Architect, writer and critic David Robson, pens an empathetic personal memoir of Geoffrey Bawa as he tries to decipher the legacy of Bawa through his works, his persona and his understanding of the rich tropical landscape of Sri Lanka and his pastiche to find many images of the master architect who continues to influence architecture in Sri Lanka and the Indian Subcontinent.
There is a clear disparity in the number of men against women when it comes to practising designers – especially architects. While in schools of architecture, there is a pattern of more women studying architecture and interior design, there are more men who register and practice.
A decade or more back, I had clients walking into my studio in Hyderabad wanting a ‘Laurie Baker’ house. Given that Baker was considered an architect for the poor, my clients were not in any way economically challenged – in fact they were quite well off. For them a ‘Laurie Baker’ house was one that had exposed rat trap bond walls, filler slabs and brick arches. Forgetting the extra cost and inappropriateness of these in Hyderabad, given the poor quality of local brick and masonry skills, it was the distinctive look that enticed them. The sensual trumped the practical and poor LB (pun intended) was reduced to a brand like Louise Phillipe or Van Huesen! Despite the superficiality of it, there was a visual appeal of the ‘Low-cost’ aesthetic. The material ascetism had a powerful pull and seemed to say to the not so well off, albeit notionally, that ‘we are with you’. But now, even that fig leaf is gone. Houses today of the well-to-do i.e. those that can still afford to buy a plot and build an independent house, are a collage of glass, white walls and floors, atrociously expensive toilets and gypsum false ceilings.
Following years of travel, documentation and engagement, Pratyush Shankar authors a rich, intimate monograph: an insight into the unique, diverse, versatile and complex human habitats of the Himalayas illustrated with Photographs, Sketches and Drawings.
The re-mastered book and film from the iconic travelling exhibition on Indian Architecture curated by Charles Correa.
The document was a part of the seminal ‘Vistara: The Architecture of India’ exhibition, 1986 that travelled the world. This is an attempt to resurrect and preserve one of the most crucial and complex comments on the Architecture of India. The exhibition was accompanied by this book and the Vistara film – a projection system – chronicling powerful ideas, elements and epochs that represented our architecture and the practice of habitat-making.