Kerala

Thus spake Laurie Baker

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Bricks to me are like faces. All of them are made of burnt mud, but they vary slightly in shape and colour. I think these small variations give tremendous character to a wall made of thousands of bricks, so I never dream of covering such a unique and characterful creation with plaster, which is mainly dull and characterless. I like the contrast of textures of brick, of stone, of concrete, of wood.

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I have found the answer to many spatial and planning problems by using the circle and the curve instead of the square and the straight line — and building becomes much more fun with the circle!

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An aspect of conservation is concern for and the responsibility for not destroying or removing the natural wealth of our country - such as trees, streams and riversides, open spaces with gardens and lawns. Are we all so conceited to believe that anything we can design and build is more beautiful than a rain tree, a deodar or a coconut palm?

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I think architects have a social responsibility. By that, I mean that designing and putting up a building is not only a little project and concern of the client and the architect. For example - while I am building a house for a middle class family or a well-established one, with a reserve of funds that enable them to spend several lakhs on a new house, I find it impossible not to think of probably more than a hundred million people who are homeless and, of course, landless.

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Architects have a double responsibility. One is our own personal choice – we can design to use as much as possible energy-free materials or to use as much as possible renewable materials. The other responsibility is to educate, when necessary, our clients, so that they don’t want us to specify unnecessarily these energy-intensive materials

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In out-of-the-way districts, among the scattered and neglected population, the buildings needed were small but essential, —more essential and necessary than even those in the densely-populated cities where plenty of alternative facilities are available. Furthermore, those living in these remote rural areas traded by the barter system rather than by buying and selling with money. This meant that it was extremely difficult to find money to pay for the building material, and so it was of the utmost importance to design and make buildings that were strong and durable, and as inexpensive as possible. For this and other similar reasons, I became then cost-conscious and spent a lot of time trying to find ways of reducing building costs in general — whether I was using local indigenous methods or building with the 'normal' twentieth century materials and techniques. Seeing millions of people living a hand-to-mouth existence made me come to abhor all forms of extravagance and waste.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 12:07:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/thus-spake-laurie-baker/article22920866.ece

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