The Initiative for Green Habitats represents a long term commitment towards providing solutions for the creation of Sustainable Built Environments. This blog attempts to provide an insight to our views, commentaries on our work, ideas that we are working on, and provoke thought where there are more questions than answers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Perplexed about a lack of imagination...

I have always fretted and fumed about this, but two things triggered this impulse to write about this. One was the inauguration of the 2010 Commonwealth games at Delhi, and the other was an article by Suhel Seth in the TOI (writing for Lavassa Cities).
The former example was resplendent with imitations of what others had done, and the usual repetitive themes of pan-Indian culture. The latter waxes eloquent on the sheer lack of imagination amongst architects and designers.
Do we really suffer from a lack of imagination? How? or rather, Why?? In a country that needs over 256 million colours to paint it and a land of innumerable stories we suffer from a interesting themes to paint and stories to tell!!! Our airports, our stadia, our shopping complexes, our offices, the homes we build, our parks, our streets, all are examples of rip-offs from the shiny west.
What drives us emulate imported models without questioning their appropriateness? Clients? The big bad market? Or, is it simply an easy alternative to what we perceive as reinventing the wheel?
What if:
  • Bangalore resurfaces as the city of tanks, valleys and hillocks?
  • there hot-dry regions had courtyard homes with pedestrian streets?
  • informal market places became integrated to add texture to our cities?
  • Spaces and corridors for rituals, festivals and celebration were given their rightful urban space?
  • Maidans and playgrounds (not 'hands-off' and fenced landscaped parks) were an imperative?
  • glass gave way to screens, jaalis and verandahs that performed the same job of reducing dust, letting light in and also formed thermal controls?
  • building blocks varied from district to district... depending on soil, stone and other raw material?
  • craft of the region found space in all buildings?
  • what if pavements got bigger and roads narrower..... (have to think this one through).?
  • what if orchards, and mini forests dotted our city-scapes?
  • what if agriculture was part of urbanity?
I am sure you can add much more to this list.
Without a doubt there is a great deal of national pride in who we are, but the expression that we lend to our architecture does not compliment that position. I would not want to sermonise anyone on how we can dream of architectural expressions, forms, types, etc for the various regions and sub regions of this country, and would only hope that we find our ways to do our bit.

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