Architectural thinking has a rich tradition of being bound to writing. Be it the vāstu śāstra, the Seven Lamps by Ruskin, or the writings of Thoreau—writing and craft have not only gone hand in hand but are synonymous. Imagination is the moment of architecture and it finds expression in writing as much, if not more, as it does in drawing. Unfortunately, the power of the pen, especially when it comes to architecture-design, remains largely underrated.
Taking the initiative to recognize this power of the pen, Dayananda Sagar College of Architecture (DSCA), Bengaluru, a renowned architectural institution of India, is delighted to declare the names of the coveted prize winners of the institute’s national-level essay-writing competition, ESSAYS IN ARCHITECTURE: Analysing, Imagining, and Reinventing.
Long Essay Category
- Pranjal Kulkarni, Fourth year, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal
- Sanjana Aggarwal, Fourth year, University School of Architecture and Planning, New Delhi
Short Essay Category
- Roshini Pushparaj, Fourth year, PES University, Bengaluru
- Namrata Dewanjee, Second year, RV College of Architecture, Bengaluru
The aforementioned awardees receive a cash prize of Rs 25,000/- each and publication of their essays in the February 2020 issue of Architecture+Design, India’s foremost architectural journal.
The following two entries have been awarded a Special Mention
- Bhoomika B R, Third Year, Wadiyar Centre For Architecture, Mysuru (Long Essay Category)
- Shivani Vilas Jadhav,Third Year, Lokmanya Tilak Institute of Architecture and Design Studies, Navi Mumbai (Short Essay Category)
The essay competition was conceived to let students in architecture articulate themselves with the written word, and to open avenues for them to find their voice as architects, enable dialogues, and engage with the myriad of issues that have implications for the built environment. The competition included long and short essay categories to encourage writing at its highest level, while also ensuring participation and access to a wide pool of entries, especially those from smaller towns in India.
The essays went through three rounds of evaluation. The first round consisted of rigorous scrutinization of all the entries, approximately 100 in number, for plagiarism and word count. In the second round, the compliant entries were shortlisted by the essay competition core committee for the final review. In the final round, the twenty-five shortlisted entries were reviewed by an eminent jury consisting of experts in architecture-writing-technology—Madhavi Desai, Sameera Rathod, Sushant Verma, Yatin Pandya and Kanchan Kaur.
The winners will be felicitated in February 2020 in an event in Bengaluru where the winners, jury members, and esteemed guests from the industry will have the opportunity to discourse on the theme and more. Elaborating on DSCA’s initiative to introduce this competition and involve the theme of architecture and technology in its first cycle, Prof. (Dr.) Rama R. Subrahmanian, Principal, DSCA says, “Architectural leadership has a pressing need to understand the importance of the spoken and the written word, especially the power of communication in today's connected world. Additionally, architects must be alive to economic realities, where technology becomes a true game-changer.”
Reflecting on the response of the competition, author and award-winning architectural journalist from India, Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta, the curator for the competition states, “We have been thrilled to see the kind of curiosity that the competition was able to generate globally. While the competition has emphatically brought forth the fresh thinking of young minds, it has also exemplified the growing interest that students have shown towards writing on architecture-design. I am sure this event will serve as an eye-opener for those associated with architectural education to realize the urgent need to convert this growing interest into productive outcomes through proper training in writing, analyzing, and critiquing architecture.”
The competition was supported by Architecture+Design (Journal Partner) and ArchDaily (Digital Media Partner). More information on the essay competition is available on https://www.essaysinarchitecture.info/.
COMMENTS FROM THE JURY
Sushant Verma (Architect-Computational Designer; rat[LAB] - Research in Architecture & Technology, New Delhi)
“As a collective, the essays came across with some very strong discussion points for the discourse on architecture and technology. Thought-provoking arguments, good referencing and unique articulations of a difficult topic like this, has made many of the essays stand out of the pile. Considering the pool of submissions are dominated by student commune, it makes it even more exciting to see the growing awareness of the subject and the examples that have been laid towards mature discussions. It was a very well curated competition to initiate a discourse which had been losing its path with the advent of technology. Selection of theme, method of curation, evaluation process followed, anonymity and plagiarism measures taken, are some of the key points that demonstrate a very professional and ethically conducted competition.”
Kanchan Kaur (Dean; Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bengaluru)
“The competition was a great idea simply because it encouraged something that is quite in short supply today—critical thinking. The essays were well-argued and well-written—always an indication of clear thinking. The coming generation of architects have a mind of their own and are not afraid to speak it. This can only mean that the future of architecture is secure in the hands of such bright minds.”
Yatin Pandya (Architect-Author-Activist; FOOTPRINTS E.A.R.T.H., Ahmedabad)
“The art of writing is not necessarily about the breadth of the vocabulary of words but rather the depth of thought, clarity of idea and scholarship of the subject matter. This therefore is the effective tool for precise communication backed by commitment, conviction and clarity. Our education system needs to include and encourage this dimension of learning. Competitions such as these are thus an effective substitute, especially in the times of Google, Siri and Wikipedia when reading and writing is getting reduced to abbreviated phone messages, the art of critical thinking is passé and holding a mental position on the subject is a rarity.”
Madhavi Desai (Architect-Researcher-Teacher; Archicrafts, Ahmedabad)
“The majority of students assumed the topic of ‘technology’, only as software technology, with minimal references to buildings, design, or form. I also found an overdependence on websites and the absence of the idea about the structure of a paper, the need for subtopics, or how to give references in the text.”
Samira Rathod (Architect-Interior Designer-Writer; Samira Rathod Design Atelier, Mumbai)
“Mostly all the shortlisted essays that were shared were well above board—in the manner of their structure, abstract, language, and how they took a position. It was indeed difficult to say which one would be a winner. The theme about technology and its relevance today in design was very relevant, and I was looking for the ideas that the youth have on this subject and how they see its significance or otherwise, which is also the basis on how I selected my winners.
However, the one thing that bothered me was that most of the research was not adequate and that it was from the Internet, where all the information is unfiltered and not necessarily always dependable. Research techniques should be better devised and taught, and essayists must require themselves to look at this, far more intensively and extensively.”