Even ruins have memories: BV Doshi

By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, Sep 21 : Architecture has the ability to induce aspirations in life giving clues of fascinating behaviour patterns, B.V. Doshi, the 2018 Pritzker Prize laureate was the first Indian to receive architecture’s most illustrious award. He says these subtle gesticulations of life heightened through juxtaposition of functions and spaces continue to enchant him.

Considered the pioneer of modernist and brutalist architecture in India, this recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan honours whose designs include IIM- Bangalore, IIM-Udaipur, NIFT Delhi, Amdavad ni Gufa, CEPT University and the Aranya Low Cost Housing development in Indore which was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, says that over the last few decades, recollecting the places he has visited, he now realises the importance of informality and alternative usage of spaces that connects to our inner being.

“Architecture to me is dynamic and therefore, I call it a living organism. An organism that is not merely based on function but has a capacity to affect us socially, emotionally and psychologically,” says the 93-year-old architect.

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Considering Le Corbusier his guru, Doshi, who worked with him remembers,”He would always say, every morning I am born in the skin of a donkey. To me that shows how he opened up himself to new insights that he discovered constantly. His gradual shift from being rational to spiritual and mystical understanding of life while working in India through a profound understanding of life, nature, cosmology and their reinterpretation to me has been the most important lesson.”

Asked Doshi when considering the state of the economy and new data emerging on increased homelessness, how does low-cost housing pioneered by him (‘The Aranya Low-Cost Housing Project’) assume even more significance in contemporary times.

He says,”From total dependence to interdependence and from subservient to self-reliant is an attitude which makes one fearless and industrious — that is what we tried to do at ‘Ananya Low Cost Housing Project’.”

Adding that a self-reliant society existed centuries ago as well, Doshi whose prints and books were now available on Vadhera Art gallery’s online shop, says in contemporary times with new tools the thought and that attitude has to emerge once again and become a part of our daily thinking.

Also an educator and institution builder, Doshi, who was the first founder Director of institutes like School of Architecture, Ahmedabad, School of Planning, Centre for Environment Planning and Technology, Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad and founder member of the Visual Arts Centre, Ahmedabad.

Talking about the current state of architecture schools in India, he says,”Whenever an institution becomes business-oriented and when qualified architects become pure teachers disconnected from social, cultural, economic conditions — architectural education becomes pure words. Most schools I hear have sadly become factories — purely transactional.”

For Doshi, sustainability is an approach to create a living thriving habitat through the subtle understanding of life, way of living and the kind of spaces and enclosures that we create through their interconnectedness and usefulness. One of the reasons that sustainable architecture has not really caught up is,”Today architecture is disconnected from life, it is looked at as a mere product which appears as an ornament to show what life one leads.”

Lamenting that in India, design was still a subject restricted only to specialisation study in India and most students were not even acquainted with its dimensions and the role it plays in everyday life, he adds,”Firstly, living and way of living — meaning and purpose of living is lost. Our connection to life itself and reverence for life is overlooked. Also a sense of ownership as if it’s a part of my family is not experienced as a result. What can a product, a shelter or an enclosure mean to us?

If I am hungry and longing for a certain kind of food, I will search for it and try to create and relish it. Further it will create a socio-psychological impact on me that will nourish me. That was the case when people built their own homes with their own hands to nourish their families — the house became a lineage — a habitat. Today, it is not so, we are all behaving like tenants and visitors. The biological and psychological connections between us and the enclosure is lost.

Over years, inter-connectivity of habitat with nature grows on us as if it’s an extended part. There is an affinity and that lingers in our life.

“Today’s architecture is devoid of place, space, environment, feeling, character, relationships — when all these things are missed, our emotional and psychological connection disappears. This alienation somehow makes us detached and we don’t even miss the connection that we have lost.”

In times when climate change and its ramifications have become a reality, Doshi asks — Where is nature in our life? The sun, shadow, birds, seasons, flowers, waterfall etc. “Where do we go and chatter or lighten our emotions and worries? Where are the places where we can reconnect our memories particularly childhood. All these things have become alien/inert. Even ruins have memories.”

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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