Sunday, May 13, 2018
WE ARE A DESIGN.. COMPETITION
I have taught at a good many design schools across the city, and been invited as Jury Member for various years and Departments.
All schools share a number of visiting faculty, (there was a time i was teaching at three schools and running my practice)and even full-time faculty are known to have switched schools.
Yet in the last 20 years of been part of the Design Community ( if we can call it that?) i have seen little (The Staging of ToD Plays by third year SPA at NIFT, Delhi in 1998-99 being the bare exception) or no cross school collaborations.
And i'm begging to know why?
Theres more design work to do in this country than can be done by the total number of graduates from every single design school of the country can do combined, i would argue. And more than that there are opportunities for students to go out and work on real projects with actual transformatory influences in the public realm.
Also with the growing awareness of environmental responsibility and disciplinary design, the design schools is where we can make the change and ACTUALLY demonstrate the potential of design, and collaborative work to the larger public ( which mostly thinks the design is an aesthetic passtime aimed at the rich)
Why dont these schools talk to each other? It isnt uncommon that students have friends in other design schools, of both similar and different disciplines, (not to mention even no design related courses in other universities and colleges)
So why don't we talk?
We are a Design Community
Or are we a Design Competition
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Beautiful in a will-not-take-your-breath-away kind of way
I have been visiting the United Nations Building by Joseph
Allen Stien for a while now. And I am
always struck by the studied expression of the central fenestrations that hold the building together. It to me is a simple expression of the buildings relation to the
ground and how it seeks lightness as it moves upwards. An expression made by a
very careful manipulation of three materials, and a triumph of proportions!
I am at once
reminded of the intricate wood lattice work facades of the fortresses and
temples of the Tibetan tradition of building that one sees in the architecture
of Bhutan, Tibet and Ladhak. Where a desire for lightness and seismic stability
yield a façade of a somewhat similar ordering as we move from the ground to the
air. Of course the effect is markedly
different in the case of the UN building, where it is one façade of narrower entry block, as compared to that
of Dzong or Lakhang (temple) but the
similarities are so apparent.
Do I find it beautiful and meaningful because I have
encountered it before and it is familiar and I am able relate to it as well as
recognize it from my past? Or is it beautiful because it has meaning and
expresses a relationship with the site / ground it sits on and the sky and
acknowledges these elements in different ways, and also explores the
possibility of a different inside-to-outside relationship at the different floor levels?
(There is no tour-de-force of architectural gymnastics or herculean structural
achievement, that seems so much the
requirement for being considered architecture in this day)
It is beautiful, in a quiet, will-not-take-your-breath-away
kind of way.
Is it beautiful because of nostalgia? Or is it the poetic expression?
Labels: architecture, Architecture in delhi, Fenestrations, Indian Architecture, J A Stien, Lodhi Estate, nostalgia, Poetics of Architecture, Poetics of Construction, Stone, UN Building, Windows
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The Value of Architecture is the Architect - No wait!
On my Facebook feed, instagram and twitter, I read the unfortunate news
that the Hall of Nations has been brought down.
It is no difficult argument that it should not have been, or
that there are far ugliers, more ungainly and completely un-celebrate-able
buildings in Pragati Maidan (the Irony of the name does not pass me at the
moment!) that should have met this fate long before Hall of Nations perished to
So the question comes to mind -How? Or why?
As a young upstart of a practice, and a young architect trying
to make headway into the world of design it is formidable kind of future to
But I think the answer lies probably, not in architecture or
its value or how its value is perceived, but in the nature of discourse on
architecture in the country. Which even now is yet to come of any kind of age.
I happened to attend an event at IHC discussing the proposal
of National Museum of Architecture, a small group of architects and people from
Before long the discussion wound its way from architecture
to architects, and the value of keeping a repository of works of the who’s who.
And it suddenly became quite apparent how little discourse
there was, and if there was any it was more like Name-Dropping.
The discourse on Architecture is not the Discussion of
Architects. And the Value of Architecture is not in the name of the
Authorship. They are separate. The Architect may be important by a symbiotic relationship to the
Value of the Architecture, the reverse is painfully untrue.
But in that small realization I believe the discourse of
architecture may be carried out in earnest. The value of architecture is not the
name of the Architect who designed it. Its value is (and should always be)
quite clearly distinct.
Labels: Architects, architecture, design, discourse, hall of nations, indian modernism, modern architecture in india, modern india, national museum of architecture, pragati maidan, raj rewal
Sunday, July 03, 2016
Wondering…... about Walls and what they Do...
Its a nice wet sunday, I am sitting in my studio, looking out over the Mehrauli Archeological park, all freshly painted green by rain, Lila and Frida and Yuuka loll about lazily after their mid day meals and on my table is the book - Mehrauli, A View from the Qutab, by Karoki Lewis and Charles Lewis.
With no particular aim, I am flipping through it. I have no memory of how the book got here or if it is mine at all, but that is besides the point. It is just interesting to look at a curated and "other" view of the places and streets i walk through ( sometimes even unknowingly) almost every day, some familiar and easily placed, others still enigmas even after four years of being drawn here.
On page 41 is a double spread, a wide angle, front-on shot of the Madhi Masjid, and in the bottom right of the picture is seen a winding tarmac surface, a road. For a while I tried to place the image, and then it did come to me. This is the disused mosque on the left of the road, as you wind your way up the hill and before you see the rear of the Jain Mandir (temple) complex.
For a while it looked unfamiliar, where was this place? where you could casually walk off the road, and stroll into a mosque? Yes i could place it and yet some how it did not belong to the Mehrauli of now, where everything is behind walls and fences, and everywhere there is gate, which you are un-invited to pass ( if anything, that is what you feel when you see the gate the guard, the shabby upkeep and the fences that the ASI has built around its dead empire).
Why do we need a fence? A wall? A gate? Who's mosques and tombs and temples are these anyway?
And what is the wall doing? is it keeping the mosque safe? is it Keeping the people safe? is the road safer because now a wall keeps it from the mosque? So that no kids can park their scooters, or cycles and sit on its steps and while away time in lovely weather like today ( and in doing so keep a watch on the road)? Is the security guard there really needed? Are people really stealing stones off the wall? and a fence will stop them? And what happens at night behind the locked gate? Or behind the high wall?
Or are these things here to tell us this is mine and that is yours? So i can throw my garbage over the divide into what is not mine. And keep secure what is inside my gate? And what is outside my gate is another man/ woman/child/governments/owners /aliens /gods/ devils/terrorists business?
What if there were no walls? And no gates? would we all be killed by marauding cattle? Or better neighbours?
What if there were no gates outside which you could drop your plastic bag of garbage with the wilful justification of this great knowledge that the land outside the gate was not yours?
If you look at it another way, walls have made us more violent,… and gates have made us care less...
Labels: architecture, ASI, Conservation, gate, Jain Mandir Dadabari, Lodi period Mosque, Madhi Masjid, mehruauli, mosque, walls
Saturday, November 21, 2015
The Museum of Knowledge, Chandigarh - the Idea
Friday, February 06, 2015
OF A KNIFE AND A WINDOW
I have always been fascinated by knives, the clear purpose
of blade, as an implement to part, cleave, sever. Designed to held by hand and deployed by a
stoking motion. Stylized and fashioned over time, and yet the the purpose built
directness of knife is a joy when encountered. One that does its job perfectly,
a balance of shape, weight and
proportion. So a sugar cane stripper, in a village in Bengal completely
I cannot entirely explain its beauty, one has to see it
used, the effortlessness and the appropriateness to task and skill of hand. And
fit. The Crudeness only ramifies it “perfection” if you could call it that.
The knife here, is one side or edge of an unfolding. One
where I want to talk about directness of purpose, shape, use and response. The
other edge is a window. The connection
may seem a bit farfetched, bu I hope I can string together a certain aesthetic
History and theory, somehow have a knack of complexifying
things. And often to a point where the conversation becomes hard to follow,
laborious and altogether disjointed from the simple pleasure that the practice
of architecture and its obvious aftermath – the building , are supposed to
Design is most often a search, an enquiry into the nature of
things and their relationships as part and whole which together provide a
framework for expression and creation of both the built and the not built. I
use the word not built, as different to Un-built, to clearly identify the act
or decision of not building certain things or parts of buildings or space – like
not building a wall in certain parts to provide apertures that can act as point
of entry – doors, or communication – windows.
These decisions sometimes are results of stand points and
intellectual exercises and some times of a considered and carefully mediated
response to condition of site or location or topography or geography that
inform the omission.
Much of the time, the articulation of the omission is guided
by our altogether urban (and thus fairly sophisticated responses of form and
function that are created from a surfeit of resources and technologies), born
in synthesized environments that are completely controlled and regulated and
overflowing with choice.
Our obsession with systems and technologies sometimes I feel
lend a certain sterility, and disconnect. We become of higher orders than the
environments we live in.
With this background then, when one encounters the primitive
answer it is both satisfying and liberating.
A window, doing what it must - made from what is available, with no
desire for beauty or celebration, no call for intellectual validation or flag
waving. Nothing but pure window. And when you look closer then, a story
Labels: architecture, BAMBOO, BENGAL, BLADE, DIRECTNESS, FENESTRATION, FUNCTION, GRILL, IMPLEMENT, KNIFE, MUD ARCHITECTURE, MUD HUT, purpose, RURAL BUILDINGS, shape, SUNDERBANS, TOOL, VILLAGE HUT, WINDOW
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Zen Garden of Khel Gaon
So, I was visiting a client in Khel Gaon. And I happened to
On does then wonder and think.
What is a Zen Garden, is a pool with a rock and stone path
leading to red bridge?
Where do you find them? And why? And how do they find place
in Khel Gaon?
And more? What is Zen? Is it a red bridge? Or a Rock-strewn
path? Is it designed to evoke and induce a certain contemplation?
And if the label had not been there would it be apparent?
And then the most important? Why?
I will leave these as questions with no attempt at answers
Labels: architecture, asian games village, design, garden, khel gain, landscape, landscape design, new delhi, question, zen gardens