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VOL 27 (7)

MAR 2014

WWW.IABFORUM.COM

INDIAN ARCHITECT & BUILDER EXPLORE


VOL 27 (7) | MARCH 2014 | WWW.IABFORUM.COM RNI Registration No. 46976/87, ISSN 0971-5509 INDIAN ARCHITECT AND BUILDER

38 CURRENT EXPLORE

The latest news, events and competition in architecture and design from

India and abroad.

42 PRODUCTS Chairman: Jasu Shah Printer, Publisher & Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah Chief Executive Officer: Hemant Shetty EDITORIAL Assistant Editors: Maanasi Hattangadi, Ruturaj Parikh Writers: Rashmi Naicker (Online), Chandrima Padmanabhan, Anusha Narayanan Copy Editor: Sachi Atul Shah Design Team: Mansi Chikani, Prasenjit Bhowmick, Kenneth Menezes Event Management Team: Abhijeet Mirashi Subscription: Dilip Parab Production Team: V Raj Misquitta (Head), Prakash Nerkar, Arun Madye Head Office: JMPL, Taj Building, 3rd Floor, 210, Dr D N Road, Fort, Mumbai - 400 001. Tel: +91-22- 4213 6400,+ 91-22-4037 3636, Fax: +91-22-4037 3635 SALES Brand Manager: Sudhanshu Nagar Email: sudhanshu_nagar@jasubhai.com MARKETING TEAM & OFFICES Sales Coordinator: Christina D’sa Email: christina_dsa@jasubhai.com Mumbai Parvez Memon Taj Building, 3rd Floor, 210, Dr D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Tel: +91-22- 4213 6400,+ 91-22-4037 3636, Fax: +91-22-4037 3635 Email: parvez_memon@jasubhai.com

Products of function, appeal and style, for use in contemporary

architectural settings.

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CONSTRUCTION BRIEF

Designed by banduksmithstudio in Deesa, a city in the hot and dry region

of North Gujarat, the Wind House braves the climate, by using simple and

effective construction methods in concrete.

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IN CONVERSATION

France-based Atelier du Pont discusses their firm at the core of their

collective beliefs, principles and practices in design and their multifaceted

approach to urban and architectural issues in the country.

Wind House, Deesa, Gujarat

Designing at the Conjunction

54 ARCHITECTURE

A Contemporary Contextualism

In the village of Mashem in Goa, architecture R/T weaves together an

assortment of low-cost and sustainable materials to replace a lost church

Delhi: Preeti Singh / Manu Raj Singhal 803, Chiranjeev Tower, No 43, Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110 019 Tel: +91 11 2623 5332, Fax: 011 2642 7404, Email: preeti_singh@jasubhai.com, manu_singhal@jasubhai.com

with a new space marrying earthiness to godliness.

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Subliminal Thresholds of Space

Gujarat: Nisha Pipaliya Mobile: +91 9099963930, Email: nisha_pipaliya@jasubhai.com

Located within a serene landscape, the ‘House on a Stream’ by Architecture

BRIO engages the occupants in a dialogue with the nature, encouraging

Bengaluru / Hyderabad: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: +91 9833104834, Email: sudhanshu_nagar@jasubhai.com

them to participate and not just observe.

Chennai / Coimbatore: Princebel M Mobile: +91 9444728035, +91 9823410712, Email: princebel_m@jasubhai.com

78 INTERIORS

Kolkata: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: +91 9833104834, Email: sudhanshu_nagar@jasubhai.com Pune: Parvez Memon Mobile: +91 9769758712, Email: parvez_memon@jasubhai.com Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt. Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 Printed at M B Graphics, B-28 Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZGD Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.

A Suburban Exposition

Sitting inconspicuously in the suburban context of Mumbai, the Birdsong

Café in Bandra, Mumbai by studio eight twentythree takes one back in

retrospect to the cosy taverns of old, befitting the vibe of the street.

84 ART

Montages of Memories

Sifting through nostalgic memories and perceptions of his hometown

warped by time and imagination, Chicago-based artist Tim Jarosz puts

together photomontages in two radical series.


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DELHI DIALOGUES [P] [P] [P] [P]eople

In the ninth instalment of this series, DELHi2050 continues to extend as a

platform for discussion on the comprehensive process of participatory

decision making in urban planning and development.

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BOOK REVIEW

The Discovery of Architecture

Aneerudha Paul comprehends and assimilates the indigenous reality

of Indian contemporary architecture in this book by M N Ashish Ganju and

Narendra Dengle, putting light on the ‘self ’ as the precursor to realising

the ‘role of an architect’ in the present times.

EXPLORE

98 CAMPAIGN

Roots of and Routes to Learning Architecture

In a gripping account, Narendra Dengle elaborates on the importance of

academics and actual training and practice, and the synthesis of both which

gives rise to an ever-evolving architecture.

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SPACE FRAMES

Reinterpreting Gandhi

In this edition of Space Frames, Anuj Ambalal interrogates and challenges

the perception of Gandhi, his life, philosophy and the identification,

interpretation and description of symbols associated with him.

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt. Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Printed at M.B.Graphics, B-28, Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG.D.Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.

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Category Type Deadline

: : :

International Open to all April 18, 2014

Death by Architecture (DBA) has organised a competition called Triumph Architectural Treehouse Award which is open for architects, architecture graduates, architecture students, landscape architects and interdisciplinary teams. The aim behind this competition is to bring out the ideas and innovations involved in designing a treehouse. The treehouse is to be designed for a dual-income, urban couple as a place of retreat. There are no limitations set for the designer in terms of location and neighbourhood locality and hence they are free to explore their own idea of a treehouse, which can be on any deciduous or coniferous tree. It emphasises on receiving a wide range of entries focusing on the concept of sustainability to design the treehouse. For further information, log on to: www.archtriumph.com

Gujarat International Short Film Festival 2014 Category Type Deadline

International Open to all April 26, 2014

Date Venue

: :

December 11, 2013 – April 06, 2014 New York, USA

An exhibition exploring the contemporary works from a non-western culture is being exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The ongoing exhibition emphasises on the ancient Chinese art of ink as a principal medium of painting and calligraphy in China. The display appreciated from the perspective of global art, also tends to be noticed through the lens of Chinese historical artistic paradigms, layers of meaning and cultural significance. The event is highlighting about thirty-seven artists in various mediums – paintings, calligraphy, photographs, woodblock prints, videos and sculptures created in the past. The event has scheduled various discussions, programmes and workshops for all age groups interested in art, design and culture and special services for the visitors with disabilities. For further information, log on to: www.metmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/listings/2013/ink-art

Materials & Applications: Building Something (Beyond) Beautiful : : Date Venue

January 25, 2014 – April 13, 2014 University Art Museum at CalState Long Beach, CA, USA

The Academy of Cultural Activities & Art Institute (ACAAI), a voluntary and non-commercial organisation has opened entries for the 4th International Short Film Festival 2014 to be held at Surat. The Gujarat International Short Film 2014 is open for all national and international budding artists to send their films produced after the 1st January 2012. The short film can be a documentary, a narrative, a social comedy; can be experimental, fiction or an animation. Participants are free to send more than one entry. Three winners under the categories of Best International Short Film (Platinum Academy Award), Best National Short Film (Golden Academy Award) and Best Regional Short Film (Silver Academy Award) will be announced.

A survey exhibition of past eleven years, 2002-2013, the Materials & Applications: Building Something (Beyond) Beautiful, started on 25th January 2014 and will be open till 13th April 2014 at the University Art Museum at CalState Long Beach, California. The exhibitors are some of the most active names in California architecture. Ranging from plain history to the complex present, the models, prototypes, and installation components have revealed multidimensional approaches to transform the built environment. The ongoing exhibition shows projects with innovations and ideas that make an effort to bring the community together and build something beyond beautiful.

For further information, log on to: www.giffindia.org/Rules-And-Regulation-Short-Film-Festival-2014.html

For further information, log on to: www.emanate.org/blog/exhibit/uam/

World Habitat Awards 2014

Concrete Actions 2014: Conservation of Modern Architecture

Category Type Deadline

COMPETITIONS

: : :

Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China

: : :

International Open to all May 02, 2014

Date Venue

: :

April 03-04, 2014 Chandigarh, India

Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) has announced a global architectural competition, World Habitat Awards 2014 for any individual, organisation or government agency. The World Habitat Awards was established with an aim to share and transfer the award-winning approaches. This competition aims to elaborate on the idea of habitat with an innovative and sustainable method towards housing designed as a solution in any country of the world. BSHF looks forward to receiving housing projects and approaches which fulfil certain criteria on sustainable solutions, adaptive reuse, energy conservation techniques. The entries should have projects relating to any housing issues falling under any category as a solution.

The Architectural Research Cell, an integral part of the Chandigarh College of Architecture has organised the Concrete Actions 2014, the first international conference on concrete repair, maintenance and conservation of modern architecture and landscapes. The depleting concrete structures across India call for generating alertness for restoration of exposed cement buildings. To be held at Chandigarh, the modern city of the twentieth-century India, the event aims to share and discuss the latest methods of maintenance and repair of concrete. A wide range of selected papers will be debated on the themes: theory and history of modern architecture, case studies of modern architectural conservation, material conservation, and concrete conservation.

For further information, log on to: www.worldhabitatawards.org/?lang=00

For further information, log on to: sites.google.com/a/ccachd.org/arc/joacon2012

Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

EVENTS

Triumph Architectural Treehouse Award 2014


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Modern Architectural Heritage of Delhi under threat: Chai, Coffee and Architecture

Laureus Learning Pavilion for Mumbai’s Underprivileged Children

The Northern Chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects held a session called ‘Chai, Coffee and Architecture’ on January 6, 2014, at the New Committee Room of School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. The aim of the event was to discuss the subject of Indian architecture in Delhi since independence that made an attempt to overcome the glorious period of Mughal and Colonial influence. Issues that took place in past about the proposal of demolishing Chanakya Cinema and the move for a re-development of Pragati Maidan Complex, ignited the citizens and designers to think deeply over this matter. The discussion was then focused on the need of acknowledging some of the buildings that were constructed postindependence, since the Indian Institute of Architects (Northern Chapter) felt these buildings are also important architectural heritage of Delhi and must be preserved.

The Laureus Foundation sponsored the Learning Pavilion, an interactive building as a gathering space for the underprivileged children of Mumbai. The inauguration was mended by the children of Magic Bus, an NGO involved in educating and mentoring the children through outdoor and experiential learning. Designed by Architecture BRIO, a Mumbai-based firm, the Pavilion is located at the Magic Bus Centre for experiential learning. The NGO’s desire to provide more space for the underprivileged children to learn was aided by the Laureus Foundation and hence the Pavilion was a success. The campus has children’s dormitories, a dining pavilion, volunteer’s accommodation and a resource centre was designed by Rahul Mehrotra Associates as a first phase. The second phase, comprising of the staff accommodation, a facilitation centre for corporates and the Laureus Learning Pavilion is designed by Architecture BRIO. This Pavilion, now on, will serve the children with wide landscapes to advance through workshops, games, craft classes and group discussions.

National Education Summit 2014: The Future of Architectural Education Aiming to educate young India, the National Educational Summit organised by the Government of Gujarat, held a technical session titled ‘The Future of Architectural Education’ at CEPT University on 11 th of January, 2014. With a constant transformation and update in the education system of the country, the discussion concentrated on the advantages and disadvantages of these transformations. The education in the field of architecture was the concern of the event. The shift in the profession and the change in the education system led everyone to put forth the thought of the necessity of these changes and hence the seminar intended to clarify these aspects. A debate was initiated to discuss the education of architecture in four different countries including India. The committee members and research team are looking into why RIBA is shifting from a longer procedure to a system that include five years of education based on existing NATA exam.

NEWS

International Conference of Architectural Practitioners, Educationists, Entrepreneurs and Stakeholders Hosted by IES College of Architecture, Mumbai, the International Conference of Architectural Practitioners, Educationists, Entrepreneurs and Stakeholders was held on the 24th of January, 2014 that brought together architects, educationists, real estate developers, construction companies, manufacturers, investors and others in the design, education and construction industry. India has a unique market that provides a unique arena in which the international and local practices and realities need to engage with one another to create successful models of operation and study. A platform to bring them together was provided here to gear up the complex situations that change significantly. With the intent of discussing the responses and exploring various ways of engagement with realities, the forum was actualised as the board believed that these people have the potential to transform the city’s future and will influence policies. The speakers who held the discussion were Ambrish Arora, Dr Ken Yeang, Dr Klaus Peter Gast, Frederic Schwartz, Dr Anupama Kundoo, Juerg Grunder, Karan Grover, Dagur Eggertsson, Filipe Balestra, Jacob van Rijs, Wong Chiu Man and Kaiwan Mehta. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

Best of Design Awards The Architecture Newspaper received more than 250 projects for the Best of Design Awards 2013 showcasing some of the most exciting and innovative American architectural projects. This was the first annual design award programme. Kate Orff, Principal of SCAPE; Thomas Hanrahan, Dean of School of Architecture at the Pratt Institute and Principal of Hanrahan Meyers Architects; Wes Rozen, Principal, Situ Studio; Mic Patterson, Partner, Enclos; Dan Wood, Principal, WorkAC; and AN’s William Menking were included in the jury panel that was organised to analyse the merits of these projects. The awards were categorised under Building of the Year, Best Façade, Best Interior, Best Landscape, Best Fabrication Project, and Best Student-Built Work. The collection of winning projects has an explicit innovation that lets it fit in the appropriate category. One winning entry and two honourable mentions were selected with an exception for the Building of the Year category shared by three projects.

The State of Debate on Climate Change: Reasons for Optimism The American Society of Landscape Architects held a discussion under the frame of ‘The Dirt, Uniting the Built and Natural Environments’ to discuss The State of Debate on Climate Change. As a part of its chapter was the ‘Reasons for Optimism’. Terry Tamminen, CEO of 7th Generation advisors, observed about two thousand climate scientists at the National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE) in Washington, DC. A session that explored the reasons for optimism, let the experts from the government, nonprofit, and private sectors come together and discuss the matters that would result in some positive developments in the global fight against climate change. Clay Nesler from Johnson Controls International put forth his lesson learnt from a meeting of the World Economic Forum that the business leaders want to do something about the climate change. A building performance disclosure programme was presented by him to the Boston’s government. Dr Richard Jackson, a professor at University of California Los Angeles, spoke about the environmental health that is affected by the climate change. The event as a whole covered wide branches concerning climate change and its results.


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BENDY-LIGHT Product designer Lekha Washington creates ‘Bendy-Light’, a simplistic yet modern design for a lamp that has flexible spine with adjustable height. Text: Sachi Atul Shah Images: courtesy Lekha Washington

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ight, an intrinsic part of one’s life, is not only associated with visibility but also with activities, mood and comfort. ‘Bendy-Light’ by Lekha Washington, is a modern yet simple design, set to create seamless comfort. The product designer’s inspiration manifested the observations of daily human activities of twisting, turning and leaning the body every now and then to seek comfort while reading by the bedside, conducting activity on the floor, relaxing on the sofa, watching television on that cozy couch or while working or playing on the laptop, among other. Logical yet creative, the ‘Bendy-Light’ is a simple form with a bulb, a long, co-operative, memory retentive stainless steel wire acting as the neck and spine and a plug. The spine translates into a flexible form which can become anything from a gravity-defying light to the lampshade itself as it could be arched into full circles allowing one to adjust the light to one’s desired height and angle; different angles adding vivid animations to the space. The transformative piece offers endless possibilities through creative control in the hands of the viewers, complementing the cramped up urban spaces.

Designer: Lekha Washington Contact: Lekha Washington 14, Ranwar Village, Veronica Street, Off Hill Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai. Tel: +91 99304 93018 Email: theajjistore@gmail.com Web: www.ajji.in; www.facebook.com/TheAjjiStore Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


products

Believing that design has the power to improve the way people live, industrial designer Shrestha Kedia’s approach of honest problem solving coupled with mature aesthetics resulted in conceptualisation of ‘CARTOY’.

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CARTOY Text: Sachi Atul Shah Images: courtesy Shrestha Kedia

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he dearth of well-designed furniture for children in Indian market compelled Industrial Designer Shrestha Kedia to create CARTOY – a multipurpose and dynamic object that addresses children’s unique requirement for daily activities of sitting, studying, playing and storing, with the ease of carrying their belongings with them on the go. Though it started as an academic project, Shrestha is not the one to look for plain design inspirations, rather the CARTOY is a result of a thorough research process that included the designer to undertake several in-depth interviews with kids, their parents, retailers and furniture manufacturers. The designer explained, “The research revealed an overarching insight that parents being the decision makers did not find worth in investing in furniture for kids, as they would soon outgrow the same. This non-acceptance resulted into a lack of interest shown by the industry in investing and developing well-designed products for kids.”

work surface cum lid of the toy bin

CARTOY is a big improvisation from the bulky, stationary and single-purpose furniture that limits the functionality of a room and the scope of play, the CARTOY was designed to address the needs and desirability of kids aged 6-12 years residing in urban India. Constructed in plywood in 1100mm (l) x 470mm (w) x 530mm (h) dimension, it has a removable toy bin, whose lid also acts as a writing surface, a storage space underneath and a removable seating making it a personalised piece of furniture. Owing to its functional value of storage and a generous seating provision, CARTOY is not constrained to kids and remains relevant even after they grow up.

removable seat

removable toy bin with sliding lid storage space

Designer: Shrestha Kedia

wheels to take the cartoy around the house

mobility

user engagement

multi-utility

user centric

Contact: Shrestha Kedia 23, Vicenza Marigold, Nr Kanha Bungalow, Kalali, Vadodara - 390012 Tel: +91 8879259660 Email: shresthakedia@gmail.com Web: www.behance.net/shresthakedia Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Wind House, Deesa, Gujarat

Sketch showing passages designed for the wind circulation across the house.

Programmed to provide a haven in the hot and dry climate of Deesa, Gujarat, the Wind House designed by Ahmedabad-based firm banduksmithstudio, is an architecture of climatic response. Text: Shreya Shah Images & Drawings: courtesy banduksmithstudio

W

ith an aspiration to combat the harsh climate of North Gujarat through an architectural solution, the Wind House designed by banduksmithstudio, in Deesa, Gujarat, positions the ubiquitous element of the verandah as a sieve for smooth natural ventilation. Oriented towards the prevailing South-West winds to enhance the wind circulation pattern, the design is inhabited in a corner site of 11302sqft built over an area of 4520sqft near a series of twin bungalows. Laid out in L-shaped verandah as an ‘inbetween’ space buffering the indoor and the outdoor facilitating the needs and nature of multi-generational members of the family, the structure suffices their desire to spend most of their time in shaded areas. The functional spaces are clustered around the Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

verandah corridor with South-West corner of the plot, an outdoor landscape pledging as the core of natural ventilation loop. The ground level contains the family spaces and individual rooms to promote the sense of coherence of the family while the guest spaces will be distributed over the ground as well as first floor. With passages centering the project, the drawing room, livingdining-kitchen, master bedroom, children’s room, grandparents’ bedroom and guest room are positioned on the ground floor, and another guest room and two terraces are planned on the first floor. Constructed of thin concrete slabs, the roof is supported by concrete-anchored steel frames, allowing the winter sun in to warm the indoor spaces while obstructing harsh sunlight during summers. The House is being constructed as a composite unit of


construction brief

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The House as seen from the outside inhabited in the corner site.

Steel formwork for the laying of thin concrete slab roof; steel sections anchored to the ground to support the roof. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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The House is being constructed as a composite unit of frame and load bearing structure with thick brick walls specially designed to temper with the high temperature variations of the outside.

2 3

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1 6 LEGEND: 1. Master Bedroom 2. Guest Bedroom 3. Children’s Room 4. Grandparents' Bedroom 5. 'Ekaant' Room 6. Verandah 7. Dining/ Living/ Kitchen 8. Drawing Room 9. Entry 10. Car Park ↑

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GROUND FLOOR PLAN

FIRST FLOOR PLAN

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SECTION

934 [3'-0 3/4"]

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inside

400 [1'-3 3/4"]

wooden frame glass panel mosquito net

outside ↑

SECTION SHOWING WINDOW DETAIL

Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

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LEGEND: 1. Verandah 2. Guest Bedroom 3. Terrace 1 4. Terrace 2

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The concrete slab roofing, ongoing.

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LEGEND: 1. Verandah 2. Entry 3. Utility Area 4. Staff Room 5. Underground Water Tank


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frame and load bearing structure with thick brick walls specially designed to temper with the high temperature variations of the outside. The high walls are well articulated and pocked by openings to support the targeted wind circulation clubbed with the openings at the peak of the sloping roof. To add to the essentials of wind circulation, these openings allow the rising hot air to escape out, drawn from the ground floor and create an uninterrupted ventilation loop. Thoughtful use of materials like stone, steel and concrete in a balanced mix, which induces a sense of play, inspite of the design being subtle and straightforward contemplating the client’s requirements. For optimal use, the roof will work as a summertime sleeping terrace, while it is designed to gather and store rain water in a 40,000L underground water tank in monsoon. The primal framework of construction ready with the plastering and door frames fixed, the work is still at finishing stage. Tailored to the client’s expectation of a durably well-built and designed as a simple structure, the Wind House justifies its moniker in all possible manner with the verandah passage enabling the wind to course through the built mass. FACT FILE: Project Location Architect Design Team Client Civil Contractors Structural Engineer Project Supervisor Initiation of Project Status

: Wind House : Deesa, Gujarat : banduksmithstudio : Sachin Bandukwala, Melissa Smith, Sagar Shah : Anand Ishwarlal Varde : Paresh Prajapati : Millimeter Designs : Odhav Das Khatri : March 2012 : Ongoing

The verandah corridor as seen from the landscape outside.

Built mass as a composite structure showing steel frames, concrete and stone. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Local council offices in Les Herbiers.

Designing at the Conjunction In conversation with IA&B, Atelier du Pont discusses the challenges and experiences of running a contemporary practice, navigating through the dynamics of France, a country with a rich historic context alongside a fast-paced contemporary identity. Images: courtesy Thomas Dimetto, Luc Boegly, Philippe Garcia, Stéphane Chalmeau, Frédéric Delangle and Atelier du Pont

Based in France, Atelier du Pont is a multidisciplinary firm which was started fifteen years ago as a collaborative by three young architects, Anne-Cécile Comar, Philippe Croisier and Stéphane Pertusier, and has expanded its scope of work from architecture to urban design, town planning, rehabilitation, housing and interior design over time, with a gamut of projects that reflect their evolved and dynamic ethos. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


in conversation IA&B: As a partnership of three designers, what were the original seeds that gave rise to Atelier du Pont, and what are the core values on which this partnership is based? ADP: After we formed our partnership, we won an international competition for young architects called ‘Europan 4’. This experience gave us the momentum to set up our own firm. We are very different, yet very complementary and ultimately, very close in terms of our ethical values. We learned to trust one another. We have been partners for 15 years now. It is truly a partnership of ideas where we design all competitions and projects together. On a day-to-day basis, every one of our designs is the result of a three-way, collective thought process. In the beginning there were only three of us, and now there are thirty! We are surrounded by an amazingly enthusiastic and motivated team. The human component is the most remarkable aspect of this adventure. We are part of a generation of architects who work collectively. In today’s world, it is all about establishing a partnership of ideas and contributing one’s competencies, unlike the previous generation. The individual architect as demigod is an outmoded vision, by now reserved to those rare cases of true genius. Contemporary practice is increasingly demanding, all this in the context of an increasingly complex world that leaves little time for reflection. We see architecture as a whole, uniting both design and practice. The concept is essential, but the actualisation of the idea, the materiality and physical presence of a building are also part of the pleasure of our craft, in the artisanal sense of the term.

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About six years ago, we also co-founded the ‘French Touch’ collective, which has brought together approximately fifteen Paris firms to promote a dialogue about architecture and to share their experiences. This collective routinely organises exhibits and every year, it publishes the book ‘L’annuel Optimiste d’Architecture’ (the ‘Architecture Optimist’s Yearly Review’), which contains a selection of the year’s best projects in France. ‘French Touch’ is a kind of network of architects, all from the same generation, who

Vendée Historial in Lucs-sur-Boulogne (project with Plan01 collective).

IA&B: What are the collective challenges, struggles, failures and learning points that a partnership firm such as yours, experiences in contemporary practice? ADP: We have collective experience at various levels like our partnership within the firm of Atelier du Pont, within the ‘Plan01’ Collective, and also within the ‘French Touch’ Collective. These three experiences are very different from one another, and they nourish each other. Couple of years after we set up Atelier du Pont, we created ‘Plan 01’. It is a collective of five independent firms (Atelier du Pont, Jean Bocabeille Architecte, Koz, Ignacio Prego Architectures, and Phileas), the purpose of which is to work on emblematic projects and on contemporary issues in our society. The idea has been to create synergy and working energy. ‘Plan 01’ is also a shared space where we mutualise our offices, our hardware, and our staff. ‘Plan 01’ exists as a collective for architectural research in the form of a workshop. The wealth of this collective lies in the profusion of ideas and in a practice which constantly renews itself. We approach every project differently, as a function of the site, the programme, and the symbolism; everyone brings a particular sensibility, culture, and history to this process. The upside is the wealth of ideas. The downside is having to compromise. You have to be constructive and open to dialogue and to negotiation! You have to be able to set your ego aside and be able to admit that someone else’s idea may well be better than yours!

Vendée Historial in Lucs-sur-Boulogne (project with Plan01 collective). Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Business campus of around 55,000sqm in Villejuif.

want to be heard and recognised. It also aims to promote the high quality of French architecture at an international level. IA&B: With time, Atelier du Pont has extended its focus from architecture to interior design, rehabilitation, town planning, and urban design. What were the qualities gained and lost in this process of evolution? ADP: In France, architecture and interior design are two very different worlds that ignore one another. In our firm, we see them as parts of the same whole. Working in different disciplines at the same time (urban planning, architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture) allows us to include them within an overall vision where architecture remains at the centre. Our team is multidisciplinary, and this contributes enormously to our firm’s success. All these interconnections allow us to continuously re-examine our practice on a daily basis and to expand our point of view.

were they influenced by the site’s overall location? ADP: France is a small country with a very varied geography and a significant and omnipresent architectural heritage. Architects situate themselves in terms of their time and their particular history. All our projects are contextually driven. We are asked to work with very different sites having dense urban surroundings, unstructured peri-urban areas and unique geographic sites. A site’s history and geography have a huge influence on our approach. This is where we begin to conceive our ideas, so that they are adapted and coherent with the type of structure we are developing, from the forms to the choice of materials and details.

We recently won a competition for a 55,000sqm office building. We approached this ambitious project at the city level, and our proposal was directly tied to the surrounding urban context. It was because of this urban planning-based approach that we won the jury’s approval. IA&B: Your projects have a distinct architectural vocabulary, be it in construction techniques or the treatment of façades. How did these styles evolve, and how much Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

Public media library and housing in Rennes.


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We hold a proactive view of the environment and a selective approach to urban planning. Because of its worldwide spread, contemporary architecture tends towards globalisation, or rather towards greater uniformity, a kind of ‘international architecture’. We try to develop an architectural identity for each project that also reflects the culture and traditions of a country, region, or city.

commitment for us. We are building cities on cities; a city is a sequence of time periods, which is its great wealth. We believe strongly that one should not destroy in order to rebuild systematically, but that one should work with what is there and improve that in terms of the usage, ecology, and urban and architectural quality.

IA&B: Your practice has dealt extensively with rehabilitation projects, at times even with inhabitants at the location. What is your opinion on architecture as ‘building for the future’ versus ‘building within a pre-existent context’ in complex urban scenarios? ADP: Rehabilitation is a very important issue and a real

Our approach is the exact opposite of the ‘tabula-rasa’. Our vision of urban planning includes rehabilitation and transformation. Working with what is there means limiting the gross environmental impact of a demolition/reconstruction; it means preserving memory and also the social ties that breathe life into these inhabited spaces.

(L-R) Major outer rehabilitation with added balconies for a housing building in Paris.

Housing and shops in Saint-Ouen. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Housing in Bondy.

IA&B: While designing a housing project, which has a great socio-economic responsibility and impact, what principles do you think, one should follow? ADP: Housing is an important issue the world over. It is the ‘raw material’ of a city. It is a difficult process in France, given the heavy financial and regulatory constraints. We work on these projects humbly and ambitiously. Our goal is to build a housing worthy of its inhabitants in terms of lifestyles, usages, quality of materials, and energy consumption. We are always searching for quality of life in lighting, terraces, intimacy, common spaces, social exchanges, the hierarchy of the outside spaces, from the public to the private. When you design housing, you have to do so at every level, from the tower to the house, passing through the shared, intermediary habitat to the individual home. Complementary thinking Historically, architects like Le Corbusier, among others, influenced architectural production in France until the 1980s, and not always for the better. The architecture of the French suburbs is rife with ‘quickly made, badly made’ versions of such a vision. We have inherited this austere urban vision, which we now realise is a social and urban planning failure. The segregation of functions has given rise to residential ghettos. In today’s world, mixing functions and populations is a necessity. We also need to respond to the environmental challenges of our time like dense and diverse cities, Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

Urban plan for Villeneuve-la-Garenne city centre.

Gourmet restaurant ‘Les Tablettes of Jean-Louis Nomicos’ in Paris.

well served by transportation and mixed-use cities. This is what led us to being interested in urban planning at the neighbourhood level. We have expanded the scope of our thinking in order to implement our ideas in the projects we develop more successfully. IA&B: On the predilection of interior design you have stated that “This effort to achieve total control of space is always a challenge; it becomes a rich exercise (for the firm)…” Does this greater sense of control in interior design result in more imaginative interior spaces? ADP: Establishing an interior design department has helped us pay the same attention to detail in designing a building’s ‘exterior’ as in its interior spaces. Such ‘small’ projects have enabled us to develop concepts that are both ‘challenging’ and innovative, to work on materials, details, and prototypes with artisans that one almost no longer finds in the world of construction. This kind of project happens much faster than architecture projects; it is quite exciting and it allows us to work according to a very different rhythm. We approach interior spaces with a strong idea that gives the place its sense of identity. We like telling stories like with the basket for the Mediterranean restaurant Nomicos, a goldmine for the Stella Cadente boutique, a handheld mirror for the window displays of the Burma jewellery store.


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IA&B: Among your contemporaries, from the past and over the years, who have been your teachers, mentors and inspirations in architecture or art? ADP: We like the work of architects who use a contextual or geographic approach, as well as artists who work with space, light, material, nature, and geography. When we were students, Jean Nouvel, did a lot to expand the horizon in France, which at the time was occupied mostly by architecture that was nostalgic of the modern era. He approached architecture in a more overarching manner and opened it out to many other worlds, thereby pushing many architects of our generation to ask themselves a lot of questions and to expand their overall field of inquiry.

Burma Jewelry Boutique, Rue de la Paix in Paris.

IA&B: Among Atelier du Pont’s collectives is also ‘Plan01’ founded in 2002. What kind of work does ‘Plan01’ explore? ADP: ‘Plan01’ explores social issues, imaginary sites, spaces devoted to culture, memory, contemplation, and ceremony, but it also takes on innovative environmental projects such as temporary structures that are both economical and low environmental impact, as well as recyclable, such as the competition we won to build the Velodrome for the Madrid Olympics, which can be fully disassembled. So, recyclable means that the site will be returned to its identical, prior state two weeks after the Olympics have finished!

In our production, our formal sensibilities tend towards the rigor that has developed in Northern Europe, and towards the quality of architecture in Japan, where modernity and tradition are never at odds with one another. We love the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, La Casa de Musica in Porto, the Thermes in Vals, the Cité Radieuse in Marseille, the Metal Shutter Houses and the Seagram Building in New York, the Siedlung Halen housing in Bern, and 111 Lincoln Road in Miami, as well as artists such as François Morellet, James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, Walter de Maria, Giuseppe Penone, Richard Long, Dan Flavin.

Each project is an opportunity for the collective’s firms to explore different ways of designing, be it through workshops, exquisite corps, internal competitions, and so on.

Recyclable velodrome for the Madrid Olympics (project with ‘Plan 01’ collective). Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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A CONTEMPORARY

CONTEXTUALISM

The Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour sits ensconced in the site.

Designed by Tallulah and Rajiv D’Silva of architecture R/T in the village Mashem in Goa, the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour appropriates traditional building materials, reducing on the usual ornamentation, thus creating a straightforward and conscious space for the community. Text: Anusha Narayanan Images & Drawing: courtesy Harshan Thomson and architecture R/T

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eading back towards Panaji from South Goa’s Catigao Widlife Sanctuary after a bird-sighting trip, a couple of architects decided to stop and rest for a bit at their ancestral village Mashem, Canacona. Walking along the Galgibaga beach, where the Olive Ridley Turtles nest every year, the seeds of the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour were sown, as casual banter among the architects and the church priest. In these moments of conversation, the Chapel presented an opportunity for the architects to dabble with new methods and approaches deviating from the traditional architecture of the region.

displaced from the spot. The site, at the time, was bare, almost flat and sparingly rigid, with a steep 20m rocky surface jutting out conspicuously from the rear, from an otherwise imperceptible upward slope of the site. Its geology was stern, albeit negotiable stating its constraints bluntly and conveying the need to be dealt with cautiously. The directive was to leave the teak trees at the peripheries and the scrub vegetation near the rocky outcrops undisturbed and design in the flat portion of the site maintaining a safe distance from the lateritic cliff because of apprehensions over its stability.

During the inception of the project, the architects were approached to formulate a design for a chapel replacing an older Portuguese church which could not be preserved and had to be

Challenging the prescribed approach, the designers envisaged a chapel abutting the cliff at the back, complementing the topography of the site, an idea which was strengthened by the

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A still space, the altar exploits the sheer rock at its rear, as the backdrop. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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The prayer hall, lit in controlled quanta by the skylight.

The funneling corridor dramatises the light and darkness.

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SITE PLAN

Often, light or water are the silent performers in such spaces, besides which there is always a core value be it dominance, grandeur, porosity, strength, modesty, minimalism or iconification. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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EAST ELEVATION

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LEGEND: 1. Rocky Hill Slope 2. Reflection Pool 3. Altar 4. Main Hall 5. Verandah 6. Entrance Steps 7. Corridor

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GROUND FLOOR PLAN

LONGITUDINAL SECTION THROUGH THE PRAYER HALL

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consulting geologist’s affirmation of the design. Containing two blocks within it, the Chapel is a simple building with a triangular profile in elevation, increasing in height from 2.6m at the entrance to 9m at the altar, covered by a sloping roof made in RCC. The main prayer hall accommodates a congregation of up to 250 people and the adjacent block consists of the meeting room, a private space for the priest and the sacristy, and storage for communion, equipment, linen and other supplies. A narrow corridor which widens telescopically towards the rear, divides the two, visually acting like the end of a tunnel, from which unhindered light floods in. The buildings have been encased in grey basalt used in the load bearing masonry in the foundations, plinth and walls of the superstructure. Laterite, contrasting against the grey of the basalt with its rusty red, has been used in the perforated ‘jaali’ wall near the entrance, the buttresses, and the partition walls placed wherever necessary. Terracotta clay curd pots have been used as fillers in some spans of the sloping roof and its exterior has been finished in white recycled ceramic mosaic. The flooring has been done entirely in ‘kota’ and ‘cudappa’ stone.

The recessed entrance shields one from the sun.

The various exposed materials placed together at the entrance. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

Looking at the drawings in isolation has almost never amounted to a clear assimilation of the quality of any design. In the case of this Chapel, it is a turnaround from its two dimensional representation. An interesting balance of light has been allowed into the space. It is mostly like a cave with the skylight above the altar, piercing the peak of the roof, fabricated in mild steel angle sections with sheet glass panels. It allows light to infiltrate through the burrow-like church, together with the narrow glazed


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The Chapel proportionately divides the entrance, channelising the movement of people.

The central aisle finished in polished 'kota'.

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The buttresses emphasising on the contrasts. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Slit-like windows along the main interior walls.

The skylight above the altar, fabricated in mild steel and sheet glass. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

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The rear exit of the Chapel near the cliff.


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slit windows along the main walls in the congregation hall. The ‘jaali’, the corridor running through the centre and the entrance verandah maintain a consistent flow of air through the enclosure simultaneously buffering the penetration of sunlight, in an attempt to keep the structure cool in the humid climate of Goa. The water that flows on the surface of the backdrop cliff during monsoons is allowed to trickle down to a reflecting pool at the base of the rock behind the altar, which collects this excess and channelises it out of the building. Manoeuvring through the constraints of the site, the building is functionally segregated on the inside, devoid of ornamentation, unassuming and natural. Dressing it layer by layer, its stability, robustness, contrasts, textures, materials, sustainability and cost-effectiveness, all cumulate to an earthly charm, bearing no resemblance to any of the other buildings in the village. Yet it sits in the lap of the stone cliff as if it were at home, welcoming people into the verandah flanking its front, to a semi-open space that funnels into the congregation hall. A chapel is a place of paramount importance to the community it is built for. More than creating awe, it makes a lingering connection with a common man subconsciously. Big or small, spiritual spaces generate a feeling of reverence. The difference is in how the designer(s) consciously incorporates textural, spatial and visual stimuli into them, to make that connect. Often, light or water are the silent performers in such spaces, besides which there is always a core value be it dominance, grandeur, porosity, strength,

The Chapel bracketing the face of the cliff.

Laterite columns at the entrance receding into the angular basalt parapet. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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modesty, minimalism or iconification. It is in the entwining of the tangible stimuli with an intangible value that the preoccupied mind responds with a moment of silence. The design of the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour attempts the same with clarity in choice of materials and resolution of spaces, and shows definite restraint in being neither pompous nor overly minimal and in providing for a detachment from the outside. The word ‘contemporary’ does not necessarily represent dull, sterile or monochromatic. It is meant to belong to the present, designing within the frame of a time and a place. For its self-defined approach to vernacularism and contemporaneity, the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Mashem in Canacona, Goa, is small yet brave. FACT FILE:

Project : Location : Architect : Design Team : Structural Consultants : Consulting Geologist : Client : Civil Contractors : Project Area : Site Area : Project Cost : Initiation of Project : Completion of Project : The rustic columns against the grey structure.

The angles of the roof and walls maintaining the geometry of lines.

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Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Mashem, Canacona, Goa architecture R/T Tallulah and Rajiv D’Silva Yogesh Bhobe & Associates Mr Marian Borges Committee of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Chapel, Mashem, Canacona Committee of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Chapel, Mashem, Canacona 570sqm 3000sqm `50 lac November 2003 April 2006


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Touching the raised rocky surface of the lateritic cliff, the Chapel sits calm. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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SUBLIMINAL THRESHOLDS OF SPACE The House on a Stream by Architecture BRIO is a compositional rhetoric of built space and landscape that seamlessly flow into one another as natural extensions of its being. Text: Chandrima Padmanabhan Images: courtesy Sebastian Zachariah Photographix and Architecture BRIO

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The House comprises of two wings, separated by a streambed.

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he picturesque locale of the coastal town of Alibaug is a languid reprieve for most city-dwellers habituated to the cramped bustle of the city; its proximity to Mumbai and the leisurely air spawning many whimsical weekend residences that have consequently come to define the architectural character of the place. While some weekend homes are celebratory references to their individuality in an ostensible absence of a built context to respond to, in a refreshing recourse to this disquieting epidemic, the House on a Stream by Architecture BRIO instead allows the potential of the landscape to play the protagonist. It relegates itself to a supporting role, defining a way of life through the way the building moves, gestures and observes the context it sits in, facilitating a sense of wonder in the most mundane aspects of living. Set amid a neglected agricultural land with a seasonal stream slicing the site in two, and constantly negotiating relationships with its landscape, the House is not an introverted bubble that allows you to sit within and passively observe the charming scenery around. There is a persistent urge to allow it to carry you along its whimsical layout, drawing you from one space to another, along demarcated pathways or subtle extensions of the same, from one setting to the next, which successively open out to encompass more of the land and built space in a rhythmic cycle. The House, a modest 3230sqft in all, comprises of two wings separated by the streambed; one which encompasses the more Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

public living, dining and guestroom spaces and connected loosely by a footbridge to the other private master bedroom suite that veers off toward the right of the walkway. The clean, honest materiality of the exterior of the building is expounded in the plank-finished concrete with a vertical grain. Though the concrete was veritably transported to the site and not sourced locally, there is a definite charm in the way exposed concrete comes into its own in a natural landscape, a subtle grey against the vibrant greenery all around. It also allows its surface to weather naturally; changing with the seasons and time, through the ravages of the humid climes and the stream navigating around it; the narrative inherent in its built form, and perceivable through the senses. The act of entry unfolds gradually and elaborately, as a sequential experience across the threshold of light and shade, from the circuitous pathway along the stream, through the paved passage under the pergola, glancing past the master pavilion to the right and straight into the heart of lively functionality within. This layered entranceway bespeaks of the way one simultaneously engages with the inside and the outside, lingering between the choice of settling down immediately, cross-legged, under the shade of the pergolas and neighbouring foliage to take in the landscape, or moving toward the beckoning spaces beyond. The pool, alongside the pergola, is so constructed to align itself along the seasonal streambed, becoming an extension of it during the


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The elaborate pathway along the stream negotiates between the thresholds of light and shade, inside and outside.

The existing tree serves to form an adjoining courtyard to the dining and guest room spaces. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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SITE PLAN

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It is in these minor negotiations and in the detailing of spaces, that the House constantly engages, opening out into the surrounding and never satisfied with being a spectator, but insisting on being a participant and being inherently so.

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The pool serves as an extension of the stream during the monsoon, and as a reminder of it during the summer.

The edges of the living room space are cantilevered off the ground to create shaded verandahs. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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All spaces of the building open out and negotiate a relationship with the landscape.

The banks of the stream are left relatively unscathed, preserving the ecology of the streambed. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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The minimalist dining area, opens out into the expanse, redefining thresholds of functionality. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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The shaded verandahs serve as a liminal, occupiable space.

All spaces seamlessly merge into one another and subsequently open out into the landscape.

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The two wings of the House connected by a paved pathway and footbridge.

monsoon when the water level rises up to 5ft and serving as a remnant of the same during the unforgiving summers, when it dries up. While the exterior form of the building expands and contracts, responding to the topography of the site and the climatic orientation of its spaces, to garner a lively animation of light; the undulation is in-turn sensitively minimised on the inside by varying the thickness of the interior ceiling. Moving across the walkway and to the interior spaces of the main living quarters, the kitchen is perceptibly made both the center and the heart of the home, courtesy the clients’ enthusiastic penchant for cooking. A dramatically-lit space with a high ceiling and a centrally placed skylight flooding the space with light, it acts as the nucleus to the functioning strata around, pivoting the dining, living and guestroom spaces asymmetrically along its axis. While the living room wing offers a panoramic view of the mountain ranges in the distance, the guest room wing embraces an existing tree to create a small courtyard which adjoins the dining space, and extends to proffer a view across the stream. The vibrantly lit offsetting spaces, though modest in size and minimalist in dÊcor, by virtue of the large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors and windows and the intricately positioned views of the surrounding, uninterruptedly flow from one to the other and further open out into the expanse wherever possible, making Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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A portion of the bathroom is left open-to-sky naturally lighting and ventilating the space. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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the spaces seem larger with a becoming vitality and naturally drawing the activity beyond the confines of the built space. Within, the detailing of the windows and verandahs which are deep-set and shaded act as an occupiable liminal space of their own, while outside, the edges of the living and bedroom spaces are cantilevered, defying the heaviness usually associated with concrete. The cantilevered edges paradoxically draw the eye downward in a way that it usually would not; just as a pirouetting ballerina draws your eye to the relationship her foot negotiates with the ground, a tension created in the balance so delicately construed. Intervening consciously in the landscape, the design is not bound by a stylistic notion of symmetry or gimmickry as is especially obvious in the way the banks of the river have been left fairly unscathed by the construction. For the sake of simplicity, without unnecessarily cutting off the bank entirely from the stream in the way of a fishbowl, the foundations were set further back on the river bank such that it does not interfere with the flowing stream. Improvising only where essential, to create retaining planters for intervening trees, and allowing the river bank to naturally descend into the stream, the ecology of the waterbed was effectively preserved. It is in these minor negotiations and in the detailing of spaces, that the House constantly engages, opening out into the

surrounding and never satisfied with being a spectator, but insisting on being a participant and being inherently so. The fact that passivity is discouraged in the minutiae of its organisational flow speaks volumes for the lifestyle it imposes on its clients. The openness of the House on the Stream is synonymous with the way of life it suggests, rooted in the spirit of the landscape it is a part of; a building that lives, works and breathes. It creates an architecture that is not just inhabited, but one in which the users are encouraged to create their own thresholds of space.

FACT FILE: Project Location Architects Design Team Area Structural Design Completion of Project

: House on a Stream : Alibaug, Mumbai : Architecture BRIO : Robert Verrijt + Shefali Balwani : 3230sqft : Vijay K Patil & Associates : September 2013

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A SUBURBAN EXPOSITION The Birdsong Café by Mumbai-based studio eight twentythree merges with the surrounding heritage precinct of Bandra, in Mumbai, its interiors stimulating an eclectic yet humble celebration of art in its distinct and varied forms. Text: Chandrima Padmanabhan Images: courtesy studio eight twentythree, Sachin Powle

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ucked away in a small corner in the suburbs of Bandra in Mumbai, sits a petite, quaint cafe; a relatively new addition to the streetscape, yet housed there with all the familiarity of an old resident. The Birdsong Café by studio eight twentythree retains the subtle characteristics of the hamlet-like cluster of streets around the neighbouring Waroda road, in keeping with the seeming microcosm created just 200-odd meters away from the bustling traffic. The palette of materials is restricted to wood and concrete, a vestige of the old with the modern, yet left strictly in their natural exposed form to weather gradually with time, and consequently adding another relevant layer to the narrative of the precinct. The café accommodates a simple kitchen, bakery and a seating area that is extendable to the overlooking mezzanine, when necessary. Approached through large entrance arches with double louvered wooden shutters that open onto the street, it invitingly draws passersby; the large bevelled glass panes serving as the

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ideal perch to lean against, and watch the world go by. Once inside, one is greeted by the spread of delicacies in the glass cabinets of the bakery counter, with its adjoining kitchenette behind. The rest of the space is relegated as a seating area extending across to a small, semi-private mezzanine, and creating a sheltered nook underneath. The understated décor and remnant oddities of a long work day that adorn the tables of customers, speak volumes for the ambience created, with just enough chatter to make it homely and the right amount of quiet to make you want to linger. The high ceilings bring in a benevolent amount of light into the space, naturally creating recesses and vantage points of equal measure. There is an eclectic, yet an old-world feel to the elements that contributes to the atmosphere in the café. While the bakery counter is made of poured concrete incasts and the walls are chiselled and left in their semi-shorn stage, to add to the worn look, the furniture is a miscellaneous infusion of wooden tables, vitrines and brightly reupholstered chairs.


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The seating area offers picturesque, unobstrusive views onto the adjoining streets. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Incandescent bulbs in wooden holders are strung from the ceiling.

The large blackboard behind the bakery counter artistically lists the menu for the day.

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The hand-painted signage for the cafĂŠ adds to the eclectic charm of the furnishings.

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All the walls are adorned with hand-drawn illustrations that are whimsical representations of the organic produce and lifestyle that the café menu dictates. Drawn in the appearance of a thought cloud, random and sketchy, the wall serves as simplistic gestalt in a place people come to, to doodle and muse. Meant to be written and drawn over, scratched and redrawn, the wall inspires the spontaneous creativity that evidently went into creating it. This thoughtful personalisation extends to the blackboard behind the counter, where the menu can be written over with chalk and wiped off whenever required, and the hand-painted signage for the café, which is intricately detailed to add to its unassuming aesthetic. The artistry, subtle though it may be, is resonant across the space and in turn evokes more. Straightforward incandescent bulbs in reclaimed, wooden holders are suspended from the ceiling from a grid of hooks in an apparently haphazard manner in contrast to the neat lines of the exposed service ducts. Both the wires and the ducts allow their utilitarian features to add to the character of the place. The grids of hooks were also placed to orchestrate installations by local artists throughout the year, keeping the space as dynamic and supportive of the local art scene as possible. The snug and inviting mezzanine constructed in reclaimed teakwood can similarly be purposed to house live musical performances. These nuances allow the burgeoning art and music groups in the city to have a small, albeit specifically tailored space to express themselves.

The Birdsong Café is a fledgling that takes flight and transports one to the charming realm that is educed amongst careworn bookshelves in a corner bookshop, an environment that is hardly ever created in the big, brightly lit shops that are usually too crowded and too standardised to allow much evolution in use. A space that inherently allows you to enjoy your own company; a much sought after disposition in the fast-paced city, this quiet allure disallows the residents to be overwhelmed by its presence in any way, and draws a creative and diverse crowd all its own. With an aesthetic that looks like it was created by borrowing, matching and improvising, but done with a finesse and moderation that allows it to poise itself on the brink of possibility, it leaves the space looking both rustic and modern, edgy and relaxed and being precisely what draws one to the place. FACT FILE: Project : Birdsong Café Location : Bandra, Mumbai Architects : studio eight twentythree Design Team : Samir Raut, Amit Mayekar Execution Team : Ramchandra Kumavat, Rajdev Mahto, Shriram Morya, Manoj Wadhel, Ganesh Kushwaha Graphics : KA Advertising Initiation of Project : December 2012 Completion of Project : May 2013

The mezzanine area allows the extended seating to alternately act as a stage for musical performances.

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The double louvered wooden shutters open out into the streetscape and merge with the surrounding precinct. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Montages of Memories

'Rooftop #3', Cityscapes. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Chicago-based artist, photographer and graphic designer Tim Jarosz expresses his perceptions of Chicago, New York and San Francisco through a series of photomontages, ‘Cityscapes’ and ‘Cityscapes II’ putting together everyday scenes of the cities, but in a tone shifting from familiarity to exploration. Text: Anusha Narayanan Images: courtesy Tim Jarosz

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hat is it that comes to our mind when we think of ‘our’ city; the one we call home? A reel of images flashes us by, and somewhere in these whirring thoughts, we see glimpses of our life, tied inseparably to glimpses of the city that we live in. We see the realities of the present city, the places that we leave behind, and then of those that we visit only in our memories, in dreams or through old albums. It is therefore very hard to define what essentially builds the image of a city. It is deeper than its physicality because it survives in memories and dreams too. ‘Cityscapes’ and ‘Cityscapes II’ by Tim Jarosz are a series of photomontages showing artistic re-interpretations of the city of Chicago. It is through these that Chicago-based Tim, an artist and

'A Grand Avenue', Cityscapes.

'Rooftop #2', Cityscapes.

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'A North Avenue', Cityscapes.

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'Painted Ladies', Cityscapes.

a graphic designer by training, chooses to express his sense of belonging to the city he calls home. ‘Cityscapes’, as a set of collages made by overlaying different photographs to complete each composited frame, subtly plays with one's imagination and reality. When one observes the series closely, there are certain compositions and patterns that are revealed. An emphasis on repetition or progression has been laid at places, for instance in images showing row houses or Victorian façades, or in those which focus on isolated objects like vans, trailers and trucks. As one traverses through the series, the language changes to one of more detail, such as images that depict the architectural elements of a particular building or linear composites showing staircases, exit ladders and opening typologies which vary from floor to floor. These frames mark out one building or a small part of a group of buildings and build on it. Some images are statements in themselves, or what can be termed as 'monumental' because they have an intrinsic sense of dominance, depicting the city as an entity that towers over the regularities of life; a somewhat sinister enlargement of scale which does not seem as pronounced in any of the other canvases.

'Catering Truck', Cityscapes. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Throughout the first series, there is a recurring sense of stillness and surrealism that can be observed, which remains consistent through most of the next one as well. As collages of the city, Tim’s work is reassuring and indicative of his inclination towards the history of the brick architecture of Chicago, but at the same time, is a little disorienting and illusive. It is fascinating how not a single human figure has been used in the entire set of images, which makes his art feel somewhat detached. It tricks one into questioning or gauging how much of it is sensory and how much is fantasy. The surrealism herein, lies more in the usage of vivid colours, in the detailing of the sky or the detailing of materials on the façades which, in reality, should be imperceptible when looking at the city from afar or the motion of the birds that renders a sense of movement and calmness to each picture. There is a certain disregard for control, be it in the randomness, the repetition, or the dramatisation of the scenes. The series as a whole relates to the evolving artist who grows as the city grows with him and on him, getting bigger as it gets older, as he watches it fall apart and relates to this breakdown. It gives one a feeling that the artist has attempted to retain as much of his memory in the images as possible. The pieces therefore are personal and intimate interpretations of the city he belongs to, the unified theme being to capture stories of a city which is eroding, a city that has risen and a city that overshadows the life that runs below it.

'18th Street', Cityscapes.

'Junkyard Fence', Cityscapes. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

‘Cityscapes II’, an ongoing series of photomontages, takes one to New York and San Francisco. These successive series come at a stage of learning and evolution in the artist’s own life, reflected in its composition. It explores the streets of both the cities putting them alongside Chicago’s and directly comparing the two using similar station points and perspectives to look at them. Especially capturing New York in an atypical light, the collages speak of a city which is more informal or lively, elaborated upon by buildings of mixed use with shops below and residences above, something which is unseen in the first series. It is at this point that Chicago, as a city in itself, seems to be more formal than New York with respect to architecture, however culturally rich they both are. The artist has also tried to experiment with newer methods using a combination of two and three dimensionality in same frames. Certain poise can be observed as the series moves forth, as


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The pieces, therefore, are personal and intimate interpretations of the city he belongs to, the unified theme being to capture in each frame, stories of a city which is eroding, a city that has risen and a city that overshadows the life that runs below it.

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'Victorian #1', Cityscapes II.

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'Victorian #2', Cityscapes II.

'Mission Street', Cityscapes II. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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conveyed by the image showing the clear sky with birds flying above with a row of water tanks at the bottom, in a bold skyward extension, exuding a sense of freedom. The shift in the subject here, from architectural to abstract, shows how life is at times unbound by the city; how the sky can look the same anywhere, how it belongs or relates to none in particular. Both the series quite romanticise a past or a present or a scene which may never truly manifest. At the same time, they highlight the smaller subjects which we tend to ignore, like windows, reflections, awnings, shutters, vendors, shops, cables and birds, although they all feature in the daily scenes of any city. Post-boxes and dilapidated fences, objects of little consequence which build the city nevertheless, make us notice our common neglect of them. Tremendous detail has gone into the part-by-part construct of ‘Cityscapes’ and ‘Cityscapes II’, from the ground to the sky, each floor of a building, each psychedelic colour, every emphasis in a façade, dancing between reality and perception. The need that pushes us to compulsively define and control the perception of architecture is somehow lost in these images. It makes one pause to think whether art here mimics reality or challenges it. Perhaps both.

'Urban Perspective', Cityscapes II.

'NYC Streetfront Triptych', Cityscapes II.

Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

Tim Jarosz was born and raised in Chicago. An avid traveller, he has seen many places, but prefers calling Chicago his home. A graduate from Eastern Illinois University on a scholarship for the Arts with a degree in Graphic Design, he has studied many forms of art throughout the years, but feels that graphic art is his most comfortable form of expression. He works independently as a professional photographer and pursues art alongside it. With an urge to imagine and create through drawing, painting, photography and graphic art his work is exploratory and steadily evolving. 'Cityscapes' and 'Cityscapes II' along with Tim's other works can be viewed at www.timjarosz.com

'A New York Street', Cityscape II.


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'Watertanks', Cityscapes II. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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[P] [P] [P] [P]eople

DELHi2050, often appreciated for its inclusive and open approach continues to extend its platform for people who are worried about their city. In the ninth installment of this series, we elaborate further on the role of participation from all sectors in the decision making process for strategic planning and development of the city. Text: Kushal Lachhwani Photographs/Graphics: arch i platform, New Delhi Edited by: Anne Feenstra Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

Umbrellas Light installation by arch i team, IHC New Delhi


delhi dialogues We, The People With terms like democracy, common man, power of the masses gaining tremendous prominence and being rediscovered with recent events across the nation and globally, people can no longer be ignored in any urban development process. It is important to underline the word 're-discovered' as this approach does not exclusively belong to the 21st century. DELHi2050 is a process that was initiated in late 2010 with the aim of fundamentally rethinking the long term future of the city. The process was designed to illustrate scenarios which incorporate and take birth from ideas and aspirations of people who work and live in the city. With the support of a worldwide network and local experts, government, knowledge institutes, private sector and - of course - the residents, the DELHi2050 team is finding alternative ways forward. Growing Participation Participation among individuals, societies, cultures and countries has been taking place at multiple phases. From our observations, we can list down five phases that the participation cycle goes through. The first phase starts with DIRECT interactions on an individual basis, based on sheer parallel interests. Everybody can do this every day. The next phase is EXCHANGE of thoughts and information when facts and figures are exhibited and discussed using multiple tools. We have been using interactive graphic design as the communication medium. For this phase basic research is needed. The third and very important phase is to build a CONTINUITY where we create a platform, an initiative, a society and interact on a regular basis. Our website www.delhi2050.com plays an important role in this. Fourth is the hard work needed for a deeper understanding and the DIGESTION of thousands of ideas and questions. How can we filter the key issues and thus find ways forward towards recommendations and possible solutions? The last and often underestimated phase is the

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SPIN OFF. How magnificent is it to not control everything, and let other initiatives pop up! City Makers-Policy Makers-City Dwellers As part of its recent Step 6, the DELHi2050 team brought together the city makers, policy makers and city dwellers to cross-question and arrive at methods to stimulate public participation in urban planning processes at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Everybody got together for this brainstorming session! MoUD, NCR Planning Board, DDA, companies with a deep interest in sustainability like Outokumpu and Ambuja, representatives of SPA, Toxic Links and NASVI started a two way process to establish trust and transparency between different stakeholders. Among the many positive outcomes, the group tried to share their skills and use the platform to work together for: - More legible and engaging methods of development plans and rethink our representational hierarchies. - Degree of ownership, awareness and activism amongst youth starting with natural resources of city. - Understand the collaboration patterns at various scales starting from neighbourhoods to state level and work towards decentralisation of powers. A very important role in all the steps of DELHi2050 has been played by mass communication mediums such as the radio stations (national and community), newspapers, journals, online platforms. These mediums which are present all through the 5 phases of participation provides a real and a direct connection with the people who live and work in the city. These are the people that we involve in ‘Making City’. Our present ongoing phase 6.1 is called ‘Dwarka and Water’. We keep this quintessential link with the inhabitants going as we begin the dialogue with the residents of Dwarka along with Dutch architect Matthijs Bouw and designer Rianne Makkink. Together we embark on the journey to fundamentally rethink sustainable design solutions for the water deficient neighbourhood.

5 Steps of Participation

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DELHi2050 is a fantastic exercise towards down-top development planning. It has great scope for detailing into LAP’s and which is to offer platform for participatory development. – Edgar Ribeiro, Former Member, Planning Commission for Urban Development Group

Gurgaon is different because of corporate-backed ground up solutions, they hence have more funding, ownership and glamour. The lack of offices in Dwarka makes it a tricky middle class situation with greyness. - Meena Mani, Architect and Academician I tell my stories and observations of the city through a blog and I am happy to see the response, encouragement and willingness among people to be aware. – Mukta Naik, Author, ramblinginthecity.wordpress.com

Dwarka could do a lot more in terms of transport and water supply with social integration through collective thinking and ownership of its infrastructure and resources. - Dwarkaite

There is now a platform that has a real dialogue with the people, which makes DELHi2050 unique. - Dr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development

Can we rethink our representation hierarchy? Let’s make plans more legible for the people. We need to have an advanced skill set to demonstrate this starting with a building and planning across a complete neighbourhood. - Pankaj Vir Gupta, Architect and Academician

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All the citizens need to think that they have a part in building the city. To reach out to the stakeholders, builders of cities should be brought into the fold to carry forward the deliberations. - Matthijs Bouw, Architect, ONE architecture

The board was dealing with participation at another level where definition varied across the different states. Consensus took time but was achieved for cohesive development. - J N Barman, National Capital Region

The Netherlands

Planning Board

We are designed with one mouth, one nose and two ears; there must be a reason for that. - Anne Feenstra,

I am a fruit seller. We would love to be part of it. Feel better to understand better about my neighbourhood. Thank You.

Principal, arch i platform

Would it be possible to find better ways that make our mandates less prescriptive? - Poonam Dewan,

Cities can self-organise but the intensity depends on the degree of activism and efforts from growing middle class. - Ravi Agarwal,

Environmentalist, Director - Toxic Links

Delhi Development Authority

During the participation rounds of AAPKI SADAK project, we saw so many different sections of the society coming together to give their opinions. - Manas Murthy, Urban Designer, , AAPKI SADAK project

ABOUT the AUTHOR Kushal Lachhwani is a graduate and gold medalist from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. He has a wide array of experience, particularly in the field of landscape and urbanism. Working at arch i platform, he has developed a keen interest in working along with the community. Parallel to working on an exploratory exercise DELHi2050 which is an attempt to investigate alternate scenarios for the future of Delhi, he is currently in quest to acquire expertise in landscape design and execution with P Landscape in Bangkok, Thailand. He is part of DesignXDesign team, the first such platform in Delhi, for design discussions, exposes and roundtables. He is also a theatre artiste and enthusiast. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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In this book, the two authors, who have been closely engaged with academia and practice in the Indian subcontinent, explore the possibilities embedded in our own diverse and complex indigenous cultural systems that can address the contradictions and conditions that arise from the mindless adoption of systems and metaphors that are deeply embedded in modern scientific thought and assume to promise perpetual growth and advancement. The framework interestingly starts with the questioning of the consciousness of the modern ‘self’ formed out of a constant immersion in knowledge systems based on these paradigms. It is this notion of the ‘self’ that is trained to successfully differentiate, which is detrimental to development in our region. Taking from the learning of the ancient scriptures which form a part of our own cultural heritage, the book proposes the possibility of the construction of a ‘self’ which is able to integrate and comprehend reality in complete totality rather than differentiate and comprehend the world in opposing binaries.

Front Cover.

Exploring the book for propositions that it puts forth for redefining the contemporary nature of architectural practice and education in India, the review by Aneerudha Paul comprehensively covers the nuances of the book, which suggest the reconstruction of the ‘self’ as a way of imagining the ‘role of the architect’ in our present society.

‘T

he Discovery of Architecture’ by Ashish Ganju and Narendra Dengle, proposes a framework for counter-action in contemporary society, which is characterised by modern capitalism and its need to pursue relentless growth, while being simultaneously challenged by the internal contradictions of such a quest. This contradiction is manifested through a mindless exploitation of resources which results in environmental degradation, social upheaval and economic uncertainty. It has led to the ‘deterritorialisation’ i of local cultural patterns and practices that are being rapidly replaced with global cultural forms based on conspicuous consumption and the creation of ‘spectacles’, far removed from our immediate needs and realities. Architecture and other spatial practices form a dominant part of the visual culture of any urban landscape, and have steadily been subsumed under this production of spectacles.

Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

The category of the ‘self’ which this book proposes to reconstitute is extremely important to the formulation of the framework by the two authors. As this book identifies in the first section, even in the Western world, which has been the epicentre for modern and scientific thought, there is now an acute awareness of the problem of the project of the ‘modern’ especially in the framing of the arguments concerning sustainability. The World Summit on Social Development in 2005, organised by the United Nations, proposes a practice of sustainability based on the recognition and integration of three aspects - the social, the economic and the environmental. However, even here, the fundamental problem is the non-inclusion of ‘human behaviour’ which needs fundamental change in our times and is the key to any practice of sustainability. A world-view which promotes fierce competition eulogises the virtue of unending human greed, etc and cannot form the foundations for a sustainable world. This is where the recognition and reformulation of the ‘self’ as a key to bringing change in the practice of architecture, as proposed by the authors, is an important contribution by this book. The book proposes that the acute awareness of the self as connected to the whole, leads to a spirit of collaboration which is important to the creation of a sustainable built environment. The book’s lucid argumentation for an alternative framework is arranged into four interrelated sections for action that allow for multiple readings with emergent possibilities. Embedded within it are some important formulations which can inform the architectural discourse of this region on the following aspects:The practice of architecture – After the reconstitution of the self as suggested by the authors, certain modes of action towards designing and building have been advanced by them, which gives rise to possibilities for creation, which is sustainable and is in harmony with the ‘cosmos’. Through a study of ancient scriptures which form an integral part of the history of this region, the book suggest that the self should assume the nature of the community, where the process of collaboration between agencies involved in the construction and creation of the design, should lead to the sharing of a common vision for the design and creation of the object. It also suggests a complete immersion in the process of design, from being envisioned and continuing through the construction and realisation of the building. Learning from the


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it has to be augmented by learning from experience. To undertake such an endeavour, it is imperative that a ‘history of architecture’, be written within this framework, as mentioned in the earlier section. It can form the basis, on which it would be possible to build a unique pedagogic approach suitable to the architecture of this region.

Scan from the book.

practice of Ayurveda and being inspired by the theory of Patrick Geddes, it suggests recognising ‘design as a diagnostic activity’ where knowledge of locality, the present, its past/history, its geography, is necessary to have a sustainable continuum. By adopting this attitude towards design, it helps the architect make relevant choices in materials suited to the local geography and history of the place. This could also help the architect learn to integrate our built environment with nature rather than controlling or contradicting it. Thus, we see that the suggested paradigm for sustainability is based on making attitudinal/behavioral changes towards design and the building process. This is different from the technological understanding of sustainability by rating agencies in India as well as abroad, which provide a checklist of performance parameters that a building should achieve to be sustainable. The writing of history – The other interesting possibility that this framework provides is towards the writing of an architectural history for this region. Most of such efforts have been colonial in nature wherein history has been mapped through periods and styles. It has not ventured to understand the nature of the architectural practice of the craftspeople, their world-view, the design and building processes employed by them, or the other agencies that were involved with them, their relationship with each other in the creation of the artifact. The exploration of these aspects, to formulate a history, will provide insight into the processes that have been significant in shaping the rich fabric of pre-colonial towns and cities in the Indian subcontinent. It is important to be able to document this history, as it could inform the contemporary practice of sustainability in our region. Architectural education – The book tries to address the issue of education of architecture in our region. It argues for establishing a system of knowledge which is in continuum with the indigenous forms of knowledge available. The colonial foundation to our system of architectural education, which was started primarily with the notion of preparing draftsmen for offices, has severed such a connection. The argument here is made to give equal importance to the notion of learning by making rather than through drafting and drawing. While introducing a critical approach to architectural education,

The discourse in conservation – The other recurrent theme that can be observed through the writing is an argument made to integrate the discourse of conservation in our architectural practice. It has similarities to the spirit of the principles laid down in the Burra Charter 1979 and the Nara document of Authenticity 1994 ii , which provide an important context for conservation study and practice in regions with rich cultural history. Especially in the last two sections of the book, which are titled ‘Maintenance as Renewal’ and ‘Regeneration with Learning’, it calls for expanding the boundaries of architectural practice by including the notion of maintenance and regeneration within it. Such an approach would be in consonance with the cyclic nature of time, a world-view deeply embedded within our culture. In conclusion, it should be mentioned that the authors call not only for the need for an alternative theory to comprehend and practice architecture in this era of predatory capitalism, but also for the necessity of being able to live such a theory. Learning from patterns in our rich indigenous culture, it calls for a need to change world-views and the need to simultaneously de-construct and re-construct our ‘self’.

i. As mentioned in Wikipedia, it is a concept created by Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus. It refers to take control and order away from land or place that is already established. ii. The Burra Charter has been framed by the ICOMOS, Australia, as guidelines and principle for the practice of heritage conservation within Australia, where there is an existence of strong indigenous cultures. Similarly the Nara Document of Authenticity was framed in Nara conference in 1994 to expand the notion of heritage to address the cultural diversity among various communities through the globe. Aneerudha Paul completed his B Arch from Bengal Engineering College, Calcutta (1990), and his M Arch from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi (1993). He is presently the Director of the Kamala Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA), Mumbai, where he has been the Deputy Director (2000–2002) and Coordinator of the Design Cell, KRVIA (1995-2000). Through the Design Cell, he has been involved in the Tate Modern: Century Cities exhibition in London, preparation of the Integrated Development Plan for the Mill land of Mumbai, documentation and conservation of the heritage precincts of Dadar-Matunga-Wadala, and a study of the redevelopment of Mumbai’s Eastern Waterfront. Presently, he is also a part of the committee of experts advising the government on the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. Since 2003, he has additionally been an advisor to the Collective Research Initiatives Trust (CRIT) which works on research and intervention projects on contemporary cultural and spatial practices in the city of Mumbai. Through CRIT and the Design Cell he is now involved in working on the issues of housing and slum redevelopments in the inner city areas.

FACT FILE: Book : The Discovery of Architecture – A contemporary treatise on ancient values and indigenous reality Author : M N Ashish Ganju and Narendra Dengle Publisher : GREHA Publications Language : English ISBN : 978-81-928194-0-2 Reviewed By : Aneerudha Paul Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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ROOTS OF AND ROUTES TO LEARNING ARCHITECTURE

In an intricately detailed article, Narendre Dengle expounds on the importance of pedagogy working in tandem with the physical aspects of construction, both informing and drawing from each other to create an innately contextual response to building that is in a state of constant evolution.

By Narendra Dengle

We are not concerned if the phenomenal world is true or false, real or unreal, transient or transcendental, but rather our approach to studying it; what are our tools and criteria of analyses and evaluation; and what value system do we attach to it.

Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

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he last six issues of the IA&B have carried essays that together would mean quite a lot if one has to take the essence of it seriously. Many focused ideas, pedagogical, methodological, as well as implementable have been discussed that address the existing system within and outside the country, idealistically and pragmatically. It would be most important to have a response of the CoA, who has been entrusted with the task of architectural education in the country. Late Achyut Kanvinde was emphatic in stressing the importance of separating the governance of education from that of the profession. This point has been elaborated in the previous essays and a compromised path suggested by creating ‘an arm of the CoA’ that is independent of interference and control from professionals. ‘Schools without Walls’ on the lines of Ivan Illich’s 'Deschooling Society' has been discussed with passion. Need for research and constantly evolving set-up have been emphasised on. I would like to build further upon these suggestions and this essay may be read in the spirit of continuation. I am also hoping that the current scenario is not static and as the academia and practising community we would also like to consider looking beyond it.

syllabi, as well as, colleges are the means and not the end. Many graduate architects turned to other disciplines and became writers-historians-critics, graphic designers, interior designers, activists, musicians, politicians, teachers, administrators, started NGOs, and so forth; on the other hand if one looks at the practice of, for instance, Kanvinde Rai & Chaudhuri, which is one of the most renowned of the oldest practices to provide comprehensive professional consultancy along with quality architecture (one may also find other equally relevant practices), one finds that most of those who either trained or worked there took the plunge and set up private practices or worked in professional architectural offices. Many of them also remained associated with academics 1. What does this suggest – that the learning in colleges is inadequate, or only useful in forming the base in drawing and visualising, or the college education was entirely redundant, or apprenticeship is only an inevitable second step before the practice? It also would be useful to know on the value-base of the practices of people, who never went to colleges, and what exactly is the nature of their contribution to architecture- socially, environmentally, aesthetically.

Charles Correa has said, “We do not know if architecture can be taught but we certainly know that it can be learned”. If this is to be decoded into an implementable direction then what it means is that there is no one way to teach or learn architecture. Neither is there one mode, college, or country, where it can be learnt the most convincing way. So, what is ‘learning architecture’? Curricula,

The process of learning must be closest to the person who intends to learn. It is to him/her whom the perceiving/ learning happens. It is about him/herself and about the world, both of which he/she is supposed to observe-study and work for. It is said that ‘the act of observation alters the observer and the observed.’ 2 Observation is at the core of learning, since it has transformative


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architectural education quality; it transforms the learner along with the phenomenon that is being observed. Observation implies both within and without and philosophically it is questionable if the two are different from one another. The phenomenon too is not therefore a static object but that which is perceived by the learner. So, the learner and the matter that is being learned both mutate, when and where the learning happens. It goes without saying that the procedural measures, pedagogy, as well as, methodologies must be considered a constantly moving phenomenon. The value of observation cannot be over emphasised in architecture. It is another matter that today observation is postponed by the indulgent use of camera, replacing the ‘actual witnessing’ of the phenomena by their representation through various media so far as the learner is concerned. Discussion and understanding of Self as Society comes from the understanding that consciousness has a universality of application, where the self as ego diminishes. This has a serious reflection on how design is to be learned /taught and how urban design issues are addressed from the point of equity in later years. Placing the individual ahead takes a route that is neither sustainable nor timeless. The object of study becomes the subject when it is internalised by the learner and thereby departing from its mere physicality in the environment. Hence, although problem-solving in manifestation, the gesture of architecture gets rooted deeper and wider in universal consciousness. There is neither a gospel of architecture that guarantees its timelessness nor are there time bound inventions or technological miracles, whose mastering automatically ensures making of a good habitat for all-humans and other organisms and secures their interdependence. There are neither formulae nor philosophies that will transcendentally appeal and make aesthetic sense across generations. And yet, there are values that permeate down to contemporary times from ancient knowledge, which become instrumental every time in discovering solutions to the habitats of places and people. The truth is the architecture most of us admire of the past is done by people trained through many different means; those, who learnt it

from their forefathers, those who learnt it by their apprenticeship with masters, and also, those who were trained in schools and universities. It would be incorrect to say that today’s times are different and unless you acquire a PhD or claim to have first researched the scientific, socio-economic, or technological or environmental issues, academically, you can neither teach nor practice. Often a PhD becomes a way of postponing architectural design or direct participation in planningenvironmental issues. It would be a total disaster to insist that colleges must be headed by PhDs. The 'bhakti' poetry in 10 th century to early 19 th century was written in more than three languages 3 . Mind you, not prose but even poetry was thought important to be written in multilingual form, not only to reach people at large, but also to find expressive vocabulary that was contextually rich in meaning. Standardisation has been synonymous with industrial revolution and today it is hand in hand with consumerism. We have taken it for granted that all colleges will have standard text books, standard curriculum, standard designs, standard aesthetics, standard language and vocabulary of architecture – so that it is easier for who will judge them. The awards' decision are also standardised because it is difficult for the jury to shift laterally to appreciate regional-contextual nuances. They find it easier to go by the book – the international hegemony of the developed world on the cocktail of sustainability shaken well with aesthetics of avant garde. Even today there is almost a queue of students from different colleges all over the country to go and study architecture at Auroville. Bernard Kohn, Laurie Baker, Didi Contractor and such examples of gurus under whom students chose to do hands-on work by being in their company and at site also underline the fact that students were not satisfied with what they gathered in colleges. Students have also learnt by idolising some great architects, like the legendary Ekalavya, who learnt from his Guru by making an image of him in mud. Spending time in the North Western region, romanticising it, and learning use of bamboo, mud, and sustainability

has also been a way with many. And all of this is happening around us although there are 9/11, the Burj Dubai, and the 'Bilbaos', the 'Shards', being built using sophisticated technologies, and the most exclusive NASA software etc posing an enticingly attractive mirage for students and practitioners. These indicate a huge lacuna in the education system adopted by us that creates a dilemma of priorities. It would be most useful, even practical, if we recognise that there are at least THREE different ways of learning architecture by: 1) without going to school 2) going to school of architecture under a university system 3) doing both - the above two - in a specially designed course I will discuss in this paper the merits and pitfalls of this idea, if any, and how best can it be made to work. Making the PhD and post graduate studies as qualifying marks for promotions in academia has created a stampede of sorts by career teachers to universities offering PhDs. Inevitably the filtration of the candidates leaves much to be desired. There is also the question of financial selfsustenance of the department that can run PhD courses. The resultant is that the fees are high - unaffordable to many - and the compulsion for the department to enroll as many as possible even higher. Soon we will have architecture colleges run by pundits, who nurture distrust for issues related to nitty-gritty of construction processes responsible for manifesting architecture. Executed works would be something to be looked down upon by this suspicious pundit brand. Without any doubt the PhDs and research must be encouraged and given a boost but without making it a hurdle for promotions, or a yardstick for choosing HODs and principals. This will bring in the student with the right frame of mind and passion to undergo the rigour of research and undoubtedly bring in the benefits to society. It will also filter away those who have no clue as to ‘what they should research on’ after having enrolled for a PhD. “The Tractatus is a work of a genius, but it otherwise satisfies the requirement for a PhD” 4 was the cryptic comment by Moore, who taught at Cambridge and Indian Architect & Builder - January 2014


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Narendra Dengle is an architect, educationist, and writer based in Pune. He has taught at SPA, New Delhi, and also in USA. His practice takes a keen interest in cultural, contextual and aesthetic issues. He was the Chair of Design at Kamla Raheja Vidynidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai (2006-11) and is the Academic Chair at Goa College of Architecture since 2012. He authored the book 'Jharoka' (Marathi) in 2007, co-authored 'The Discovery of Architecture: A contemporary treatise on ancient values and indigenous reality' with M N Ashish Ganju in 2013, and his latest book 'Dialogues with Indian Master Architects' is awaiting publication. He is the recipient of numerous architectural awards and has also made films on Architectural Appreciation. ‘disliked the PhD degree, the new import from the USA’ and was the examiner of Wittgenstein’s research 'The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus', in 1930. 1.0 Learning architecture without going to a school: This traditional method has many subissues which may be listed as a) by training under 'sthapatis', 'sutadhar', 'mistries', etc: In this sort of practice there is virtually no control of the college and no enforcement of any pedagogical structure imposed from the outside. The practice also is restrictive in that it would re-endorse beliefs and focus on one kind of approach to buildings. Neither is there any examination except by the master of his pupil’s growth of knowledge as he finds it fit. The learning of the discipline is by performing. The nurturing of values is through observing, listening, perfecting through performance. The idea and the execution of it may be steeped in tradition, orthodoxy, conventions, faith, and restrictive in form. This may need a retrospective mechanism for constant editing. This as we witness, alas, comes from the pragmatism of marketing compulsions imposed again either by governments or industrial agents. Some attempts have been made by universities to bring the 'Guru-Shishya' mode, for teaching performing arts, under the university system by attaching gururs with the department. This too has had limited effect since the emphasis is invariably laid on scholastic pattern culminating into written examination system, hence defeating the very purpose of the traditional method of learning. It Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

has not been able to attract students with a passion for fine arts who still prefer to learn under a guru even today. Here performance alone can become the final test. Many colleges of architecture, where the faculty is not allowed to practice, have also formed ‘design cells’ to take on ‘institutional practice’. This, though a good opportunity to bring practice and scholarship together, does not work the same way since both are treated as two independent islands without any give and take of the experience. A design cell doing well becomes the source as an income generating machine having little to do with sharing knowledge or learning for the students. It functions generally like a medium or large business office aspiring to handle projects that a small private practitioner cannot hope for. The tussle is between the element of devotion and non-discursive empirical knowledge on the one hand, versus the desire for discursive knowledge in hope of reward. Those who may have witnessed the recent Konark Dance Festivals would have experienced a major thematic shift from the past. Not only is one amazed at younger people taking to a traditional fine art form in performing arts but also excelling in expression, 'mudra' choreography, rhythm, synchronisation, gracefully, but also basing these performances on contemporary textual variations from the past. The result has been unlike the past ritualistic – repetitive performance and a wonderful aesthetic experience. It has taken long for such form to evolve since no classical form changes overnight. Renowned musicologist and

musician late Ashok Da Ranade used to say that a change in art music is the indication of change in culture since the former is the last but definite sign of change. Architecture of developing world feels answerable to theoretical ripples happening in the developed world. This disease has struck even some well-known and thinking architects who must take pains to demonstrate how their works have been intellectually and visually running parallel to ‘movements’ of the developed world and are no less. With the result, the works embody confusion, in search of novel formal possibilities, embarrassingly absurd in a cultural milieu of developing world. Recently, there has been a rash of architecture for awards under various categories. When asked, whether he was designing with award in mind or designing with some substantive conviction, a young award winning architect appeared perplexed as if he was encountering the (ridiculous) question for the first time. It may be very useful if the training may be conceived as a course that happens under a practicing architect, craftsperson, preferably several crafts persons 'mistries', in succession in different parts of the country, or world. The empirical knowledge that would be inherited in the process would be rich, not only, in craft and material but even in terms of making it coterminous with ecosystems and people. It would also cultivate respect for people and place demanding skills of interpretation. An anthropologist by the name Carlos Castaneda went to learn about medicinal plants from


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an Indian sorcerer. The sorcerer never taught him about the plants, but rather how to observe, look around and respect nature. He taught him how to see ‘from the corner of the eye’. He taught how much is adequate or excess to take from nature. He taught him how much the other living organisms contribute to one’s own living and how conscious the other living organisms are of the motive of one’s act towards them. One goes on to learn something and comes away enlightened in a completely different unexpected way. Some teachers of meditation ask what the new students are expecting of their courses or discourses. Then they erase the mind set of all such expectations so what one learns from the exercise is not necessarily what one expected from it but in fact what one actually needed! One’s expectations of the discipline and the actual learning that comes of it must be recognised as two separate fields. An apprentice may also prefer to train under a practising architect in a metropolitan situation. This too must be welcome. There have been references made to ‘centres of excellence’ but the question remains as to who will and on what criteria will such centres be determined. The worst case may be the apprentice chooses to train under a ‘centre of excellence in business’ that some may consider totally unethical, opportunist, and exploitative so far as environment or people at large are concerned. But those, who are in search of knowledge and love for this profession will desert such centres and discover other appropriate centres sooner than later. The unethical centres of excellence, alas, will continue in their own destined path! Those who are happy to ‘learn the ropes’ would have learnt them anyway regardless of the system and, if required, by obtaining PhDs from well-known centres of excellent education as well. In our democracy one hopes that the rotten would eventually be replaced by the sustainable without having to thrash or crush it. For such apprentices to qualify as architects, who can practice with responsibility, the Council can always hold a threshold examination to test their knowledge in practice without being judgemental about their method of

obtaining it. The disqualification yardsticks on skills, ethics, morality, excellence, etc. can be tough. 2.0 Going through the university process of education: This one has been debated at length. The debate at various levels has brought in a system which is generally understood as the threshold level with certain amount of freedom for individual colleges. At the moment when there are 335 colleges of architecture one thinks of a standard format for all. This being for the convenience of the uninitiated, both educators as well as the revalidating boards, the same needs overhauling. It is important to recognise that the issue of curriculum and modifications thereof stems from the examination system acceptable to a university. Universities are burdened with examination systems that often oppress the learning processes. But having accepted it for the discipline of architecture, it must conform to the pattern understood by universities wherein modifications to curriculum become an exercise in conformation and compromise. Universities exclusively designed to address architectural education would have a greater opportunity to re-examine all connected issues without having to answer patterns followed by other faculties. There are three issues which come to the fore. First: How does an institution ensure that the courses that it offers will be communicable to students from varied backgrounds? With the given systems of entrance to architectural colleges, students, who hitherto studied in their vernacular languages familiar with entirely different ideological-cultural-and physical landscape, are suddenly made to conform to a pattern of thinking and visualising that is considered sacrosanct. How does one make them comfortable and yet look upon them not as a ‘problem’ but as an asset, since they too possess skills and knowledge culturally varied and empirically rich? In this context, the entire design vocabulary steeped in western milieu would need to be reinvented. It is commonly witnessed in the Mumbaibased colleges that students refrain from attending design studios because they are

neither familiar with the language, the visual-cinematic-literary-philosophical design references, nor the methodologies of teaching abstraction and other stuff. These students who otherwise possess different skills that are extremely useful in the study of architecture go into a shell and lose confidence of designing, presenting, arguing, and competing with urban students. Usually they struggle for the first three years, if not by losing a year, to come to terms with the course. The assignments conceived for the first year students are often modelled after the faculty’s laborious search for ‘newer’ and ‘latest’ techniques adopted in western universities. Is this the gap created by this unique discipline itself or the way we have imagined the discipline to be? I suspect that taking it farther from the common man has something to do with it. Second: A teaching programme must be so conceived as to understand a plan for students as well as teachers. If the students and the teachers together create a path of learning then such a path must look at how both will find a sense of discovery and meeting each other. If we must use the word curriculum then what is the colleges’ curriculum for their teachers? Along with the great effort that goes into making the curriculum, and then the syllabus, colleges do not have a plan to teach teachers or methodically address the vertical and horizontal integration in the subjects taught by the faculty, in a participatory way. The sooner we realise that the problem lies often with the faculty than with the students, the better it would be for the system. It follows that institutionalisation of teaching has much to do with widening and deepening the vision and knowledge of the teachers. It cannot merely be compensated by sending teachers to ‘QIP’s or pushing them to undertake PhD studies. The path must be so designed that individual teachers are allowed to build on their potential and also are collectively engaged in debates and programmes for integration within the courses. Third: How does an institute engage itself with the issue of shaping and re-shaping its philosophical path as an ongoing concern? Since this is to do with human resources available in the geographical 5 Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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context for a college it has to be seen not as a limitation but as an advantage. Architecture today is not to be considered as only mighty, monumental, iconic, alone, but that which also address planning, environmental issues and affordable housing, close to the common man. The physical/environmental/cultural context would generate its relevant focus which should be procedurally and critically evaluated. The critical base within the context may question the relevance of architectural expression for the local context and engagement with the real issues. There is no standard formula to exercise response on this front but each context-socio-economic etc would have to generate its own criteria founded on addressing this concern. There are fundamentally two aspects of learning: idea and built work. The idea may not be related to architecture at all – not at least directly. It may be about people, place, the human engagement with the problems of thinking, life, nature, origin of life, which may be philosophical, scientific, creative, interdisciplinary etc. In these fields one has to learn to be observant, analytic and synthetic in approach. Unless this is considered of great value little can one hope for a richer expression of architecture that is supposed to embody the same. The other aspect is that of ‘constructing a whole’. A drawing - whether a sketch, design or presentation must not be ‘an end itself’ but as a means of constructing the building. In other words ‘design’ can only be considered over once it is built – which is its final destination and where regeneration of it would start. In school this ‘constructing of design’ has to be virtual, drawn with the consciousness that one is ‘building’ (that includes space/ places/environments/built forms/buildings) and not ‘drawing’. The process implies convergence of various topics that are taught into two manifest forms – idea and building. All formally ‘drawn’ submissions may be under either ‘building’ or written – sketched up ‘ideas’ in lecture courses. There may not be separate submissions of plates under construction or structures. All of those would converge under ‘building’ that includes design-working drawingsstructures as if one would make them in practice. To my mind this would eliminate Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014

all fragmentary effort that saps the energy of students in drawing up – end in themselves – submissions under structures and construction – or working drawings. It would also avoid working drawings, independently made, of the designs done in some past semesters. Also, this would avoid presentation for the sake of ‘beautiful’ drawings, which are made in colleges and often so exaggerated that one forgets the purpose of making drawings. Drawings must be primarily looked upon as information – of concepts (analytic/exploratory) and then construction (synthetic) related. Elaborate diagrams juxtaposed one on top of the other wonderful textures etc, often derail the purpose for which the drawings are made in the first place. Direct and subtle information can be so well presented that all frills are trimmed in a minimalist, wonderfully communicative drawings. One must also remember the fact that many a good example of architecture was built without such elaborate drawings and conversely construction information can only be conveyed through drawings made after the understanding of scale, proportion, detail, and construction sequence. If the CoA determines the threshold level for entering the profession with certain amount of competence and responsibility then it would not impose controls on the pattern of education from the outside, except when a candidate wants to enter the profession. The colleges must have a lot of freedom for experimentation that helps them explore the local ethos of environment and culture through architectural means found useful for the process. This would encourage teachers to remain on toes and think afresh, make shifts in paradigms, and generally never be satiated with their knowledge. This would also mean that a college in remote areas would not be compelled to adopt the exhausted Bauhaus system, or teach sky-rise buildings to the learners. The benefit – on the side may be that such a school generates a voluminous in-depth data of the particular context in terms of its habitation-history-ecology, and also by devising means of identifying and tackling contemporary issues imaginatively. This has been tried out at the Goa College of Architecture for one year (2013-14) where all assignments have been consciously

designed to be ‘Goa Centric’. The results have been encouraging. The diversity of languages, contexts must be considered with reverence for their intrinsic value connecting empirical knowledge embedded in linguistic and oral culture for an interface with modern sciences and research methodologies. Together, it is bound to bring tremendous significance to the local-global interface. I have felt that the following three issues must be made integral to any assignment given, whether design or otherwise, and their component identified clearly. These are: 1. Observation/Analysis, 2. Field Study, and 3. Synthesis may consciously be made part of critique for every subject that is taught under architecture. In other words no subject, whether history or construction, theory and design, may be taught without specifying the role each of the three concerns play in it. Exploring and articulating an idea synthetically in speech and word, sketches, and drawings is of great importance and are a part of the overall training in synthesis. Observation-analysis is the aspect of any subject that is to be studied with rational approach, rigour, and authenticity. Field studies would include visits, studies, forms of narrative, and all forms of place-people related inquiry. This would support research constructed first-hand on site. It should help perceive subjects like history in proper perspective and for the significance it has for a contemporary understanding. To be able to synthesise is an ability that requires skills of interpretation, often interfacing with varied disciplines connected to architectural studies. There are colleges who have taken up studies in hermeneutics in architecture with the idea of strengthening skills of interpretation. 3.0 The third option would be of grafting the former two: This would imply that colleges would have to offer lecture course, workshops in time modules, and interactive dialogical methods that encourage discussion and debate, which may not be facilitated in the first option for those who wish to learn without going to school. Such courses would have to be time bound courses run during vacations specifically for those who want


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to also undergo training in the scholastic approach. A combination of opting to work with an artist, architect, scholar, activist, planner, etc may hence be supplemented by theoretical courses, which may be short term, once a semester, or lectures held beyond the school hours. These would benefit learners, whose first choice is not of going to a school of architecture but essentially to learn it under a master or on a project. If architecture is seen as a diagnostic 6 way of looking at built and unbuilt environment then maintenance becomes one of the primary concerns – not to be avoided or left to engineers to handle! And where else can one learn this in depth than on the field, working with those involved in constructing, whether in a village or under a construction management group, overseeing a complex construction? This cannot be merely seen as a ‘site visit’, when occasionally buses are hired to take more than a hundred students to a very humble location, and with great effort teachers come out of their comfort zone to mess up with construction themselves. The third option, therefore, stresses the fact that it may still offer the facility for a learner envisaging a blend of practice and theory, with a lot of options and electives, throughout the five years. There used to be seven year courses for those, who earned their livelihood by working with architects and attending evening classes. These made architects of draftsmen, architects trained to do great amount of detailing, and in the run getting a lot of practical knowledge of the discipline. But the third option discussed here is totally different allowing the learner to attend summer-winter courses, workshops, and lectures from a wide range of options, offered by different schools that will bring another dimension to the discipline. So to conclude the argument we must recognise that the root of this ancient discipline has an origin arguably even before philosophy and there is neither one way of learning architecture across the world, nor is there one way of teaching it. Secondly, options are required to bring practice and theory interface each other in many different ways and with options to facilitate the same one may recognise the three ways suggested here - all with the duration of five years - after which the

learner may appear for the examination by the CoA for his/her suitability in the profession. The three routes identified here may be further explored. They would bring direct as well as subtle advantages to forge a value based association of the contemporary with the ancient. The relationship of the self and community becomes a central issue when we discuss creativity, self-expression, and issues connected with habitation. We are not concerned if the phenomenal world is true or false, real or unreal, transient or transcendental, but rather our approach to studying it; what are our tools and criteria of analyses and evaluation; and what value system do we attach to it. ‘Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of their relation - the relations within which these individuals stand,’ said Karl Marx. Here one may look at the pointer from the 'Upanishads', which speak volumes about engagement with the phenomenal and inner reality. “Two birds, companions (who are) always united, cling to the self-same tree. Of these two, the first one eats the sweet fruit and other looks on without eating."7 My understanding of this is that there is no such thing as self expression unless one is clear about what one means by self. The 'Upanishadic' two birds are suggestive of consciousness and awareness. Awareness is unattached to the ego; however, there cannot be perception of it in the absence of consciousness. The other bird - the consciousness - is very much rooted in the phenomenal world. Expression of the self oscillates between these two selves. Closer the association, greater the erosion of the ego, consequently richer, deeper, wider is the insightful self-expression. As the relationship of the two birds becomes remote, rare, sever, indulgent, the consciousness is more and more devoted to phenomenal reality. The intensity and duality (or non-duality) in these oscillations manifests on gross, subtle, and transcendental planes respectively.

Narendra Dengle, March 2014

1. I have no statistics to prove either of the cases but the point is that it is a while for a person to finally take the plunge even after graduation, post graduation from a renowned institute, or acquiring a PhD which altogether do not necessarily build the confidence to take the plunge into opening a private practice that is different than a business of architecture. But those who work under a master or a person of some conviction and experience usually show the courage to take up the practice in all seriousness and chalk out their own respective paths. 2. Nisargadatta Maharaj, ‘I Am That’ page 260, translated by Maurice Frydman, revised & edited by Sydhakar Dikshit, Chetana Pvt Ltd 1973. 3. "there were hardly any poets from Gorakh of the 10 th century to Ghulam Farid in the early half of the nineteenth century belonging to Maharshtra, Gujarat, Bengal, Agra, Oudh, Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, or Sindh, who had not written in three languages - the mother tongue, the provincial language, and the common Hindustani language, Hindi...even Guru Nanak Dev wrote in Persian, in Sanskrit, in Kafi, in Lahndi..."In Theory, Aijaz Ahmed, quoting Mohan Singh Diwana, page 248, Oxford 1992. 4. Wittgenstein, A C Greyling, p 11, A very short introduction, Oxford, 1988, 96. 5. Refer to the suggested matrix of Geography/Culture, Philosophy/Aesthetics, and History/Society, page 5, ‘The Discovery of Architecture: a contemporary treatise on ancient values and indigenous reality’, by M N Ashish Ganju and Narendra Dengle, GREHA Publications, New Delhi, 2013 6. Ibid, page 39. 7. Mundaka Upanishads, The Principal Upanishads, p 686 S Radhakrishnan, Harper Collins Publishers India, 1994, first published in GB 1953 George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

This column invites eminent academicians, ethical teachers, teaching architects, institution builders and design educationists to comment on architectural education (and design education as an extension) in the context of India. Concerned architects / academicians / educationists / teachers and students are invited to write to us / call us / email us for further discussion. Your deliberations / observations / critique / counter-arguments and agreements will be deeply valued. We must create a meaningful community of like-minded people to negotiate our future as professionals and responsible citizens of a globalising India. We must hold ourselves responsible for the quality of architectural and design thought in the coming decades. Please send your feedback / comments to iabedt@jasubhai.com. IA&B believes that this issue is of prime (and unprecedented) importance at the moment for the future of architecture in India. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


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Reinterpreting Gandhi From Mahatma to Bapu

Intending to comment on the relevance of ideas and ideals of Gandhi in contemporary times, Anuj Ambalal has produced a series of images that question perceptions of the Mahatma and the iconography linked to him in this edition, curated by Dr Mathew. Text: Dr Deepak Mathew; Photographs: Anuj Ambalal

Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


space frames

A

ll photographs are produced within a context. The photographer works with a camera, computer, etc within a definite social context and time. This choice of materials that the photographer chooses could be either intentional or not. Sometimes the photographer thinks about it and sometimes it is just selected without much thought. But the subject matter is something the photographer consciously chooses and the choice of material many times depends on the subject. So the subject matter is normally known as the intention of the photographer. So the photographer thinks about photographing what interests him/her and this will be in relation to the purpose of the picture. Most of the time, the aim is usually obvious to the people who are involved and it does not need any explanation. So in this context, we can say that the photographs encode ‘meanings’ and we have to decode the meanings in the light of its historical person, or its personal, aesthetic, political or ideological context. Anuj has chosen a historical context and reinterpreted the materials that are collected in the public memory of Mahatma Gandhi in the contemporary context. He started doing a photo-series on Gandhiji after he overheard somebody telling a young man about how the

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world has forgotten Gandhi. The conversation was a sarcastic and cynical comment about how the young generation has forgotten Gandhi’s efforts. So Anuj started working on this series to map the concept of Gandhi and its present day relevance. He looks at Gandhi’s transformation from a young and shy person to the most influential figure of this century. He looks at how this unconventional leader with neither a conventional persona nor charisma could inspire masses to give up their belongings for a cause, and to fight violence with non-violence. Mahatma’s humane nature is not always highlighted. He was always shown as a larger-than-life figure. But there are many evidences of his sense of humour, wit, sarcasm and even anger. So Anuj explores the ‘Bapu’ – someone more real, accessible, intimate person in ‘Mahatma’ – a saint. Anuj’s approach in making the image has an element of humour and sarcasm. The thread of the entire project is fictitious. The pictures are photographed from Sabarmati Ashram and theatric performances on Gandhi’s life. In some images, Anuj tries to place elements such as water bottle, coca cola cans, etc to bring in a twist in the tale. This separates his work from documentary genre to contemporary fiction.

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Anuj Ambalal Anuj Ambalal holds a Master’s degree in Investment and Finance from the Middlesex University, London. He used to work as an equity researcher before setting up a design studio in Ahmedabad - A Cube Inc. Here, he looks at furniture design as an art form, concentrating on diverse shapes and textures to create individual sculptural entities. Ambalal has received no formal training in photography but considers it as a further progression from his design practice and sees it as another medium to explore his creativity. He has held solos as well as participated in group exhibitions. Space Frames investigates issues of architecture and environment through the medium of photography. To contribute, write to us at iabedt@jasubhai.com or to the curator Dr Mathew at dr.djmathew@gmail.com. Indian Architect & Builder - March 2014


March 2014: Reinterpreting Gandhi, From Mahatma to Bapu Indian Architect & Builder Magazine


Anuj Ambalal Anuj Ambalal holds a Master’s degree in Investment and Finance from the Middlesex University, London. He used to work as an equity researcher before setting up a design studio in Ahmedabad - A Cube Inc. Here, he looks at furniture design as an art form, concentrating on diverse shapes and textures to create individual sculptural entities. Ambalal has received no formal training in photography but considers it as a further progression from his design practice and sees it as another medium to explore his creativity. He has held solos as well as participated in group exhibitions. Space Frames investigates issues of architecture and environment through the medium of photography. To contribute, write to us at iabedt@jasubhai.com or to the curator Dr Mathew at dr.djmathew@gmail.com.

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