Architecture

Living it up – Country-Style!

While designing a home or a farm house, opting for Country style architecture allows the use of natural materials in traditional ways that often bring in natural light, ventilation and the serenity of the outdoors through the use of materials like terracotta, wood and stones.

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The Country Style type of architecture is often considered unobtrusive and natural in character that proves to be quite valuable at times of progress. Apart from the main benefits it offers, country style encompasses precious beauty, reflected in the style’s diversity and a sense of naturalness. This style is unique for every country; the most famous are English, French and American types, demonstrating the rural charm of each of them through simple things, known since childhood.

Decor and furniture
Country style means pristine materials, embodied in the interior items, its covering and decor. While nowadays it is almost impossible to live without modern consumer electronics, yet if you would like to embody the features of this style within your house, it is better not to display modern appliances, but to conceal (build in, hide) them.

Natural materials
It is unusual for country style to use plastic, linoleum as well as glazed surfaces, as it favours only natural, of true nature materials, used for home decoration.

Walls could be covered with paint or wallpaper with delicate ornamental tracery, while the ceiling is often decorated with wooden beams, highlighting the country style atmosphere.

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Practicability (usability)
Country style will perfectly suit you, if you prefer a comfortable, everyday life-adapted and practical interior with the items, easy to clean, wash, relocate and demanding minimum costs and time to care about.

Bedroom Country Style
Country style will create a cosy, tranquil and laconic atmosphere in bedroom thanks to the visually pleasing palette, simple surface treatment and nice accessorizes in the form of desk lamps with textile abat-jour, figured napkins or a cover of patchwork.

The ceiling in country-styled bedroom should be just whitened; however sewing it round would be the best option. Walls should be smoothed out, ceiled or covered with wallpaper with floral pattern.

Living Room Country Style

Designers usually highlight the fireplace, decorating the chimney`s portal with tiles or stone masonry as well as with firewood baskets, hammered candlesticks or plates or even a wooden-framed landscape picture.
Whatever country’s spirit is reflected in the ideal country style, it is always a key to the pristine wilderness, cosiness as well as a home and a bit naive way of life, possible to be seen in the village.

Laurie Baker – Architect for the Common Man

Laurie Baker was renowned for his initiatives in cost-effective energyefficient architecture and designs that maximized space, ventilation and light and maintained an uncluttered yet striking aesthetic sensibility. Born in 2007 in the United Kingdom, Laurie Baker received Indian citizenship in 1989 and was renowned as ‘the master of minimalism’, and offered a unique tradition of architecture that blended man and nature. Excerpts from an interview…

WORDS: RINKU B

Q. What is the philosophy that guides your work and the issues that are important to you?
A. I ask myself: Who are we building for? I am mainly concerned with the lower and lower middle class, simply because they get left out. Previously they all knew how to do their own buildings, all the indigenous styles – the cottages, for instance, are very distinctive wherever you go, in every district. The people themselves took an active part in making them. Now they’ve lost their skills and they look outside for help. People who normally do architecture don’t go near such people. Those who do anything for the lower strata – the Government, the Church and other organisations will pontificate on what they need but very rarely consult them.
So, I’ve always been more interested in working for people down at the bottom end – nothing fancy or saintly – but when I came to India during the war, I became interested in leprosy for various reasons. There’s an organisation called Mission to the Lepers. They were just realising that the old homes were out of date and what they needed were hospitals where they treated leprosy like any other disease.

primarily. And my feeling as an architect is that you’re not after all trying to put up a monument which will be remembered as “a Laurie Baker building” but Mohan Singh’s house where he can live happily with his family. But there must be thousands of others. I don’t know why I should be singled out for the honour of being the only Indian architect.

Q. Partly perhaps because you’re a foreigner, but more so because your buildings use elements that are essentially Indian – like jaalis and courtyards.
A. Yes, but again these are not things that architects have sat down and designed. In Kerala nice curled- up roofs or nice jaali patterns were a slow evolution, an R+D and empirical development to meet your needs with limited means, to also suit the climate and the cultural patterns, to cope with wild beasts or wild neighbours. What we see in indigenous architecture is this response. That of course is very, very Indian and sometimes local to just one particular district. To me obviously an ordinary English window in a hot climate without winds and torrential rains can be a real

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Here they had such homes, which they wanted to convert and I came out to do that. So right from the word go I was involved with the lowly, the small town people, the depressed, and the question was always of trying to make a little money go as far as possible. Whether I wanted or not, I got into low-cost design but I got more and more interested in it. And all the while I realised that although this was a specialist’s bit of India, it (leprosy) was very little different from all the other forms of poverty, with its stigma and isolation, and the same thing applies to slums and housing. So I’ve never been interested in big high-rise buildings, or stadia for ASIAD. Not that anyone would dream of asking me.
From this I also realised it was equally stupid to do all this low-cost housing only for the poor. Nobody really has the right to throw so much money around when there’s so much need. That’s why at the same time I got interested in doing things for people in the upper strata who wanted to get their money’s worth without unnecessary waste of material. And in that way all sorts of things came along including big industrial commissions.

Q. One way of perhaps demonstrating to the poor that low-cost building doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality is to do similar things for the rich, is that right?
A. Yes! Why plaster, indeed, when you can get better effects from the actual building materials. So if I’m only building for “the poor” it would seem that I would not want to put the plaster on for them; but if Rajiv Gandhi wants a house then, of course, I’d put the plaster on for him. When I do it for people whom they aspire to imitate then they feel better about it. Actually I’ve never found the need to do this because they know the meaning of money, so they can understand the cost reduction principles better than the middle and upper middle class. I think the most satisfactory jobs for me are those for the lower middle class – the NGO’s, accountants, teachers – people who do interesting jobs and are important for the country, but get paid miserably. And they’re very open to new ideas, or adjustments.

Q. You’ve been called the only “Indian” architect, why is that?
A. Yes, I don’t know quite what that means. I think very little of my foreign-ness shows in the buildings I do and I’ve never ever said, “We do it this way.” In any case my clients have always been very Indian, I’ve not even had the foreign-returned to deal with since I work with the poor

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horror. So I learn my architecture by watching what ordinary people do; in any case it’s always the cheapest and the simplest. They didn’t even employ builders but families did it themselves. And it works – you can see it in the old buildings, wood jaalis, in particular, with a lot of little holes filtering the light and glare. I’m absolutely certain that concrete frames filled with glass panels is not the answer. There are better alternatives. In places that are running short of wood and stone, there are other materials available and other principles to follow. Life-styles, living patterns and the availability of materials and skills do change, but the weather hasn’t changed, the temperature hasn’t changed, it still rains…but where we should have just improved what was not entirely satisfactory we’ve introduced something completely alien.

Q. Now with the requirements for housing on such a large scale is it possible to build the traditional way?
A. Well, yes and no, there are a number of things that have changed but the whole social pattern is changing as well. Kerala is very different from the rest of India. It’s like a chess-board. Each square has one family. There are none

of the dense village settlements of Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh. Except for the commercial development at the crossroads there are only paddy fields and coconut groves. Now this is changing and with larger numbers few can live off the land and with more people moving into the cities we have to make changes. Gulf houses have started appearing in the paddy fields.

Q. Traditional architecture is very direct and simple in the way it solves a problem or is suited to a climate. At the same time it is rich and complex because it varies from region to region. Isn’t this what we are really losing?
A. I can never understand an architect designing 500 houses all exactly the same. It doesn’t take much to put all the components into at least half a dozen other combinations. If only we didn’t level sites and eliminate trees, instead plan to go around them. Then we wouldn’t get the long monotonous rows. With variation of materials in Kerala nearly every- where – well, either you have laterite and granite, or brick and laterite, or laterite and mud, – it’s perfectly easy to mix up materials on any given site, so the possibilities for variety are endless. I was doing a colony for civil servants, all from different parts of the country now retiring and wanting to settle in Kerala; they are honest people with not much money, so they formed a co-operative, got land from the government and divided it into different plots. They asked me to build because I build individually for a person. What I usually do is talk with the client, the family, ask what they want, what kind of building they are likely to be happy in. If they are fairly orthodox I give a straight- forward plan. Then I’ll do a plan that I think will be good for them. If I think they are more adventurous, I do an outlandish plan – a round one or a triangular one. And I present all three and leave it to them to make the choice. If they had their own individual plot I’m sure they’d have selected the simple unimaginative house, but because they’re all together in a small colony they’ve all picked the outrageous one. Now there are circular houses, moonshaped and heart- shaped houses… but all exposed brick outside with filler tile slab roofs. The filler slab works out cheaper than the tile and timber roof and it satisfies this craze for being modern. With people in a thatch house wanting a tile roof, those with tile roofs want concrete, so they have their aspirations, but the wood and tile roof is still by far the best one.

Q. But people can no longer build the traditional way because timber is scarce. Couldn’t a government policy make it possible for some forests to be planted specifically of building species?
A. Yes! I keep bringing this up at planning meetings, why we don’t deliberately plant timber with quickgrowing trees for building material. It’s ridiculous that timber which is a renewable material has no clear-cut policy. We have some teak forests in Kerala but they are for commercial purposes, not for individual house builders.

Q. That’s rather lopsided, that industry can get bamboo and other material at a subsidised rate but a man who wants a few odd pieces for a house must pay market prices?
A. It’s very sad. My nicest work is in wood, big trusses in houses, halls, but I can’t afford it anymore.

Q. Do you admire a building for its exterior, the composition of its facade, or its proportions?
A. I’ve never consciously used any system of proportion, nor for that matter does “architecture without architects”. Really, a door is a standard, it sets the scale of a building, its shape and size is taken from the shape and size of a person, and the rest follows from there. The age of the individual architect is gone. There are a few architects – Correa, Doshi among others. I’ve no great feeling for modern works. They are interesting as individual buildings, as feats of engineering. A lot of good modern buildings remind me of furniture. There’s one particular one in Trivandrum that looks like a harmonium. About other buildings, I just don’t know. I am completely outside the mainstream of current architecture.

Q. People have started talking of mud housing as the great liberator, perhaps the only solution to the onefamily, one-home idea. Do you see it that way, as well?
A. People who can pay for their buildings, I usually sound them about compressed earth blocks. They always say, it’s very interesting but, Mr. Baker, you’ve got to realise this represents my whole life’s savings and I’d want the house passed on to my son, etc., etc. It’s very, very difficult to get clients for mud buildings.

The age of the individual architect is gone. There are a few architects – Correa, Doshi among others. I’ve no great feeling for modern works. They are interesting as individual buildings, as feats of engineering.

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When it comes to the poor, who’ve already been living on mud, they know it only for its disadvantages. Their dream is a brick and cement home.
A school I’m doing for the deaf and dumb near Cape Comorin is a mud building using compressed blocks and concrete roofs. My client in this case is an Englishman married to an Indian. And he is a teacher and very keen on the rugged rural look. What I’ve wanted to do is a colony for fancy people. And I think we should do buildings in mud but the clients just don’t come my way – they are just not prepared to take the risks.Q. Perhaps it should start at the top with the upper middle class, moneyed people, living in mud buildings.
A. Yes, may be the Prime Minister’s residence… that’s why I hesitate when I am offered a commission, because what I’ve got left of a working life I’d like to concentrate on mud. Not something rural and folksy but proper decent mud building. My dream is to get hold of some realty industrialist who will produce a piece of land and allow me to put up a mix of housing all in mud and rent them out. I’m very keen to develop this idea of rental building; at the moment we have them only for offices; but say someone is working in the city he should be able to rent a mud apartment.

Q. It raises a lot of questions about ownership of land in the city. After all, why should one man own an acre in the centre of town, the other nothing – it’s not equitable.
A. It’s ridiculous for the government to announce “a house for everybody before the 21st century.” They won’t get it anyway. Of course my main interest in mud is not just that it makes better buildings but also how much energy is involved in producing the material. To me, if we are going to meet the challenge of 25 million needing a house in the 21st century, I’m sure it’s not possible in the conventional way whereas I think it could be done in mud.

Q. But it would require a lot of changes in building policy byelaws, etc.
A. Yes. Mud buildings are not allowed in urban areas. There’s a school that ASTRA (Application of Science and Technology for Rural Areas) has done in Bangalore for the children of the Indian Institute of Science staff – a big complex of buildings using compressed earth blocks. In the city it was approved by the Bangalore authorities, which is a very big step. It works very well – after all, what more destructive clients can you have than children?

Q. A recent article suggested that your method of working is rather unique and that you spend your afternoons rummaging through junk, recycling waste.
A. A lot of material can be recycled, even if it’s old fashioned. One of my clients pulled down an old house and we built a new house, bigger than the original and still had bricks left over. Of course in those days, people built thick walls and the bricks were much stronger. So we built nearly twice the floor area in about half the material. The old tiles and wood were all of superior quality. Quite often clients do have old property which is difficult to upkeep. They are no longer living there – so they end up pulling it down and rebuilding at half the cost of the building.

I think a lot of the need for new housing is exaggerated because a lot could be done to upgrade what’s already there. Of course, the easiest thing is to bulldoze and rebuild, but less so now because of labour costs.

Q. When you were designing this room, for instance, what were the decisions that occurred on paper and which were spot on-site decisions?
A. I draw something mostly for the benefit of the authorities but on the whole I design as I go along (shows me bits of paper in pocket). What’s the point of drawing everything really? Most of my drawings are done when I’m driving along.

Q. You make a number of decisions that most architects could never make without an engineer. At times it seems that you are almost testing or teasing the material – the thin brick walls, for instance – by taking it to the very edge. The way Maillart did for concrete. Nobody could realise that concrete could be so delicate till he built all those bridges.
A. Well, I’ve been brought up with the idea that they (engineers) are people you can consult if you’re in a hole or if you are designing something special. Now we think of air-conditioning as something you apply to a building. You run a duct through a false ceiling or stick a box in the window, but the architect no longer cares. He knows if he can’t do something he can always fall back on the mechanical engineer.

Q. Do you change your method of working, design and construction when you build outside Kerala – in U.P. or Gujarat, for instance?
A. Oh, yes. Very much so. I have to go along with the local style to which I bring my own adjustments and variations. I think it’s foolish to impose your own ideas when you’re dealing with people who know what their problems are, and you can’t know these till you’ve actually lived in a place. The soil may be riddled with white ants, or the wind may blow in a particular direction. Of course, if I see they are doing a lot of concrete boxes, and I can make something better, I’ll demonstrate it to them. I don’t expect any innovations to take hold for a long time. It’s a very slow process. Now, for instance, in Trivandrum, I find a lot of jaali walls. When I first came (some 20 years ago) the flat concrete roof was everywhere; now the sloping filler tile roof which I do is becoming fashionable. Of course, it’s taken 16 years.

Q. You are the adviser to the Kerala Government on housing. To what degree do you influence the design of new housing colonies?
A. I do get on these housing committees, but our interests are different. They don’t want to cut down cost; I try to build cheaply, using elements from traditional architecture but updating them to 20th century technology and lifestyles. So I go on and on, year after year; they listen and do just what they want.

Setting the tone for VICTORIAN HOMES

Victorian Homes came into being in Britain and British Colonies during the reign of Queen Victoria as a way to commemorate her rule, and are still found in abundance in the UK, North America and New Zealand. Originally built by architects who travelled from the UK to colonies to set a common pattern to the buildings, they gained some variation in style as per the topography of the land but stayed true to its original reference…

WORDS: RINKU B

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THE Victorian style of homes reflect the design and architecture of homes that were popular during the reign of the British Monarch, Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

Interestingly, many of the details that we now associate with this style are actually eclectic interpretations of older architectural movements such as Medieval Gothic and Romanesque.

These were mostly prevalent in Great Britain and in British colonies, still remaining a defining feature of most British towns and cities.

DEFINING FEATURES OF A VICTORIAN HOME:
While there would be a variance in the types of Victorian homes, there are still some defining features that are common to all.
EXTERIOR: (1.) Steep, gabled roofs, (2.) round angles, (3.) towers, turrets and dormers, (4.) Shapely windows – bay windows, (5.) Stained glass and (6.) Decorative woodwork in bright colours.

INTERIOR: (1.) Two or three stories, (2.) Floorplans featuring added nooks, (3.) High ceilings, (4.) Intricate wooden trim and (5.) Ornate staircases.

TYPES OF VICTORIAN HOMES:
GOTHIC REVIVAL (1830-1860)
Gothic Revival homes were inspired by medieval churches in Europe; as such, they’re often compared to castles. They’re distinct, thanks to steeply-pitched roofs, pointed arches and front-facing gables, which are laden with a delicate wooden trim called ‘vergeboards’.

ITALIANTE (1840-1870)
Modeled after Italian Renaissance villas, these homes are typically just two stories. In contrast to other Victorian styles, they have low roofs and wide eaves. However, true to this style of architecture, they also host highly ornamental brackets.

SECOND EMPIRE (1852-1870)
Influences for this style can be traced back to France during the reign of Napoleon III. These houses tend to start out with a simple rectangular or square base. However, there’s no shortage of character. They feature mansard roofs, which have a heavy pitch on all four sides, and plenty of ornate millwork on the home’s exterior.

QUEEN ANNE (1875-1905)
Perhaps the most famous of all Victorian styles is the Queen Anne. Coming late in Victoria’s reign, these properties feature especially heavy ornamentation, gabled roofs, rounded towers and large windows that are equally functional and decorative.

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I do not imagine a scenario of fired mud houses sprouting across the country.

Dr. Anupama Kundoo, noted architect and sustainable housing propagator is a name to reckon with. She journey spanning 25 years has been an eventful one – ranging from her love for Auroville from where she started her career to her architectural journey so far, sustainability to affordable housing, current state of architectural education in India and suggestions for improvement and lot more…

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Noted Indian architect Dr. Anupama Kundoo was born in Pune in 1967. She graduated from Sir JJ College of Architecture, University of Mumbai in 1989 and holds a PhD degree from the TU Berlin. She was awarded the Vastu Shilpa Foundation Fellowship in 1996 for her thesis on “Urban Eco-Community: Design and Analysis for Sustainability”. Her architecture practice began in 1990 with a strong focus on material research with the view of reducing the environmental impact of building technologies. She set up her own firm in Auroville, Pondicherry in 1993. There, she designed and built many economically innovative buildings with “energy and water efficient infrastructure” adaptations. Since then, Anupama has spent over 25 years in 100+ projects ranging from baked mud houses to high rise buildings. Today, her firm works in all directions of building including projects in private residences, housing, public buildings, planning, installations and interiors.

Her journey has been exciting and of course, full of struggles and success or failures. She adds, “the journey has certainly been a very adventurous and exciting one, but not without its share of struggles and challenges. It has been about ‘Building Knowledge’ in both its meanings, one being the focus on knowledge about buildings and context-appropriateness; and the other, where ‘building’ is meant as a verb, and each architectural project was seen as the opportunity to advance knowledge among those of us involved, but also among the other experts from related fields, craftsmen who produce buildings as well as the others who are affected by them directly or indirectly. I have had one foot in practice and another in academia, and each area of my engagement has enriched the other. I have had a research-oriented practice, and a practice-oriented teaching approach. I have taught architecture at a number of reputed institutions across various continents: TU Berlin, AA School of Architecture London, TU Darmstadt, Parsons New School in New York, UQ Brisbane, Cornell University, and am currently Professor at UCJC Madrid. So, I have had a very exciting 25 years, involving extensive research and experimentation, in various cultural contexts, and yet it has been quite rewarding since I have been contributing to mainstream projects rather than remaining under the ‘alternative practice’ label that I was initially given. I have crossed paths with many architects and ingenious practitioners and architecture theorists and critics whom I have admired, and these personal exchanges on the way, have been probably the highlight of my architectural journey. You are known to work with unskilled labour and waste materials.

She demonstrates a strong focus on material research and experimentation towards an architecture that has low environmental impact and is appropriate to the socio-economic context. Anupama is an internationally recognised and award-winning architect with her own architecture practice that started in 1990. Kundoo has built extensively in India and has had the experience of working, researching and teaching in a variety of cultural contexts across the world.

SUSTAINABILITY IN DESIGN THINKING IN A GLOBAL WORLD:
She adds that “there is no reason why deeper values of healthy building practice would result in anything less good looking. Flashy designs could be seductive and surprising when they just appear, but fashions and styles are always a temporary phase that pass by quickly and have a very momentarily gratifying wow factor. Then there is the timeless beauty that is eternal. I see no contradiction between benign materials and technologies being used for achieving good and contemporary architecture. It is a myth to think that architecture that is informed by the unsustainable trends is necessarily a nostalgic return to the past. It is rather one, which continues to be envisioning a better future that is aware of follies of the past and present, with long-term gains in mind rather than short-term impulsive reactions.”
“Through my research, I have emphasised the new ways of using natural building materials, rather than researching new manufactured materials. Natural materials are available everywhere and these differ depending on the local context.

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Usually these are not standardised and not marketed in the same way as manufactured materials. For example earth, lime, wood or stone as building materials have a great variation in their characteristics and properties unlike say Portland cement, which is a standardised material that is manufactured and processed to be uniform regardless of where it is used in the world. This means that a lot more local knowledge, as well as study and analysis is involved in the use of natural materials in each new setting. Natural materials such as stone, wood, earth etc., do not require huge quantities of energy consumption in order to transform them into standardised, manufactured materials that can be ordered from factories. Further, locally sourced natural materials significantly reduce transportation energy and may keep the material depletion in some kind of balance compared to the environmental impact that industrial quarries have on the territory, where materials are produced in bulk and transported to far away destinations. There are also growing health concerns in the case of several manufactured materials that exude harmful compounds and impact health. Then there is the pollution aspect. The choice when opting for manufactured materials must be made judiciously knowing these facts, and in cases where natural materials cannot be achieve the spatial needs, but unfortunately the trend of selecting materials for contemporary buildings is usually an unconscious act. It is a result out of habitual practice, ignorance and personal convenience for those who decide rather than for the actual betterment of those who inhabit the buildings and spend all their life in them. As there will be a renewed demand for natural materials these will also become commercially available. In Spain, it is possible to buy natural clay plasters and surface finishes as ready mixes, for instance.

FINDING INSPIRATION IN THE SOUL OF AUROVILLE:

According to her, there are many aspects of Auroville that can be seen as replicable such as its successful reafforestation program, and its efforts towards integral management of water and wastewater or its renewable energy applications.

However as far as the project of Auroville as a whole is concerned, she thinks that we are far from being a replicable model in terms of urbanism. Auroville was conceived as a model new city in the Indian context for 50,000 people, she says.

Forty-seven years later there are still only a little over 2000 people occupying proportionately large areas of land, which in the case of India particularly, seems to be a very wrong model of land use or urbanisation.

There are many reasons for this, and a lot has to do with working towards a common vision of the city. Auroville was conceived with the aim of achieving human unity, and it’s no wonder that people are struggling there with finding consensus. However, there is a general agreement that what was envisaged, has yet to be achieved.

EDUCATION IN ARCHITECTURE TODAY:

She adds that she would hesitate to make any hasty generalisations about the state of education in architecture today as there is a big difference in the standards that range from very good schools, to weaker schools of architecture in India. Of course, she knows that there is a need for many schools for architecture and that they are sprouting at a fast pace however it is probably a challenge to draw the proportionate number of good teachers at an equally fast pace to cater to these schools and the general demand.

According to her, “In general, I have seen that in the teaching of design studio there is sometimes insufficient structure or focus on developing design methodology, and student designs often result mostly from critiques of what the student spontaneously produced. In the theory classes too, there may be the need to review and update course literature and reference books, given the rapidly changing scenario of urbanisation in the country. Also subjects like structural design, construction and history could be taught in more creative ways so that architecture students learn how to apply this knowledge in their design thinking rather than know these for their own sake.

Flashy designs could be seductive and surprising when they just appear, but fashions and styles are always a temporary phase that pass by quickly and have a very momentarily gratifying wow factor. Then there is the timeless beauty that is eternal.

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Ideally architecture schools could generate new research and proposals that could help improve the urban development challenges in the country. These new visions developed here together with the faculty and experts could be presented to the local authorities and perhaps facilitate the much needed discussion on urbanisation bringing various concerned people together and enrich the students understanding of the current context of rapid urbanisation and rapid resource depletion, which is surely quite overwhelming.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING & MUD HOMES:
The fired mud houses were the result of Anupama’s fascination with Californian ceramist Ray Meeker and his relentless engagement with a radical experimentation such as this. She believes that given the growing concerns of affordability issues around housing for all, any technology that has any chance of contributing to the cause is worth pursuing. She says, “I do not imagine a scenario of fired mud houses sprouting across the country, no. In any case, all technologies are appropriate to certain contexts and apart from other challenges in this technology, the minimum condition to consider it would be the onsite (or very nearby) earth would be clayey and conducive for brick making.

I continue to work with various affordable technologies for different contexts depending on the climatic, urban, geographic and other local conditions. I am now developing a prefab ferrocement housing system called Full Fill homes that can be assembled on site in less than a week.

TIPS FOR BUDDING ARCHITECTS:
For youngsters wanting to follow a serious path in architecture and design, the scope is limitless. Anupama adds, “Architecture is never an easy matter, and if one cannot counter challenges (whatever they may be) then one is not likely to ever create something new and relevant to the current context. Architecture is about achieving a synthesis of all kinds of complex concerns ranging from structural, to climatic, to environmental and social, financial etc. It is important to be able to work with what is there. If unskilled labour is need to be engaged or waste materials need to be spent then these challenges should be seen as genuine constraints that could rather inspire more creativity. It’s more exciting to shape everything including the building technologies, rather than passively ordering standardised materials and products from manufacturers catalogues. After all we are interested in the negative spaces and voids that are created with these materials, as it is only the voids that are useful for human habitation.

As the old saying goes, ‘the function of the pot lies in its nothingness’, the focus of good architecture lies in achieving quality spaces with whatever materials and skills/technologies make sense in the given context. The success of the architecture thereafter is about the way harmony is achieved among all these elements, in accordance with the human scale and material proportions, so that the spatial experience and sense of wellbeing will make the perception of architecture transcend its materiality.”

AWARDS & ACCOLADES:
In 2013, Kundoo received an honourable mention in the ArcVision International Prize for Women in Architecture for ‘her dedication when approaching the problem of affordability of construction and sustainability in all aspects.

Anupama is a recipient of prestigious awards such as NDTV Commercial Interior of the Year For Samskara, Made in India ( 2015 ), Dr. V. D. Joshi award for the best Ferrocement Structure (FSI) For Light Matters ( 2013 ), Arc Vision Women Architect of the Year, Honourable Mention ( 2013 ), Architect of the Year, Category Group Housing, JK, India ( 2003 ), Young Enthused Architect Category, A + D Awards, Honourable Mention ( 2001 ). Architect of the Future, Indian Architect & Builder Award (2000 ) and Architect of the Year, Category Young Architect, Focus State Tamil Nadu, JK, India ( 1999 ). She has also written a book and published a number of technical papers in Magazines and Newspapers on architecture. Her published book is Roger Anger: Research on Beauty/Recherche sur la beauté Architecture 1958–2008, jovis Verlag GmbH, Berlin, 2009.

KEY PROJECTS:

WALL HOUSE – One of the notable buildings built for her own residence is titled the “Wall House”, built in a community area of 15 acres (6.1 ha) with a built in space of 100 square metres (1,100 sq ft) constructed at a cost of one million rupees in 2000 in Auroville. This house is L-Shaped in plan, has a courtyard in the middle; while it is modern in concept it adopts traditional “vernacular” use of materials such as compressed earth, concrete and steel. The bathroom is set in open-to-sky design, with smooth merging with the interior and external spaces and landscaped in manner which gives it both a modern and a regional appearance.

LIBERTY - An interesting theme brought out in her architectural creation is titled “Liberty” which presents a reading place as a free book free library where individuals can “sit and read whatever they wish to”. This creation is built with three types of trees fixed in the centre of a square space. The trees’ “trunks and branches” are made from steel and the leaves made of salvaged books, with the floor made of concrete. Sitting under the shade of this tree people could indulge in conversation or read a book with the gentle wind blowing through the leaves.

The Style and Fun in Living in Farmhouses

The word farmhouse conjures up many memories for a lot of us. From glimpses of our childhood fun to extended family vacations to spending time with our favourite farm animals or weekend parties with friends. Farmhouses are practical, functional and relatively larger homes built typically by the owners, keeping in mind the use of the house, its location and the lifestyle of the owners…

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IVING in a well-designed farmhouse is a reality that most Indians cannot afford to dream of. For those who can and can afford to build one, the choices are many. Living in a farmhouse has many advantages too like simple living, surrounded by the outdoors.

One typically also has the time to appreciate nature and spend time with friends and family or just relax in the mere silence it offers. For many city dwellers, living in a farmhouse is an absolute luxury where one can run away from the hectic, mechanical lives we live in and escape into a the ultimate destination we want to live in.

A few things to remember before selecting the layout and design of a farmhouse:
1. The rooms must be spacious and allow for natural elements to seamlessly blend with it
2. The floor plan must be sustainable, energy efficient with proper cross ventilation
3. Broad open porches, a nice garden and a great outdoor view are a must
4. The roof should be weather friendly like a slopping pitched roof running along the length of the home
5. Broad, open front porches make it welcoming and accommodate large items or people

TYPES OF FARMHOUSE DESIGNS:
RUSTIC FARMHOUSES – Rustic meaning older, basic mimics the look and feel of the days past. It incorporates simplified, minimalistic décor moulded by the surroundings of the farmhouse along with the need of sturdy, practical furnishings.

Use of vintage furniture and accessories is an easy way to decorate in this classic style. Its best if they’re not in perfect condition and they could even have weathered finishes. Vintage-inspired lighting looks ideal in a classic farmhouse.

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MODERN FARMHOUSES – Minimalist, bright white or in pastels with clean lines, and light wood flooring. These are terms that come to mind when we think about Modern farmhouses. The lighting is natural and sometimes, there is ample use of glass to usher in the outdoors. Smooth lines, glossy accents, simplicity, and neutral or monochromatic colour schemes achieve a contemporary look warmed with farmhouse style.

COLONIAL FARMHOUSES – Displaying endless charm and old-world accents, colonial farmhouses often feature colonial grid windows, brick fireplaces and flooring, primitive exposed wood beams, and a muted natural colour scheme.

TRADITIONAL FARMHOUSES – Simple designs meet schoolhouse inspired lighting, mixed metals, soapstone countertops, an apron front “farmhouse” sink, and a repurposed wood island are common elements in traditional farmhouse kitchens. We love how the mint cabinets keep this space updated.

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Making a Mark: Archilogics

Saket Sethi wears many hats – from being a master architect to a model, artist, teacher and a TV presenter. As Founder of Archilogics, a design and architecture firm based in Mumbai, he has made mark in the right circles. The firm has gathered a clientele ranging from the common man, celebrities and industrialists and, their projects include commercial, residential and conceptual works. Their style is oft described as modern India and today, Archilogics is one of the leading architectural firms.

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Architect Saket Sethi is the Founder and Principal of Archilogics in Mumbai and Barcelona – a collective of avant-garde designers redefining contextual future living from a historical perspective for an international audience. He has the rare distinction of being the only Indian Architect hosting two TV shows simultaneously; disseminating the latest on Indian design with NDTV GoodTimes “Luxe Interiors” and a celebrity design chat show with a makeover for Fox Life’s “Design HQ” Season 2.

A Bachelor of Architecture from Woodbury University, LA, Saket studied Digital Design at UC Berkeley and Interior Design at NYU. After that, he interned with Eric Owen Moss, Los Angeles, and Frederick Gibson in San Francisco. Later, he began his architectural work in India in late 2001 with Talati & Panthaky Ltd., on Birla Institute of Technical Sciences, Lloyds Steel, and Sahara India.

Later, he joined Nitin Parulekar as Senior Architect & then as Director of projects. He was responsible for instituting tie-ups with a San Francisco firm and bagged competitive projects for 3G, Birla and Siemens before founding Archilogics with other founders in 2005.With a name like “Archilogics” – it is no wonder that he gets asked the question on its meaning very often. He says, “I just wanted a less self-centric approach to practicing – rather than eponymous name. My goal was to create a platform for like-minded designers to embrace an easily identifiable and accessible architectural brand identity. If we speak about the choice of “logic” in the name – I felt there would always be some kind of ‘genius loci’ or logic to each project, irrespective of how visible or intangible its process.”

His firm’s strongest asset and its evolution over the period of time since its inception in 2005 has been something out of a story book. He adds, “The strongest asset, that we or

any other architecture firm will have for that matter, will always be the client, but in terms of approach, our strength is infusing a certain kind of soul into space and surprise into details – much like a design psychologist would do. Archilogics has a wide array of creative projects to its end.”

DESIGN & WORK PHILOSOPHY:

There are some set notions that every design or architectural firm imbibe and follow in order to create a niche for themselves. When it comes to Archilogics, Saket adds, “Mostly, it is to hold onto some idea of idealism, to dream freely but always to do it in the context of the problem you are trying to solve – in small ways to very large ones that inspire or change how you will “feel” in the spaces we create – whether that’s a table or a campus. Each and every project follows the process of design development, till you reach a ‘eureka moment’ with the design.”

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Of course, needless to say, the work culture, styles and textures to the demographics and lifestyles – there is a huge variation from Mumbai to Barcelona. And for any successful firm, it is important to notice the differences between the architectural vocabulary and craft culture at both the places while designing projects. To this Saket says, “there is a certain luxury of a lack of restraint and client dialogue in a design process – although there are the usual constraints and sometimes ideological and design discussions can span days – there is a crispness and order to the manner in which things get done. Contractors and labour are well versed in drawing standards and can extrapolate ‘filler’ details wherever possible, sometimes even being an invaluable part of the team. Quality and finish issues, like joinery and proper orthogonality of surfaces, is considered mostly standard. Rules and Regulations to work within are more stringent; material palettes larger and clients hold widespread knowledge of brands, and have stronger likes and dislikes to reflect their personal tastes and the idea of innovation wherever possible, is also simultaneously encouraged.

Today, Saket engages in various teaching activities and has been featured in leading design magazines like Architecture Design & Elle Decor and also writes for the largest Indian newspapers including the Times and the Hindustan Times Group. He was invited by the Spanish Government to be a guest at the opening of the Spanish Pavilion at La Biennale 2018 in Venezia and is writing an article for his pick of Top Pavilions at the Biennale for Elle Decor India.

He has also been involved in various teaching and judging capacities at Sir JJ, Academy of Architecture and recently with Rachna’s School of Interior Design. He has also provided consulting on design to DSP design associates in the past and continues to work on select projects that reflect the spirit and desires of Archilogics.

So what made Saket Sethi choose architecture as a career path? Saket responds, “When I graduated from the U.S. and came back to India in 2001, I just wanted to make sure I had a well-rounded exposure to life before I committed myself to a life of design.

Modeling happened by accident as I had a photographer friend who shot some pictures and sent it for a casting. I did my first ad for Nescafe and it took off from there. Art has just been part of my life for as long back as I can remember, so I guess it just continued. And now there is TV, which I consider to be another aspect of my career where I can to express myself – like on NDTV GoodTimes’ “Luxe Interiors”, Fox Life & Design HQ as well.

INSPIRATIONS

According to Saket, everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary – a sensation, a conversation, an image, a material, a drawing, sculpture and the client of course are inspirations for their work. He says, “My creative process is a mix between the experimentally whimsical and the highly structured. My process of design varies from project to project, becoming more conservative or explorative as required by the context.” He is deeply inspired by artists and entrepreneurs alike such as Gaudi, Art Nouveau, Pedro Almodovar, Shiamak Davar, Kumar Birla, Ratan Tata and Steve Jobs.

“Working with nature, understanding climate and bringing in light and the other elements of nature to create buildings that are simple but not simplistic, that are modest and not monumental.”

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Also graffiti artists, self-immersed trade workers, passionate people and talented performers. His inspiration comes from creators of the unthinkable, the novel and the inspired – those that say it can be done, selfless individuals, great friends and family – not necessarily in that order.

DESIGN PROJECTS & PORTFOLIO:

Saket has worked on several celebrity design projects namely residential spaces for actress Raveena Tandon or Shilpa Shetty’s Iosis Spa. He says, “There is no sure fire way for this to happen and such projects to come to you – especially when you have a balanced portfolio but it varies from how clients get to hear of your work – or how you meet a meet a client who is looking to hire a designer. In my case, working on Iosis bought the work to Raveena’s attention. I will say that working for a celebrity does bring a certain level of uniqueness to a design challenge and that can make it a lot more fun to work on.” Saket has also designed an office space for Salman Khan’s much talked about brand Being Human.

On this project he adds, “Salman’s project was one of the easiest to design – there is so much material on him and his life. Understanding brand Salman and brand Being Human was the key to generating the design. Over-the-Top materials, flourishes and design gimmicks of any kind became a no-no, the moment you consider him a man of the people. We used dots to symbolize the common man and created a giant “being human” billboard made of such dots and this sets the tone for the entry of the space.

We went for an accessible and earthy modern vibe, compensating for the lack of light, which was one challenge and another major one was developing practical and extensive storage that was not as visible to see, for all the ‘Being Human’ charity files.”

His other project, “Infinity Resorts” located in Corbett National Park perfectly merges architecture with nature. Here, he explains his design concept. “Using a client brief to build with local materials and a modified local look and feel; extended an imagined fantasy storyline of how an English expatriate came to and fell in love with Corbett, and then built to his needs much in the safari way.

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We put together African and Indian details onto western forms, juxtaposing new and old together – particularly in the case what looked like a destroyed fort turret (which was created to look like that) and then let nature back to grow all around the site,” he says.

His other project “Private residence” in Alibaug, where he has perfectly amalgamated Frank Lloyd Wright’s “exploded” box windows with a relaxed Tuscan villa feel have brought him several accolades and pats of recognition.

Explaining his thought, he adds, “Over the course of time, I like to put together sometimes unrelated and diametrically opposite design concepts.

This house has two completely different elevations – and they are contextual to the desire of the client, and what we envisioned the programmatic requirements to be.

The Tuscan feel is communicated via a more formal and closed entry facade whereas the exploded box windows bring light on the other elevation and open toward the pool part which is private to the enjoyment of the family.”

Quick Facts:

Favourite Project
Aditya Birla Science & Technology Center. A project like that comes once in a lifetime.

Favorite Book.
Fountainhead.

Important Lesson Learnt.
A C grade student can do much better in life, than an academically perfect A grade student.

Favourite architects.
Brunelleschi, Lutyens, Wright, Norman Foster, Herzog & DeMeuron and William van Allen.

Favourite Structures.
In India, Kanchenjunga by Charles Correa and the Aditya Birla Science & Technology center in Taloja, Navi Mumbai.

Words of wisdom to aspirants.
Never give up and learning is infinite.