As I was telling some colleagues , this sudden spate of being called to do keynotes means that I am not so young that I am not taken seriously and not so old that I am seen as being senile. Its that age I suppose ! So after the Kurla Varkey Memorial Talk and the NIRMA Foundation Day Talk ( Both blogged earlier); here is the one I did for the SPA Bhopal Convocation. The time is now. Convocation Address. School of Planning and Architecture; Bhopal 14th October 2017. I have not really attended convocation ceremonies such as this. In the 80s when we graduated, it was fairly normal that we would be found at the canteen by someone who would come over from the administrative office , and be told  casually…
In- Laws Home/Shilpa does a Julius I do not  know too many other photographers who shot like that; but Julius Shulman did. He passed away at the amazing age of 99, in 2009. But in the years that he worked he made famous the work of Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig and Eero Saarinen,  in works built between 1945-1966. He shot with an incredible sense of space, a sharp eye and most importantly peppered his pictures with real people using the spaces.During the Second World War  it seems that the offices of Arts & Architecture  in the US, were home to endless discussions about  new ideas in residential design and they launched what was called the "Case Study House Programme'. Ralph Rapson, John…
A recent trip to Stuttgart to talk at the opening series of Creative Days, an initiative that is the brainchild of a firm run by a designer duo- Poonam and Martin, and supported by the city,  other design organizations, Dept. of City Planning and Urban Renewal ( Stuttgart), and the Indian government , also allowed some time to look around, and also meet some wonderful people; the hosts of-course but also Kai Beirich , partner at Wulf Architekten, www.wulfarchitekten. com and that true India lover,Oliver Sorg who had many a story of living in a house that  the late Correa built in Kolkatta,  and Kamar Khan who seemed to know every architect and film maker in the world that there is to know. Of equal -if not greater pleasure was…
  The travails of selling real estate came home to us forcefully in the last few months. We are  rather happily engaged with designing and monitoring the construction of an office building in Baroda that we  in the office called “ The Alchemists Abode” the name referring to the clients metallurgical business interests. The building is  now formally called “ Ark”, in reference to a space where ideas will be safe and nurtured, and the idea of life will live. Parts of the project have been inspired by Paul Klees, 1929  painting “Uncomposed Objects in Space” ( above) The atrium inspired by Klee. The building uses the premise of using the idea of a tense chaos and suspended imbalance and yet denoting  a stillness, as an allegorical reference to life…
For too long when it comes to say office spaces, or housing projects , the motivation behind installing a landscape is often the ticking of boxes; Children’s play space- yes; Gathering green; yes; Amphitheater ; yes, Jogging track; yes. Then it  really does not matter how that is expressed, or subsequently even used. Office spaces have it tougher. There usually is very little space. A drive way; maybe a small podium; and the programme often nonexistent. This leads to many a good piece of architecture, ending up with a rather messy and indifferent landscape as a handmaiden. In Upper Worli , the landscape for rather handsome building by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners (PCF), was suffering an inglorious fate. It was a combination of reasons; an indifferent design effort, coupled…
In 1993; a few years after I had just started work, with some landscape experience and really no architectural experience, a client who I had done a residential landscape asked me to visit a land he had near town. It was barren. Completely. But had two majestic mango trees on it; the rest of the large land sun scorched and bare.  He wanted to build on it a place to sit; that's all- and did not want to spend much money. I remember seeing the trees, and deciding that I had to build somehow engaging them. The branches were low , and so I finally sunk the ground around it, and built at a diagonal, between the two trees, so as to not disturb the branches. And since the ground…
Riddhi a young interior design student had two months before she left for her internship in Germany and found herself amongst us. Not knowing what excatly what she would do in that limited time, but clear that she must spend it appreciating design and enjoying it ,we gave her a loose mandate and asked her to sit in on discussions, read office documents, see drawings , pictures and talk to any one she felt like in the office and form her own version of what design means in this space and how she relates to it. After a few weeks of doing this she started developing a poster. This was preceeded by some reading on the history of poster art; and then a week back she made a presentation to…
Not many months back, on the edge of Mumbai in Bhiwandi. an old client , desired to do a series of shelters for the devotees who walk to the Sai Baba Temple in Nashik- this was to be a mid way halt. It was to have shelters , a temple, and a dining space. When we first went there, we were taken aback by the devastation and the neglect that the land showed. Quarried rocks, no green cover, harsh coarse soil- it was an oppressive site. Many things were challenges- time being one of the biggest- but also that getting good surveys seemed impossible and a lot of the work had to be done by visiting the site often, and sketching there, and working with the land as it appeared…
Invested as it is, to surround the human body, a bit lesser than clothes and a lot more than architecture - interior design is often occupied with marking and occupying spaces for the daily enactment of life - and whilst doing so, it presents a certain aesthetic. In presenting this aesthetic it sometimes clones, at other times is original or evolved - and in the best cases explores a craft or a material. In doing all this, depending on the skill of the maker, it makes the space, rational, poetic, dense, sparse, cluttered, efficient, and other such things. Unfortunately this is what it does - and rarely any more. It rarely communicates the memory of an association, it rarely allows contemplation of a past, and it rarely allows an imagination…
 The office building as a typology in India is not adequately explored for various possibilities of space making. Very few buildings in India break away from being a standard commercial office building. Try an image search on Google for ‘office buildings in India’ and the results are buildings clad with glass and Aluco bond with large floor plates of work spaces. Most of them are form oriented buildings with meaningless and unpleasant architecture. Some of the important office buildings in Ahmedabad, ATMA, Sangath and ATIRA are buildings we look up to, for the sense of space and work environment created by its architecture. These modern buildings, built for specific kind of work spaces, have a great sense of entrance, in-between spaces and plan organization. The Devi Art foundation in Gurgaon…
It was the summer of 2006 and I was counting my last days in the landscape course at CEPT. While I was chatting with my colleague in the studio, my cell phone rang and I saw “Aniket sir” calling. The moment I attended the call, I was asked about my game plan for the future. I could not tell him then, but just by making the call, he had already ruined my plans. Exactly two years before the call, I was comfortably working in a big firm in Delhi and life was easy. Somehow for several reasons, the words; green, trees and flowers started fascinating me and I thought to myself that it’s a world that I could easily try my hand with. All it would take is some understanding…
The making of space without the romance of art is just a distressing idea. After all, the food for our souls rests in the succor provided by friends, family, the comfort of doing well in what we do, being  in good health- but also in engagement with art, culture and music. As designers of space, we are presented the opportunity to engage with this realm every day- and yet many of us shy away from it, or have a very tentative unconvincing affair with it, or just have an overtly labored cerebral manner of dealing with it, and rather so often also, reject it, in the belief that we do not know enough. A lightness in the step, and a song in the heart is a good way to enjoy…
Cities grow, Cities build, The rock is cut, The mountains are diminished. The Western Ghats are located along the western coast of India and separate the high Deccan plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The mountain range starts from Gujarat and covers a total length of around 1600 km; culminating eventually at Kanyakumari district. Along the entire length, it forms large catchment areas for a number of lakes and water bodies. The many sided landscape and the heavy rainfall have made certain areas inaccessible and have helped in preserving the diversity of the region, making it one of the world’s critical biodiversity hotspots.       For a landscape of an office building terrace,  we saw on site  a deep cut in the rocks exposing  the…
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