Faculty: Catherine Desai

TA: Chinmay Gheware

Theorizing Architectural Production

Despite the wealth of significant Indian buildings constructed in the twentieth century, comparatively few are closely examined. In this studio students worked to redress the balance, bringing detailed analysis of lesser known buildings into critical and historic consideration. This semester we studied the Jodhpur buildings of Uttam Jain. The studio methodology reflects a resurgent approach to architectural history, in which detailed knowledge of buildings is central to the formation and critique of narrative. This focus on buildings is not a purely formalist activity, but can critically inform our understanding of the ways in which our profession is culturally embedded. Drawing can be seen as a critical tool in constructing building focussed histories. Through the act of drawing we can analyse and communicate the key attributes of built works. We began by documenting selected buildings, then making critical exploratory drawings related to 17 architectural parameters. These included order of construction, patterns of use, formal and functional order and material transformations. In the second part of the semester students identified the arguments of key texts of Indian modern architectural history to provide contextual frameworks. Finally, students wrote and delivered simple lectures summarising their knowledge of both building and text.

Studio Unit

The studio began with short exercises to introduce students to techniques of analysing buildings using plans, texts and site visits. We then spent a week in Jodhpur where we documented buildings on the JNVU and MBMU campuses and researched aspects of stone construction through visits to a quarry and stone factory.

After returning from Jodhpur students made analytical drawings of a selected building to examine the following parameters: structure, order of construction, formal composition, functional organisation, circulation, climatic strategies, patterns of inhabitation, weathering, materiality, junctions between materials, services strategies & experiential qualities. These initial drawings were designed to be provisional; a means of beginning to engage with an individual architectural work

Students then developed drawings examining structure, order of construction, formal composition and two additional parameters to a higher level of detail and accuracy

The second module was a reading seminar examining histories of twentieth century Indian architecture. This provided students with an academic context in which to situate their building study. Students were asked to read carefully to identify authors' key arguments and to identify how Uttam Jain's work has been positioned by historians

In the final module, students wrote and delivered short lectures designed for undergraduate architectural students. These lectures had three parts. 1. A summary of the key arguments of a selected Indian architectural history to provide context. 2. A description of a selected building including analysis of form, structure and construction. 3. A comparative timeline or brief critical reflection