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MuseLAB is an end-to-end design studio; offering a bespoke and leading-edge approach to design. With a precise focus on unique and highly customized environments, interiors and furniture. In 2012 partners Huzefa Rangwala and Jasem Pirani founded the studio built upon their shared passion for design. Each space and or product embodies integrity and is created with the same care, skill and attention to detail.

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Filtering by Category: Architecture

Design competition entry by MuseLAB for Lighthouse Sea Hotel, hosted by Young Architects Competition

MuseLAB

Lighthouse Sea Hotel; where architecture and land meet through open spaces.

Architecture is a constant dialogue between the built and the unbuilt, the inhabitable and the habitable, the realized and the desired. The quality of our life, the force of our memories, the importance of our day-to-day interpersonal exchanges, the reading of the environment, all these moments arouse in us emotions.

Situated on the cliff of Murro di Porco, the Lighthouse Sea Hotel has been planned with the intent of experiencing the expanse of the horizon – thelandscape has been punctuated by the built environment, which defines the in-between moments, as we traverse through the site heading from land to sea. Thus architecture here is the facilitator, the permeable element that allows for interchange and mediation at the pause points.

The site can be experienced in various ways giving individuals the liberty to move through the landscape at their own pace. The central pathway leads to the landmark light house structure that has been adapted to house the visitor’s centre and the maritime museum. Besides the central path there are primarily two paths – the first trail which is north of the lighthouse wanders through the community zone; which consists of the farmer’s market cluster and a research centre that culminates at the jetty and wraps around the southern edge of the cliff. The second path, south of the lighthouse begins at the resort reception and meanders through the resort units, the dining mess, staff quarter units and then wraps back around the edge of the cliff connecting to the jetty and the north trail. There are two other intermediate paths that begin at the light house; one snakes through the restaurant and the other leads directly to the edge of the cliff, both culminating at the jetty. 

The existing architecture of the region is primarily low-lying and simplistic with white-washed masonry walls and terracotta-tiled roofs.

As an intervention within the environment, the proposed units and facilities have been designed mainly as white-washed concrete extrusions. The structures have been rhythmically placed along the pathways with strategic openings and passageways to facilitate movement and experience. Thoughtfully perched on the landscape these structures have been designed using concrete, in order to cause the lowest possible natural impact. 

For winning entries visit Lighthouse Sea Hotel. 

SITE PLAN

SITE PLAN

MuseMATTERS: Why must reading and writing matter to architects?

MuseLAB

Often the idea of conceptual presentation is sometimes an alien concept in itself.  At times the expectations of what a concept is - and should be is different from what the architect or designer presents. At times a client may not follow a concept at all - so it is important for the designer to  ask questions - open ended questions so that the clients can provide more detailed information. Focus on the benefits of the concept not the features. Use analogies to explain the concept. In all this communication is key. So how does one communicate to an architect and why must an architect read or write? In this week's MuseMATTERS we explore the need for architects to read and write besides drawing.    

Communicating to Architects through books and periodicals.

Architects are visual learners. How do you make them read? Layout and typography play an important role in that regard.

Some ways to make an architect read and write are:

Appearance is critical. No matter what the content is – how it looks and how it is presented is important and therefore Structure is important. The thoughts need to be laid out and defined clearly.

A start (with a defined abstract)

The middle with headings, subheadings and justifications, lists and bullet points

Conclusion

How the letters look(the choice of font) all make a difference. Bold fonts are used for headings, subheadings and highlighting words. Reserve italicizing of fonts for captions, names of books and citations. Large clumps of italicized words for emphasis can be difficult to read and instead end up de-emphasizing words. 

Reading and writing for communication to clients.

Architects are visual thinkers, they can imagine. Reading without showing helps stimulate the architect’s imagination to go beyond the archetypical thought process.Projects/ concepts and designs are about stories. These stories are about people and how people respond to situations and environments. Fiction/ Science fiction and non-fiction writing always describepeople’s experiences, the places and what it means to be human. Architects can learn about their clients or at least about the client’s perspectives, motives and reactions.

Secondly, reading and writing can stimulate the architect's understanding of the users of the projects they design for. It is important to read and not watch moving images or visuals. It is often attractive for architects to watch the movie and see how the scene (the space) is designed, rendered and or lit. This does not necessarily stimulate the imagination.  Clients are not visual people in many cases – clients are more verbal. If you are able to describe it in words they might get a picture of it in their mind. Elaborate renderings and 3-D models do not always help. Descriptions and stories of the spatial experience for function and pleasure can at times have a far greater impact in selling an idea than a rendering.

Lastly, it will build the architect’s vocabulary to explain to the client what is important to the client about the design being done for them. Words are important - we need to learn to use them as it shall help in describing the reality (the experience) that does not exist as yet. Having said that we do realize that visual aids are necessary but it needs to be well balanced. 

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and maybe in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: B is for Bicycle

MuseLAB

A steadily growing number of cities around the world are eager to become bicycle friendly, as part of an overall strategy on sustainable development and the desire to become green cities. Biking in cities can be extremely efficient and healthy. Unfortunately, it can also be intimidating, stressful and dangerous.

When cities provide a safe and welcoming environment for cyclists and pedestrians, they can encourage more people to give up driving in favor of riding bikes. With a network of protected bike lanes and fewer cars on the road, there is less risk of accidents. Also, an increase in cycling and walking can lead to significant health benefits for a city. A reduced need for parking can free up valuable city space, and streets can certainly be much more pleasant with less honking.

As usual with this kind of thing, Copenhagen’s got a bike skyway- Cykelslangen, which lets cyclists ride over a waterfront area on an elevated bridge. London’s planning to complete the 18-mile East-West Cycle Superhighway traversing the city by summer this year. Paris’ plan to boost cycling includes five proposed highways that will be almost entirely protected from car traffic, on some of the city’s busiest roads.

Cykelslangen or Cycle Snake: an elevated cyclist roadway to ease congestion.  Image courtesy:  DISSING+WEITLING              

Cykelslangen or Cycle Snake: an elevated cyclist roadway to ease congestion. Image courtesy: DISSING+WEITLING              

Similar measures are needed in India. Despite decades of having a cycling culture, we've never had dedicated cycling lanes or infrastructure of any kind to support and encourage cyclists. Our cities were not designed with cyclists in mind, and it is a huge challenge to effectively accommodate everyone’s mode of choice, but giving more space to people who walk, cycle or use public transport is going to be the only way to move people around the city and ease the burden on the roads.

(L)  The Hovenring is a circular suspended bridge between Eindhoven and Veldhoven in the Netherlands, which offers an alternative route for cyclists.      Image courtesy: mymodernmet.com    (R) Staircase fitted with a bike rail at Copenhagen Central Train Station.    Image courtesy:    tumblr

(L) The Hovenring is a circular suspended bridge between Eindhoven and Veldhoven in the Netherlands, which offers an alternative route for cyclists. Image courtesy: mymodernmet.com (R) Staircase fitted with a bike rail at Copenhagen Central Train Station. Image courtesy: tumblr

A lot of cycling groups have come up in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and most parts of the country. But very few people opt for cycling as a mode of transport to offices and work, as there is very less or absolutely no cycling infrastructure and space in the city. So far, there are only a few disjointed cycling tracks, and even these are encroached. The cycling corridors should be planned in a way that they connect to main roads and not end abruptly. They could be elevated or clubbed with the skywalks and beautified by landscaping so that it encourages more people to actually use them.

The High Line in New York is a beautifully landscaped elevated park built on top of the tracks of an abandoned railway.  Image courtesy: Pinterest

The High Line in New York is a beautifully landscaped elevated park built on top of the tracks of an abandoned railway. Image courtesy: Pinterest

Bicycle -friendly cities are very much people-friendly, and city planning that considers pedestrians and cyclists will make a significant contribution to the city of the future.

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and maybe in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: Digital Imaging In Architecture

MuseLAB

Digital rendering is an extremely effective medium enabling architects, clients and investors to envision a structure before it is even built. Presenting a design idea to a client can be equally challenging as the design process itself.  In recent times, computer generated images and renderings have played an extremely pivotal role in architectural presentations. While renderings can provide strikingly accurate depictions of buildings, are architects being true with these depictions? How much creative liberty can an architect take to convey the design idea? These questions are highly subjective, and whether we agree or disagree, stylized renderings have been an integral part of the architectural profession including competitions and commissions. 

Architectural renderings range from being sketchy and conceptual to photorealistic. Of the infinite rendering styles, the images below represent some contrasting styles of rendering. 

(L) Blackout at dusk.  Image courtesy www.mir.no  (R)   Menacing Atmosphere.  Image courtesy Urban Future Organization and CR-Design

(L) Blackout at dusk. Image courtesy www.mir.no (R) Menacing Atmosphere. Image courtesy Urban Future Organization and CR-Design

Dreamy echoes of light. Image courtesy Bustler, Joseph Filippelli 

Dreamy echoes of light. Image courtesy Bustler, Joseph Filippelli 

Photorealistic textures.  Image courtesy www.mir.no

Photorealistic textures. Image courtesy www.mir.no

Underlying stories.  Image courtesy BIG. 

Underlying stories. Image courtesy BIG. 

Informal collages.  Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe.   

Informal collages. Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe.  

Urban Abstracts.  Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe

Urban Abstracts. Image courtesy Alex Hogrefe

Creating an image that accurately represents the design requires a substantial skill set and investing a great amount of time perfecting it. 3D renderings are often inspired from architectural photography. In creating the perfect rendering that represents the design, some thumb rules of photography should be considered while modeling and rendering the structure. Three of these guides have been illustrated below.

Composition

Composition

Depth of Field

Depth of Field

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

In recent times, renderings and stylized representation of buildings have become hyper-idealistic images and are in itself a form of art. The degree of perfection attained in a computer generated image can never be achieved in reality. Thus, the two-dimensional graphic representation of architecture has, traditionally, been the precursor or subsequent by-product of architecture — but never a substitute. A two-dimensional image may never be able to communicate the experiential qualities of a three-dimensional space. A digital image may be a powerful artistic or theoretical conception, but it is far from reality. 

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

 

 

 

 

 

MuseMATTERS: Sound Architecture

MuseLAB

As Architects, we design spaces and in the process we create experiences that evoke our visual and tactile senses, but very rarely do we consciously design spaces that focus on the aural experience. Inspired by Julian Treasure’s TedX talk on Why Architects need to use their Ears, this week at MuseMATTERS, we discussed the importance of Sound in Architectural Design

Julian Treasure,  Image courtesy ted.com

Julian Treasure, Image courtesy ted.com

Numerous factors must be considered when designing an interior architecture space and one of the most common issues is acoustics and noise, both within the space and within the environment. If ignored, it can cause health and safety concerns for the users and depending on the function of the space, it can discourage users from returning to the space let alone resulting in huge sums of money to correct the sound quality within it.

Typically, there are several constants within the elements of design which influence the acoustics of a space; for instance, the shape of the walls and ceilings, the materials used and the methods of construction amongst others. But what is more important is to find out exactly what gives rise to this problem before actually defining a solution for it. And this is where the other elements come in, both tangible and intangible.

Many a times the noise in a space is the noise from the users of the space – talking, whispering, shouting, laughing etc. This noise can be compounded by other noise sources as well – for example, if patrons are seated close to the kitchen in a restaurant, the sound emanating from the kitchen will compel them to talk louder in order to hear each other. Sometimes mechanical and plumbing equipment can also lead to unwanted noise. The best example would be a hospital, where health of the patients can be jeopardized if there is a build-up of noise due to loud HVAC and plumbing systems. This distraction can easily affect the sleep of the patients and increase their recovery time. 

Ambience sound affects us physiologically, psychologically, behaviourally and intellectually, all at the same time
— Julian Treasure

Noises from external factors can also have a huge impact on the interior of the space. Depending on the type of materials and the construction techniques used, the noise of traffic can easily transmit through the exterior walls and can be a matter of concern for users of spaces adjoining major highways, roadways, railways or airports. Also, in case if the space is in a multi-used, shared building, then noise from the neighbouring occupants can also transmit through the walls between the two spaces.

As designers and space shapers we most often talk about how the space is affected by sound from sources outside but we do not consider the fact that the space being designed also will become a source from which sound will emanate, impacting the environment around and the adjacent neighbourhoods. 

After listening in to Julian Treasure’s talk we concluded that as architects we need to be wary of sound – whether it is an office (interior) space or an urban space. The architecture of sound is actually invisible architecture; it is more about designing not the appearance but the experience so that we have spaces that sound as good as they look in order to improve our health and productivity along with our behaviour and overall well-being.

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MUSELAB PLACES SECOND IN 'CHANDIGARH UNBUILT: COMPLETING THE CAPITOL' DESIGN COMPETITION

MuseLAB

This morning we were delighted to find out that MuseLAB has stood second in the 'CHANDIGARH UNBUILT: Completing the capitol' competition organized by Archasm. The competition received an overwhelming 308 registrations from all around the world, generating tremendous excitement among the fraternity.

Our Approach

The Capitol Complex conceived by Le Corbusier consists of the Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly, the High Court and the ‘Open Hand’ monument – the symbol of Chandigarh which was completed during his time. To this day, Le Corbusier’s vision for the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh remains incomplete - and among those unfinished elements is the Museum of Knowledge.

How does one raise the bar from where Le Corbusier left?  And how does one do that without aping the master? The capitol complex was a metaphor of the human being employed in plan  – the ‘head’ contained the capitol complex, the ‘heart’ the commercial centre, and the ‘arms’, which were perpendicular to the main axis, had the academic and leisure facilities.  The proposed Museum of Knowledge honours
Corbusier’s vision by showcasing the existing vestiges of the capitol complex by creating vantage points and visual connections. These
landmark structures are thus included as part of the Museum and metaphorically form the main collection of the museum. The plan
incorporates Le Corbusier’s principles of light, space and greenery which are still prevalent as of today. 

This proposal builds upon and reimagines Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture. This forms the basis for our qualitative program for the site. In this reimagined adaptation of the principles the structure of the building has been pushed below ground allowing for the site surface to be free of structure and double up as a park allowing it to extend itself and be a part of the public realm. The structure is supported by
pilotis/columns – which gives opportunity for free design of the ground floor plan. All four sides of full height glazing allows for light to filter in a controlled manner and being underground there are open to sky courtyards and slits within the roof garden that provide additional
opportunities for light to permeate. 

Le Corbusier’s master plan for Chandigarh was designed keeping in mind the socio-economic conditions and living habits of people. 
Similarly a Museum of Knowledge in the present times would not be complete if it did not consider the current habits of the people. This proposal gives the power to the people to design and choreograph their own walk through the museum. A non-linear narrative with
multiple opportunities to enter and exit rooms gives the user the authority and freedom to move through the space at their own pace. Areas both large and small have been designed to allow for flexibility of programming of exhibits. Transition zones have been interspersed with courtyards and open plazas to provide for break out spaces and moments to pause. Areas within the museum and around have been
generously devoted to provide for gathering spaces to encourage people to come spend time at the museum, attend workshops or head to the park with a book and read without any inhibitions. 

See the other winning entries, honourable mentions and  Top 50 entries here. 

MuseMATTERS: A walk through Bandra with Alisha Sadikot

MuseLAB

This week we joined Alisha Sadikot on a walk through the neighbourhood of Bandra.  We would not like to reveal much as we would be doing injustice to the walk experience with Alisha Sadikot. We highly recommend this one. Here are some notes from our diary.

Alisha Sadikot is an independent museums and heritage education professional working to instigate critical and creative public engagement with museum collections and heritage spaces in Mumbai. Museums are her happy place. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @alishasadikot and visit her blog at The Inheritage Project

 

Castella dr Aguada  commonly known as Bandra Fort. 

Castella dr Aguada commonly known as Bandra Fort. 

House on a Hill : Reminiscence of Byramjee Jeejeebhoy’s residence built atop the hill at Land’s End, overlooking the Rajiv Gandhi Sea link and the skyline of Mumbai on a clear day.

House on a Hill: Reminiscence of Byramjee Jeejeebhoy’s residence built atop the hill at Land’s End, overlooking the Rajiv Gandhi Sea link and the skyline of Mumbai on a clear day.

The Basilica of Our Lady of The Mount  commonly known as Mount Mary Church. Originally built by the Portuguese Jesuits in the 16th century and rebuilt a few times thereafter. 

The Basilica of Our Lady of The Mount commonly known as Mount Mary Church. Originally built by the Portuguese Jesuits in the 16th century and rebuilt a few times thereafter. 

St. Stephen's Church  was built to cater to the needs of British Protestant Christians living in Bandra. 

St. Stephen's Church was built to cater to the needs of British Protestant Christians living in Bandra. 

Cemetery at St. Stephen's Church  and some hidden gems around Bandra. 

Cemetery at St. Stephen's Church and some hidden gems around Bandra. 

Ranwar   Village : A quaint village in Bandra that remains untouched by the glass and steel edifice of "developing" Mumbai. 

Ranwar Village: A quaint village in Bandra that remains untouched by the glass and steel edifice of "developing" Mumbai. 

Street Art  at Ranwar. 

Street Art at Ranwar. 

Storefronts of Ranwar

Storefronts of Ranwar

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: 100 Smart Cities or Self-sustaining habitats?

MuseLAB

The government has announced an urban agenda to develop 100 new smart cities for the country as a solution to the issue of: urban liveability. This initiative has received a lot of attention within the country and the world. Intense discussions and thought provoking debates are taking place regarding the form and context within which these cities should be developed. 

A summarized version of the Government of India’s definition of a smart city is: “one that is clean competitive, capital generating and sustainable. The cities should provide good basic infrastructure such as water, sanitation, reliable utility services, health care, attractive for investments, transparent processes to be able to run businesses, simple and on line processes for obtaining approvals and services and facilities to make the people of the city feel safe and secure. To read more about the smart cities mission visit smartcities.gov.in

By that definition a smart city sounds no different than what a city should be in the first place. Cities are engines of growth and as a result of which they attract people. With increasing urbanization and the lack of infrastructure, the government has now realized the need for cities that can cope with the challenges of urban living and also be magnets for investment.

Illustration concept of smart city technologies.   Image courtesy freepik.com

Illustration concept of smart city technologies. Image courtesy freepik.com

When we talk of smart cities often people limit their conversations to the need for sensors, CCTVS, ambient intelligence and digital records. Instead they need to talk about raising the standard of living, generating resources, creating opportunities and self-sustaining habitats.

Sustainability or building right and sensitively has to be one of the main criteria for a smart city. The city should be able to address climate change and reduce carbon footprint. So how can technology really assist us in the planning of smart cities? 3D mapping tools have become valuable for visualizing and designing cities where various services can be layered and looked at together. Like in New Orleans, CyArk is using that same 3-D mapping data to create a detailed digital copy of the city, so that if there is catastrophic damage, and some of these historic buildings are destroyed or altered, a detailed record of what was there could be referenced. As Neelie Kroes, Vice-President, Commissioner Digital Agenda, European Commission once said, “Every city already generates huge amounts of information, for many different purposes. But too often that information is lost. It’s time to get smart and start using it”.

Case – studies of cities in the west is good to look at for the lessons learned but by aping the west we are not going to be able to solve our issues. Each city in India has its unique set of issues and challenges that need to be dealt with and resolved by providing solutions specific to that city. We need to find our own mix and derive a definition that is specific to us.

But in a country where millions are struggling to get by, the initiative also got us wondering how people will be able to afford the expensive housing and living costs of smart cities. The upcoming infrastructure in most parts of the country is coming at the expense of farming land. Rural percentage is higher than urban because India is an agrarian state and most families depend on farming for their livelihood.

Should the focus now be on building new smart cities or retrofitting existing cities or developing the villages around these existing cities? It has previously been stated that no economy can grow on the basis of agriculture so it is inevitable that people will move to cities. In that statement alone lays the answer to our problems. A sustainable growth with balanced resources could help in raising the quality of life of rural areas.

At the first Annual Architecture Festival hosted in Jaipur, B V Doshi and Rajeev Kathpalia had spoken about Crafting Future Cities and what they had to say was, "We are used to cities as centralized entities and we are saying perhaps the time has come to start thinking of each place as independent and self-supporting", which is what sustainable cities are all about.

Proposal of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), one of the flagship smart cities of the 100 Smart Cities program.   Image courtesy archdaily. 

Proposal of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), one of the flagship smart cities of the 100 Smart Cities program. Image courtesy archdaily. 

Masdar city is among the more high-profile experiments in smart-city technology.   Image courtesy: Foster + Partners. 

Masdar city is among the more high-profile experiments in smart-city technology. Image courtesy: Foster + Partners. 

Be it a city or a village, these are just settlements or habitats at different scales, which need to be planned in a way that they are self-sustaining , providing enough job opportunities, training people to use resources wisely and increasing their quality of life.

The goals of a self-sustaining city need to: reduce emissions and traffic, save energy, make the urban landscape a more comfortable place to live in. The systems at all levels, be it social or political needs to be transparent and there needs to be accountability at all levels.

The way the smart cities agenda is being marketed there is no doubt that the real agenda is the need for foreign capital to enter into new territories. This will allow international corporations to invest and operate in sanitized spaces bypassing the multiple complexities that otherwise characterize urban India. Therefore our purpose and goals for smart cities need to be much clearer along with a better understanding of the socio-economic condition of our country. The city needs to be designed wisely, catering to everyone’s needs equally irrespective of social and cultural differences. 

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

MuseMATTERS: (Im)perfect Architecture

MuseLAB

Imperfections show up several times in our lives in almost everything we see, use or design. More often than not, we realise, that something we once perceived to be perfect, is probably flawed or obsolete.  Beauty in art is often found in the imperfection it bears. The highly appreciated works of Picasso often disregarded scale and proportion. But when a two dimensional entity transcends into a three dimensional object, is there room for imperfection?

Maybe there is an area where imperfections are welcome.  During the design process, we cherish the potential that imperfection bears in our search for the perfect design solution. We study several ideas, compositions and layouts only to find that they are just not right for the project. Architects generally crave to attain perfection, but even in a completely flawless design, imperfections can creep up in the form of materials and workmanship. As much as architects try to control the execution of a perfect design, there is always room for some imperfections to appear.

Computational methods are used to make architecture more definitive. Even as architectural forms get more free flowing and organic, the need for accurate digital modelling and parametric is on the rise. The contemporary obsession that the world has with digital precision only minimises the chances of imperfections.

An untitled painting by Le Corbusier.   Image courtesy VKV Visuals Blog.

An untitled painting by Le Corbusier. Image courtesy VKV Visuals Blog.

We are surrounded by imperfections -whether it is on a smaller scale like paintings and art or on a larger scale like cities. The discussion then digressed and we -debated on the flaws of an organic city like Mumbai and a city planned to have no imperfections like Chandigarh. Mumbai being an organically developing city; the architecture has emerged out of necessity and not meticulous planning. Every time the imperfections of this city begin to resurface, another layer of architecture and infrastructure is added to meet the growing needs of the city.

(L) Door detail at the Assembly building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh. (R) High Court building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh.  

(L) Door detail at the Assembly building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh. (R) High Court building by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh. 

Chandigarh cannot be talked about without the mention of Le Corbusier and his work. As an architect, Corbusier always tried to bridge the gap between perfection and imperfection. His architecture displays clarity with definitive forms, contrary to his abstract expressions in art. Architecture is paradoxical – and therefore as a studio as well we often try to work through challenges through a rigorous process of continuously massaging the idea by refining it and trying to perfect the imperfect. Ultimately we re-valuate the proposed solutions and try to make balanced and informed decisions.  

Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.

 

MuseMATTERS: Architecture for Humanity

MuseLAB

Our discussion for the week was inspired by Architecture for Humanity (AFH), a non-profit company that provided architectural solutions to humanitarian crises. Unfortunately, early this year the company filed for bankruptcy and closed its headquarters although most of the chapters are still running independently. Which brought us to the question; should a firm that focuses on humanitarian architecture work as a for-profit?

The Re-Build Camp in Jordon.     Cameron Sinclair, who is one of the founders of AFH left the organization and has now started up his own venture which does just that. They tie up with local organizations and non-profits to provide design solutions to the community, for a fee.         Image Courtesy: Archdaily.

The Re-Build Camp in Jordon. Cameron Sinclair, who is one of the founders of AFH left the organization and has now started up his own venture which does just that. They tie up with local organizations and non-profits to provide design solutions to the community, for a fee. Image Courtesy: Archdaily.

We are not sure we have the answers to the question but, true legacy of Architecture for Humanity will be how they helped change the landscape of architectural culture. While one feels a sense of loss at the closing of their headquarters, we would do well to remember the words of Sinclair in his 2013 strategic plan: “Through training, practice, and a deep sense of optimism, architects see opportunities where others only see a void. This has been the driving principle behind Architecture for Humanity since our founding.” So challenges still remain and will continue to arise – by integrating ourselves within the community and by understanding the core issues hopefully architects shall make a change.

A lesser known fact that people outside the architecture fraternity are unaware of: we as architects put in a lot of time and money to be trained as architects and no we don’t bring home the big bucks when we graduate, did I mention the hours we clock in? So if we apply this equation to a non-profit organization, where one puts in twice the time and since it’s a non-profit they don’t get paid. Result: not so feasible when you have student loans to payback or a family to support, unless of course you are either financially stable or a selfless person in which case we are hiring come join us!

Architects have to make sure they are available on site from start to completion of any project so working part time on pro bono projects is not possible without compromising on the quality of the final product. We all recognized that humanitarian work is needed by our society especially with the current state of matters, but we also realize that as a studio we have ways to go before we can venture out on our pro bono project. Perhaps we start on a micro level with a product of some sorts and then move to the macro level of architecture, who knows. What we do know is that we have every intention of doing our part in facilitating a change for the betterment.

Not saying that MuseLAB will change the world (yet), but keep an eye out for us

 Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.