Academics help me to explore a variety of architectural issues with the students. My students at the various design workshops conducted by me have been from diverse backgrounds. They have been primary and high school students, primary and high school teachers, students of architecture, architecture faculty and sometimes other lay persons.
To me, a good teacher is always a good co learner. During the process, the student – teacher roles acquire different dimensions.
To me, a good teacher is not like a carpenter or sculptor who shapes the students (who are not blocks of wood) in the way he wants.
Each student has a unique potential like the different seeds in Nature. Each student will grow differently having different fruits, leaves, form, colour etc. A good teacher is more like a gardener who gives the right soil, manure, water and light to each student’s seed potential to enable it to grow healthily to its best level of maturity and fruition.
I ask the students to relate their design decisions to their understanding and concern in life.
The main questions that we explore together during these design workshops are -
- Can a spatial design express the same content that a poem, music, painting, sculpture, dance or drama can express ? If architecture can be experienced as frozen music, can music be experienced as volatile architecture ? Can outer space create an impact on our inner psychological space ? Aren't these various expressions ( of one's inner understanding ) expressed through any medium interchangeable ? Do they not compliment each other ?
- Isn't the basic design concept ( the goal - objective, as related to life itself) the most important & essential starting point in the design process ?
- Can we ' let go ' ? Let go of the conditioned responses and look at everything afresh with a childlike curiosity, abandon and joy ?
- Can we be attentive, aware, observant of all that happens around us - learn from these live experiences and translate this learning into an architectural expression ?
- Let us not be afraid of trying out a new idea, a new design - just because we have't seen anything similar before or just because the teacher or client may not like it. Ask ourselves - when we experiment - why not ?
- Aren't we all unique in some way or the other ? Do not compare yourself with each other - but compare yourself with what you are today to what you were yesterday.
- Can we translate a two dimensional plan on the ground into a fascinating variety of 3 dimensional architectural spaces to suit our design objectives ?
- Can we design spaces that could be experienced by the blind, heard by the deaf and appreciated by the handicapped ?
- Don't you feel that the transitional space which is a preparation, a smooth movement, a buffer, an essential linkage a very important issue in the design process - an issue that needs careful working ?
- How can we create a design that can reinterprete its cultural, environmental, architectural vocabulary in a contemporary manner and still not loose its continuity with the past ?
- Can architecture become an expression of our human spirit, where the measurable and the immeasurable work together ?
- Could we allow our subsonscious to surface and work for us to create a design that is so much subjective rather than being purely objective ?
- Can our designs include the plurality and complexity of our daily lives but still emerge as an expression of simplicity ?
- Shall we allow our images to transcend the various ' isms ' to relate & respond to our daily lives ?
- Shouldn't our designs be value - based to play their role as an agent of social change ?
- Before putting anything on site, should we not ask the site, what it would like to take ? Our buildings have ultimately to belong to the site - more than they belong to the owner.
- When we design, we do not design a building with inanimate, lifeless elements like wall floor, window, roof etc. As soon as these elements go into place, they start breathing life and start communicating with the inhabitant. If the inhabitant is sensitive, a beautiful ' Empathatic ' relationship develops between him and the space.
- Our design vocabulary and design material need not restrict itself to the limited plot and building. Can it not contain the hills beyond, the changing colours of the sky, the responsive trees beyond?
- Architecture should always try to express the inherent unity of life. Organizing of various spaces, visually, physically and functionally, with minimum segregation and fragmentation, would help achieve this.
- Creation of a built environment (though it may be conceived individually) involves a great deal of co-ordinated team work. This interacting with a wide variety of individuals makes the process of building rich, diverse and rewarding.
- Understanding human behaviour and its spatial response help us to design human spaces – spaces where spontaneous human activities are encouraged.
- Good architecture strikes a note between the measurable and immeasurable – beyond the anthropometric dimension there is another dimension that cannot be measured but can be felt and experienced.