Tuesday, 7 September 2010

All Are Architects

Honeybees and Hive
 ALL ARE ARCHITECTS: Honeybees are architects; Spiders are architects; Weaver-birds are architects; Beavers are architects; Ants are architects... 

All are architects, because at primary level architecture is Shelter; that matters! The Title 'Architect' is protected by law in some countries, and following them in the First World India. This is so because of ignorance about real life and real issues of people.

However, thankfully, the term “architecture” is not legal.

In India now there may be about 50,000, perhaps more, qualified architects. How many of them have taken legal title is doubtful. Imagine, 1200 million people have 50K architects! They will have no time to cope up the amount of work they should have had. 

Weaver Bird's two nests are never same

Spider's Site Selection

Yet there is monopoly of a few architects in the profession. Forty years ago, one architect, a foreigner of credibility, (I don't mention the name) exclaimed in Ahmadabad, "these mafia architects!"    

While “shelter”, howsoever may have stood the test of time, is considered “low” in esteem by civil society; “Architecture” is “high art” surrounded by mystery. In the present scenario, “architect” belongs to a “service class” – in Indic term, “Neo-Shudra” – in the created by Industrial Civilization, on the outskirts of Global village.   

 Well, that was a case earlier too. Emperor Shah Jahan cut off the hand of the architect who created Taj Mahal! 

Heinrich Robert Zimmer, in his book on Indian art (Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization), quotes a story of the gods’ architect, Vishwakarma, who had built a palace of Indra, the king of gods. Indra brought him virtually to tears. So he approached Vishnu, and he took Vishvakarma to Shiva for recourse. Shiva, in a guise of an ascetic, gives Indra a vision to understand that his glory is short-lived like a millions Indra that have passed away before him. The mythical story imbibes aesthetics and ethics. 


My mother was the owner - architect of this house. It was built by Community Participation, where carpenters, masons, adobe wall builders came from village and surrounding area. I was in teens then. I took by first lessons 'mud house building' here.My mother exercised her autonomy about planning, size, materials to be used, in consultation with all workers: it is in regional style. This house was built by self-help.

It is a mud house - mud floor, mud walls and mud plaster; local latarite stone facia for plinth, and pillars; timber for pillars, bamboo for roof scantling, wooden doors and windows; and country clay roofing tiles. 

I worked almost in all operations as a helper, from collecting stones, and from foundations to roofing, and later regularly attended to maintenance of mud floors, mud walls and roofing. This is a case study: All over India millions of people exercise self-help, autonomy, community participation, planning, maintenance and economy. 

In rural India children learn 'life-supporting-skills' at early formative age. May the elite scorn it as "child-labour", while pampering their urban rich brats by putting them in the best school in the city or a best in the country... What contribution the parents do other than spending money! Modern India has failed to create better model of education than  that has been existing in the past ten thousand years, in past six decades.

NOTE: 1. Images are by Remigius de Souza. 
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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.


  1. I agree Remi.My great grand-ma even now remembers the ratio of cement and lime used in the mortar for her house construction.It is true that we are being alienated from natural ways of living in a city.

  2. Architects think that they are privileged class to understand and have expertise in architecture! Maya, you are lucky to have and met your great grandma! Me too, to have seen both great grandpa and grandma.

  3. Both these articles were good.
    Architects of nature or should I say Natural architects

  4. @Anonymous: Thanks. Every person is creative. However as civilized societies develop in technology, they create CLASSES by dividing, grading, degrading like apples and mangoes in crates.