A modest assembly of eco-friendly architecture enthusiasts in the city celebrated the World Habitat Day on Monday by commemorating the contributions of Laurie Baker, the high-priest of organic architecture.

Noted architect and disciple of Baker, Jaigopal G. Rao, livened up the evening organised by the Lifelong Learning Foundation at BTH Sarovaram saying Baker lived the life of a humourous rebel to drive home his ideas and concepts such as architecture as a product of human craft rooted in local environment.

Living a simple, less wasteful life, Baker worked for the welfare of the economically backward and made use of locally available material for construction. “A free person, he used humour to put across his ideas. An excellent worker himself — he was wonderful at masonry, carpentry and stonework — Baker paid key attention to details in design and construction. The Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram he designed and built continues to be a pilgrim centre for budding architects from across the country. Baker model retained trees, introduced rainwater harvesting, and reinforced the idea of having an architect-builder team. I guess the biggest mistake of modern (Western) architecture is that it separated architects from builders,” Mr. Rao said in his presentation on ‘The Living Baker’ that sought to bring out Baker’s multi-faceted personality.

Later, dwelling on his vision for Kochi’s sustainable development, ‘Vision Kochi 2030’, Mr. Rao said massive encroachment, destruction of water bodies and accumulation of waste have given rise to urban sprawl, increased dependence on automobiles and a condition where people commute long distances to work. While special zones such as SEZ areas and technology parks are well-planned, there is hardly any comprehensive urban planning to decongest cities.

Citing the economically and socially viable development plan for Eda Kochi drawn up by him, Mr. Rao said there is a need to develop high density zones in cities and connect such zones by way of mass rapid transit systems.

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