JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

Unfold the past. Create the future. Man, a creature formed by the union of body and soul is a perennial symbol of the universe and encompasses all its elements within. He visualizes, he smells, he tastes, he hears, he touches, he thinks and he creates. He created the fundamentals of a space to relinquish his urge to interact, socialize and exist comfortably. Man is the architect of his own dreams when it comes to creating homes out of thatch to creating marvels out of stone and floating civilizations. Our past, like a shadow has constantly inspired and enriched us to create. We still wonder with awe upon the cities like Harappa, Mohenjodaro or Machu Picchu, their extensive use of brick and the ‘super advanced’ drainage system. Modern day dome structures had their construction techniques inspired by the cow dung heaps. We still follow a vernacular approach towards creation of a space. We respect our past and celebrate it. One can compare a human to a tree with the root depicting our past, trunk our present and the foliage our future. Our culture, traditions and all knowledge encompassed through generations constitute our past, which move in through our present to shape our future. What is our present today has FUTURE been gradually evolved from our past since the beginning of time. Man has inferred from past and modified it in terms with his needs, thus glorifying it. PRESENT “The past is our definition.  We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.  “

PAST

The traditions and culture influence a space and its language to a significant extent. As a language is associated with the identity of the speaker, spatial language is defined by its user, the way he uses and behaves in it. Baolis in Rajasthan and Gujarat were step-wells created by the rulers to deal with water scarcity during summers. People, especially ladies used to gather there to collect water and sit for hours chatting. The space in itself provided a cool and shady atmosphere and became a principal gathering spot for the villagers. As a result, it was started to be recognized as an important feature and the village was associated with it, with all important functions like marriages, havans
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JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

performed in the premises. The very language of the Baoli i.e. its basic function was influenced by the traditional practices and the socio cultural scenario and was modified for common good. A common man perceives a space through his sensory organs and associates with it a sense of belonging, comfort and security. A space has a tremendous psychological imprint on the mind of a human and he tries to relate to it on the values of its aesthetics, color and functionality. A common man cannot relate to elements he is not accustomed with. In our modern world, most of the spaces we use have been designed by architects, urban planners and their ilk. They discuss topics such as rhythm, form, proportion, harmony etc. and treat architecture as it was merely some abstract substance. Before professionalism, the design and creation of a space was a more vernacular and social process seamlessly integrated with all other aspects of a culture. But modernist era inevitably led architects away from their consumers. Today’s “Architectural myopia” explains the often disastrous attempts that architects have made to fashion urban schemes for entire neighborhoods and cities. Architects do not see how certain designs disconnect and isolate people and create hostile environments that cannot be shared. Every profession suffers from its own narrow perspective, a tendency to behave like the
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JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

carpenter with a hammer, who sees every problem as a nail. Architects may only have a particularly strong variety of this narrowed view. In that sense, “architectural myopia” may prove to be a helpful model to explain some of the things that have gone wrong with the built environment. At a time when we are faced with economic challenges, declining urban health, resource depletion, climate change and a host of other ills, it seems these issues are not trivial.   The desires and gut reactions of the community are the very essence of a great, living city, as opposed to a banal and dysfunctional one. The dysfunction of such image-based urban places — sadly all too common in the post-war era — is what has sent many people fleeing for the suburbs, with their simplistic ideas of retreat into a private garden recently seen in cities like Delhi in India.

“The work we do is no longer reinforcing but I would say that any accumulation is counterproductive, to the point that each new addition reduces the sum’s value.” ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! -Rem Koolhaas

Architecture is surely a strong yet subtle medium of expression representing the feelings and expressions of an entire generation. Taj Mahal, a makbara built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in remembrance of his wife Mumtaz Mahal still stands tall as the greatest epitome of love and a symbol of the city of Agra and its people. Even after years since its construction, this architectural marvel imparts a sense of belonging to the people of India. The economy of the people of Agra is indelibly supported by the Taj and it served as the epicenter for the development around.
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JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

"Building is a craft culture which consists in the repetition of a limited number of types and in their adaptation to local climate, materials and custom.” Synonymous to this definition is a term called ‘Vernacular Architecture. Deeply rooted and integrated to the ethics and culture of the place itself, vernacular develops from local themes to local climate technologies to the use of raw material available locally or in the vicinity. It has a form that is the exact manifestation of the sociocultural scenario and a perfect answer to climatic worries. It ensures sustainability, given the insights it gives to environmental adaptation, beyond a short term. The Sri Lankan Parliament and the New University by Sri Lankan Architect Geoffrey Bawa followed a vernacular building approach and this style gained popularity among the crippled budgeted Sri Lankan people. He used pitched tiled roof as a generative device provoking multiple courtyard spaces. His approach, which prompted the use of roof plan as a guide invoked its own particular spatial ordering system. The extensive use of features like Courtyard planning for inducing faster heat loss and affecting the micro-climate in the houses to the rich network of Jaalis to allow diffused light and improvise the aesthetic quality in buildings by contemporary architects like Laurie Baker and Charles Correa have led to a fusion of the traditional classical and vernacular. “Vernacular buildings are built by ordinary people who possess principles, or patterns, that have traditionally been handed over from generation to generation. A living pattern language is essential to true vernacular construction by those not trained in architecture.  A community cannot be fully alive, however, without both. Vernacular architecture meets an individual's basic human habitational needs, especially on a short-term basis. The higher needs, however, cannot be met by the vernacular. Simply put, the human heart yearns for things which express not only the memory but also the aspirations of their community and their civilization. Put another way, their most noble buildings should tell the story of not only who they are and where they have been, but also where they hope to go."  -Steve Mouzon
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JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

Our past looms over our urban fabric providing solutions to our developing cities to grow holistically rather frantically. The disruptive urban blanket sees the formation of many a ‘grey areas’ in the city. These ill defined or uncertain areas have no proper functionality or a defined character. These undeveloped temporary settlements and wastelands in the cities are a blot on our ignorant faces with nothing done practically to restructure them. We need to reconsider the socio-cultural and traditional model of planning to erase them from the faces of our cities. Mumbai, during the 1900’s saw a great cotton fabric manufacturing boom and became one of the most flourishing textile based cities. This saw the establishment of a number of cotton mills over thousands of hectares in the heart of the city. During the end of the century, technology advanced and markets started shifting which affected the mills for worse and led to indefinite shutdown. Even in the era of land boom, this prime land in the city is still a waste and is home to shady activities. A socio cultural approach should be followed and restoration of the old fabric must be done with bold new interventions. An adaptation of the historic fabric to new uses is one solution so that people associated with them could be utilized properly. Instead of giving it a new urban dimension, the place should be harbored with similar functions and aesthetics. The importance of culturally restructuring the place lies in the fact that it will stimulate both the development of space as well as people who were associated with it earlier.

Man cannot ignore his past. He is indispensable to it and consciously or unconsciously relates to it. A mad race towards dominance has led countries to leave their traditions and culture for a more globalized one. India, if has to stand out and show its presence to the world, needs to build itself on the foundations of a rich past and massive knowledge.

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JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

Our future thus lies in our ‘critical analysis’ of our past, and reinterpretation of these according to the global scenario to see our emergence as the new ‘superpower.’ “Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.” -Albert Camus

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JOURNALISM TROPHY 54TH ANNUAL NASA CONVENTION

Bibliography

1. ‘Language of a Space’ by Bryan Lawson. 2. Essay on ‘Architectural Myopia: Designing for Industry, Not people.’ by Michael Mehaffy & Nicholas A. 3. Internet. 4. Interaction with seniors.

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