Friday, March 7, 2014

Architecture & Identity

By Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy: IAB

361Conference, Mumbai, India -Feb.2014
Dr B V Doshi delivering the icon lecture 

‘Architecture & Identity’ – the thematic of 3610 Conference, Mumbai, India hosted by Jasubhai Media was a platform for dialogue on architecture and fostered some thought-provoking exchange in some critical concerns of the discipline.

Loads of students – gushing with excitement, questioning, imbibing; a bevy of professionals from various genres and design expertise, and eager to make a point in the layered dialogue of ‘Architecture & Identity’; this was the buzz at the thematic of 3610 Conference – the annual signature event from the Jasubhai Media stable under the aegis of the Indian Architect & Builder magazine.

361Conference, Mumbai, India -Feb.2014
(L – R) Channa Daswatte (Sri Lanka), William J R Curtis (United Kingdom), Dominic Sansoni (Sri Lanka),
Kashef Chowdhury (Bangladesh), Aniket Bhagwat (India) and Hector Elorza (Spain) 
engaged in a conversation with the audience during the first open mike session

So, what did I go expecting to hear at Architecture & Identity? The mental picture I had was more to do with how architecture and the dialogue between the built form and individual needs, each time, initiates and sustains a unique identity that not only becomes a signature of the inhabitant and that of the architect/designer, but also contributes to the language of a community, a place, a state and therefore, a country.

361 Conference, Mumbai, India -Feb.2014
Dr B V Doshi(India) and Mr William J R Curtis (United Kingdom) engaged in an intense dialogue. 

I wanted to know what the stalwarts had to share and grow in my perspective on how architecture and identity communicate and balance on a single platform.

361Conference, Mumbai, India -Feb.2014
Ar. Minakshi Jain (India) and Carin Smuts (South Africa) engaged in
 a conversation with the audience in the second open mike session.

Pleasantly and full-in-the-head, 3610 was an exchange, a discourse, a sharing that threw light on the larger picture of identity and our built surroundings. While the format was the same – presentation-type interspersed by the mandatory sponsor/partner presentations, the crux of the subject at hand was examined from various angles. Diverse perspectives and opinions stemmed from speakers belonging to varying backgrounds, providing insights of countries far away and cities, perhaps unvisited otherwise.

361 Conference, Mumbai, India -Feb.2014
Ar Aniket Bhagwat narrating his experiences trough his work in tandem with the conference theme of ‘Architecture & Identity’.

The focus of the conference was on people and practices, whose work and philosophy takes a stand on architecture and identity within the context of their region and thus explored issues like history, politics, economics, religion, principles, methods, sociology, landscape, conservation and environment across a spectrum of scales and contexts.

Some thoughts that left their mark were:
·         If you are not thinking critically, you are not thinking!
·         Celebrating multiple identities of the Indian habitat, there is no caste, creed or economic divide during our religious festivals and processions
·         Identity is unique - whatever we want to do, we can adapt to.
·         Connectivity is an essential fundamental to identity
·         Identity is holistic - micro-macro go together
·         Identity is the amalgamation of various constants
·         Architecture is culture-centric and
·         Uniqueness comes from within
To sum up, I recall one unifying thought - architecture is often conversation with the history of a place: a looking back, culling in the present, contextual, metaphorical, futuristic... Hopping borders and then looking at things locally, tying them together into their unique ethos.

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