Thursday, June 25, 2015
The post independence years saw rise in state identity crisis and perhaps architecture found its new wisdom in seeking such political identity of independent state. The advent of various architects, studied and trained abroad helped in strengthening the wants of identity. The architecture envisioned itself to be responsible for nation identity as whole, subjecting its regional complexity far behind in such utopian thinking. The tag of third world was entrapped into the notion of state architecture coupled with mighty overcast of modern masters imaginations. The identifiable language that emerged from these legacies was seen in few architectural projects like Rajghat New Delhi, Gandhi Smarak Sanghralay, Atira Housing, IIT Kanpur, Dairy at Mehsana, Medical Research Institute, Chandigarh, Sri Ram Center New Delhi, TISS Mumbai and Rabindra Bhavan New Delhi. The architecture clearly marked the new archetypes for a society whose values were enmeshed into history & myth of thousands of years.
The brutal verdict of functionalism and utopia, overlaid with some regional relief was witnessed in advent of Louis Kahn in Indian architecture scenario. The architecture saw subtle and sudden relief from engraved brutalities of modernism. The methodical formalism and regional quality of Kahn’s work put new impetus in Indian architecture yet seeking for its identity then. The newly established architecture linage from Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Delhi, Chandigarh was something that put India into the global map of architectural innovation.
The year 1986 saw sudden change in what was termed as pan Indian architecture in practice and academics. The exhibition of VISTARA (expansion) rooted out the academics pedagogy of western modernity with non-manifested ideology of intuitive world, endurable images & experience of everyday life. The overlays of history and myth has changed the perception and expanded the boundaries of architecture. The VISTARA arguably challenged the notion of rationality of science and technology. The western domain remained busy with transformation of rationality and science with environmental issues while Indian sub-continent was still seeking the logic of metamorphosis of myth. The VISTARA exhibition opened up the new debate that architecture obviously needs to resonate the locale & it made it very explicit the overlays and its relationship within the constitution of history.
The project on social modernization and housing faced with stark brutalities of aesthetic cleansing project. The architecture of state is suddenly replaced with housing for state. The sudden shift also witnessed the wants & need of language to construct the housing typologies. The want of technology and seek for identities are two extremities that still not expanded till date into new variation. The academic pedagogy and practice suddenly finds new seepage: subject of city and nature. The incomplete project on modernism and industrialization/ De-industrialization of cities along with inner-city conditions, social housing and direction to the development has further eroded the sphere of architecture in this new obsession. The pedagogy with colonial mind-set, envisioned to have non-architectural dialogue.
UN-MESHED: The architectural question, often being trapped in two extremities in Indian context namely modern subtleties versus local sensibilities or modern sensibilities versus local subtleties. The catching sky is an analogy of myth that remains open ended without being subject to fetishism & objectification. The catching sky is an unwavering & stoic claim, that remains subservient to itself, leaving infinite possibilities of embededness. The Indian architecture is a tribute to the catching sky, it is not merely a transcription of history rather an analogy of open-endedness within. The catching sky is an artifact & memory together, transforming itself both as a object and subject. The catching sky that moves with us, that shapes us. The work of Indian architecture always remains in debt to the catching sky and the relationship that it has build with decisive intolerant modernity. The catching sky is a phenomena, a sense, a subtle order, and potential of infinite and latent finite of enduring meditative engagements within timeless architecture.
PHOTOGRAPHS CREDIT: MANOJ PARMAR ARCHITECTS
Friday, June 5, 2015
Prof. Alok Sharma from MITS guided the city tour of Gwalior. He passionately showed the heritage architecture of the city which has pre-colonial and colonial history. On several occasion he mentioned about the Batesara Archaeological Site in conversation, elaborating possible mythical significance of the place.
The site is approximately 30 minutes drive from city center and has approachable road. The excavation site is on hill, sloping towards west, hence the sun casts deep shadows and illuminating the temple complex almost through out the day. The conversation with the local site in-charge of excavation site explained that the entire site was under the ground and the ASI initiated the excavation and managed to restore, almost 140 temples till now. There are possibilities of more than 60 temples yet to be excavated from site. The site in-charge was carrying an album, showing what was earlier and how it has been restored now. The effort by A.S.I is laudable as we have yet another site of temple complex dated back to 6th to 8th century AD.
As you approached the restored gateway on hillock, the site reveals the collection of quintessential objects bathed in stark sun lights, slowly emerging out of earth as you walk up. The site has varying plinths and series of miniature temples occupies the plinths like experimental models. The each temple is approximately 15'0" to 20'0" in height. The main temple however has more celebrated presence by its footprint size and height. The central water tank and temples alinements demonstrating the site planning principles and its spatial configuration. However the history of such miniature temple complex is still unknown but it seems to be place for artisans and craftsmen engaged in series of experimentation to evolve with the distinct temple typology for the region.
The complex has few temples that are very good in conditions, while some needs extensive repair and restoration. The entire site, as explained by site in-charge, was like giant warehouse containing various objects and parts which seems to have left, unattended, for many years. The A.S.I. is carefully taking each of the parts and attempting to resolve the giant jigsaw puzzle, which are left to us as a legacy of "mystery of dead presence of architectural objects of living past".
Thursday, June 4, 2015
The School of Architecture building at M.S. University, Baroda is more than 100 year old building. The main component of construction is brick load bearing, stone lintels/ ties & wooden boarding on wooden section as floor. The architectural style seems mixed of colonial typology, Gothic arches, Mogul domes/ entrance, central large courtyard with corridor around.
The division of spaces are mainly based on load bearing grids, assembled around courtyard and axially place staircase aligned with entry point. The typology is distinguishable from rest of the building around. The building has fine proportion systems visibly on street facade & courtyard and perhaps that bestows the building with fine architectural character.
The building also reminded on James Sterling's architecture school building at Rice University. The building definitely needs restoration as condition inside the courtyard is disintegrated over the period of time. Its unfortunate that architecture institution is housed in this finest building which is suppose to be vanguard of architectural values & its heritage, is witnessing the slow degradation.
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