Monday, 16 July 2012

Shankar Kanade's Architecture: Lohithashwa's House

Shankar Kanade's Architecture: Lohithashwa's House

Unique Event – Interior in Action

By Remigius de Souza
Architecture is finally completed by the user: Primarily it is for the user.
SN and NN Kanade at Jalavayuvihar township

Shankar and Navanath Kanade, Architects, have their firm under the name and style, "Shilp Sindoor". They are placed in Bangalore. Shankar has been instrumental in starting/ formulating 'courses of architecture' at many colleges. Shankar and Navnath have been teaching architecture for decades.

Shankar Kanade, over the years developed unique/ original construction system, locally known as "Chapadi", using local granite; and his project execution management achieved economy that benefit the home owners.

Lohithaswa is a noted Kannada film actor and playwright and a retired English professor. He has acted in more than five hundred Kannada stage plays, and television serials. He is popularly known for his dominating voice in the Kannada film industry.

Lohithashwa had invited some artists to join the art workshop to be held at his house - residence. They were on visit to Bangalore, on the occasion of an arts and crafts exhibition at national level held at Bangalore.

I was fortunate to pick up the unique event of 'art workshop' that shows many dimensions of splendour in this house.

Artist at work - Exterior open space

We speak, here, through photos, a popular medium, and word of mouth. We speak not how the architecture of house looks, but how it works. We don't speak of design aesthetics, but ethics in adapting it to a non-charted use, not prescribed in the architects' 'Brief' (of the proposed house).

Artists take a break
At Indian residences, in urban and rural areas, there are several occasions – birth, marriage, Pooja, festivities, death... harvesting of crops – when relatives, friends, community visit. This is a common feature.

The artists gathered here have come from different parts of India. Perhaps some are meeting each other for the first time, including the host.

Place occupied by an artist

The house has major use of local granite, a living material like clay and wood, favorite of sculptors.
At every step it is overwhelmingly evident that architect and client ware in tune and at same wavelength in the process of designing.
We witness this abode is made in excellent communion of architects, workers and user-the-family.

Artists feel at home
It is said, ‘People get the government they deserve’.Here we may say, ‘People get architect they deserve’!

Navanath, Lohithashwa and artist Patil inconversation
The artists here ware immersed in work, rest and interaction. That shows how everyone was feeling at home - in the 'place', not a 'space'.
We often see photos and thumbnail drawings of architecture in glossy magazines bereft of people, rather 'the user the god in sanctuary'. What do we perceive when we see such presentations of architecture in print media or e-media?

Home is place to work, rest, interact and grow
These photographs are clicked on ordinary camera, in natural light or room lights-on.
While clicking the pictures, there is least thought given to rules of aesthetics or ruling taste. These photographs are Celebration of People, Place, and the Occasion.

Place-making in house is dynamic
We don't place any customary mini-maps to guide the reader in the interior.
Kanade brothers could have furnished me with drawings, and other typical professional information to go with this text and photographs. I don't do it deliberately.
With printing technology earlier, then photography, movie, now Internet, we are moving away from Reality to Virtual Reality at every step in our elitist life.

Connecting Persons - Connecting Places
With miniature reproductions of maps and pictures (i.e. Hi-tech photographs) of exterior - interiors, we usually celebrate Architecture - 'the Holy cow, Mother of All Arts'.
Indeed how many, even professionals, can decipher 'anatomy of architecture' and comprehend 'scale and dimensions' of Reality in the illustrations? Of course, it depends on perception level of each one.

For example, 'Barcelona Pavilion' (by Mies) lived for decades, clean and neat, in black and white photographs. When rebuilt as a memorial, in a crowded urban area, how does it look now in real?

Kitchen is Sacred Place in Indian Abode
Kitchen is sacred place in Indian abode. Cooking or rather Preparing vegan food is highest art form, only next to Organic / Natural Farming. Both nourish Body, Mind and Soul (in my opinion). Other forms in these two primal fields are marketable commodity & consumerism.

Culinary Art is Highest Form of Art next to Farming
We, the urbanite Indians, try to adopt imported industrialization; we have not grown up with it as the Western are. Also we perhaps carry mimetic memories (received from our Great... great grand Mother) buried in our deep subconscious. And like molecules of water in ocean they keep coming up: Not everyone may wake up to the inner voice. There lies the answer to many anomalies in the developing India.

Artist's Participation in Cooking
I have heard, architecture, now in the West, is put in the new category named 'Creative Industry'. Why are they apologetic? Why can't they, or don't want to, turn the tide of Climate Chang or of whatever other ills, despite their so-called Progress and Development?

Internal Courtyard is Traditional Feature in Architecture
 I suspect the term, 'Architecture as Creative Industry' has its origin in the 'Hybrid and GM Seeds' in the realms of a basic need 'Food' in Agriculture.
Now the new category of architecture evolved from the primary need, 'Shelter', is to subjugate autonomy the 'User' as 'Producer' at the mercy of 'mass producer and supplier' i.e. Industry and Market.

Artist at work
International Style (of architecture) is misnomer coined by the puppets of powers in Industrial society. 

Courtyard as a work place
Art is not for Art's sake. Any art, artefact or event is an expression of culture.
Culture is a gift of Land and Water – Mother Nature – enriched by biodiversity of the place, from the Poles to Equator. Culture, therefore, is local, never international. Only 'trade' is international.

Culture is in the People
Culture is in the people, not in any artefacts or events. Heritage Conservation, therefore, should be the Conservation of People and Natural Biodiversity.

1. When I had (first) visited Lohithashwa’s house, my spontaneous response was “I am reminded of India’s rock cut architecture”.
2. “At the art workshop other arts also flourished. Several artistes – potters, painters, and sculptors – were passionately working: I feel this may be a best, and the most appropriate tribute to Kanade ever received for his work.” (SHANKAR KANADE, ARCHITECT)

NOTE: 1. The opinions, comments, expressed in this post are mine. They don’t reflect views of Shankar and Navnath Kanade.
2. Shankar Kanade's profile: SHANKAR KANADE, ARCHITECT 

Remigius de Souza | Date: 21-01-2012
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Entertainment Explosion 2

24x7 Entertainment Explosion - 2

by Remigius de Souza 

MOSTPEOPLE* would say, ‘music is their hobby’, which may not mean they play musical instrument or sing. Invariably they hear music on some or other electronic gadget. Forty years ago, there took place a ‘great’ event, but it was not reported in the media, didn’t pull a crowd.

A young music lover Mr. Khadpekar, a student of architecture, invited Pundit Kumar Gandharva to perform solo concert at Ahmadabad. Punditji’s immediate reaction was, ‘No Ahmadabad. The crowd there appreciates music by thunderous clapping during the recital.’ However, after the explanation he readily agreed.

A small group, perhaps less than fifty, some of them from Baroda (now Vadodara), came to attend the concert. The event took place on an open platform at the premises of the Ahmedabad School of Architecture.

Punditji requested to shut the mike and the (loud) speakers. Seeing the uneasiness among his listeners he assured it was perfectly alright for him, and that they would enjoy it better. They were worried because they knew that one of his lungs was removed, and it would be strenuous for him without the ‘sound’ system.

Now it was direct contact between the singer and the listeners, mouth to ears. It was a unique experience, mostly available to private “baithak” – gatherings.

During his recuperating years he was forbidden even to sing. During that period he moved across Malava, Madhya Pradesh, listening and collecting folk songs. He was touched by the simple folks and their traditional music of Malava. He had turned the disadvantage into an opportunity. And a new Indian classical music emerged.

Punditji was generous, open and accessible, a teacher in true sense who could learn even from the humble folks. Indian classical music too was touched by the inimitable maestro. I personally was touched by him and the event that left a deep lasting impression on me.

FEW DECADES LATER, I was at a party hosted by a friend while in Bangalore. Typically there was music on an electronic gadget. At some point I said it is not music but only its replica that dissipates energy. Shankar Kanade protested. I said, ‘This is only a reproduction, which has lost its original quality, howsoever advance a gadget or technology may be.’

Though I did not remember the above event, I perhaps was prompted to say this by my subconscious. Such reproduction or representation is a virtual reality. It is just as a word ‘tree’ or a picture of a tree is not a reality. It may perhaps help someone to recall, depending on one’s perception of the ‘real’ sound, the ‘real’ event, the ‘real’ environment where it takes place; otherwise it is an object without soul – a mere technology.

In his later years Punditji had taken to teaching ‘Bhajan’ when he was acutely aware that his pupils were not getting to the meaning of the words they sang and thus singing remain as technology – a skill.

Punditji is no more. The cassette tapes of his music attached with copyright as well as the cassette players that played his music have gone to dumping yards. However Punditji’s monumental tribute to Malava’s folk songs continues to reverberate in the ears; it’s universal beyond global.

In the name of music we patronise ‘leisure industry’ (the term is an oxymoron) at a price. For that matter work – any work – comes at a price. If there are no singers, why not listen to the air, water, plants, birds… children, if there is little ‘nature’ still left in our environment? Why not dance to its tunes?

Leisure, opposite to work, is absolutely free, anywhere, to anyone irrespective of one’s status.

The millions of folks – the tribal and peasants – enjoy leisure actively, not by passive activity of watching Virtual Reality on electronic gadgets, all over India. They practice it not only during festivities but also during their daily chores.

On account of leisure the Industrial Civilisation is bankrupt and pauper.

Leisure conserves /restores energy: Leisure arrests entropy.

See previous post:
24x7 Entertainment Explosions

Note: The word, 'mostpeople', was used by poet E E Comings in Introduction to his collection of poems.
Remigius de Souza | 25-05-2007
© Remigius de Souza, 2007