This studio unit intends to investigate ‘processes’ in architectural design activity. One of the important components is to get the process of transformation through different levels of interpretation. The process of transformation involves metamorphosis of the experiential data into architectural form and space with the help of abstraction. Students selected an image/natural object as a starting point of the process, and through various stages of the design process they arrived at the final architectural form that reflects the famous statement made by D’Arcy Thompson in his seminal work ‘On Growth & Form’: “Form is a Diagram of Forces.”
FIRST STAGE: ‘Abstraction’
In order to achieve this, the project was divided in two parts: the first part, titled ‘Abstraction’, involved developing abstract ideas from the topic. The ‘topic’ could be an object, a process or an activity occurring in nature that has fascinating movement and play of forces. The topics were carefully selected in order to provide enough imaginative material for the students to kick start the process of abstraction. The ‘abstraction’ stage came to conclusion with the introduction of site and program, wherein students tried to suggest the architectural form for the program with the help of derived models from ‘Abstraction’ stage, with a hint of the structural system.
Site & Program: (Pause Points in Historical Landscape: Enhancing visitors’ experience at Lakhpat Fort)
The site for the studio was selected to be in the historic fort town of Lakhpat, in the Kutch region in India.The Fortified town with its unique topographical feature s of the sea being on one side ; and the desert being on the other side- is amassed in a fortified Bund Wall.
The town which was once a bustling port in the Arabian Sea, has a historic association with Baba Guru Nanak and a host of sufi saints. On his pilgrimage to Mecca, it is recorded that Baba Guru Nanak halted in this town and boarded the ship, making the Lakpat Gurudwara Sahib a holy place of pilgrimage for the Sikh community. The town became desolated due to an earthquake, which also changed the course of the Indus river further west, marking an end of its importance as a port. Today, the town is visited by tourists for its sikh heritage, sufi shrines, fort and a serene landscape.
Students visited the town and documented a stretch that runs along the fort wall frequented by the tourists. ‘Points in historical Landscape’ were identified as design interventions that the students could make on or along this stretch of the wall such that it enhances the visitors’ experience and enables their interaction with the historical landscape of Lakhpapt. Students were given five different options for design interventions to choose from, such as: Spanning Pavilion, Cantilevered Pavilion, watch tower, and a pedestrian bridge. Each of these options gave the students a unique structural condition to deal with and potential to utilize their abstraction models.
SECOND STAGE: ‘Tectonics’
The second part, titled ‘Tectonics’, focused on developing the structural system, construction materials, details and technology appropriate for the architectural form derived at the end of last stage. The students worked with physical/digital models and detailed drawings in order to arrive at the final built form, wherein the act of ‘making’ is celebrated. Along with the main design exercise, the studio had three additional modules to help students develop necessary tools and understanding: Model-making workshop, Learning Rhino and Grasshopper and Learning Structures.