History: Narratives for Meaning and Operation

In a curated series on archival texts, views, discussions and comments on the state of architecture and design education in India, Kiran Kumar & Madhuri Rao review the significance of ‘History’ in architectural education and practice of contemporary architecture as a “…..tool to operate rather than a static and canonic body of knowledge.”

The facts are really not at all like fish on the fishmonger’s slab. They are like fish swimming about in a vast and sometimes inaccessible ocean; and what the historian catches will depend, partly on chance, but mainly on what part of the ocean he chooses to fish in and what tackle he chooses to use – these two factors being, of course, determined by the kind of fish he wants to catch. By and large, the historian will get the kind of facts he wants. History means interpretation.

E.H. Carr, What is History?


Premise

It is necessary at crucial junctures such as our present, to come to terms with change and to re-direct and accommodate shifting practices. This will ensure that architecture and history will continue to be sponsored by and for the collective. The process of evolution of the past is an engaging construct to reflect on themes – generic and those that have been susceptible to modifications. The past can become relevant and meaningful only if it becomes an anchor to our conscience, diffusing into our politics, economics and our daily mundane, not as a characteristic or stylistic manifestation but as a reflection to what has always remained relevant. Continue reading History: Narratives for Meaning and Operation

Portraiture: ‘Movie Theaters’ and ‘Churches’

By reading into the cultural environment of the sixties and seventies, and the rise of a range of affinities in architecture that emerged in the wake of Independence in India, two pictorial essays by Stefanie Zoche and Sabine Haubitz document a part of a larger cultural zeitgeist. The essays focusing on the essentialised photographs of facades of single screen movie theatres and churches in South India propose a common ground – an enquiry into what they refer to as ‘Hybrid Modernism’. 


In India, architecture evolves in a palimpsestic disposition, especially in the rurban areas. Historical, provincial, aspirational layers exist in this pluralistic built landscape. The development of modern architecture in India succeeding the influences of international style made a gradual headway from 1920s and -30s and pronouncedly was acknowledged with Le Corbusier’s vision for Chandigarh. While post-independence architecture in India is largely attributed to modern architecture, it belongs to perhaps only a fraction of the built landscape. Architecture in the remaining paradigm is countered by a gentler transition, more self-conscious and self-referential, consolidated socially and culturally. Familiar and immediate frames of references are appropriated and contextualised at a local level. Moreover, it is not homogeneous across the country but exists in complex crossovers.

Continue reading Portraiture: ‘Movie Theaters’ and ‘Churches’

HIREN PATEL ON ‘MAKING’

Hiren Patel, Principal and Director, Hiren Patel Architects writes about an approach to architecture where the question of thinking in detail is central to the idea of a project and the work reaffirms this belief when it endures inhabitation over a large span of time.


DESIGN

For me, designing a building is like creating a painting on a canvas. Growing up, I always had an inclination for the arts. As a student, architecture opened up a whole new way of looking at art and design. This, I think, in some way influenced my approach towards architecture. Continue reading HIREN PATEL ON ‘MAKING’

Material Immaterial Studio

Founded by Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis with their shared passion for design, the Mumbai-based practice ‘Material Immaterial Studio’ indulges in the sheer joy of crafting and the process of experimenting with the character of materials. The studio forges unconventional handmade curiosities which appeal to the architectural intellect as reductions of spatial scale by “exploring the bare beauty of materials”.


Every once in a while, one entertains an idea of a peculiar venture; the grounds of which tend to be less pragmatic and more whimsical. While these ideas end before they take off, Nitin and Disney fostered their fascination with materials into a unique endeavour which celebrates craftsmanship. Continue reading Material Immaterial Studio

SITE VISIT: House in Assagao by Field Atelier

Inserted into the topography with forethought, House in Assagao designed by the Goa-based Field Atelier, is a home open to programme while evolving an identity borrowing from the historical context.

Positioned in between the lush valleys of the Western Ghats coursed with streams and scattered coconut palms is a village rich in Goan cultural heritage; Assagao. In the last decade, a number of new and relatively grand country homes have been built in the village. Continue reading SITE VISIT: House in Assagao by Field Atelier