A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Dr Himanshu Burte speaks on the nature of Laurie Baker’s human-centric architectural practice; as an empiricist, environmentalist and extremely critical and creative practitioner.
So it is going to take a while for me to recover from one hour of Geoffrey Bawa and after this lush serenity, especially because I have to follow it up with an argument. But, I will go ahead and I am going to be talking about Laurie Baker. I have kept what I am saying fairly narrow and it is mainly in the form of a straight-on argument I am offering, and I am hoping that we can have a discussion afterwards, whenever we are scheduled. I have actually changed the title from what is published or what was originally given to it, because I actually took the title of my obituary for Baker, written just after he passed away and because of the resonance with yesterday’s discussion around Gandhi and Architecture.
I will begin by looking at the context, the objectives and the premises of what I have to say. To begin with, since this is about heritage and we are talking about Modern Heritage particularly, I approach heritage with the understanding that every map is really a plan. It just does not show you what is there, but it is a project. Heritage in that sense, I see as an exercise in constructing the future. By constructing the past in certain ways, by preserving certain memories and ascribing certain meanings to it, we are really constructing and doing the work of creating a future that we want. That I think extends to some extent to Prem‘s point, though I am sure he would not necessarily disagree with this. So, given that this is what is involved in thinking about heritage, it becomes very important to be conscious of our value positions and especially about the ethic of architecture, its politics, economics, the aesthetics and of course, the actual processes and practices that go into making the practice or the product itself.
The book assembles influences, details and observations on and by Laurie Baker to treat one to an explicit and fitting record to his willingness to accommodate and experiment with architecture of frugality and his continuing capacity to inspire people in re-evaluating excess.
Reprinted in 2014, this book authored by Gautam Bhatia makes an invaluable contribution by documenting the intent and ideas attached to the prolific legacy of Laurie Baker that secedes from the conventional notion of architectural practice. In his preceding author’s note, Gautam Bhatia writes, “The book was originally intended to be a guide to his method of building, but over the many meetings in the verandah of his home, the Hamlet, and the numerous visits to the sites (occasionally carrying a client’s door on the roof of his car) and watching him communicate with the Malyalee masons with vigorous gestures, I came to realise that Baker’s architecture is a by-product of a larger picture – a picture that recognises the importance of people’s aspirations for a better life. I began to see that his buildings were merely a direct and honest response to this spirit, this idea. It was after having realised this that the book took a different turn.” Issued in paperback, the book is eponymously grouped in three distinct parts with brisk chapters – Life, Work & Writings. Continue reading Book: Laurie Baker: Life, Works & Writings – Gautam Bhatia→
A mélange of materials composes the eclectic spaces of the Brick House – a 2500 square feet outhouse set within the landscape of Wada near Mumbai. Designed by Prashant Dupare, Shriya Patil and Amit Patil of Mumbai-based firm iSTUDIO architecture, the house invites an inquisitive mind to explore alternative building ideas and question conventions through an architecture that is derived through explorations of form and construction processes.