Anoma, headed by EDIDA-winning Indian artist Ruchika Grover, is a product design studio that explores the potential of natural stone. Its surfaces, sculptures, and installations, are created through a unique process, which combines digital manufacturing and traditional hand craftsmanship.
Suneet Zishan Langar
Suneet Zishan Langar started as an Editorial Intern and currently works as a contributing writer for ArchDaily. He is based in New Delhi, India, and holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Amity University. His primary interest lies at the intersection of architecture with issues of twenty-first century urbanism, politics, sociology, and human community. He uses his pen and camera with equal vigour to explore and express his opinions.
As architecture students head to their final year of BArch, half-crazy from years’ worth of scraped fingers, ghastly juries, sleepless nights, and a general lack of social life, they encounter the mighty problem of choosing a thesis topic. There are many subjects to choose from, but a personal interest in a particular subject is just one of the many factors that should influence this decision. Students need to ask themselves several other questions: Is the topic significant enough? Is it expansive enough? Is the project realistically doable?
The process can be daunting, for the decision has many consequences; sometimes, the choice of topic alone can mean the difference between the success and failure of a thesis. With so many factors to consider and deadlines closing in, students easily end up making decisions that they regret later. Here are eight tips to help you make an informed choice on the matter:
Design juries undoubtedly form the very foundation of architecture school. Their success or failure, however, largely lies in the hands of the jurors who are assigned to review student work. While architecture is an inter-disciplinary subject with wide-ranging consequences, most jurors are specialists in a singular sub-field. This makes design juries a terrifyingly unpredictable affair; students don’t just battle against their nerves and sleep-deprivation, but are also required to be on their toes to ensure that they can handle anything that the jurors might throw at them.
However, this is easier said than done. As a student, defending your work against criticism from an easily-offended know-it-all juror will probably do you more harm than good. Similarly, it’s hard to impress a building services expert by harping on about the probable positive sociological impacts of your design proposal. Being able to correctly identify the academic or emotive leanings of a juror can go a long way in helping students present their work strategically, thus ensuring that they make the most of their jury experience. Here’s a compilation of nine types of design jurors every architecture student will probably face at some point in school:
Italy-based New Fundamentals Research Group recently designed and built a full-scale prototype of an experimental barrel-vaulted stone structure for SNBR, a French company that specializes in cutting-edge stone construction. The structure is named Hypar Vault in a reference to the geometry of its constituent blocks; it uses two types of prefabricated stone modules—one type is the mirror image of the other—whose designs are based on the hypar (hyperbolic paraboloid), one of the only "doubly-ruled" surfaces in geometry. The use of these configurations allowed the vault to be constructed with almost zero wasted stone.
Contrary to how Hollywood movies portray the quintessential architect—creative, sensitive, and virtually flawless—architects are a diverse bunch of fallible people. This stems from the fact that the study and practice of architecture are wrought with several “perils.” Architecture school is a beast, if not the profession at large, and it essentially reinvents the psyche of its students by simultaneously breaking them down and building them up—say hello to unresolved issues!
While this process produces bright intellectuals with a deep understanding of architecture’s place in society, it can also end up shaping architects into pretentious snobs. Young architects invariably graduate with a distinct outlook on life. Pair that with a largely thankless job and architects soon discover that they can only relate to other architects. Rare friends who bravely stand by an architect through thick and thin deserve a strong pat on the back because architects, despite their innumerable charms, exhibit several incredibly annoying traits. The following is a compilation of eight complaints that non-architect friends and partners have against their architect counterparts:
Against the backdrop of an ever-increasing number of its farmers committing suicides, and its cities crumbling under intensifying pressure on their water resources—owing to their rapidly growing populations—India has revived its incredibly ambitious Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) project which aims to create a nation-wide water-grid twice the length of the Nile. The $168 billion project, first envisioned almost four decades ago, entails the linkage of thirty-seven of the country’s rivers through the construction of thirty canals and three-thousand water reservoirs. The chief objective is to address India’s regional inequity in water availability: 174 billion cubic meters of water is proposed to be transported across river basins, from potentially water-surplus to water-deficit areas.
The project is presented by the Indian government as the only realistic means to increase the country’s irrigation potential and per-capita water storage capacity. However, it raises ecological concerns of gargantuan proportions: 104,000 hectares of forest land will be affected, leading to the desecration of natural ecosystems. Experts in hydrology also question the scientific basis of treating rivers as “mere conduits of water.” Furthermore, the fear of large-scale involuntary human displacement—an estimated 1.5 million people—likely to be caused by the formation of water reservoirs is starting to materialize into a popular uprising.
In this six-minute-long video, Vox makes the argument that the primary reason behind the recent resurgence of streetcar systems—or proposals for streetcars, at least—in the USA is not because of their contributions to urban mobility, but instead because of the fact that they drive and sustain economic development. As it uncovers the causes for the popular failure of the streetcar systems in cities such as Washington DC, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City (low speed and limited connectivity, mostly) it asks why an increasing number of American city governments are pushing for streetcars in spite of their dismal record at improving transit. Is it solely due to their positively modern aesthetic? Are streetcars destined to function as mere “attractions” in a city’s urban landscape? Or is the real objective something more complex?
Last month, ArchDaily had an opportunity to speak with Akshat Nauriyal, Content Director at Delhi-based non-profit St+Art India Foundation which aims to do exactly what its name suggests—to embed art in streets. The organization’s recent work in the Indian metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru, has resulted in a popular reclamation of the cities’ civic spaces and a simultaneous transformation of their urban fabric. Primarily working within residential neighborhoods—they are touted with the creation of the country’s first public art district in Lodhi Colony, Delhi—the foundation has also collaborated with metro-rail corporations to enliven transit-spaces. While St+Art India’s experiments are evidently rooted in social activism and urban design, they mark a significant moment in the historic timeline of the application of street art in cities: the initiative involves what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind engagement between street artists and the government.
When you’re used to the grind of architecture school, breaks can hit you like rain on a warm day—cool at first, but terribly annoying soon enough. While the first few days breeze past as you catch-up on lost sleep and binge-watch Game of Thrones, you realize before long that you’re going insane with nothing to absorb all your new-found energy.
This is where architectural competitions come in handy. They provide a constructive outlet while being deeply engrossing, thus keeping you from hopelessly refreshing Youtube to see if Buzzfeed uploaded a new video. Also, the fact that you’re no longer constrained by the direction of your studio-leader or school program enables you to experiment creatively. With diverse international competitions running at any given time, you can take your pick, depending on your individual interests and the amount of time you want to devote. However, the sheer number of available competitions can be deeply confusing as well. Here we shortlist seven of the most prestigious annual architectural competitions open to students:
Delhi-based firm Morphogenesis has recently unveiled a proposal for a project that will rehabilitate and develop the ghats (a flight of steps leading down to a river) and crematoriums along a 210-kilometer stretch of the Ganges, India’s longest river. The project, titled “A River in Need,” is part of the larger National Mission of Clean Ganga (NMCG), an undertaking of the Indian Government’s Ministry of Water Resources which was formed in 2011 with twin objectives: to ensure effective abatement of the river’s pollution and to conserve and rejuvenate it.
The door: despite being one of the most fundamental architectural elements, the immense significance these portals hold in architecture and culture can hardly be questioned. Historically, empires erected gigantic gateways to welcome visitors and religious shrines installed doors with ornate embellishments to ward off evil just as contemporary governments have built arches to commemorate important events.
In this photo-series, however, architect Priyanshi Singhal directs her focus to doors in a humbler vein—those of homes and hole-in-the-wall shops. Armed with her camera, she travels through narrow winding streets in age-old Indian towns and villages—characterized by their mixed land-use—as she studies and documents the inherent relationship between architectural tradition, culture, and a people. A door and its chaukhat (threshold) hold deep spiritual meaning in India’s traditional vastu shastra system of architecture. Furthermore, Singhal’s work provides us a brief glimpse of the imprint that the vagaries of time, community and economy have left on India’s historical urban fabric.
Bauhaus Houses, Eritrea's Capital and Ahmedabad's Walled City Among 20 Cultural Sites Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, currently holding its forty-first annual session in the Polish city of Krakow, inscribed twenty new cultural sites on its World Heritage List, including the historic city of Ahmedabad in India, archaeological sites in Cambodia and Brazil, and a “cultural landscape” in South Africa. The Committee also added extensions to two sites already on the list: Strasbourg in France, and the Bauhaus in Germany. On the other hand, the historic center of Vienna was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger as the Committee examined the state of conservation of one-hundred-and-fifty-four of its listed sites.
Picking up on the debate surrounding digitization in fabrication and its impact on traditional crafts, Copenhagen-based SPACE10, the future-living laboratory created by IKEA, recently invited three architects—Yuan Chieh Yang, Benas Burdulis, and Emil Froege—to explore the potentials of CNC milling for traditional craft techniques. The architects came up with three divergent yet equally innovative solutions to address the fundamental issue that plagues digital production: an apparent lack of a "human touch." In a Post-Fordist world increasingly dominated by customization, this investigation holds obvious importance for a company which deals primarily in mass-produced ready-to-assemble products; however, with its advocation for the infusion of dying classical craft techniques into the digital manufacturing process, the experiment could be meaningful for many other reasons.
In this visual essay, Greek filmmaker Yiannis Biliris documents the all-pervasive pall of glass that covers the modern city. The three-and-a-half-minute-long film, produced by Visual Suspect and shot entirely in Hong Kong, captures the vivid reflections seen in the facades of the city’s buildings, as Biliris selectively pans and zooms his camera to instill a strong sense of urgency in the viewer’s mind.
The essay, beautifully haunting in its imagery, might be seen as a reflective commentary on the state of our built environment today. Inspired by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which states that mass causes a distortion in space and time, it seems to subtly ask if our understanding of reality is warped itself. Describing the video as "a visual essay about perception and knowledge as [a] reflection of our reality," Biliris comments that "mass curves space and time, while the observer has his own perspective."
As final juries draw to a close, graduating architecture students are left with a crucial decision to make. While some might take a plunge into the scary real world looking to gain professional experience, others might choose to further reinforce their architecture education and skill set. Of the latter, most enroll in an MArch program, or take well-trodden paths into urban design and planning, landscape architecture, historic preservation, or theory and criticism. But in an increasingly complex world faced with myriad problems, what about those graduate architects looking to bolster their education in other related disciplines that will give them a more unique perspective on design problems? Here, we shortlist seven alternative, interdisciplinary graduate programs offered by architecture schools worldwide.
The Indian Government’s Smart City Mission, launched in 2015, envisions the development of one hundred “smart cities” by 2020 to address the country’s rapid urbanization; thirty cities were added to the official list last week, taking the current total of planned initiatives to ninety. The $7.5-billion mission entails the comprehensive development of core infrastructure—water and electricity supply, urban mobility, affordable housing, sanitation, health, and safety—while infusing technology-based “smart solutions” to drive economic growth and improve the citizens’ quality of life in cities.
In a country bogged down by bureaucratic corruption, the mission has been commended for its transparent and innovative use of a nation-wide “City Challenge” to award funding to the best proposals from local municipal bodies. Its utopian manifesto and on-ground implementation, however, are a cause of serious concern among urban planners and policy-makers today, who question if the very idea of the Indian smart city is inherently flawed.
On the morning of April 24th, Delhi’s architecture community reacted in shock and disgust to the news that the city's Hall of Nations and the four Halls of Industries had been demolished. Bulldozers had worked through the previous night at the Pragati Maidan exhibition grounds in central Delhi, where the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) razed the iconic structures to the ground, ignoring pleas from several Indian and international institutions.
The Hall of Nations, the world’s first and largest-span space-frame structure built in reinforced concrete, holds special significance in India’s post-colonial history—it was inaugurated in 1972 to commemorate twenty-five years of the young country’s independence. The demolition was met with widespread condemnation by architects and historians alike, not just because of the loss of an important piece of Delhi's heritage, but also for the clandestine manner in which the demolition was conducted.
Had the worst jury ever? Failed your exams? Worry not! Before you fall on your bed and cry yourself to sleep—after posting a cute, frantic-looking selfie on Instagram, of course (hashtag so dead)—take a look at this list of nine celebrated architects, all of whom share a common trait. You might think that a shiny architecture degree is a requirement to be a successful architect; why else would you put yourself through so many years of architecture school? Well, while the title of "architect" may be protected in many countries, that doesn't mean you can't design amazing architecture—as demonstrated by these nine architects, who threw convention to the wind and took the road less traveled to architectural fame.