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Knowing how little I know about science of architecture, I was intrigued when I was invited to talk about grassroot innovations to a very interesting, intriguing and inspiring meeting .


Knowing how little I know about science of architecture, I was intrigued when I was invited to talk about grassroot innovations to a very interesting, intriguing and inspiring meeting of some of the world's most famous architects.

The meet truly was a coming together of the most creative minds. Rauzia Ally - half Kashmiri, half Keralite and Guyanese by some measure - was the architect of this meeting who tried to create chemistry with Sufi traditions and Arabic experiments in combining meditative structures in everyday life. These structures were created by Czech frugalist Martin using low-cost material to design affordable structures besides lovely icons for his friends who could simply thank him for his fees, and of course Brazilian designers of solar structures tapping into local youthful energy.

Wheelchair dancer Judith (axis-dance) generated appreciation for spaces which they could access and enliven by their creativity.

Aren't we all disabled in small measures, she reminded us.

Rumi's poetry at the event informed of the blend that Middle East is trying to fathom amid the cacophony of extremes, recalled beautifully by Nader. The dome of wood slings was erected in 36 hours. It was an example of Eastern European designs where natural light came inside the dome but not sun rays. Doshi was present at the event through his voice and signatures in the film that Gomez, editor of a famous architecture journal, showed. Louis Kahn's disdain for natural light and cross ventilation leading to dungeon-like corridors and classrooms also came up in the discussion, not to mention beauty from outside and highly functional broad corridors.

One did not miss how elbow-rest arch windows facilitated dialogue and discussion among the willing discoursists at IIMA building. I had nothing to share except lessons we learnt during thousands of miles of shodhyatras; lessons, someday, our youth might like to revisit. 

What was most significant was absence of how to bring non-human sentient beings inside our homes and gardens. The example of bird-feeding platforms (chabutaras), which many people from north Gujarat have outside their homes in Ahmedabad, was a telling commentary on what modern designers in India are missing out. We work hard to innovate how to keep birds out of our structures rather than finding places for them to be in and enrich our lives.

Squirrels and peacocks are an obstruction to expansionist and consumerist spirit. Recently parrots had a feast of sapotas and langurs had a party of organic tomatoes in my garden at IIMA, and my gardener was apologetic about this celebration. But I asked myself, what would I do then, barricade my garden, enclose all the vegetables inside a green house for birds to look at but not devour?

That said, how about creating urban gardens where surviving wildlife can party? Can we have baskets of vegetables on roadside trees for children to see and learn how plants grow (monkeys and birds can have their fill, too!)? Can we make it obligatory for every school, office and mall to provide some space for urban gardens, a wall for fold artists to show their creativity, and a place for poetry and pottery to be displayed? How else will fine arts, cultural traditions, and nature become embedded in our psyche? Is asking for one wall per building for rural and urban folklore artists too much?

If it is, then let us have a global consensus on creating a graveyard of all traditional art, architecture and artisan traditions in every city. Let's lock its doors so that no younger person, even by mistake, visits these graves and gets inspired. Inspiration can be insurrectional, imagination can breed insurgency. Don't let breeze of grassroot innovations ever pass through your homes and working spaces. Let pollution of 'pristine' nature not occur and let popular mind be not infected by virus of sustainable forms, functions, features. Ah! Mandarins, quarantine the curiosity.

News Link: http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-i-am-the-flute-music-is-thine-1679228