On the eve of final review: The followig article was written exactly two years back before the third year studio design. Even now I would change very few points
When I decided to write a piece on my understanding about design I have almost 24 hours for final review. Designing a craft centre may not be the end of understanding but may be just the beginning of our learning of cultural forces. What is demanded by the requirements is often met by gross sized boxes and we don’t know how to make space fulfill. The top-down approach of making a block and designing the interior just to fulfill the space requirements often hurts me.
The search for perfect design does not just make sense. As often stated by one of our professors no design is bad or good. Everything has its own motives. The idea is to analyse about weakness and strength of each design solution. Probably the greatest gift of architecture is that we don’t have a single solution like mathematicians. We delve into the plurality and search for answers. It is like the search for the weave which binds all the strands of the cloth. We are always in search of the soul of the site, the surroundings. I wonder how many of my fellow mates has talked to a craftsman about what they need or what they would like.
The problem is that people have forgotten to talk to strangers. The society forbids now to make interactions. You have the internet in front of you and it answers all kinds of possible questions. But sadder still is that people even don’t use the internet for their improvement. Instead, we are more hooked on the photos shared, where the latest gizmos are displayed, what is the price of newest galaxy phone etc. Pleasure is consumed in seconds in front of a digital screen and young has forgotten to be happy. If you would like to find where is Pago island you would just type in Google and find instantly that it is in the east of Australia and Papua New guinea. But if you try to find it in old Atlas then you would spend a good 20 minutes or so to locate it & in the meanwhile, you would know about so many other places that you did not think they exist. The Internet has become the go-getter of copy-paste culture, even not acknowledging the original authors. It is ending up doing more harm to more people than doing more goods to few people.
Nowadays architecture students are obsessed with latest soft wares, plugins and other possible ways to glitter up their presentations. Unfortunately, a fraction of this time is spent on the design idea, the concept, and understanding. People are going gaga over the latest development that enables one to create parametric design solutions. But one has to understand what is parametric is. In easiest terms it is the best possible use of available resources. Doesn’t traditional design uses the best possible angle of solar orientation and ventilation? Computer literate architects disobey the traditionally knows concepts and instead devote their time to rediscover the same old principle that lived centuries. They instead develop some curves inspired by some western architects and term it Green in the name of LEED. They control their space by mechanically conditioned air and yet term it green by placing more saplings of the tree that would take years to mature.
Places of the world have now become some amusement parks thrown by some litters of some so-called star architects. They develop structure on their own and call that ‘fantabulous’. They know it won’t be possible anywhere else. An analogy of this is like Shah Jahan who ordered to take the hands off the master craftsman in order not to make anything even close to Taj.
Architecture is a curious craft. I love it because it offers to study me the history, culture, craft, society and multifaceted aspects of it. It is not only an architect’s responsibility to save the society from ugly structures called postmodern but to show the much-treaded path already left behind by our ancestors. The chaos, dynamic synergy that exists in culture is too strong to ignore. The essence of soil tells you to soak into it and not to indulge in the uber ugly towering structures. The tallest structures have been the ghoulish expression of animals within us, not the peaceful one. It underestimates the values, culture and an even undercurrent of passions. It seeks to touch the new height. The height of ugliness. They speak out to each other see how many people I can accommodate, see how many luxury I can provide. It is a never-ending competition between the monsters. A hotel in Ahmedabad seeks to touch new height by its curves. The hype around it is so tremendous that one forgets to tell that it is a shoe. It is like the child who questions the naked king where your clothes are? We need child like those. Fearless questions, which can tear apart the vague theories. The theories put together by Derrida are beyond the understanding of a common man. It seeks to create an intellectual raj where you cannot question an erudite for the fear that erudite might not able to explain it.
Another thing that haunts me is the expression. Students are told to explain graphically. What is the intention of the teachers? To devote less and less time to understand a potential problem to society? To give less than 2 minutes in a sheet made in 10 hours. It undermines the thought, the intellectual capacity to think. Just some colours and graphics are sometimes too little for the story. Students are not encouraged to write papers anymore. They are taught how to apply interesting graphics instead. Students are encouraged sometimes to make 3 dimensional renderings which are like real life. They end up making a dream image which might not be possible in real life. The concept cries foul. For the sake of beauty treatment, the concept takes backstage. Computer-generated views take centre stage. In present scenario if one say I can only do AutoCAD he or she is stared at or becomes the next topic to discuss. On the flip side of it, someone is too interested in applying Luna colours to whatever design is produced. A well-coloured drawing can never be bad design is the opinion in the mind.
One thing that lies beyond the understanding of mine is why everything has to be designed? Cannot something grow on its own? What happens to the much talked about marketplaces that have grown on its own? No architects have designed it. Urban designers heaped their praise around it and showcase it to compare the failure of Starbucks and big macs.
One has to learn to be travellers, not tourists. A true traveller does not any plans, foreground information about the things to be visited. He or she just travels and learns from the people, culture, and nature. Designing a craft centre which is not a museum is living piece of history itself. It is being created then and there. Before your eyes.
All we have is measurable materials. That is to create immeasurable truth, beauty and strength. No one is going to tell the architect about the secret attributes of it. It is his curiosity that will generate the immense sense of place, of understanding, of interaction and sense of accomplishment.
Curiosity is the eye of an architect.