MonthMay 2013



Sky, water and land.

CULTURE : Our link to time


All of us live in a society. We all talk about our traditions and culture. Especially, we Indians brag a lot about our so called culture. But have we ever thought about what are these traditions? Where did it all start from? What gave rise to these various cultures which have led to rifts in our society? Why are these traditions so important? Is there still a place for these traditions in today’s globalizing world?  Too many questions …. with very subjective answers to them.

“Culture is a set of shared attributes, values, goals and practices that characterize group of people “, according to my dictionary. Culture is a way of life and it is important as it creates a feeling of belonging and togetherness amongst people in the society.  Over a long period of time, patterns of behavior are changed or modified due to various influences but the change is so inconspicuous that it is not realized until we project the present over the past.

  Again my helpful little dictionary defines tradition as “A transmission of customs from generations to generations.” But definitely there is more to it. Traditions are a way of celebrating life. They are a link between the man and nature.  They exist as fragments of the memory of a time and place. These fragments of memories encapsulates within them generations of knowledge and culture. Traditions are a part of a learning process. As different traditions expand, they overlap, extend, slowly absorbing the new influences and adapting to the present time.

To conclude, I would like to say that traditions are a subset of culture. Culture is propagated, tradition is the medium of propagation and it is the man who propagates it.  

In today’s globalizing world, these cultures are what identify us. Hence, continuing this culture of ours is essential as it acts as a link with the present, preserving the past and protecting the future.

Yes, so I am back again, to defend my profession. To project our importance as architects in building homes.

I don’t think architects build homes. But it’s a fact that architects build spaces, which in turn build lives. And these lives then build homes.

“It’s not about decorations, but about bones,” explains architect/author Sarah Susanka. You need a good basic skeleton into which you can pour your personal things. “The skeleton can either enhance or deaden what you bring into it. Most people don’t even know what to look for, but they know it when it’s there.”

This skeleton doesn’t mean four walls, but the flow of spaces reflected by the owner’s needs, mood, hobbies and in today’s times, luxury.

I know by now all of you who aren’t of this field would be wondering, what the hell are these SPACES I am talking about? Don’t worry it’s absolutely normal. Even after three years in architecture I don’t think I have understood the magic of spaces completely.

Space is something that the architect envelops, creating a wholly human and finite environment within the infinite environment of nature. The concept that space can have a quality other than emptiness is difficult to understand.

This space is characterized by few elements, they are, mass, light, scale, colour, texture and the occupants that relate to it.

These spatial experiences, governed by these elements express somethings which are common to everyone, though they are not always consciously grasped. 

So, here comes our job in building homes. We consciously harness these elements of space together to give a spatial as well as a personal experience that touches the person living in the house, making it into his home along with his loved ones.  Hence, according to me the responsibility of converting a house into a home is a mutual effort of the the designer and the user.  Without such collaboration of the designer and the user our spaces either become mere empty showcases of architectural egos or seem meaningless. 

Home sweet home

Since I was a child I have heard people telling me that a HOUSE is distinct from a HOME. When I was in third grade I took part in an essay competition and won the first prize for writing an amazing essay on HOME SWEET HOME, partially prepared by my mom. I still remember that the essay talked about a house being mere walls and roof protecting the inhabitants from rain, wind and the scorching sun but a home being a place where one creates memories and shares experiences with one’s family. A place which one treats differently than any other, the place where one feels more comfortable than anywhere else. A place which one feels is better than the best of palaces and mansions; that’s your home. I clearly remember using a quote which read as, “A happy family makes a happy home” and I completely agree to it.

Home sweet home

But today I am a student of architecture. On the first day of my architecture college some professor told me that – “Architecture starts where engineering ends.” A house can very well be built by an engineer. And now when I think about it I feel that if it’s true that it’s the people living in a house that convert it into a home then what am I as an architect for? Surely I am not doing this painstakingly tiring but absolutely interesting course, breaking my head with form, space, scale, light and order for nothing!!!

Of course not. I as an architect obviously play a part in making a house into a home. But to know how keep reading my blog!