SEANEWSLETTER a bi-annual chronicle of the School of Environment and Architecture, Mumbai.
ISSUE 1. June 2014-Dec. 2014
EDITORIAL Putting together the first newsletter for a new institution is quite challenging. One is ambiguous on what thoughts to archive versus what to let free to evolve. However, there’s so much new to record at the moment. The School of Environment and Architecture, or SEA as we fondly call it, is one of the few architecture schools in the present times that has been established by architecture professionals. In times where institutes of architecture across the country are escalating their student intake capacities and tuition fees, SEA comes across to be quite modest. It is set up with an honest belief in preparing architects who can responsibly respond to the emerging complex conditions of the urban context it sits in. In addition, the education at SEA, quite uniquely, is structured as concentrated modules where subjects are taught one at a time, a method that has never been tried before in architecture. With such experiments, SEA has a lot to keep up to. The past year has been tremendous for the people at SEA, including the founding members, its teachers as well as the students. While I did not have the opportunity to witness the exciting turbulence of initiation of SEA firsthand (for I was still finishing my master’s education in the USA), I decided to absorb it in the process of interviewing its members in recording what I call its recent history. All founding members whom I approached initially for SEA’s history kept pushing me away to the other, as none wanted to re-imagine what they had just been out of - two years of trials and tribulations, discussions and decisions, disappointments and hopes but finally leading to possibilities and fresh openings. This newsletter has not been able to encompass every activity that has happened over the last six months at SEA. Numerous experts, academicians, professionals and emerging practitioners visited and spoke at the institution sharing their works and ideas with the students. All of such material could not have been made a part of this publication. On the other hand, the students have produced much work that still needs to be woven into conscious thought streams - that shall help us reassess and constantly revise our pedagogy. SEA hopes to find ways of disseminating and inviting valuable notes to and from public respectively, through online and other platforms. Meanwhile, this document serves to pin down a mark, a place from where the trajectory of the school can be mapped. It shall help in estimating in future where we began, where we turned and how far have we travelled. It will be an understatement to assume that we are unware of the layered homophonic and homonymic interpretations of the school’s acronym SEA. I must submit that everyone at the institution titillate themselves with the jokes that arise off its acronym. While sometimes it helps to release all the stress of its own past, there are times when we are are deep into the meaning it lends to the reading of our city. All I can confirm although, is that the selection of the acronym is conscious, but how it is performed is what we need to see.
CONTENTS 1 \ Editorial Anuj Daga 2-7 \ SEA - A Recent History Anuj Daga 8-9 \ The Modules 10 \ Student Works Earthworms Dancing Anuj Daga 11 \ Walks Interrogating Identity Shrushti Jain Dated First Century BCE Shivani Dave 12-14 \ SEA City Urban Utopia: A Dream Dreamt by most Cities Shivani Dave Pakka Ghar: Experiences from Murbad Trisha Salvi A Building is a Living Being Trisha Salvi SEA Studio Uttara Ramakrishnan
Anuj Daga Editor.
15-16 \ Faculty News
SEA: A Recent History Interview with Ravindra Punde & Prasad Shetty Edited by anuj daga
The idea of a new school of architecture was already brewing when we were in Academy (of Architecture). I spoke to Arvind (Adarkar) about this and things got a little serious, when we got Prasad (Shetty) involved. Prasad and Arvind were talking on this idea simultaneously. It was thus essentially the three of us who started the discussion. Initially, Neera was in the background, and Arvind was hesitant to ask her to join. So he pushed me to discuss with her about this idea. Eventually, Savita was convinced by Prasad and I convinced Rupali to get on board. When we finally decided to make a society, we realized that we need a minimum of seven people to constitute it. This is when we began to search for another person, and Pankaj Joshi’s name came in. One of the first questions that he asked us when we approached him was, “How much money are you willing to put into this venture?” In the most pragmatic sense, Pankaj brought to us the financial aspect and thus actually grounded us in reality. In effect, we had also got our seventh member. After the trust between seven people was formed, around March 2013, we decided to discuss our academic agenda. The team deliberated on the agenda in Goa. Also, the distance from our everyday lives brought us closer as a team, and was one way of knowing each other very well, which was more important. What came out in that? See, many things came out. Firstly, our common orientation towards social justice, environmental justice, gender justice got clearly articulated. Secondly, our interest in developing architectural relevance, innovating new things but at the same time not looking away from the emerging technologies and trends was also brought onto the table. We spent two nights discussing our concerns in which, the agenda got consolidated, and the familiarity, comfort, trust of the group with each other was affirmed. Were there any points of conflicts or dissonances? Actually, all of us came from different practices, he (Ravindra Punde) came from extreme professional practice background, doing large scale work. On the other hand, Neera has a very socialist, feminist background. Pankaj has a conservation and urban background, while we (Prasad & Rupali) have a very urban studies background. On the other hand, we have all studied in different times and different places – Arvind and Neera studied from the J J College of Architecture in the ‘60s, Ravi studied from Academy during the ‘80s, Rupali and I studied from Kamla Raheja in the ‘90s and Pankaj also studied in Academy of
Architecture, although later. Arun, who is now in our team, has his education from MS Baroda and Gauri studied from the Academy of Architecture. Somewhere in all of us, there is a hidden question about the validity of the kind of form that is coming up. There is this common question we are thinking about in our own way. But all of us are in that frame of mind. This brought us close to an understanding with the team, when the idea suddenly became a reality. Now our biggest stumbling block was space. A NEW SCHOOL - THE STRUGGLE FOR SPACE: Through his years of experience and knowing people, Arvind was able to kind of establish contacts for the school. He also knew academicians and school spaces, which are generally given out to NGOs. At the same time, Hafeez (Contractor) had also offered me some idea on space for the school. Passingly alongside I was also looking at cheap industrial sheds on rent to start the school. I still get messages of industrial sheds available for hire from websites I had registered on! Before Pankaj was involved, Arvind, me and Ravi had been going to schools around Mumbai, those which were closing down. Somehow, Arvind had got a list of schools from somewhere. We were very clear that this was the way to go, because there was no other way in which we would have been able to procure a space for our school, apart from Ravi’s idea of housing it in old, closed industrial sheds across the city. Thus, we visited many schools all around Grant Road, Kamathipura, Dongri, Dadar, Parel and so on. So we went and saw many school premises. Arvind and Prasad did much of the legwork on finding a space. I used to come in from Delhi. We saw numerous spaces - and some schools were in appalling condition, some were dilapidated, some in terrible conditions, almost dead... Then suddenly one day Arvind called both of us, Ravi and myself, and said “Come to Borivali!” He made us meet Mr. Milind Joshi, who is a member of Suvidya Prasarak Sangh. Mr. Joshi’s mother was extremely active in starting schools and her daughter, now an architect, had been a student of Arvind. Arvind knew these people. And he had already made Anaam, so he was family to them. Arvind suggested that these people had a school, and that we must see it. It is that evening that we came to this place and the moment we saw it we fell in love in it - the stilt, terrace, the ground... This was somewhere in Jan-Feb 2013. It was clear that in Arvind’s way of doing things, a common network of people came up, with whom we connected immediately. The interesting thing with the SPS was that it was not a family or an industry that was running things, it was a group of people who had come together due to the cooperative housing movement in the city. In addition, the group members were all exgovernment employees. In discussing our idea with this group, we first met Dr. Khatau, the President of SPS, who is quite established in this area. Thinking back, we were fortunate to meet the members of Suvidya, pleasantly coincidental. They too were very forthcoming, easy to talk to as well as deal with. The day I came here and saw this building, I said ‘This is it! Come what may, we have to make this work!’ In August 2013, we lost Arvind. It was a big loss. We lost Arvind on the week of his birthday, on August 21st, but decided to further his dream of the school. It was after this tragic incident that we decided to enlarge the group with two more people – Gauri Joshi and Arun Kale. After Arvind’s passing away we decided to have Neera as the chairperson of the Society. The society used to meet regularly at Anaam, Arvind’s house in Borivali. It had become a place for SEA to meet – like an adda. We did the basic interior, installed necessary things and so on. REGISTERING THE SCHOOL: Once the space was finalized, we got into the process of formulating a society and getting it registered. In the beginning, we thought that even if we can’t start a school, we will start a study program. To this, we also had the thought of talking to Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai.
When we were deciding to register, several names were discussed. One of them was SCAPE - School of Architecture, Planning and Environment. Another was MAS – Mumbai Architecture School. It was Ravi’s idea to call the Society as the ‘Society of Environment and Architecture’ and subsequently the school would be called ‘School of Environment and Architecture’, both of which would eventually become ‘SEA’. Eventually, the ‘Society of Environment and Architecture’ was registered as a body that would operate from the school existing in Borivali on the land owned by SPS. After some discussion, we applied to the COA, as well as the YCMOU. It almost took us 5 months for the Council of Architecture to even look at our case and send their inspectors. Looking back, getting the school building and Suvidya as a partner was easier; although the architecture community to deal with and getting the licensure was more of a challenge. The council of Architecture somewhere has in its norms that an architecture school has to have a minimum of two acres of land. Initially, we were told that we simply could not apply. However, there is not even a single school of architecture in Mumbai that has that much land. So we were sure that they will ignore this condition for our application. And they certainly did relax this norm eventually. Secondly, the council had never got an application by a Society that does not own a land. In our case, the land is in somebody else’s name from the school. SPS and SEA are in a legal memorandum of understanding to be together for a minimum of 7 years. Thus, since SPS doesn’t own SEA, it is at its will to move to another physical location. In short, the school can move and SPA cannot claim SEA. Also it is important to understand that the council was concerned in preserving the interests of the students. For the first two times, the registrar of the COA just wouldn’t accept our proposal for the school because of the complication of land. Finally we decided to send our application by registered post, which he certainly couldn’t reject. Thus, in the following month, they had a meeting for redressal. Finally, Neera and Prasad flew down to Delhi and I joined them at the Council of Architecture. We made an affidavit and just sat there at the reception. Once we got an opportunity to meet the real decision making panel, we made to them a presentation, showed them the papers and photos of the building. Essentially, we went there with all the affidavits that were to be required for the registration. Once they were convinced, the COA gave us the permission. It was a rough persuasion I would say, but of course they are very good friends now, it was a rough ride to go through COA. The next step now was to receive an approval from the Mumbai University.
CHOOSING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE AFFLIATION: We began by approaching the Mumbai University, because it was a natural choice for us. Neera and I met the vice chancellor, Mr. Velukar, who told us very clearly that during the time we applied, they did not have a policy to provide affiliation to new colleges, because there were already numerous colleges (almost 20 colleges of architecture in the city). This decision was of course in consideration with the ministry. A ban was put by the university itself on extending any further affiliation for new courses. However, Mr. Velukar vaguely mentioned that after some years this ban might open up. This was an ambiguous response and we also didn’t know how to respond to such a situation. We couldn’t have become a University by ourselves because clearly we did not have any kind of infrastructure. We would have had to be affiliated to some already existing university like TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) or SNDT. However, they do not have schools, only departments within their campuses. Thus TISS would have made an internal department in architecture if at all. Alternatively, we avoided affiliating ourselves with any private universities, for example NMIMS. Having worked with Mumbai University, I was a bit reluctant to go with them. We were looking at different universities and institutes. Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was also under consideration. SNDT was also talked about. However, we had not taken Mumbai University for granted although we wanted to be free from its politics. In the bigger picture, you need to be accountable to yourself. You don’t need a watch dog. This pushed us towards looking at YCMOU.
It is here that both Ravi and I began looking at YCMOU as the other option. We started looking at the possibility of Open University like YCMOU, who had all their material online. Also, there was already an architecture school in Nashik headed by Vijay Sohoni affiliated with YCMOU, along with one of the architecture wings of Rizvi College of Architecture in our own city. This led us to examine YCMOU very carefully, and it emerged as a fairly good option. The course of YCMOU was extremely rational, as well as the program was flexible enough for our school to give education the way we wanted. The university was also very accessible. Meanwhile the discussion with SPS also consolidated. SPS nominated three people to work with us closely with developing the school, Mr Ranade, the chairperson of SPS and a Reserve Bank of India officer; Mr. Avadhut Sathe who retired as the General Manager of Hindustan Petroleum and finally Mr Pendse who was from the State Bank of India. The team from SPS insisted us to have a financial plan, thus helping us work out the nuts and bolts, and how to actually go about executing our plan into reality. In February 2014 we appointed Vinit (Nikumbh) as a full time employee and his task was to look at the material and get the school, basically one person who was constantly looking at the school. On April 28th when we were having our meeting at Anaam, when we had almost thought that we would postpone the opening of the school by an academic year, since we had still not got any response from the COA. We were having a meeting on developing the course further and adjunct parallel programs with the society. the details of the course were and the kind of dissemination and parallel activities were formalized in that meeting. By that time we knew that we were going to open a school in Borivali, a cultural space that we wanted to activate in Borivali. On this day, we got an email from the Council that they will send someone for inspection. This came as a (pleasant) surprise.
PREPARING THE PREMISES: The dates for inspection were finalized for 20th May 2014. On 10th of May we signed a memorandum with SPS, formalizing our intention and the terms by which we were to undertake this project. This is how it became a joint initiative between SPS and SEA. It is important to remember that SEA has come to take over a Marathi medium school. Since the demand for the Marathi medium education is decreasing, SPS thought that his asset would be used for professional education. SPS were already running 4 high schools so they thought that professional education would be the logical next step. Thus, this was their intention also. Now, we had merely 20 days to put the school together; and by that time we had not even put together the money. Immediately,
a mobilization capital was pooled and about five contractors were appointed to start work - 3 doing civil works, and 2 doing the carpentry works. Dipti (Bhaindarkar) gave her master’s exam and finished her graduation on 13th May and was here on the 14th! As soon as she joined the momentum accrued. She was the local cat knowing all the things around the place Thus we mobilized everything in 20 days... library, AV room, studio, books - everything came. The inspectors of the Council were fairly impressed. They gave us a remark that “This is an important initiative and it should be replicated throughout the country.” Our registration from the Council of Architecture finally arrived on 3rd August 2014.
ETHICAL DILEMMAS: People from the YCMOU, Mr. Killedar and Ms. Sunanda More have been extremely cooperative thereon. Immediately after a week of COA’s approval, we had the recognition from YCMOU, after which we had to approach MASA for the centralization of admission process. We discussed with MASA that we wanted to enrol all 40 students on the basis of merit only. However, MASA informed that we could only have 32 students via merit, and the remaining would have to be management seats. We ran into a big ethical discussion with the members of SEA, so as to ascertain the procedure to get students for the management seats. On one hand we were in a situation of financial crunch – we had to raise the money because the student fee was not enough to run the school. In the other hand, there were so many things we ourselves wanted to do through the school in terms of research and other activities. In order to raise money, we thought about getting donations, which would come from the management seats. However, after some serious discussion, Savita put her foot down saying that it would not make us different from any other schools if we took money from students enrolled under the management quota. Thus we eventually decided to get students on the basis of their merit.
A FRESH APPROACH TO LEARNING: An important thing articulated as a model of education was the module system. There were some schools in other fields who were doing a workshop based education, i.e., one course at one time. The module system originally came from MMRHCS (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Heritage Conservation Society), a wing of MMRDA that is taking courses in concentrated time slots. Nobody had experimented this before in an architecture schools. We thought that instead of having horizontal courses, we could try having vertical courses which are done in its entirety. In this case, we could also invite a person, an expert within the domain of the specific module under consideration, who could mentor the students. Thus the module system would allow us a concentrated way of doing things, as well as call people to host modules for students from anywhere in the country. What happens is also that the students are given a lot of information, but one thing that they would like to pursue and through that thing that they would like to look at the world and this is one thing that is prevalent in most art practices, this disciplinary thing that looks back and critiques, is very important, and that is that riyaz that people would pick up one practice, a rehearsal, which develops on a daily basis. That internal search and at the same time contact with the world – these are the two things that became the hinge. On the other hand, one thing was very clear that people working in SEA, will have their independent lives as a practitioner, professional or an academician, something that would inform the students’ interests as well as the school. In its present format, the module system encourages the faculty to do parallel works. This prevents the otherwise repetition in academic practice. It gives dedicated time when one is not teaching a module. In addition, we created SEA Studio within the school framework as a research wing that will initiate and generate its own body of work.
THE MODULES Art Studio
Literary Imaginations of Space
This was a module where 9 full days were dedicated to develop hand skills by way of measuring and drawing with T square-Set square, free hand sketching, painting etc.
The technology module ‘On Intuitions & Systems’ focused on sharpening students’ intuitions on structural systems. Students dealt with natural and man-made objects and understood how they work. They were introduced to the basic understanding of foundations and framed structures along with how openings work within buildings. Practical exercises were conducted in order to understand material characteristics, work within given criteria (load bearing capacities, size etc) and build to the best capability of the material (through a trial and error method). Overall the module focused on observing, analysing and trying to analyse buildings structurally.
1st September - 5th September 2014
conducted by Snehal Vadher
The main objective of the workshop was to introduce the students to key concepts in literature and literary analysis related to urban experiences. In addition, it also aimed to familiarise them with basic tools of creative writing. A variety of formats, including readings, discussions, group presentations, dramatization of texts, sketching and writing exercises and an outdoor visit (walking tour) in the neighbourhood were explored in order to bring out student’s own experience of city life. The workshop eased the students into imaginative expression in their writing through critical analysis of texts as well as theatre activities that kept the momentum of the workshop. Others: In addition to the above, students also went through an orientation workshop as well as a few exercises in aesthetic sensitivity. One of them was coding, where students cut a piece of A4 paper into thin strips and treated each strip with a pinch, fold or roll to form a code to make textures on paper. This exercise was done towards developing architectonic methods. They were also asked to study Heironymous Bosch’s painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and then choose any one part from the sketch and write their interpretation of it.
The module was conducted by Prasad Shetty and invited experts.
18th August – 29th August 2014
In the first part, the students were taught how to stick the backing papers and fix sliders on their boards. Various types of lines such as horizontal, vertical, diagonal, dotted were showed and they were asked to draw these by rolling their pencils constantly. They were shown how the intensity of lines can be moderated with pressure with HB, 2B and 4B pencils. In the second part, they were asked to get objects such as a stapler, punch, an Iron, lime squeezer, any one each and sketch it 1:1. Then they were supposed to transfer these on to their drafting boards using T square-Set square, flexi curves, French curves, compass etc. and give dimensions. In the third part, Lettering of different height and style was introduced. They were asked to get fruits or vegetables such as Corn cob, Karela, Sweet Lime, Orange and were to sketch its cross section as well as transverse sections. In the last part they measured the studio and staircase and made drawings and 1:100 scale. The staircase was drafted at 1:50 scale. In the next exercise, students drafted plans at various scales where the complexity of information changed as per the scale. In 1:500 they showed the block plan, road width, trees etc. while at 1:200 it was about showing basic openings, room sizes and at 1:100 they showed proper door, windows, beams, furniture etc.
The module was conducted by Arun Kale, Gauri Joshi and Dipti Bhaindarkar
9th September – 27th September 2014
The module was conducted by Prasad Shetty, Chaitanya Mehta and Najib Shariff
Culture & Built Form
The aim of the Architectural Design studio was to sensitize students to the idea of environment through the lens of materiality. A quick study of selected animals and their habitats followed into a design exercise. Students were asked to choose a material from anywhere around the city and study its properties that would help them use it as a construction material to shape a shelter for activities like work, rest or meet.
The Culture & Built Form module was conducted over two weeks in a HistoryTheory course format. This module aimed to develop a method of looking at history and find ways of making it useful for understanding the contemporary landscape. Built form cannot be seen in isolation to its social, political, cultural or economic settings. How have these forces influenced the physical landscape within the settings they existed in, and alternatively how does this resultant environment affect human life? This survey course was meant to allow a broad outlook to analyse the development of culture and built form across different geographies. Over the two weeks, students were taken through a quick survey of the history of the world in parallel interactions with scholars and academicians from allied disciplines, that fed into the theory component.
1st October - 31st October 2014
A range of materials were brought to the class including plastic and glass bottles, pipes, tarpolin sheets, cardboard boxes, wires, aliminium sheets, coconut shells, ropes, cloth, spindles, wood, broken clay lamps and so on. Students performed SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) on the materials and analysed their properties. They were limited to use only two more materials to support or bind the primary one. Eventually they were geared towards finding multiple ways of assembling and joining the set of materials. In this process, the studio discussed the idea of structure and skin and they way they come together to become a homogenous unit within a building. Amongst the assembly systems devised, one was to be applied to for program of work, rest or meet in the place that the primary material was found from. This gave the design projects a site context and specificity. The program generated diverse responses from objects to assemblies to spatial envelops. It was understood that space-making is not restricted to mere enclosures, but can mean to induce an eventful object that brings together people for various activities. The studio focused on ‘making’ more than ‘drawing’. This was essentially done in responce to the distance that drawing often creates with the real material that architect deals with. However, the final review brought out that the tool of drawing as thinking can be sharpened to better understand the materials students were working with.
1st November 2014 - 14th November, 2014
The module was initiated with a visit to the Kanheri Caves, a historical site within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, that is in close vicinity of the school. Students were assisted by archaeologist Suraj Pandit, a scholar on Buddhist works in India, who explained how art and architecture are integrated into the relic of the caves. This session gave an excellent bearing to the culture and built form module. In the subsequent theory sessions, literary critic Mitra Parikh spoke to the theme of ‘Representation’ in literature. Her talk was structured in three sections focussing on Classical texts, the renaissance and Enlightenment period and lastly the post late 19th-20th century, centered around literature. Another session was conducted on the idea of ‘Colonization and Identity’ by Prasad Shetty who explained the concept of ‘value’ logically linking it to colonization and appropriation of resources and time. Shetty’s argument framed a solid preface for the way in which identity politics could be understood as a colonial affect. Anthropologist George Jose was invited
to talk to the students on the subject of history, historiography and how knowledge is constructed. In an animated session, George weaved through the issues of ways of seeing, perception and knowledge, problematizing the very reading of factual history. In the second week, Neera Adarkar introduced the notion of gender and space in the reading of the built environment. Students subsequently engaged in a day long workshop with artist Vani Subramanian, whose ongoing installation on the theme of Gender and Space at Columbia’s Studio X in Mumbai became a course extension. The worshop provoked students through questions like ‘who is gender about’, ‘where do you see gender around you?’, ‘how many of us know gender?’. Such questions led into productive discussion on the idea of privacy and how it affects spaces around us. Thus, different ways of seeing were opened to read history through the above theoretical lenses. After two weeks of intensive discussions, students certainly were saturated, but were sensitized about the notion that history is a construct and the dominant ways in which it has been projected thus far could be challenged.
The Culture & Built Form module was conducted by Neera Adarkar, Rupali Gupte and Anuj Daga The Architectural Design module was conducted by Ravindra Punde, Vinit Nikumbh, Anuj Daga and Dipti Bhaindarkar
Earthworms Dancing First year Orientation Workshop \ 4th-14th August 2014 Conducted by Prasad Shetty Text: Anuj Daga
“’Earthworms Dancing’ is a phrase that I borrowed from “Raqs’s essay Earthworms Dancing”, says Prasad Shetty who conceptualized and conducted the first year orientation workshop in monsoon 2014, when School of Environment and Architecture (SEA) was inaugurated. The workshop celebrates the commencement of first batch in the new school as well as their entry into the architecture programme.
Extensive field engagements are conceived
The objective of the orientation programme was threefold: Firstly, it aimed to build familiarity between the students and introducing the idea of coordinating within teams as well as working in groups. Secondly, the project aimed at demonstrating how ideas turn into forms. The word ‘devise’ was very important, for it brings together the dual acts of thinking and making. Students were asked to play with the idea of rain, and think of it as a form. Lastly, the different teams were to execute their formalized ideas themselves, which pushed them to think of not only the size and scales of their interventions, but also the tools and techniques of making them. Along the way, they also got hands on idea of organization and procurement of material, ways of representing and communicating within teams and bringing their ideas to reality. Much like the earthworms that become most visible to us enjoying the wetness of rainfall, the workshop too intended to get the students into the act of rain. The exercise demanded the students to make devices that could encapsulate the experience of monsoon - a season that characterizes the city of Mumbai. The devices thus, would be expressions of the city itself. In order to facilitate ideas, students were given a list of verbs and prepositions through which the object of rain could be established in time and space. A sample selected set of verbs included ‘to rest’, ‘to play’, ‘to move’, ‘to work’ that were permutated with prepositions like ‘with’, ‘the’, ‘in’, ‘of’ rain. The resulting statement (for e.g. build a device ‘to play’ ‘with’ rain) thus aided the intervention. In parallel, students were also taken through
an intellectual journey. They were exposed to works of various artists as well as ways of seeing things differently. They also discussed larger ideas of what it means to produce a work of art and how a medium like art changes one’s preoccupation with the reality. The workshop thus unfolded itself over two weeks where time was distributed equally in discussing of ideas, finalizing concepts and making six devices translating rain as an object of experience. • • • • • •
Rain’s Canvas Blades of Wind Roater (Road+Water) Rider Room of Illusions Garden of Sound The Dancing Roof
The ‘earthworm’ thus took different forms, performing to the moods of the rain, translating into artistic expressions. The idea of the ‘earthworm’, as re-stitched through the devices produced during the workshop, allows us a new imagination and experience of monsoon in the city. Ultimately, “the students in the process themselves became earthworms,” concluded Shetty.
parallel study trails
as essential part of education at SEA. Three different types of field study programmes are planned. These include - settlement studies, architectural visits and short excursions. While settlement studies and architectural visits are planned in even semester with different agenda, short excursion happen almost in every module. We call these short excursions (usually in or very close to Mumbai) as Slow Wanderings at SEA. This semester, three Slow Wanderings were conducted; the first one was through the fort and markets of South Mumbai, the second one was to the Arabian Sea, and the third one was to the ancient caves in the forest at Borivali. While these visits have a general agenda of familiarising the students with different aspects of the city, it’s people and its environment; each of them also has a specific agenda. The visit to the fort and the market was an introductory visit to colonial Mumbai discussing specific architectural types that came up in the 18th and the 19th century; the visit to the sea was a part of the technology module with an exercise in understanding sand by making castles; and the visit to the caves was part of the module on culture and built-form where Suraj Pandit, an archeologist accompanied the students.
Interrogating Identity Visit to Bhau Daji Lad Museum \ 18th October 2014 by shrushti jain
Dated 1st century bce Visiting Kanheri Caves with Suraj Pandit \ 2nd November 2014 By Shivani Dave
The walk through exhibition ‘The Double Framed: Interrogating Identity’ at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum gave us an insight into how people of India and their cultures have come to be “framed” or categorized. The exhibition consisted mainly of paintings, photographs, books, and clay-models that were made during the British period in India. Different sources of information, through maps or small tile paintings also extended to the above collection. The study of the people, their behavior, the difference in their lifestyle were mapped by the British in their photographic records.
Our visit to Kanheri Caves was a part of our culture and built form module. We were assisted by SurajPandit, who helped us look at these caves a little differently, and with a little more attention to detail. Having visited Kanheri Caves once before, I thought this visit wouldn’t be any different, I mean, they’re the same caves, right? However, being accompanied by an archeologist changed my perspective. It changed my perspective about how I see things, and made me ask questions. Questions that probably wouldn’t cross your mind, or maybe they did but you decided not to ponder upon them too much. The how’s, who’s and when’s of everything that happened then.
This study helps us to find the unseen relation between who we were and how we evolved from the 18th, 19th and early of 20th century to how we understand ourselves today. The study of the culture, caste, community, the difference, the similarity and the relevance of the past to the future was clearly visible through the models and diorama collection of the museum , which merely appear to be simplistic clay toys but the history or the exploration of its past gives them the an altogether new significance. The books written during the 18th century recording the diversity found in India classified in terms of food, art, music, dance, trade, and beliefs of the people were quite astonishing. The British extensively studied the ritualistic practices of Indian natives, their way of worship, their way to celebrate. The work of Artist Archana Hande responds to the thesis of the Double Framed in the format of the videos, the sound clips, small clay models, charts, which goes all along in flow with the exhibition showing some similarities with it. Her attempt was to create some kind of conclusion which was the resultant of all previous glimpses of history and to raise the question “why it was so?” and many other which was due to the different form of setup she did. This exhibition in my terms tends to give an overall orientation to the culture we belong to or the way we have evolved from it.
“Kanheri”, literally translating to “black”, was the name given to these carved out structures, as they are made in basaltic rock. There are a total of one hundred and nine caves present here, some are complete, the others not so much. These caves are roughly segregated by their functions; chaityas, or caves for worship, viharas, or caves for rest, podhis for collecting rain water and some rock-cut benches and seats. After studying the size of the cave, the chisel marks, the type of stone and various other smaller things, it has been assumed that about four groups of workers worked on the caves. This assumption was made because there were three types of chisel marks found in the caves, making it possible for three groups to work on carving while the other one group worked on polishing. The chaityas are the largest in size, and contain a stupa, a Buddhist shrine. For example, Cave No. 3, which is one of the largest, is a chaitya. A large hall, with three entrances, a stupa in the center and thirty four pillars makes this cave. However, this cave is incomplete, as are most others. Of the thirty four pillars present here, only a few are carved on the top and contain a compressed-cushion base. The rest are left looking like columns. The stupa stands in the center, towards the back of the cave.
The viharas are the second largest, as they were places for rest. Walking through these caves makes one think. Think about the time, energy, effort and planning this kind of form takes to build. Did the monks themselves work on them, or did they call in for outside labor? Or both? How did they know what type of chisel to use? Who was it that deigned these caves? Did they have drawings to refer to? What was their idea of a home? Or did they have any such personal spaces, or was it all to be shared? These are just a few questions that came to my mind. Here is my point of view, very raw and from the mind of a first year student. I think that Buddhist monks built these caves with the help of outside labor, the same labor who worked on the other caves About Suraj Pandit: Suraj Pandit is an archaeologist and Buddhist scholar. He has authored several books and research papers on the subject of Buddhism in India. He has been a senior Historian Consultant on Shishupalgad and Ajanta Management Plan Committee for the Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India until 2010. He is the Head of Department of Ancient Indian Culture at Sathaye College.
SEA CITY As a part of the academic program the school, SEA has initiated the SEA City initiative, the objective of which, is to have conversations and dialogues with the community of architects, academics and rest of the city. At the moment we have two parallel; concurrent programs – one is conversations which is put together as a discussion forum with various issues that are relevant to the city and the second program is Emerging Practices. As a school we decided to foreground and encourage the initiatives that new emerging architects are undertaking in their practices as a way to promote them.
Following talks happened at the school: Emerging Practices Cultural Regeneration as another Dose of Isotopia by Wing Shing Tang 16th August, 2014 Connected Cities workshop 16th August, 2014 Pakka Ghar: Experiences from Murbad by Design Jatra led by Shardul Patil, Pratik Dhanmer and Anuradha Wakade 1st November, 2014
Lecture on past Works by Put Your Hands Together led by Wasim Noori, Areen and Azeer Attari, Shahveer Irani and Mukund Iyer 28th November, 2014 Conversations Housing Policies in Colonial Bombay by French Historian Vanessa Caru in conversation with Kamu Iyer, Avadhut Sathe & Prasad Shetty 14th November, 2014
Urban utopia. A dream dreamt by most cities Lecture by Wing Shing Tang \ 16th August 2014 by Shivani Dave What is this “utopia” that everyone seems to obsess about? Wikipedia says, “A utopia is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities.” But can a city be near perfect? Is it really possible to achieve this, at such a large scale? And if so, how would a city do it? Wing Shing Tang was one of the first to come to S.E.A. to talk about Hong Kong. A city that is fast growing. A city that is aspiring to achieve this “urban utopia”. Like other cities, Hong Kong, in the early 2000’s, designated creative industries as one of its main economic sector of growth. The creative class rose up and since then, there have been many attempts to promote creative industries. To achieve their final goal, the government of Hong Kong resolved to give emphasis on people’s participation in the whole project. It is in the process of setting up a pilot district urban renewal forum in Kowloon City District Council to enhance public engagement. These can be deemed as attempts to achieve urban utopia in the city. But this lecture had a different take on development; it attempted to illustrate that these methods were but isotopic.
This illustration was made based on three studies; first of an unused flatted factory building used by artists, second of another flatted factory building in one of the oldest public housing estates in Hong Kong, and the third was the widely acclaimed Blue House project. The first case involves artists setting up an artist community and a residential community in the unused flatted factory building. Here, there is very little interaction between the artists and the residential community. This was because even though they live in the same building, they did not have similar thoughts or lives to connect with each other. Their professions too caused a divide amongst themselves. Similarly, in the second case referring to the refurbishment of anotherflatted factory building, where the involvement of the surrounding community was not much, even though there were lots more art exhibitions by NGO’s here, open to public. The third case was widely acclaimed. It was of the Blue House project. The Blue House was built in between the 1920’s and 1950’s, and is connected to the Yellow and Orange House. Currently occupied by the working
class, this house was to be demolished under the law of Urban Renewal Authority, stating that any building older than 50 years was to be demolished and rebuilt. Apart from this, Wing Shing Tang talked about the comparative studies done in Zurich, Mumbai, Beijing and Hong Kong. Domestic and industrial housing and historic places were compared. It has been said that public housing in Hong Kong in the 1950’s was influenced by public housing in India, i.e. chauls, as we call them here. These similarities took place because of interactions between people of both countries. Emphasis was made on letting people occupy infrastructure, to let them decide as to how they wanted the space to change, as per what their requirements were. A city was to be looked at as a place to “live”, and not just a concrete space. This can be achieved if one goes back in history and looks at the spaces created then, if one tries to feel what our previous generations felt while creating these spaces. The dream of “urban utopia” is not to have an obsession with perfection, but to try and make every day spaces more “livable”.
PAKKA GHAR: Experiences from Murbad Lecture by DESIGN JATRA \ 1st November, 2014 by Trisha Salvi & inputs from Shardul Patil Pratik Dhanmer, Shardul Patil and Anuradha Wakade, all three graduates from Academy of Architecture started studio Design Jatra in 2012. The studio aims at rural research, development and local architecture. This group of young architects, influenced by different sources, came together with a common objective. Design Jatra is far cry from the norm of the popular urban practice and its members spend time in places which are otherwise not seen by the profession.They reject the notion of the tabula rasa and deeply believes that the solution is already within the context.Their process is to take signals from the context and evolve, moving ahead one step at a time till they reach a set goal. And then looking for new signals from within the same (but altered) context. They attribute this process to their understanding of the idea of ‘emergence’ and author Nabeel Hamdi. In their talk, the three spoke about how their interests in rural development surfaced. Pratik’s interest in emergence
began to bud with exploration and travelling through India and observing the different culture of different states, areas and settlements and noting that old settlements are in symbiosis with the context. Another thing that became increasingly discernible was the aspirations of westernisation and urbanisation in rural areas, leading to a friction between the old and the new. Shardul’s attention was piqued by history, economics, evolution and the social evolution of form. Lastly, Anuradha’s interest in this subject grew after a course she did in the field of energy management. The trio took us through the experiments they have undertaken in their village with documenting rural lifestyles as well as the construction work they have completed. They shared with us how the houses in these places are an extension of life, for they grow or shrink as people age and their requirements change. The group further informs us that after an intensive two year old brainstorming process through interactive student workshops of
documentation and analysis of different contexts in the district; looking at various communities and their aspirations, their goals, their belief systems and their anthropological histories and after deconstructing Government policies and documenting their impacts on the ground; Design Jatra is now on the threshold of implementing its beliefs of self and participatory development. Development as an act of upgradation of self and eventually upgradation of human settlement is what the Jatra tries to achieve through its pilot “self help groups” established in four villages of the Palghar district in Maharashtra. Design Jatra is a now growing network of relevant development practitioners in the state. It finds itself appropriate in a context only after it goes through a rigorous process of research for it to understand the place and all the layers of hidden behind the walls of the building.
‘A building is a living being…’ Lecture by ‘put your hands together’ \ 28th November, 2014 By trisha salvi Put Your Hands Together (PHYT) is a collaborative project of architects Wasim Noori, Areen and Azeer Attari, Shahveer Irani and Mukund Iyer. Originally a start up conceived by 7 young architects influenced by different regions and ideologies, PYHT grew out of the the strong fervent common belief that ‘a building is a living being’ . For the second episode of our Emerging Practices series, bio-architects Wasim, Areen and Shahveer joined us to enlighten us about their ideology of sustainable construction and the work they do at PYHT. Starting with a quote from Vernacular Architecture of West Africa. A World in Dwelling. (by Jean Paul Bourdier & Trinh T. Minh-ha) Areen took us on a pictorial journey through the birth and
growth of PYHT. Their process is seemingly simple, heavily inspired by the traditional architecture of whichever area they are working in, their aim is to construct a building that is relevant to the site, using indigenous materials. They involve the community they’re working with and train them to be able to maintain and sustain the structure. Through these construction methods and actually being part of the construction team they realised there was a lot to absorb from the site, thus started the ‘PYHT game’. The objective of the game is understanding the relationship of the person to the site and the evolution of this understanding through the senses.
In many ways we could relate to what Areen was saying to our own experience in the design and construction modules. Our first design module focused on material and site/context where we explored the nature of the material, what it can be morphed into and the language of the site. Projects by PYHT like the cob house in Karjat and a bamboo roof project done in the city helped us understand the practicality of our design brief. Growing up in a era where (seemingly) social entropy reigns, its a pleasant experience for students like us of the first year to be exposed to those who are thinking and more importantly doing something for and with communities, than taking the path often trodden.
SEA STUDIO Uttara Ramakrishnan
SEA studio is initiated with the objective of generating new research in various aspects of urbanism, architecture and all other allied subjects related to architecture.
This section aims to keep the readers aware of the active engagements of the faculty at SEA outside academia, in the field.
Prasad Shetty along with Rupali Gupte is working on ‘Connected Cities’ - an upcoming publication - a study of three electronic clusters in three cities – Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi in collaboration with Bhuvana Raman and Solomon Benjamin. The project is an urban study on Lamington Road an electronic cluster in Mumbai like the Nehru Place, a similar cluster in Delhi. They are being assisted by Uttara Ramakrishnan.
Neera Adarkar Trustee, Chairperson
The project aims to comprehend the urbanism constituted by electronics markets in India.With Lamington road as a case in point, it tries to understand the unique urbanism created by such a specialised market place; the various networks, transactions and connectedness throughout the electronic cluster. This is currently a very important polemic in the face of the large scale discussions of urban renewal by our new government. We are attempting to theorise this through intensive field work.
Early in 2014, Neera Adarkar was being awarded with an honorary Doctorate with the University of KU Leuven in Netherlands recognizing her exceptional academic, cultural and societal achievements. Subsequently, she was an Invited speaker at the ‘Affordable Housing’ conference organized by ActionAid India in April 2014. Neera spoke on Mumbai and Urban issues: for The Alliance for Global Education Sept 2014. She participated in Round Table ‘MUMBAI ANTHROPOCENE: Housing, Culture, and New Imaginaries of the City’s Industrial Core’ Master of Urban Design studio of University of Michigan’s pop-up exhibition, at Studio X in October 2014 and gave a talk on Textile District of Mumbai :”Exposure Programm for German decision Makers” in November 2014. She also participated Workshop: Deep Democracy “Urban Democracy: Informality, Precarity and Modes of Survival” Mumbai, in the context of the “Rethinking Asian Studies” program coorganised by Columbia University in Dec 2014. She was a Jury and Guest speaker at Valedictory function of NOSPLAN - an annual convention for Planning students at School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. Neera is also looking over projects at her practice Adarkar Associates along with Arun Kale. Ravindra Punde Trustee, Director While Ravindra Punde has been quite deeply engaged with the initiation of the very school, SEA, alongside he is also balancing his own professional practice ‘Design Cell’ based in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Currently his office is developing the entire public realm on city side of Mumbai Airport. A similar project for the Bangalore airport is onging.
Another important project at the urban scale is the articulation of the street-scape of four major roads of the city of Jaipur, India. At the architectural scale, Design Cell’s master plan and landscape for Royal Academy in Bhutan is already under construction. Amongst other projects, the office is developing the design for the Rural Electrification Complex in Gurgaon, Delhi. His office has recently completed the landscaping for the J W Marriot in Mussoorie, India. Prasad Shetty Trustee, Associate Professor Prasad Shetty has been busy with the activities at SEA, and has published as well as given several lectures. He spoke at the World Sustainability Building ’14 conference in Barcelona on the “Spatial Dimensions of Mobility” organized by the Green Building Council of Spain in October 2014. Prasad was invited to Unbox Design Festival in Delhi where he conducted a workshop and a walk on the theme “Of Obsessions and Trips” along with Rupali Gupte. Subsequently, he is working on ‘Connected Cities’ - an upcoming publication - a study of three electronic clusters in three cities – Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi in collaboration with Bhuvana Raman and Solomon Benjamin. He published ‘The Cove of Conservation’ (2014), published in Innowin, in June 2014 and ‘Notes on Future’ in Maharashtra Economic Development Council in Dec 2014. An interview with CRIT of which Prasad is a founding member was published in NEXTBANGALORE, Weltstadt Newspaper. He was also involved in conducted training for Action Aid officers on Planning Process at Puri, Bhubhaneshwar. Savita Punde Trustee Along with her engagement with the Design Cell as Ravi’s partner, Savita Punde has been actively involved in the larger discourse in the field of landscape and design. She spoke on ‘50 years of Modern Architecture’ at the Indian Institute
of Architects’ Landscape journal in Trivandrum. She also participated in a panel discussion “Earth Matters” organized by Indian Architect & Builder with Nerolac at New Delhi on “Sustainability: A way of life”. Recently Savita Punde was awarded the ‘Devi’ Award recognizing the exception Indian women who display dynamism and innovation in their work by the Sunday Standard, a part of Chennai based new Indian Express Group. Rupali Gupte Trustee Rupali was invited to Unbox Design Festival in Delhi where she conducted a workshop and a walk on the theme “Of Obsessions and Trips”. The project is an urban study on Lamington Road an electronic cluster in Mumbai like the Nehru Place, a similar cluster in Delhi. Similarly she also did an exhibition of the drawings produced as a part of the project in Delhi for which she was assisted by Uttara Ramakrishnan. Earlier in 2014, she presented several papers titled “Towards an Expanded Architectural Practice” at the Architects’ Retreat organized by Sparc India of Samira Rathod and Aniket Bhagwat, “Looking Closely” at the ‘Four Mantras of Development: Inclusion, Collaboration, Participation, Transparency’ at the conference “Development Policy at the Asia Pacific: Cities in Transformation – Pioneers of Sustainable Development” at Berlin. She was also the respondent panelist at the ‘Reinventing Dharavi’ Competition organized by UDRI at the Prince of Wales for 2015. Pankaj Joshi & Gauri Joshi Trustee Along with handling his executive responsibility at the UDRI Pankaj Joshi published an article on Single Screen Cinemas in the book ‘Cinema City’. He also contributed an article in the Mumbai Reader 2015 on the subject of Heritage Issue and Development Plan of Mumbai. As a part of his conservation practice, Pankaj completed the restoration of the Khada Parsi, a 100 years old Grade 1 heritage listed Cast Iron monument at Byculla. He also finished the restoration of
the Resident Medical Officers Quarters a 1926 George Wittet Structure in the KEM hospital. Further he has been appointed as the member of the High Rise Committee by the Supreme Court of India. He was also awarded the ‘Changemakers’ leadership award by Hindustan Times.
thesis in architecture organized by NIASA (National Institute for Advanced Studies in Architecture). She is also working and contributing to research papers on urban housing and urban transformations in the city.
Arun Kale Associate Professor
Anuj Daga Assistant Professor
Arun Kale, along with Neera Adarkar, has been working on the Sevagram Wardha Pavnar Development Plan, based on the Cultural and Political Heritage of the Region in which Gandhi experimented with his ideas in the field of education, health, cottage industry and economy. Other projects at Adarkar Associates include proposals of a Revised Master Plan for SNDT University Campus, Juhu, Mumbai and the Renovation of office space Economic and Political Weekly in Parel, Mumbai.
Anuj Daga submitted his master’s dissertation ‘In the Place of Images’ at the Yale School of Architecture, USA and subsequently returned to India to continue his academic practice and joined SEA. He was invited to present his undergraduate thesis ‘Cinema for the Blind’ at the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai in September 2014 and for the studentorganized ‘Vartalaap’ (Conversation) at Academy in December. Meanwhile, he is assisting the Mumbai based artist group CAMP with designing and preparing for their upcoming retrospective exhibition series across India.
Vinit Nikumbh Assistant Professor Vinit, who was involved with SEA for the first semester established his design practice - Bricolage. Since its formation Bricolage has worked on a cashew nut factory in Vengurla, A medium sized house built entirely in Laterite, and place making projects in Mumbai. Currently the office is engaged in the graphic novel that chronicles the narratives of 2 cities Mumbai and New York. He was invited as an artist in residence at Khoj Artists International Residency at Delhi. His project at Khoj explored digital gaming and architecture - and the narrative potential of digital mediums. This game known as “Home” had a great public response at the Art opening at Delhi. Dipti Bhaindarkar Assistant Professor Dipti Bhaindarkar submitted her urban design masters thesis titled “Citiness - An approach to reinforce the development guidelines based on place-based characteristics and everyday urbanism of the city.” at KRVIA, Mumbai. Her thesis was nominated towards the National awards for excellence in post graduate
Resource People: George Jose, anthropologist Suraj Pandit, archaeologist Mitra Parikh, literatry critic Chaitanya Mehta, structural engineer Najeeb Shariff, structural engineer Avinash Pathare, artist Snehal Vadher, writer Vani Subramanian, artist
School of Environment and Architecture Eksar Road, near C.K.P Colony, Borivali West, Mumbai 400091 Phone +91 22 65002156 firstname.lastname@example.org www.seamumbai.in