The Frontiers of Architecture

6:19 AM

This lecture was conducted by the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, as part of the Guest Lecture Programme. This lecture explores how architecture today is transforming in addressing the challenges of sustainability.

My biggest takeaway from this lecture was how he defined sustainability in the 21st century, and how it will affect Architecture. Sanjay Prakash, the speaker, illustrated how sustainability in Architecture was evolving to address several issues. These include: resilience, sufficiency, identity and equity.

I remember him talking about how a building has to respond to a context - the site, the people, the culture. A building must fulfill the needs and expectations of the people who will be living or working there. It is what allows them to absorb the building, to make it theirs. This forms the "soul" of the building.

We cannot fool our taste buds to like the food we dislike. We cannot fool our minds and ears to enjoy the music we despise. Similarly in Architecture, we cannot force ourselves into liking the designs we do not like. Yet, in our world, we are progressing towards an international style of architecture. One that attempts to satisfy everyone. Should that be the case? What I feel is that the act of doing so might render buildings in certain places, that could be rich in culture and experiences to lose their identity. This may then evolve into a form of neglect and destroys the inherent value of the buildings. Is this the "sustainability" that we are trying to achieve?

Different people have different perception towards architecture. In social architecture and participatory design, people design their own building. In the Baran district, Rajasthan, India, architects acted as catalysts to community led construction. The Lok Jumbish School School Buildings Development was part of a state-wide Schools Development Programme to improve existing village schools and build new ones at low cost, using a participatory, community lead, sustainable approach and vernacular construction techniques. It was through such programmes that one can realise the importance of identity and people's needs. How the spaces are crafted, and what kind of programme is associated to each space. To me, this kind of programmes can provide for useful insights and ideas about the architecture that belongs to a certain place. By allowing the community to partake in the design process, it unravels the identity and type of architecture that belongs to the place.

Lok Jumbish School Buildings Development

Sanjay Prakash concludes,
We should all be interested in the future, because that is where we plan to spend the rest of our lives!

Image: The Sri Aurobindo Ashram,

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