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In search of the right design

What exactly is right perspective of design? Is it an iconic structure that is in variance with its locational sensitivities? Or is it one that is sensitive to the larger needs of society, keeping in tune with rural sentiments when designing for rural areas, and urban planning when it pertains to urban spaces? What should be the purpose of design education and what path should emerging architects take to offer sensitive, pertinent designs?

These were some of the issues raised and discussed during the multiple presentations as well as in the design exhibition at a recent event hosted by the Indian Institute of Architects, Karnataka Chapter. Offering a platform for architects to interact and engage with each other on matters of design, ideas, research, education, and practice, and contribute effectively to the growth of the city, the event encouraged the younger generation of professionals to discuss their design practices and ideas.

The installations put forth by architects as well as students displayed striking explorations of multiple ways of viewing design, sparking in turn an intellectual debate on matters of design as well as what the design community needs to offer the city. Ranging from cultural sensitivities to ethics, urbanism and the right design approach, the gathering had engaging brainstorming sessions in the multiple open mike discussions organised.

Firmly believing that the Institute should get more deeply involved in ward-level planning of the city to make a positive impact on the urban space, the event also engaged the BBMP Commissioner, Kumar Naik, who was the chief guest, in various ways of partnering with the BBMP.

In the interesting open discussion on whether building should be designed by craft or technology, varied opinions came forth, throwing open the multiple perspectives of looking at design. While architect Smaran Mallesh of Cadence Architects felt strongly about the personal involvement in handcrafting a design that was absent when it was purely technology oriented, an alternate view was raised on how technology is merely a systematic organisation of craft.

From the Indian context, craft and technology blurs as all our earlier buildings have been hand crafted, displaying the skills of master craftsman. These buildings stand apart because of their design that happened even in the absence of technology, stated Smaran, adding that there is more craftsmanship than technology that makes a building.

A scintillating presentation by architect Kirtee Shah of KSA Design Planning Services on what architects and architecture should address left the audience captivated. Espousing his philosophy on architecture and questioning the manner in which design is addressed today as well as the negligible or perhaps the nil role that architects play in designing rural as well as poor urban spaces, Shah had quite a few comments on what direction design as well as architecture practice should take.

Pointing to the rural households built by local people sans architects, Shah drew attention to the climate sensitive, environment friendly designs as well as structures that withstand better the natural disasters as they are tuned to locational sensitivities. “These structures are also sustainable in the sustainable definition, and aesthetically pleasing too, offering an arena to display art, symbols, colours and culture”, he said, citing the example of some of the rural houses in Kutch.

Referring to the poor urban planning and houses even in major cities, Shah questioned the contribution of architects in making these spaces better and habitable. He was equally strong in his criticism of architecture education and planning in the country.

“How much of our local, indigenous designs are addressed in these schools? Is it not more tuned to western ideas that in many cases prove irrelevant given the altered locational context?” he asked.

Advocating a change in approach in both education as well as practice, Shah contended, “It is important to realise for whose benefit architects are working and which segments of society they are reaching. It is certainly not the villages or urban poor currently.”

Lamenting that architects also care very little about the external environment impacted, “the glass facades of many buildings stand testimony to this”, he called for a more sensitive approach that included the rich traditional practices in building construction and a more responsive approach to local sensitivities as well as urban and rural spaces.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 7:18:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/in-search-of-the-right-design/article8285268.ece

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