Friday, December 21, 2007

Jury and BBQ party


After fairly eventful presentations on London involving London being hit by, or on the brink of one global disaster or the other of scales to inspire some of the very best Hollywood movies, we had a barbecue party with lots of food, drinks and dance.


Interestingly we realised that the discipline of architecture and urban design here has been systematically disconnected from society and strongly wants to restrict itself to form making. It is something about these big global educational institutions, where for knowledge to become more knowledgeable, demands so much of resources that it gets tied up within these strings of funding and financing. And this step in many of our lives is the first step towards getting integrated within this system, where we too shall start exclaiming ‘everything is not so black and white!’.......

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amsterdam & Rotterdam trip


Both the cities are extremely beautiful and very interesting. With manmade land that reclaims the sea, the cities are like a labyrinth of concentric canals and built form that float like rafts on water that have lost anchorage with reality and have floated far away with their coffee shops, red light areas and trams & tourists to become absolute global heterotopias (especially for Europe). The canals constantly cut through a fairly dense and ornate urban fabric consisting of different urban design and planning experiments carried out during various times by a state that has complete control over the land. This land fluctuates between being natural and artificial, frequently reminding its inhabitants of the pact with Mother Nature through quite amusing sustainability policies and principles.

Amsterdam: The area of the old city (Amsterdam Central Station) has narrow old ornate buildings that mange to stand delicately, along canals. Each building standing gracefully along the canal like a beautiful aging starlet in front of the mirror looking for signs of age to be brushed off with some paint and maintenance, to win a precious glance of appreciation from a transient admirer.


Further out of the old city one sees experiments that have failed and succeeded, with the Dutch ceaselessly attempting big and small utopias through design and planning strategies that respond to nature, locals and the market.

Almere: Almere is one such Dutch experiment in the modern times, which in creation of a new city centre with shopping malls and retail designed by well known architects to create according to me a highly nauseous environment. While most of my classmates were cribbing about coming to a place like this, Kostas and me were discussing how it was extremely important to come to this place and take up the role of silent witnesses to one such experiment that attempts to ask the age old question of do cities create jobs or jobs create cities, so that our recordings will be useful in the future when we would be called to the stands, of our disciplines.


Rotterdam: I absolutely loved the city, probably the most of all the places I had seen. It seemed to me like the absolute urban laboratory where numerous experiments were attempted with different results that had collaged an urban fabric of exquisite success and failures but both contributing to a knowledge base. It was very interesting, and most importantly I felt at home as I could sleep peacefully while hearing sounds of bells, people, traffic , the street and the city....

Besides all of the above I and my friends enthusiastically discussed about the Kunsthal, Le Corbusier, Global capital, prime minister of Iran, Thai food and very marvellously designed Dutch women.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bernard Tschumi

Few days back I had the opportunity of attending a lecture by Bernard Tschumi at the AA. As he started his presentation with saying ‘Architecture is not knowledge of Form... but a form of Knowledge, and its role is not to just make buildings... but to raise questions’... (especially within the space of an institution that has quite skilfully reduced the entire field of architecture into an orgy of form making exercises) he was an instant hit with me and my Greek friend Kostas. He went ahead with explaining the context within architectural scenario and each of his project right from Parc de la Villette to the more recent ones like his museum in Athens responding to those contexts. What was interesting was when he spoke about the project he was able to talk about THE project (and not how it was built and how was it managed and how many agencies worked)...But as Colin, our course director and his then partner during Parc de la Villette, observed that he had successfully for the sake of the presentation had forged every project into the ‘Context & Concept’ framework leaving out all the Joker cards, all the aberrations, all the unexpected skews and scratches....On the whole it was a very interesting lecture followed by an equally interesting question and answer session wherein Mr. Tschumi was able to provide quite intelligent answers to some of the most stupid questions I had ever heard of. Very interesting and very inspiring.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Room

I stay at Swiss Cottage, a tube station that lies in privileged zone 2 of London on the Jubilee line, which is the grey line on the ‘transport for London (TFL)’ map. It being a student’s accommodation I have the leisure of one small-cozy-tiny-but-still-cozy-room, one window and shared kitchen that I use very rarely. My room has a blue-green carpet on the floor, pale yellow walls and light brown laminated furniture. The main door to my room is wooden and is painted in apple green. It is a clean room and all the signs of someone having lived here before me have been successfully erased, moped, dried and painted. The absence of traffic sounds, mixers, pressure cookers, bells, radio etc is further amplified by the silence here, it gets too quite sometimes...but fortunately the refrigerator in my room has started making some sound that reassures me of the world’s existence on very quite nights. The first model I have made after coming here sits on the bookshelf along with wooden Ganapati (lovingly named Gumpoo) guarded by some members of Justice League of America and CCTVs downstairs. Most of my room is still in default mode but every weekend it blooms in all its glory, with a carnival of the entire week’s laundry. Great weather, Amazing Brit cuisine and a very accommodating city....what can I say people.....I miss home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

dE_sign MuSeuM . :
Gives one a good idea of what happens when design becomes absolutely random...you can try this at home, though some images look really sharp they wont cut you! they only cut logic.


Take a normal photograph, run a program that finds pixels on the photograph which correspond with the co-ordinates of your maternal uncles house, then divide it with the clients visa card number...then skew, stretch and intensively explore (by now one starts wondering...explore what?) explore form and space ofcourse! and lets not forget layers of time.

Then for taste add in some words which start with 'Morpho', 'Meta' or if one craves linguistic adventures then even 'Morbo'. By now i assume before you sits a model that is so totally unsustainable, demands high resources for its construction and has absolutely no connection with what exists around, great! now get yourself some really good banks and structural engineers...

Sarcasm aside i think some building designs may be good but the process followed seems to be so acontextual that i just dont get it and its just not one architect but a whole lot of people here who imagine form to be plasticin clay ready to be explored at the hands of an architect with a capital A.

Till now i have liked Terry Farrel's Urban Design proposals in the latest Architectural Review. It atleast looks at the city and the number of people, density etc. Sustainability is also a BIG thing here...every new project is always questioned for sustainability, for the 2012 olympics it seems they are planning to reuse even bricks from the rubble from demolition and land clearance...so a lot of architectural and UD students have grass growing on rooftops and fans that generate electricity. funny.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Peter Cook


I attended a lecture by Peter Cook, one of the few celebrity architects associated with the Bartlett (UCL). The lecture was called “Gossip and everything in the past 2 years” where he spoke about his practice spanning right from the good old days of the Archigram to the recent Graz museum. He was an absolute performer, great timing and a nasty laugh. He looked like Charles Correa, but a lot more shorter, animated and comfortable (besides being dressed in black top to bottom). And on that particular evening I think, ‘Sir’ Peter Cook was on a roll! He spoke about anyone and everyone and amazingly even bitched (I don’t even know why am I so surprised in spite of being aware that it is something that is inherently embedded within our practice), before an audience of some 300 odd people, as he slotted every other architect and architecture around the world in good, bad and the ugly, he was simply hilarious!
He narrated this incidence wherein he was called for a building opening which was a tower shaped like a twisted torso, designed by Calatrava and explained that how they were not even allowed inside the building but instead invited inside a white tent next to it, which had photographs of the building. He then spoke about how bored he was of MVRDV and had fell asleep during one of their data-scape-analysis presentation. At the end of it I had realized the lecture was superbly true to its title…and I totally enjoyed it.
But filtering all the bitching out, he made some points that were quite interesting…about the notion of iconographic building, where he was damn funny! He said these days everyone who has the money to finance, wants something iconic…even if they are getting a coffee shop done or installing a small bench along the sidewalk they want it to be ‘iconic’. Then he spoke about the practice of architecture and the trend of redevelopment of old city areas (where he appealed to save Canary Warf from such redevelopment monstrosities) as he showed slides of images with huge HSBC bank and other banks that have taken over the area…it was a nice lecture, nothing new…but nice.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

London

Having lived in the comforts of familiarity and a constant sense of support derived from family and friends all my life, I was extremely reluctant to leave home and even attempt to inflict myself with so much inconvenience. Pottu had told me before he left, that it takes some time for the “now there is no turning back” feeling to sink in, well in my case it hit me when I was at Mumbai airport about to board the plane, with my head filled with questions, possibilities, reasons, pressure and some funny song stuck in my head. By mid flight I suspected my heart had become heavy enough to demand emergency landing. But then thanks to some air traffic at Heathrow the plane had to loop twice around the city, which fortunately for that day had sunny weather and clear skies, and it was amazing! London glittered in its early morning glory with tiny building, huge institutions, polite roads, old trees, vast open spaces, the London bridge, the London eye, the Gherkin…all my hesitancies and fears were instantly gulped down with single serving instant coffee served by my plastically-fantastic air hostess. The city is beautiful !
Having been here for only two weeks now, I shall restrain from conceptualizing whole of the city through discontent, globalization and consumption discourses, so I may come across as a bit of a tourist ‘on a trip’, which I completely was...
Squares:

I visited the Trafalgar square, with the fountains and huge lions, the scale of the square is massive and is surrounded by monuments. I heard from Neha that ‘Space Syntax’ proposed the two water bodies and the fountains in the square and found ways to get rid of the pigeon infestation!

From Trafalgar square, we walked along the Mall with its grand entrance, this is an axis which takes you to the Buckingham Palace with the Victoria memorial with its golden and concrete angels surrounded by a plinth, water body and lots of people. The Mall is a lot like Delhi’s Rajpath. it’s a broad road with open spaces on either side, the St. James park and the Green park.
On one of the evenings I visited Piccadilly Circus which is another important square with glitzy neon and digital billboards that light the place up with lots of people sitting around the fountain. Neha treated me to Sushi here with wassabe and garlic petals soaked in vinegar.
South Bank:

Went to the Thames, from Swiss cottage (where Neha stays) to Westminster, then crossed along the Big Ben, the Houses of the Parliament, then after crossing one is greeted by all the monuments that flank the river with a public walkway that ends somewhere at Bermondsey.

The first thing one notices is the London Eye, that rotates very slowly, actually its so slow that the wheel is not stopped, people just jump in while its in motion. The London Aquarium and an exhibition on Dali is something that I plan to visit, which is just before the London eye.

As you walk in the direction of City Hall (Foster’s) you can see Mary Axe also known as the Gherkin and Lloyd’s (Roger’s) on the opposite bank. As I passed the National theatre, the London bridge, the floating naval ship Belfast, I soon lost count of all the things I was seeing…soon I was at the City Hall with the Tower bridge in the background.

Also came back here after some days with Neha and Sarthi for the South bank festival which was one big carnival and fair with stalls from all over Europe and music and dance.
This place is filled with people who are mostly tourists with maps and cameras and asking for directions, so I was completely at home here.
I again visited this place a third time to see the Design museum which happens almost at the end of the public walkway. It presently is exhibiting Zaha Hadid’s works. Some of her models, paintings and a huge video installation screen, after seeing her work I greatly admire her construction engineers and her clients, who seem to agree to build and finance just about everything from a wave to an entire whale jumping out of the water!
Open House:

Now this is the best part, the event called open house is an event which takes place in London only once in 2 years, wherein all the institutions, public amenities, offices, residences (even people’s homes) etc of architectural and design importance, that may not be accessible, open up to the public for a period of 2 days! And I was there just in time accompanying people who had waited for 2 and sometimes even more years to visit buildings on their list.

So through the open house I got to enter inside the Lloyd’s bank (Richard Rogers)! Crazy building with amazing details! After that we walked along the Gherkin and landed up at an old conserved Turkish Bath that has been turned into a Pizza place.


After that we went to the Lombard Jones Mews housing, which is this housing built in the 60’s and 70’s…it’s a mass housing and totally reminded me of Corbusier’s Plan Obus sketch.
After the housing we decided to visit architectural office, so we headed to Camden town and visited Architect David Chipperfield’s office. Nice place, small office, but nice.
The next day visited the 2012 Olympic village (Legacy) site at Stratford. Nothing has come up yet but got to see the plans for the place and the scale of investment that is going to happen. Zaha Hadid will be designing the aquatic sports centre which from what I saw has been inspired from shape of a wave?!?!
this is just my first week, and its been super exciting, its a beautiful and exciting place but it is also very very expensive, people here refer to the first few months as the 'honeymoon phase'...lets hope i manage this tight rope walk well...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Packing

As I prepare to leave I am in the process of packing. Slowly and steadily making lists and prioritizing what I need the most, to be wrapped in smaller pouches and compartmentalized within 2 black bags, that will carry resources, evidences and memories of this place for the next 2 years. My smaller bag looks like a sushi tray, with everyday acts of bathing, shaving, studying and sleeping wrapped in smaller sea weed pouches neatly arranged and ready to serve me when need may arise. My on flight bag reminds me of Star Trek space travelers kit, with cutting edge technology origamied into sleek looking metal cuboids of various shapes & sizes that will talk, analyze & if I don’t achieve social acceptance, then give me company. Most of my baggage is new and smells of air-conditioned shops, sterilized of all touches and ready to be encoded with new sights, smells and sounds. But I also bear with me some old books, photos, clothes and bed covers that will keep me warm on cold rainy London nights.
Having undergone dental ‘rehabilitation’, my teeth hurt a little and don’t feel like they belong to me anymore, just like my luggage, some of them are brand new. As I organize myself to leave behind everything that was ‘me & my’, I stare at my ceiling tonight wondering what the ceiling of my small cozy room in London will be like, will it have wooden slats or will it be painted in cheap fire retarding paint. Tonight I truly understand Murakami’s description of Sputnik and its silent lonely journey, with the earth reflected on its metal body as it swims through dark ether to assemble awareness about itself and the world around…
As I am the last person to depart among all of us who have left for numerous countries and continents, in search of greater goals, better understanding and saucier sex life, I hope that we all get what we wished for and are soon around a party table, somewhere beautiful, talking about each others heroics across the globe. Cheers!

I will miss everyone here, a lot.
Bye Bye people,
Lau
Sau


Friday, August 31, 2007

Project : small room in Wadala


Frosted mirrored glass cupboard, mirror, bed head, green book shelf, golden corner study, with a band of wooden pelmet having inlay of 'jade' bisazza.


Window with Jaisalmer stone border & coloured glass marble shutter, with Amiruddinn son of Shahabuddin (our carpenter) posing in foreground


Detail

This is my second project with sonu and was damn good fun. It was a small project involving a complete design of a small room which was to have a bed, a study, a small library and a cupboard. Both me & sonu relished the process of designing for this project, drawing, sketching & getting it done...the basics...nothing big, but the point is, i realised that i hadn't done this kind of designing since a long time...had that particular feeling of personal satisfaction that one gets when you are at your board doing a project that is yours and yours alone, i don't know whether its the same for everyone who passes B.Arch... Besides the design and making of the project, the long travel from Andheri/ Borivali all the way to Wadala and back, fighting with the carpenter and client, late dinners and material exploration was also good fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

P 88

The city embodies within itself multiple narratives, as said by many important architects, planners and urban designers. These narratives of transformation, redevelopment, violence, technology, environment, etc structure the city into fine networks that stretch, wrap, tie and get entangled...I remember attending conferences where lot of planners came and argued on the city being like veins, crystal shards, sudoku, larynx and many more things that are tearing, shifting, splitting and shockingly even reproducing. But the point is, in such a city the multiplicity break down the clear-cut polarities of good-bad, ugly-beautiful, clean-dirty etc. and makes them murky. But the kind of Urban Transformation that is taking place in our cities today is of a nature that is giving rise to a growing intolerance towards these complexities.
Through the act of ‘tolerant’ collaboration by three of us (Ranjit, Aditya & me) on a single canvas, the image intends to look at the some of the imaginations that make up our city. This was done through formulating a methodology as a version of the surrealist exercise of ‘Exquisite Corpse’ that has built a collage of our city out of different images contributed by each one of us.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Barber

Next to Borivali station, opposite the 240 bus stop there is this 'Bina haircutting salon' where i go. Most of the barbers have been working there ever since i was a kid accompanied by my dad, who would get a haircut just to give me company. I love getting a haircut, it feels like someone just pressed the refresh button or something like that. A lot of things have changed around the salon, with new shops, new products and new hairstyles. But somehow this place stayed unchanged, the white laminate seat for waiting, the shower handles, the designer barber chairs and people working there. The smell of cheap perfume, shaving cream and powder mixing with the spray and everything gets forgiven. These guys are not into styling, they give 3 types of haircut: small, medium and large, working wonders for office goers and people like me who don't like designer French barbers asking which shampoo i use and when, in that peculiarly condescending way thats makes you feel you don't deserve even a single strand of your own hair on your head.

Friday, July 06, 2007

3rd image


This image as Aditya explained was inspired from a photograph taken to record an internal courtyard. It started with Aditya using the tools of perspective and bending them so as to construct an image that showed more of the courtyard, deforming it more than the photograph so as to enable details of not only the court but also the adjacent corridor spaces that abut it, stretching it a little more so as to represent the narrowness of the court, detailing it intensively to hint at multiple narratives contained within the built form. The pencil sketch used existing tools of drafting and detailing, but when overlaid with a concern to show more, got deformed into a fish eye image.
When Ranjit took over painting of the image, he imagined the image in terms of its light, and attempted to represent the light within the court and thereby represent the narrowness, the stale air, the dimly lit corridors, moisture in the air etc. But interestingly when he painted the image he painted it referring to a photograph and so the rendering of the image got influenced by photographic perception of light and not as seen by the human eye, which explains the over exposure at the top or a little out of focus at the bottom.
The asymmetrical sides, slight tilt of the built form and the clothes (in the extreme top left) hanging straight down are some of the planned errors that add to the overall image.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Snails

Few days back I saw many snails that had been awakened by the first rains. All moving dreamily making way to their respective single leafed territories, crisscrossing one another, leaving behind silver trails and gently bowing and touching each other with their fleshy antennae, as if following some snail etiquettes. The more polite ones, stopping completely, withdrawing themselves and moving only when the other snail had moved away, sometimes even over them. Being much higher I could see the whole of this newly revealed snail-city with leaves, glass bottles, flies, plants, trees, grass, water puddles and snails, all maneuvering around this moist geography for food and water. The shelter was not a problem, as all were well equipped with huge spirals (made out of some mathematical golden triangles as observed by many important mathematicians), where calcium met tissue, stone and organism fused together to give rise to soft green snail living in an exquisitely designed shell with autobiographical patterns that told stories of changing weather patterns, water availability and snail moods; everyday carefully recorded as a single line of calcium deposit. The dead shells were usually inherited by a very needful crab, insect, fish or a kid. Some more determined ones stayed buried among the sediments, so as to leave behind an imprint of their magnificent fast paced life for a distant future to rediscover their ghosts in coal.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Details


new construction in Khotachiwaadi


Balcony

Khotachiwaadi

Ranjit usually plans his image, patiently drawing and redrawing smaller details of floating muscled bodies, alien landscapes and aging faces. Carefully selecting an idea of the visual, as if cautiously selecting his language and its words that will float in a landscape of distant remoteness. He likes the act of painting, mixing colours, diluting them with water and applying dabs of olive greens, dark reds, greys and browns with patience, meticulously one stroke at a time, he loves painting ‘real’, getting the wood right or showing age of something that has stood the tests of time, with wrinkled faces, chipped plaster, cracked bones, rusting iron and mottled walls. With his strange ideas of layering he tends to build the image up through thin translucent watery layers of paint that get overlapped one over the other, each layer adding a newer detail till the shimmering sunlight in a house galli or concrete angel bracket detail starts looking more real than real itself.
My attempts at getting myself to plan an image have usually resulted in planned failures. I draw and paint at the same time, instinctively deciding colours and technique sometimes even influenced by colour tubes that are within my arms reach. During the course of development most of my images look like colorful studio accidents, but in due course of time I manage to make an image that tries to communicate what we set out to do. I love painting details; I like to divide my canvas into smaller canvas and then each of those into smaller canvases to show a local market, or a heritage police chowki, a pattern of tiles on wall or a cement mixing truck far away. Being lazy to plan and ignorant about the final image I usually have an advantage of evolving the image based on instinctive concerns or even my mood that day, and the painting grows partly based on me and partly itself as if the image has equivalent control over me.

Khotachiwaadi image is a result of collaboration between Ranjit and me. Ranjit has done the Null bazaar buildings on either side that form the housegalli. Through the slit one catches a glimpse of Khotachiwaadi that has been drawn and painted by me. Two distinctly different conditions within the city get represented through our different methods of drawing and painting with Khotachiwaadi being framed by the Null Bazaar housegalli. As Ranjit works at a more zoomed out level, whereas I draw smaller details the painting requires almost two foci to see it, where the observer can focus either on the housegalli or on Khotachiwaadi.