoming one long connecting path for movement.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta



The circulation central alley defines the layout of the building with its spectacular dimensions running 230m and as narrow at places at 5m.(A21) Its low height at 2.31m and covered roof, (A22) opens along its length with glass louvered walls, thereby establishing visual connection with outside. (A23) With such proportions it brings contrast when it opens into the volumes of cases. It is though, flanked by open patios (A24) on sides but maintains its narrow character along the length, as a strong connecting element.




The presence of the linear axis marks the disposition of elements of functions with marked distinction, as all the cases are housed on one side while the flat roof areas on the other. Such distinctive pattern of disposition is due to the climatic reasons as well in response to the topography of the site, as mentioned - the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ side of the site, additionally asserting of its symbolic value. HIERARCHY The principle of hierarchy implies that there are differences in or among the forms or spaces, reflecting degree of importance of forms, spaces, function, formal or symbolic roles, they play in organization. And such articulation is present in the Center made visibly unique with - its exceptional size, shape and strategic location.


The differentiation of the heights of the cases is sequenced in a rythmic progression,(A25) while towards the entrance it bows a little besides following the small differences of the topographical differences in the terrain. But the sequencing of the functional spaces according to their nature is made in hierarchy - from the open cases at left end to the entrance to the closed ones with quieter functions at the right extreme, along with the administration.(A17)



Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

TECTONICS OF FRAME realization of form FORM A26

The Cases in the Center in their formal expression strike similaritywith the traditional hut form, being circular in plan organization, but displays disticntive difference in the vertical dimension. An example of a literal modelling of the traditional hut, the form of the cases arose not so much from rational analysis as from intuitive and gestural response to the setting and the distinctive local settlements.


A traditional dwelling is a combination of two regular forms - the cylinder and the cone while the cases of the Center in their formal expression are a result of the transformation of those original forms of the traditional hut. A splayed hut reveals the similar form of the roof as that of the center, while its curvilinear side surfaces, are seen as the curved external ribs. (A26) It is a simple repetition of ribs along the circumference of the circular plan, like the Kanak hut. (A27) Maintaining the similar profile in plan it confirms the stability attained due to the inherent nature of the form (circular) against the strong trade winds of the Pacific.


This structure now transforms a conical roof to an oblong inclined roof with rising walls over it.This is a shift in the manner in which the framwork and the enclosure constitute the form, as the vernacular huts have small height walls but distinctively high roofs while in the Center, it is the walls which rises while the roof acquires a defined connection with the wall than the traditional hut, where it hangs from the inner staves. Schematically, in a vernacular hut the roof ‘sits’ while with the kind of profile of the roof in the Center it is attached to ‘fit’. Understood with an analogy of a circular manhole’s lid, which does not fall due to its circular shape, the roof here also once attached to the inner staves holds the wall and doesnot let itself fall. With this structure, it intends to assert an open relation towards the sky, in emphasis of the recognition of their cultural heritage to the world in the northern hemisphere, towards the West. Though the inner staves imitate a cylinder inside, which is again a stable form, which when honed to attach it with the central circulation alley, acquires another surface in its profile by getting more stable. Thus the transformation of this form from an imitation from the original is a significant difference present in the formal expression of the Center. (A28)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta




The arrangement of the volumes in the center along the central alley of circulation also induces the notion of non-terminable flow of circulation.That there is no termination point while on the path is again emphasized with the open end of the long alley. It also signifies that there is no end to the flow of space and it is in continuation.The entry from inbetween to the central alley space with cases flanked on both the sides are the signifier of the fact of - continuity in linearity. Thus the spirit of spatiality is similar to the natural environment of vernacular setting which is kept similar.(A29) STRUCTURE


The structural system of the Center because of its form also differs from its vernacular model. From a tensile roof and compressive wall of the vernacular hut, where the roof rests and is supported on the wall (A30), The traditional hut has the centerpost on which the other members rest and thus form the framework. In that case there is a vertical truss formed which rotates to give a stable structure. (A31) While in the Center, the oblong roof with its edge pipe on its perimeter, supporting the framework of the roof connects the inner staves when hung from it and thus becomes the connecting element holding the space and the structure. The roof in the Center supports the wall as it is ‘hung’ to the inner stave. Thus it is reversal of roles in the functions of the elements of construction. In absence of the holding function of the roof the walls due to gravity will fall. (A32)



Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta




The double framework both in the wall (A33) and the roof (A34) of the Center has truss structure. In the walls, at every third point of connection the clamp connects the inner and the outer staves, while cross bracings run all over the spaces between the inner staves and outer staves seperately making a framework of connecting and bringing stability. Here the outer staves carry the skin or the enclosure in the form of wood slats attached with clamps fitted on the circular pipe running between the stave spaces. This screens the outside and the inside while giving the texture similar to the weave texture of the crafts of the traditional huts and artefacts like baskets. With clean vertical grooves inbetween the slats, they are arranged to emphasize the verticality of the structures. The pattern of the slats also differs from ground to the top, near to the ground they are more open to allow transparency and the visual connection with outside. (A35) Higher than that they become dense while at the top they are again rendered open to allow the passage of winds across. The inner staves have glass louvers which also form a system to control the inlet of air inside. With the topmost louvers fixed, seen from inside the louvers in the lower part of the inner wall and the ‘honed’ part of the wall are adjustable. WALL : The wall is an enclosing entity, and here in the Center, it follows a smooth curve, leading the person first to its ‘centrum’ and then experience the space around and the feeling of the space outside with its rythmatic transparency. There is a transition observed in terms of the change of volumes which happen when one enters into the ‘case’ volume from the central alley volume.This release of tension while being in the intimate volume of the alley to the cases occurs in both the dimensions - horizontal as well as vertical. And this experiential feeling is in sync with letting the visitor again to the natural outdoor experience, while still being inside. ROOF : The roof in the system with its inclination and opening into bigger volume signifies the directionality, emphasized in terms of both its intention of opening and the volume transition. The major differentiation when seen against its precedent - the traditional hut’s roof, is seen in the fact that the conception of the roof in terms of its structure is that of it being, ‘hung’. In the Kanak hut it would be tied and thus will rest on the wall sending it in compression but in the ‘cases’, it appears to be freeing the structure by opening it to the sky. It associates with the ephermal intention of making of the roof in the culture and thus emphasizes it with its own technique, bringing difference in its language of tectonics.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta



The ventilation system in the building is a comprehensive result of the external elements (Enclosure) functioning to modulate the wind flow inside the cases across the promenade to the flat roof areas.The computer simulation and wind tunnel testing establishes the scientific approach in ascertaining the functional purpose of the enclosure. Their simulataneous refinement in the design of the natural ventilation system integrates all the elements to act in unison. The cases, with their sloping ceilings and inner and outer enclosures, togehter with the patios across the promenade all work as a part of a single system that is adjusted to cope with different wind conditions. The slats on the outside of the cases are not merely for decorative effect : where spaced with relatively wide gaps towards the bottom, they allow the wind to pass through horizontally; where closely spaced midway up, they trap air to form a chimney in which the air must rise between the two layers of ribs; and where widely spaced at the top, they aid the venturi effect which helps suck the air upwards. WALL:

The illustration here shows the various wind conditions and the pattern of wind flow inside the cases of the building, from very light to cyclonic conditions. 64

The inner walls of the cases have fixed louvers below the highest part of the ceilings, and a larger area of adjustable louvers below these. There are further adjustable louvers between the case and the promenade. All of these adjustable louvers rise from the floor to the 2.31 metre height of the promenade ceiling. In normal conditions, with the prevailing trade wind blowing (some 90% of the time), the adjustable louvers are left open (though adjusted to control the amount of ventilation with varying wind speeds).The breeze then passes through the outer slats and louvers, through the case and across the promenade to exhaust through the perforated roof of the patio. This prevailing breeze can also ventilate the offices and exhibition spaces under the flat roof, if the louvers between these and the patio and those opposite overlooking the lagoon are left open. However to compensate these areas also have air-conditioning, incase of insufficient natural ventilation. When the wind is very light, the natural ventilation depends on convection.Warm air in the cases rises under its sloping ceiling to exhaust through the louvers at the top of the wall. Another current of warm air rising between the inner and outer layers of the case helps this process by sucking the air upwards through the louvers and out of the case.These upper louvers remain permanently open because they paly a crucial role in equalizing internal and external air pressures during cyclones. As the ind picks up, sensors below the case’s ceiling automatically close all the lower louvers to stop the wind howling through the building.Then if the cyclone blows from the sea to create a low pressure above the roof, air is immediately sucked out through the upper lovers. If the direction of the cyclone is reversed, putting pressure on the sloping roof, then wind is also forced down between the two layers of the case and in through the upper louvers. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

Thus the double framework of the wall functions as exhaust chimneys, using a combination of convention and venturi effects, with their backs turned against the prevailing winds. With the inner staves and its fixed louvers at top, windlift could be prevented. And thus in soft wind flow, all the louvers could be open while during cyclonic conditions they will all be closed, along with the louvers on the other side of the promenade. A37


ROOF : The double framework composed of aluminium panels do not overlap or meet, instead, they they are spaced to leave air gap in between them casting enlivening slivers of sunlight over the facades and columns below.(A37) This helps climatically, with inside and outside differential temperature of more than 10 degrees C. (A38) Besides the double framework structure, the roof also is given a formal expression to act like a wind scoop for the trade winds flowing from south-east sea side. And thus in this way the roof unlike the traditional hut attains another function and of its nature, being open and inclined differ from its precedent, in turn helping in ventilation of the buidling.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


section 3

REMARKS 1.The representation of the traditional character in the contemporary by integrating the technology and materials of today, disproves the held notion with technology of its neutral character. It demonstrates here, how technology of today can play a significant role in the art of ‘making’ with the need of appropriating the traditional for the contemporary. by disproving its neutral character. 2 In contrast to the belief in the traditional cultures, where experimentation does not hold much value (refer Alexander, Synthesis), the Center with its conception of design and making of prototypes, demonstrates this contrast in attitude, much contradictory to the traditional held beliefs.Their relying on the existing similar models is seen in contrast with the methodology of its construction with the involvement of issues of Project Management to a culture, where such aspects are unheard. 3. It can further be interpreted to see this as a creation of experimental architecture created in the contemporary, helping to promote the traditional, much in contrast of the idea, when it reverts to the practise in time of Globalization, where the models of traditional culture promotes the contemporary culture models. 4.The fact that Cultural Centers are the points of representation of those cultures, and thus not only what lies in their spaces but also those spaces define a lot about those cultures - is well portrayed here. The whole complex integrates the philosophy of the Kanak culture and make the building in similar spirit to be representative of what the cultural beliefs are, thereby establishing the significance of its purpose. 5. It challenges to the idea that significant architecture is only made by locals, using local materials and traditional forms, only which could be copied and should not be modified. 6. The significance that it is a work of representation by an architect from another culture, who is sufficiently distanced from the culture of its vernacularism represents the sympathy of the idea, ‘To be more vernacular than the vernacular’. It represents and signifies the understanding and sensitivity we buid in a cross-cultural world, can disprove the popular sentiment of, ‘A vernacular by a vernacular only’. 7. The project exemplifies the belief that, to understand our past, we need to distance ourselves from it. Neither Zeitgeist or Genius Loci can be grasped by individual or groups in specific periods without a historical distance. (Steil, 9)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


section 4

COMPREHENSION The previous section aimed at achieving an insight into the nature and discipline of the creative process which was instrumental in shaping the selected example in comparison to its precedent – the important factors underlying the significant features of making of the formal expression. In the case, the study began with an attempt at grasping the essential significance of the role of the factors affecting the forms of expression in the context, getting an insight into the nature of the programmatic and the contextual background of the project and later classifying it with the criteria of its elements of making, as adopted similar to its vernacular precedent. The attempt has been to understand the essence of its elements as manifestation of certain generic concepts and the images rooted in the culture. Through this comprehension now, it is intended to draw inferences on the continuing validity of the forms despite the differences inherent in them. The aim is to understand how the example is a result of processes which call for conscious interpretation of certain values that are inherent in the essential building task. Although in the former case (the traditional Kanak hut) the formal attributes are codified and in the other case (the cultural center) these are conceptualized by an individual, both forms behold the evocative quality , of the Oceania, ultimately enduring the similar ephemeral character of their origin. Having attempted to understand and grasp the important attributes of making of both - the traditional and the contemporary example in terms of their similarities and points of differences, on the perception of the observer as the essential raison d’etre of the making and their meaning in relation to the cultural context, the attempt now is to understand the relationship between their spatial attributes and the validities which qualify all significant architectural expressions. In other words the effort is to identify the fundamental validities that underline architectural expression at several levels and to get an insight into the nature of the process of the individual, which gives particular formal character to these validities in the example, i.e. the role of creative process in bringing out the means for articulating the validities into perceivable forms of expression with characteristic attributes. The sequence of the discussion departs from the analysis of its construction to the understanding of its formal aspect and its spatial aspect. The analysis is rooted to understand from the constructional aspect, is due to the reason that it is significant from the architect’s practise that the aspect of making is in primacy and thus the resultant attributes of form and space are analysed in the following sequence. Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Thus to formalize the idea of space in both the examples, we understand, In the traditional context : (A38) A39

Based on the concept of harmony in nature, which measures the mythological operative extent of their cultures, their idea of space is denoted by the central path and the ‘great houses’ , with the house of their chief at the end. The idea of space for the community is in this central space while of others in and around their dwellings. Their day is well spent outside and thus their relationship is always seen in the perspective of their landscape. Each tribe has it own commune and village constituted of several communes. Their origin amongst the quiet wilderness of the landscape characterizes the idea of space for their dwellings, attached from the central alley. The idea of space for the community comes from observing the existing topography and the landscape, finding in an undisturbed connivance, its setup for the commune is oriented. Thus the underlying thought of existence in nature with its forces in harmony decides the making of the space for the commune. The first idea of the creation of space comes from marking the site for hearth, selection of which determines the spatial confine for the dwelling, within its surroundings. This determines the selection and marking of the other space creating elements around it, whose vertical elements of the wall are seen as individual rising in further to align itself in the commune to the center post, recognizing their significance in the community. The spatiality of their dwelling is defined by the presence of the center post in the center. The environment within in the house is thus seen as an enclosure around the center post, which is the prime support for the structure. The expanse of space is around the post while the absence of any opening builds a stark contrasting dark space from the outside. The environment within the house being seen as the container or delineated boundary enclosing a ritualized order, it is oriented to centric relationships. The interior enclosed dark space orients around the ‘centrum’ of the post. The transition from outside to inside is of such contrast to emphasize the use of the space during in-hostile times of the day or the season. The enclosing of a large volume above is in order to establish the relationship of the earth and the sky and also symbolizes the man’s need to find its place in nature with the idea of reaching heights as natural landscape attains.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

Thus, the forms for these key conditions become the vital means for communication, both within the house and of the house with its natural context. The major living functions center around the hut, which becomes the formal ritualistic domain for the inhabitants - a world within in itself with the larger world. The extension of which outwards is similar to the commune and its relations. The signiďŹ cance of the centric organizational relationships is to underline by the centric nature of the constructional system. The structural system of a conical roof is stabilized with the making of a vertical truss, which when replicated along the points on the circumference makes a continuous truss system aligned at a point and thus providing stability to the whole form. Each element of the constructional system with the combining with the other members acquire a signiďŹ cant relationship with the secondary purlins and ropes, into forming a single unitary framework, implying towards the communal work of making the dwellings and their feelings of their communal being, of their dependence on the chief - represented by the center post. And thus even the construction and the idea of space sees a translation of their mythological world.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


And against this in the contemporary : (A39) A40

In the Center, the spatial and the formal organization is a translation of the idea of space of the Kanak world and its physical model as Kanak village and the hut, where the idea permeates to preserve the memory of the type and the character of their environment, so that the architecture does not present an alien footprint on their land.The modification of the initial idea of the tourist village – as a type, looked at the larger context of the tribe and the village, though integrating the landscape, but the idea of institutionalizing of a cultural center was absent in that case. It later grew into the idea of space where it would be defined as conveyed by a single linking element (the central alley), thereby characterizing the significance of the central alley for multiplicity to singularity besides this the idea emanating from the natural typology as seen in a leaf, was thus concretized to a single characterizing type. Thus the central alley emulates the character of the village alley, where it is covered by landscape from both the sides and thus amidst natural cover, it has the quality of lightness with penetrating light in its way, signifying the dynamism in the static character of the path. This has been achieved in the Center with penetration of the open patios along the side of the alley and the cover from the roof of such intimate spatial quality. Referring to which as the ‘dynamic elements’ taken in the integration in the Center, of the essence of their character of the environment. The essential quality of this path is ingrained in the points of pauses it contains to reach to each hut, which follows a similar typology to that of the traditional village, only that the path of transition from the community space of the alley to the family space of the dwelling is removed as the huts attach themselves to the alley. This is significant with the idea of keeping the space of the Center in attachment and ensuring the flow of exposition of the objects and artifacts in a sequence without interruptions and the essential idea of institutionalizing behind the making of any Center. Though it is interesting to observe that the idea of space as that of the village can be experienced from any of the tourist village residences in the region for the tourists, thus the comprehensive characterizing of the idea of making a place as a Center and an institution overrides in the final typological aspect.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

Thus in the contemporary example, the space is seen as an attribute of the spatial configuration of the traditional village in its environment, while the spatial containers of the huts grouping together along the alley, making the points of pauses appear in the path. The visually openness of the walls of the alley makes one attached to the outside environment.Thus it takes the shape of series of spaces grouped together and attaching edge wards such that each case establishes a very direct and immediate relationship with the alley without compromising on its openness to the nature by the glass covered walls of the alley.While entering into the case, where the central element of the traditional hut (the center post) is absent, allows the entry into the ‘centrum’ of the space first and then opening the sides of the space to the observer. It is in the spirit of freeing the character of the space from the idea of its dependence on to the central element, and thus signifying the idea of freedom and independence while establishing their connection to the sky and the world. The entry to the case thus produces the difference while entering to the traditional hut where the space is confined around the center post and the object of visual contraction while entering. But in the Center, the removal of the post delivers the entry into a space freeing itself from the horizontal as well as vertical determinant of support. And thus the role of the conception of the structure here plays a significant aspect in delivering this message. The horizontal trussing of the double framework holds the wall structure with the inherent quality of its circular geometry while the roofs not only attaching them to itself but also supporting them itself attains a floating character, when seen from inside. This is quite contradictory position in the conception of the making of the roof.Though the spatial quality it provides with its attached opening to the alley into a larger volume, signifies the freeing of the space into a larger container. The flat roof on the opposite side of the cases housing volumes for galleries and the administrative purposes create spatially a much more stabilized space where the vertical walls in between the spaces guarantees the static nature through the movement. But the arrangement of the artifacts in these volumes also at the same time define the path of movement.With double volumes it frees the space on the other side of the alley, Though this space has not been much elaborated in the whole process of making, and thus it meant to attain the experiences and feelings of space in the Western part of the world, it was resolved involving less complexity.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Thus the formal image of the Center is embodied in the quality of space which expresses the new cultural condition of the Kanaks with their search for freedom and identity through evolving interpretations. Consequently the Center forms a linear continuity and the general order of the spaces is increasingly fluid and flexible so that it can accommodate the essential character of the idea of space from the Kanak culture. Since the locating of the Center on the ridge permeates the feeling of its significant character of an institution, it in its making, which marks the significant difference of the aspect of its makers. In the traditional case of the getting together to make the replicas time by time, it is here in the Center that the ideology and philosophy of an individual also find the deciding and characterizing feature for the making of the Center. Thus observed, with the subdued significance accorded to the individual in a traditional society, the role of an individual in the contemporary society is more decisive. And it is in the knowledge of the individual that the power of conception of their future world depends. As Christopher Alexander puts the difference between simple cultures which are unselfconscious against the complex ones of ours, which are selfconscious, that,

‘the distinction in particular exists in the method of making things and buildings. In the unselfconscious culture there is no thought about architecture or design.There is a right way and a wrong way of making and no treatises. And to them they keep following them in the sound of actions which are governed by habit. Design decisions are made more according to customs than according to an individual’s new ideas. And there is little value attached to an individual’s idea. There is no market for his inventiveness. Ritual and taboo discourage innovation and self-criticism.’

Thus on that premise it essentializes to understand the intentions of the maker - the architect . The architect’s view in endwhen he creates, is the measure of how inevitably he expresses the ideas as originating from the context and not forms derived from an irreverent architectural theories in the knowledge of the fact that the architect’s will implies the intrinsic human urge to give concrete formal expression, in different media, to certain ideas. It is a result, essentially, of the interaction of human sensibilities – the intuitive and intellectual consciousness – with the world - the physical world of the nature with its manifestations and the non-physical world of ideas and thoughts as upheld by social institutions and institutions of the individual. Man perceives and interprets these inter-relations and tries to articulate them into images which then form the themes for his artistic pursuits.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

And thus it becomes imperative to take an insight into the institution of the individual and his philosophy with which the ‘form’ is created in the ‘context’. The position of the architect when he mentioned in respect to the cross-cultural context of the exercise of formal expression in the contemporary time, recognizing the understanding that one made from the context of the place, Further, recognizing the phenomenological aspirations of the place, quoted, by the architect himself, “When we say ‘culture’ we usually mean our own: a fine soup blended from Leonardo da Vinci and Freud, Kant and Darwin, Louis XIV and Don Quixote. In the Pacific it is not just the recipe that is different but the ingredients as well. We can approach their soup with detachment, bringing our own cutlery. Or we can try to understand how it was born, what philosophy of life has shaped it… I didn’t bring my own cutlery. All I brought were my skills and those of the Building Workshop: techniques needed to create spaces and construct buildings.” (Mlyake, 92)

The notion of ‘culture’ here, made it imperative in the mannature relationship purview to see the relationship in its own context and thus, to not conceive with the already held ideas of architectural learning from theories. It was in the essence of the place that it required to understand the notion of culture in its simplicity – the notion of culture in its own complex-simple relationship which exists between man and nature and nothing else. The issues of urbanity and thus complex relationships of architectural nature term to be irrelevant in the place and thus the individual, in a sense needs to unlearn his learning, when he chooses to sensitize himself in the region.This was precisely the decision of the architect-artist to simply apply his skills in the idea of conception of the forms, which are so much in similar belief of his own philosophy of the aspect of ‘making’, of ‘craft mentality’. The similar way that in a primitive culture, the idea of making a shelter is synonymous to the process of making, involving the craft techniques as the method towards their idea of space and place making, the methodology of the architect for the contemporary re-interpretation, also chose to acquire similar approach towards the making of the Center. It is their engagement in the aspect and the process of making that is characteristically significant and thus realizing that as an irreplaceable attitude, the process took that as other projects, the charge of the aspect of making in primary importance.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


The underlying thought that the aspect to understand the culture of the place for an architect working in the Western context, demanded for him to understand the philosophy of life of the place, and thus in term his sensitivity towards recognition of their own culture, became a task for his own understanding, which involved scraping earlier held ideas on culture, throwing away own practiced ideology on the concept of culture. In short, making another effort to re-invent understanding of the idea of culture for its conception. This is to which, the architect does not deny, that the architects should re-invent, re-design themselves, in the knowledge of the fact that art manners and as his (architect) own field of competence gradually shrinks, so does his bargaining power disappear and his social usefulness tends to become void. (Massimo, 7) Thus this signifies the sensibilities that the architect chose to realize when in a new context, the interaction between the human sensibilities, natural phenomena and the socio-cultural conditions varied. This acceptability and its recognition is accorded to the sensitivity and belief in the idea of adaptability to newer situations and conditions, newer perspectives that each different place brings and thus the eternal uniqueness that each culture inherits. The sensitivity to see differences and uniqueness, besides the commonality of universal values that each culture shares is significant in his observations and beliefs. And thus all situations are unique and thus require their own solutions. The manner in which solutions are shaped in the idea of techniques and technology can be derived from the universal set of knowledge from its discipline but their application will define the specificity of each situation and thus will shape each situation of its own context.With such a sensibility, he asserts his inclination towards the rational attitude in architecture against the very subjective and aesthetical attitude in the art of making. This belief in finding the individual rationality of each context is driven by his search for truthfulness of each project. This application of rationality in the modern times is thus equated with the scientific attitude of experimentation. But this attitude is attached because of his background to the social realm of the context as well. The idea that rationality has nothing to do with sole critical and indifferent nature of things, the way they are, or evolve, is quite significantly ingrained in his beliefs and is thus the reason that it is ingrained with these social and cultural excerpts.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

There is a strong case of rationality, in the course of development of his projects and the Center, and the tools which are adopted for its implementation. More from a theoretical concept, it uses science as its medium to achieve validity in each situation, which is again considered a much desired attitude in architecture. It brings seriousness and conviction to each practice as compared to situation when architecture could be validated on simply theoretical basis. It is a similar attitude as is implemented in a laboratory and thus this laboratory approach intervenes in architecture, which in accordance to earlier thoughts is a discipline purely based and dependent on its precedents. Understood as the product of repetition, architecture till the 18th century, remained much dependent on imitation of the originals. With the introduction of such scientific approach, an element of confirmation for its validity is added. The methods of experimentation and prototyping as mentioned in the earlier architectural theory by Christopher Alexander, approving on the aspect of impossibility of the method, seemed to be shaping itself. As against his refrain, ‘Trial and error design is an admirable but expensive and slow while prototype method is impossible, then what shall we do?’ appears to see an


Of his abhorrence to architecture as merely art, architecture in his ideology follows a separate history instead of being just a stage in a consistent artistic development. His belief in the fact that the aesthetic parameters count a little , where the method and the mental outlook are different; the architectural outcome finds its ratification in the degree to which it was conceived. His approach to the making of architectural forms shoots from finding the right techniques and appropriate methodology, following which all other aspects will fall in place, is strongly demonstrated in his approach. Thus all creations in his ideology are a combination of past and future, the banal and sophisticated, the ritual and futuristic. It is for him, a way to reduce elaborate, intricate realities to their essential expressions. His foremost interest in the research of construction for each project follows an attitude of architectural experimentation which does not forget the human discipline besides the scientific discipline. And this is the reason behind the aspect of contrast and contradiction that his work is a witness to. Confirming the above arguement, he said, ‘ I believe in contradiction, I really believe that we should not even try to sort out those contradictions. Architecture is about contradictions. It is about stability and instability. It is about memories and invention,…and all these elements of contradiction and duality are the ones that give you complexity’ (Lelyveld, 19),

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


It brings forth the hidden aspect in his work. Also when he opines on architecture, as ‘ everything that is not visible but that makes architecture. That is topogra-

phy. That is geography. It’s history. It’s society. It’s anthropology. It’s all those things…. What is supporting architecture is not architecture. It’s actually everything that gives the sense for architecture.’ (Lelyveld, 19)

All these indicate towards his understanding of architecture as a discipline with complexity, with contradictions and its dualities. Thus, his non-confirmist stand on the idea of architecture of yore years is the reason behind his inclination towards the methods of rationalization with the help of scientific techniques for his architecture of the contemporary and his search for specifc and unique solutions, case specific. And thus in other words one concludes here, that, Architecture is a discipline with formalized physical expressions of the culture-specific patterns of communication. And it is the individual whose contribution as re-interpretation of the precedents of architecture, brings uniqueness to each act of formal expression, characterstic of the issues of time and place.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

CONCLUSION An overview from the above understanding now allows one to comprehend further in the context of the two studied examples,being the representative of the outcome of architectural processes. Confirmed, as a result of the response to the ‘place’ against ‘time’ of their existence, they convince with assertion, that the role of architecture is significant towards the idea of representation of cultural identity and social existence in the contemporary times. And so is the role of the architect, significant and profound. The knowledge of the fact that it is the architect/individual, who manifests with the process of synthesis (in creation), the elements or models inspired by the values of changing times to the earlier models of architecture, in their physicality. It further defines the role of an architect required for the purpose of representation of identities of societies or cultures, in the present context. And thus his individualistic processes, which are an outcome of his instincts and intellect, are significantly responsible towards his act of creativity. But these characteristic ‘influences’ are temporal in nature of their inheritance, as against the nature of architecture. Architecture, characteristic of its nature of permanence is a medium for impregnation of the values of traditions over times and is thus, a reflection of those traditions. It is a medium representative of the universal traditional values of the past and that of the present. Thus it is a significant source as a medium which embeds the present values in it and thus in that regards, it also freezes the values of the contemporary times, which refers to the recognition of Identities -social or cultural, of the present context. This in contrast to other disciplines, redirected for confirmation with the earlier stated argument from Kenneth Frampton’s work, where architecture is conferred characteristic of its existence by ‘cherishing its past traditions..’ and thus due to these traditions it inherits the quality of permanence. This quality of permanence is an emergent need forming the objectives for all disciplines in the time, and is inherently ensued with architecture, placing it at an advantageous position in relation to other disciplines. And as contemporary values need their representation to acquire the eternal timeless quality, architecture integrates them, it being a medium for representation, in confirmative and validated obviousness.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


Contemporary era is earmarked in equivalence with the opening of the cultures and civilizations to every other culture. This with a pleasant need, in contrast to the emergence of implacable threats brings forth, our need to find permanence with temporality. And this is the objective of present art and architecture. In the pre-globalized times, it was easy for cultures to be known amongst themselves and thus might not require the idea of its representation through various means. But the occurence of such and the resultant dilution of its values with the increased silent vulnerability to each culture, each culture now feels the need for its re-valorization through art or architecture, not only for foreigners, who will come to visit their cultures, but also for their own younger generations, which is seen in dearth of forgetting their own roots as they run to adopt the other cultures. Recognizing the contribution of the project as a forceful response to the forces of globalisation, Octave Togna, the Director General of the ADCK team said, which is of much relevance here,

“My former identity was defined by the voice of custom. My identity today, however, draws richness from yesterday’s heritage but with this new dimension. The real challenge is to show that I am Kanak, but a Kanak of my time... Developing a culture means constantly being a catalyst to show how our society is evolving. This is one of the contributions of modern society to culture. The word ‘artist’ does not exist in any of the Kanak languages, but artists are needed today.They are becoming the mirror for our society, they reflect our image and our contradictions.” (Murphy, 89)

Architecture there, presents as a medium, with the quality of permanence and the impact of times, unlike other arts where both, quality and impact of times, are temporal in nature, inherently. It is architecture, which stands over changing times, in its sanctity to be emanating universal values of the times that those architectural artefacts were built for. It is this paradox, that marks the dependence of the later more on the former. The fact that presently with such tremendous frequency of change which introduces the temporality of memories, to be experienced and enjoyed in such fast motion of times, that it seeks some mode for its control. It is Technology, which can allow the present to achieve such fast pace, but the divergence of Technology and Architecture by post industrial revolution era seemed to be one creating gap in their coherence.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

The paradox that, as Technology diverges from Architecture’s pace, it seeks the need for itself - of permanence, more of which brings and freezes our memories. The very fact that, technology, besides its trajectorial growth upwards is also working in favour towards inventing newer technologies to preserve these memories of the past. In other words to conserve the permanence of those memories, it is technology which provides means for preservation, though being itself the culprit leading towards such degeneration of past memories, inscribed as traditions. A literal analogy to this, is the development of digital technology in visual and print, which confirms preservation of memories in turn accounting for their degeneration, unconsciously. Thus both Technology and Architecture, might follow their own trajectories at varying speeds but are dependent on the other for their growth. It might be seen as an unequal mutual dependent relationship, but it exists. And this is reflective of the contradicition which exists in our complex world. In relation to architecture, this vying of Technology with Architecture, together proceeds with their own elements of considered values. Technology for its value of neutrality, and Architecture for regionality. Often they exist seperate or are combined separately and thus retain their own metaphors viz. hard and soft, respectively. Their combination in the concern of architecture, is either reffered as High-tech, if the former is in dominance or Regionalist in the case of the later. But as one passes through these phases, one realizes to concieve a combination of the two. One asserts with the power of his creativity the coming together of the two and demonstrating the aesthetics arising from both, which brings the space for ‘innovation’, in the complex set of traditions, supported by both technological and architectural context. It provides an ‘inbetween’ space for creativity to flourish and ‘innovation’ to arise, as the context changes with the changing times. Context becomes even more comprehensive in its definition. It begins to include and not seperate the aspects of inter-regional exchanges, thought to be exclusive till recently. It offers recognition to another aspect of the need of the creator to be not necessarily in the place of creation. This distancing was seen as displacement of both the object and the objective, but is now inconsequential. This historical distancing is validated also in the frame of earlier beliefs, that to represent history (identity), what is required is distancing from it. (refer Steil, 9)

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


The benefit of opening of our cultures is thus the reason of occurences of such inter-regional/inter-cultural productions. And likewise, as demonstrated by the studied project above, the issue with all these aspects, including the aspect of involvement and significance of the rise of newer methods in the practise of architecture with its ever evolving models of production, (as one example out of many - the Project Management culture,here), it will lead to emergence of certain values which will eventually define something which was not present earlier. Specifically here, of designing in one part of the globe, prototyping and experimentation in the other, while erecting it in the third, where the architect is from one part of the globe, the client from another and the context ever more inclusive, could lead to accretion of newer values in the act of creation, where the richness brought in the definition of the context, allows the individual while learning and unlearning his notions of ‘culture’, influenced by place and time, to induce occurences unseen but in harmony between them. Such a cross cultural exchange imperative of the present time and of the future, and such collaborative efforts to realize the dreams, a reality, occuring in an enlarged context of the present time and place, where such integration of changed values will involve occurences of what can be now, defined as “innovations” in the context of traditions and its subsequent cultures. The definition of a something foreign/foreigner dissolves in the contemporary context of time and place, where efforts from such entities/beings are no more considered unsympathetic to our own feelings. And where as a result of these emerging complexities , there will be increased chances of the above mentioned occurences and where due to the acceptance of contradicitions and the subsequent responses aimed at them, will make in support of these paradoxes, those ‘Innovations’, which will in eventual course of history, make and enrich our ‘Traditions’.


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

NOTES 1. traditional society/culture / primitive society/culture - in reference to the mention made in the work of Christopher Alexander, ‘Synthesis of Form’, the term where it refers and connotes towards the unconscious cultures (traditional) and the self conscious cultures (modern). Similarly here, the term refers to the societies/cultures which are seen from the point of reference of the late 19th and the 20th century back in time, which existed from time immemorable and in light of whose, there was an attempt made to understand the present world, especially after the second world war. 2. contemporary society/culture/time - in reference to the period of the late 20th century expanding in its extent till the early 21st century. Specific in reference to the era defined by the emergent effects of globalisation, the term here is inclusive of the period of the practice of the architect, here in reference, Renzo Piano. (1964-1998- till today). 3. model/physical models - referred as physical forms which are representative of the ‘type’ or ‘typicality’, communicating thus, the archetypal forms created through the process of design in architecture.They are in literal sense of the word ‘model’ , ideas that essentialize the ‘being’ (Heidegger) of those forms and are used in replication over time towards the need for architectural production. Following the definition from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1996, model (n) 1. a representation of something used as basis for a copy; a pattern 2. a thing regarded as an excellent example to copy. 4. craft mentality : refers to the attitude in the process of production of architecture, where it essentializes the method of creation to be dependent on the techniques similar of a craftsman or an artisan.Thereby meaning towards an approach to make something, application of those techniques in the manner similar to craft production, understood in those terms that architectural production is similar to craft production. 5. tectonics - as expressed by Kenneth Frampton in his work, “Studies in Tectonic Culture : the poetics of construction in nineteenth and twentieth century architecture”, refers to the following etymological origins, ‘Greek in origin, the term tectonic derives from the word ‘tekton’, signifying carpenter or builder. The corresponding verb is ‘tektainomai’. This in turn is related to the Sanskrit ‘taksan’, referring to the craft of carpentry and to the use of the axe. Remnants of a similar term can be found in Vedic poetry, where it again refers to carpentry.’ While expression of the same from Gottfried Semper who treated the relation of final and expressive architectural forms to prototypes born from technological, constructional necessity as a key problem to study, through their works, is also significant mention here. Here, the reference to the term is in the relation to the art of making or constructing achieved with the art of joinings of the elements of architecture, which reveal the intention with the way they are made to come together constituting an ensemble.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS Alexander, Christopher. “Notes on the synthesis of form.” Cambridge: Oxford University Press,1964 Arnheim, Rudolf. “Dynamics of Architectural Form.” London: University of California Press,1977 Banham, Reyner. Theory and Design in the First Machine Age.” London: The Architectural press,1960 Buchanan, Peter. “Renzo Piano Building Workshop - Complete Works.” 4 Vols, London, Phaidon Press Ltd, 2001 Ching, Francis D. K. “Architecture: Form, Space and Order.” New York,Van Nostrand Reinhold,1979 Dini, Massimo. “Renzo Piano : Projects and Buildings 1964-1983.” London, The Architectural Press, 1983 Frampton, Kenneth. “Studies in Tectonic Culture : the poetics of construction in nineteenth and twentieth century architecture.” Ed. by John Cava. Chicago, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Thames and Hudson, 1996 Frampton, Kenneth. “Modern Architecture : a critical history, Thames and Hudson, London, 1980 Greene, Herb. “Mind and Image : an essay on art and architecture.” London, Granada Publication Ltd., 1980 Heydenreich, Ludwig H & others. “Leonardo : the inventor.” New York, Mc Graw Hill Publications, 1980 Jodidio, Philip. “Piano : Renzo Piano Building Workshop 1966-2005.” (oversize), Taschen GmbH, Koln, Italy, 2005 Le Corbusier. “Towards a New Architecture.” London, The Architectural Press, 1963 Papanek,Victor. “Design for the Real world : human ecology and social change” Norwitch. Paladin, 1992 Rudofsky, Bernard. “Architecture without architects.” New York, Museum of Modern Art. 1965 Scully,Vincent Jr. “Modern Architecture :The Architecture of Democracy.” London, Prentice Hall International Ltd. 1961 Semper, Gottfried. “The Four Elements of Architecture & other writings.” Trans. by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Wolfganag Hermann, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989 Singer, Charles & other Eds. “The History of Technology : Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution c1500- 1750.” Vol 3, London, The Oxford University Press, 1984 Thomas, Thiis-Evensen. “Archetypes in Architecture, London, Norwegian University Press, 1987 ARTICLES AND PAPERS Papadakis, Andreas. “Imitation and Innovation” (Periodical). London, Academy Editions, 1988, including the following papers : Quatremere De Quincy : On Imitation. Steil, Lucien : On Imitation, Linazosoro, Ignacio Jose : The Theory and Practice of Imitation and the Crisis in Classicism, Garric, Jean-Philippe : The Imitative Being, Adam, Robert : The Paradox of Imitation and Originality, Stern, Robert : Design as Emulation, Greenberg, Allan : Thoughts on Freedom and Imitation Lelyveld, Amy. “The Brown and the Contradictory” Architectural Design, March/April 2004 McInstry, Sheila. “Sea and Sky.” Architecture Review, December, 1998 Mlyake, Riichi. “Building workshop cultural centre Jean Marie Tijibou.” A+U ,August, 1998 Otto, Frie. “Creation, Creativity and Architecture. “ Architectural Design,Vol. XLV, July 1975 90

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INTERNET SOURCES ARTICLES : Austin, Mike. “The Tjibaou Culture Centre.” 2 Aug. 2007 <> Bensa, Alban. “L’Ethnologue et L’Architecte la Construction du Centre Culturel Tjibaou.” Revue de synthèse : 4e S. nos 3-4, July.-Dec. 2000 : 437-451. 3 Aug. 2007 <> Brown, Peter. Book Rev. of “Ethnologie et Architecture: Le Centre Culturel Tjibaou, une réalisation de Renzo Piano.”, by Alban Bensa. Paris: Adam Biro, 2000. The Contemporary Pacific: Spring 2002 : 281-284. 2 Aug. 2007 <> Chown, Mark. “Building Simulation as an aide to design”, Eighth International IBPSA Conference, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 11-14 August 2003 : 22-23. 21 Aug. 2007 <www.BS03_0019_30.pdf> Corciega, Rizalyn. “Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, New Caledonia” Sustainable Building Design Case Study, ARCH 366: Environmental Building Design, Department of Architecture, University of Waterloo. 1 Aug. 2007 <www.corciega_tjibau.pdf> Dahl, Arthur Lyon, “From Traditional Ecological Knowledge: A Collection of Essays” , R.E. Johannes (ed.), p. 45-53, IUCN, The World Conservation Union, Gland and Cambridge, November 1989. 1 Aug. 2007 <> Graille, Caroline. “Compared ethnologies : Inheritance and Identity Kanak in New Caledonia” 19 May, 2004. 21 Aug. 2007 < > Leon, Ana Maria. “Contemporary Tectonics”. ARCH 8223: Dialectics of Making, Professor Michael Gamble. Fall 1998. College of Architecture, Georgia Insitute of Technology. 5 June 2007 <> Murphy, Bernice. “Centre Culturel Tjibaou : A Museum and Arts Centre redefining New Caledonia’s cultural future.” Humanities Research Vol. IX, No. 1, 2002 :77-90. 1 Aug. 2007 <> Walker, Adam. “Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center” 24 June, 2007 <>

INTERNET SITES : The Tjibaou cultural center. Agency for the Development of Kanak Culture.12 Sept. 2007 <> (official site of the Jean Marie Tijibou Cultural Center) Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The RenzoPiano Building Workshop. 12 Sept. 2007 <> (the official site of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

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UNPUBLISHED UNDER-GRADUATE THESES Agrawal, Alpa. “Tradition and Continuity in the Contemporary Indian Architecture.”, Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1998 Brahmbhatt,Viren. “Investigations into architectural design : Conceptions and Processes.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1989 Chavda, Hiten : Process and Architecture. “Studying the influence of Vernacular on the Contemporary Architecture.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 2003 Khan, Wakeel. “Search for an order : An inquiry into the contemporary direction in Indian Architecture.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1994 Lele, Meeta. “Tectonic Form : Expression of Structure and Construction in Architecture.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 2001 Patel, Jigar. “Critical Regionlaism : Architecture of its Time and Place.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 2002 Patel Kirit. “Corporeal Form in Architecture : A Study of the roles of Materials and Construction Methods in shaping architectural expression.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1989 Patel, Sanjeev. “Studying works of Hassan Fathy for their rootedness in the context.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 2004 Ruparelia, Bhavesh. “Originality in Architecture : From Conception to Realization of a Built Form.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1996 Singh, Gurjit. “Clarity : An Exploration into the making of Buildings.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 1989 Soni, Sachin. “Understanding Order and Play through Grammar of Architectural Elements in Fatehpur Sikri.” Undergraduate thesis, School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad, 2004


Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta

SOURCES OF ILLUSTRATIONS Section 1 Illus. 1-4. 5. 6. 8. 9. 11-13. 15, 16, 17.

24- 27, 33. 31, 32.

Perspecta 17: The Yale Architectural Journal. Cambridge and London, The MIT Press, 1980 p.6,7,8-11,14-17 Architectural Design, March 1965, p. 133-142 Le Corbusier My Work. Trans. by. James Palmes. London, The Architectural Press, 1960 p. 166,167 Journal of the Society of Architectural Historian, XLVIII:4, December 1989 gazebo.jpg Papadakis, Andreas. “Imitation and Innovation” (Periodical). London, Academy Editions, 1988 from article by Linazosoro, Ignacio Jose. “The Theory and Practice of Imitation and the Crisis in Classicism” Leon, Ana Maria. “Contemporary Tectonics”. ARCH 8223: Dialectics of Making, Professor Michael Gamble. Fall 1998. College of Architecture, Georgia Insitute of Technology 5 June 2007 <> Mlyake, R. “Building workshop cultural centre Jean Marie Tijibou.” A+U ,August, 1998 Buchanan, Peter. “Renzo Piano Building Workshop - Complete Works.” Vol 3, London, Phaidon Press Ltd, 2001

Section 2,3 A1, A3,A4, A19 Illus. A5-A12, A14-18, A21-A23, A33-A38

Jodidio, Philip “Piano : Renzo Piano Building Workshop 1966-2005” Kohn, Taschen. 2005 Base drawings : Buchanan, Peter. “Renzo Piano Building Workshop Complete Works.” Vol.4, London, Phaidon Press Ltd, 2001

Plate 2,3,4,9 : Buchanan, Peter. “Renzo Piano Building Workshop -Complete Works.” 4 Vols., London, Phaidon Press Ltd, 2001 Plate 6 : Jean Marie Tijibou Cultural Center Enclosure : Covered Alley, Weaving

Plate 7 : Jean Marie Tijibou Cultural Center Similarity : Hearth, Enclosure Dis-similarity : Enclosure

Traditional Kanak Hut Hearth Earthwork,Enclosure

Buchanan, Peter. “Renzo Piano Building WorkshopComplete Works.” Vol.4, London, Phaidon Press Ltd, 2001 Mlyake, R. “Building workshop cultural centre Jean Marie Tijibou.” A+U ,August, 1998 Graille, Caroline. “Compared ethnologies : Inheritance and Identity Kanak in New Caledonia” 19 May, 2004. 21 Aug. 2007 < >

Rest of the illustrations are author’s own.

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Thanks to Kireet sir, who had faith in me and without whom it seemed bleak to make this effort. Your encouragement was important and your unperturbed nature throughout the whole, inspirational. I agree with the whole experience of my learning, which could be summed up in what you said and I understood, ‘Design defines cultural values into visible forms.’ Thanks to Shakeel for listening, Hardik and Devina for the help. Thanks to Saurabh for acknowledging my point of view against the ‘normal’. Thanks to the School, its people, from the people thought inspirational and motivational, to the people otherwise, for giving a non-congenial environment, all that one would never want, but gets. It was a great experience to be a part of something you always thought was best, as it was in reality, the exact opposite; in equivalence to its degree and depth. I thank them for providing this journey, worth remembering. Can’t forget to thank my parents who stood by me in patience as I saw my education taking long, due for completion at this stage. In no other words, but simple of its meaning,

Undergraduate Thesis, School of Architecture, Avnish Mehta



Under-graduate B. Arch Thesis  

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