Earlier blogs have already looked at 4 submissions from internationally invited architects, this third blog looks briefly at other remaining entries, looking at their proposed designs and main objectives. Let us start by looking at 40 years of growth, starting as ‘immaculate architect deliverd new born babies’, growing out of their original clothes (as intended) and covering their bulging bodies with colourful and attractive garbs to feel good, comfortable and impress others.

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Candilis, Josic, Woods    (France)

The housing structure is a system of walls defining built and open spaces.

There are two different width of bays, smaller one is 2.7m wide, can be entirely covered forming single or two storey accommodation, the wider bay 4.5 m wide, forming courtyard, patios and living accommodation in different combinations to suit immediate and future needs of occupants. The land can be traded off between adjacent owners to suit their particular needs.

The basic units at the start are all of equal size consisting of two small bays and one large one, and come ready with masonry walls, slabs and concrete beams with water  and drainage points and a certain amount of space is enclosed.

The streets serving the dwellings can be orthogonal or diagonal interdisperced with public squares and gardens. Shops can be formed within individual dwellings as happens in existing barriadas.

In early stages of development private cars may be limited to perimeter of the housing area, while service vehicles will use pedestrian ways but these arrangements can be readjusted to suit future car ownership demands.

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Charles Correa   (India)

Correa said that the project grew from the following four objectives:

(1)   Highest possible density commensurate with (2) Individual landownership;

(3) Minimum road and servicing cost; (4) Pedestrian /vehicle separation.

An arrangement of narrow row houses with access at both ends provided the logical answer both to vehicle segregation and minimization of service runs with porches and backyards acting as transition areas between pedestrian and car access and the interior of the houses along diagonal road and footpath routes so as to exploit the prevailing wind for ventilation purposes – aided by airscoopes over the central area of each house – and to achieve optimum orientation with respect to sunlight. Tree planting along pedestrian and service roadways can be employed to modulate sunlight and natural ventilation as well as traffic noise from the central thoroughfare.

The service structure of schools, shops, and church and recreation areas is strung out in a disjointed diagonal moving in the opposite direction to the footpaths and roads. They take the form of the covered shaded areas set in well ventilated clearings and can be easily reached on foot as they can be by vehicle. The shops can be serviced from cul-de-sac service roads. From individual porches one can walk along pedestrian ways until these join the central spine of patios culminating in the central church and shopping area.

There is a single underpass linking both halves of the site across the central area.

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The houses themselves are designed in such a way that they can either be built by their future occupants, with the assistance of the authorities as regards prefabricated elements, subsidies, skilled labour etc.: or they can be completed by the authorities themselves and sold to individual families. The former option would allow greater flexibility and, bearing in mind the efforts have been made to minimize the number of constraints that would be necessary under the circumstances.

Narrow plots resulting in narrow frontages, in architects mind ensured that the façade to be ‘controlled’ was very small and set well back into the porch.

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The short span housing offered considerable structural flexibility which could be exploited by the occupants. Further flexibility was offered by building the first stage development to be on ground floor, incorporating a front porch, living/dining area, bedroom, central patio, bathroom, kitchen and a small service patio at the rear. This was considered sufficient for a young family with one or two children. The future stages could add first floor bedrooms and bathroom.

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Correa’s ‘interlaced’ scheme generated by the saw-tooth configuration of the anti- seismic outer wall is orientated along the axis that is most conducive to natural ventilation. The major changes have been made on the scale of the city block. Individual owners have now aligned their units along the street front.

Without malleability you can not have cultural expression-

all you can get is a top-down notion of how people should live” C.C.

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Esguerra, Saenz, Urdaneta, Samper   (Columbia)

Project tries to create neighbourhoods units with high densities/low rise but individual ownership. This approach also reduces combining services and communications. The supervision of open spaces, security of motor cars, play areas is also assured through this community spirit.

Individual plots are square maximising the flexibility of layouts, reducing party walls, enclosing pedestrian routes with easy access to cars.

There are 20 unit designs available depending on locations within layout, service areas and staircases. The following standard structural components using a 50 cm module are extensively used;

  1. A standard pre-stressed concrete tee beam and accompanying hollow brick infill elements.
  2. Prefabricated concrete lintels and porch section and perforated bricks.
  3. A standard open web steel roof joist with steel support columns to support ‘Eternit’ roof sections.
  4. Standard prefabricated sinks, wcs, washbasins and showers.
  5. standardised water, gas and electricity installations.
  6. Metal doors and window frames and terrazzo stair treads.

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Earth banks and areas of planting protect the project from the main traffic route.

This scheme avoids using neighbourhood areas as the scheme avoids the formation of hierarchical structures and offers parallel opportunities for all.

Each single unit is placed in close proximity to a sheltered open space to allow free pedestrian movement and play spaces near homes. These paths/private open spaces are connected with the central servicing zones ensuring a steady pedestrian traffic.

All houses are within ten minutes walk from the central rapid-transit route with adjacent parking areas, services and recreation facilities. Construction is intended to be gradual (north-east corner to south-west) to enable progressive occupation without excessive disturbance.

The dwellings are designed to be built in two stages in variety of ways, the first consist of primary structure, building the prefabricated concrete elements placed by a three-ton crane. The secondary structure stage of completion is carried out by tenants themselves by using lighter elements of clay or concrete blocks, lintels, wall panels, partition, windows, woven fibrous screens and textiles, all capable of assembling in number of combinations to suit occupant’s needs.

The structural walls incorporate storage recesses with doors and ventilation to open air, while shaded areas cool ingoing air.

The open nature of plan still provides acoustically quiet areas in the centre of the house, where the private rooms are situated.

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J.L.Iniguez De Onzono and A.Vazquez De Castro   (Spain)

The site is divided into ten neighbourhoods, each of about 500 dwellings.

A 3 m wide main pedestrian street runs centrally connecting groups of dwellings.

Groups of one-family houses are standard plans around internal and service patios.

Upper floors are planned alongside access alleys. A circular staircase links the two floors.

The structural system of prefabrication provides a series of permanent shuttered elements for poured reinforced concrete (walls, pillar, and beams).

PREVIDec12 019altToivo Korhonen   (Finland)

The main structural grid used is 36m x 36m, derived from practical requirements. The structural grid is separate from the internal module making it independent from internal additions and changes.

The plan of dwelling type is based on a functional separation of service and kitchen spaces, general spaces, and sleeping spaces. This offers maximum flexibility to suit future needs of occupiers who will determine the forms themselves.

The boundary walls of all dwellings are built first. The simplest dwelling thus consists of an undivided space, with water and drainage laid on in the service yard, which at the outset will serve as a kitchen. From this starting point the owner fills in and extends his house. Sanitary and Kitchen fittings are fixed using standard components. Services are grouped to avoid long installation runs.

The structural system has shallow concrete foundation pads, a floor slab resting on the ground and concrete columns and beams, supporting a corrugated asbestos roof.

All basic dwellings are single storey, when the upper storey is required; the original roof acts as shuttering for concrete.

There is no traffic within each developed area, apart from service traffic which penetrates on several wider roads. Parking areas in the first stage are mainly reserved for public buildings.

PREVIDec12 020altAldo E. Van Eyck  (Netherlands)

The urban structure formed by the housing is derived from a clustering principle which operates independently of the dwelling type employed. The plot shape does not correspond to the octagonal shape of the houses, so squares, rectangles, rhomboids and free forms could be employed with equal ease. The chief advantage of the hexagonal house with its low perimeter wall is that it discourages further building by the inhabitants in any direction which would result in the loss of external spaces or internal light a frequent development in self-build barriada housing. In this sense the houses are designed so that further free development cannot work against the best interests of the occupants.

The layout is characterized by thick bands of clustered housing separated by a small number of roads placed as far apart as possible. Each band is six plots deep presenting a wall of houses made up of rows of six and two, or five and three dwellings, to the principle avenue, which is itself developed more or less symmetrically so as to achieve a more monumental character. The access footpaths serving the bands of housing have a more informal aspect which clearly differentiates from the main thoroughfares. Climatic considerations affected this layout as traffic – which is insensitive to climate – runs from east to west, whilst the pedestrian footpaths run south-east to north-west or north-east to south-west so as to take advantage of cooling breezes during the hot summer. Protection from a winter winds is achieved by means of the block staggering shown on the plan.

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The arrangement of paths described above allows the breeze to penetrate deep into each band of dwellings, a process facilitated by the lateral staggering of the houses. Both house types1 and 2 are designed to take advantage of this air movement by permitting through ventilation to all interior and exterior private spaces. The triangular patios discourage building over in the manner described above, so that the achievement of a genuinely urban character – instead of a suburban – can be realized. All schools and service facilities are accessible along the diagonal pedestrian paths whilst a variety of safe play spaces for children, communal lawns, plazas with fountains and other open spaces are grouped at the ends of the footpaths in full view of all houses for security.

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Car parking is provided along the principal avenues and also in certain areas off the footpaths.

In the design of the houses an effort has been made to avoid the appearance of an industrially produced minimum house – which carries with it a stigma not easily overcome by the inhabitants of former barriadas. Instead an effort has been made to build a measure of flexibility into dwellings which can not only interpret traditional and modern living styles but also adjust to different room arrangements corresponding to individual family requirements.

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It would be a grave error if pre-designed and partially pre-constructed urban environments such as this pilot project proposes should counteract the growth and development of the barriada idea and practice, instead of stimulating it through the erection of improved dwelling types, construction systems and overall community planning.”  A.v.E.

Prior to taking part in the competition Aldo van Eyck visited Peru where he observed that in local houses women were at the heart of the home, he placed the kitchen in the centre of the floor plan. He also took a more proscriptive approach to how the owners should expand, creating diagonally walled courtyards to discourage people building on top of them. He failed of course. Outside space is not sacred to a family of eight with another generation on the way.

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One of my favourite photos from Domus shows this combinaton of  sophisticated Danish technology, precision and grace, embellished and enhanced by this proud couple, who met Knud Svensson as they occupied this house they adored from the first day. Architect promised that one day he would come back to build them a first floor extension to match what they liked, but unfortunately that never happened.

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Collective/Community External spaces in PREVI

“Though many years have passed, bearing in mind the premise that Peter Land’s team addressed the influence of each participant throughout the design process, the composition of these elements suggests the contribution of Aldo van Eyck.
This assembly of highly static, geometric abstract objects, their gravity-defying impression of lightness and the sculptured border all recall the playgrounds of post-war Amsterdam designed by Aldo van Eyck for Amsterdam’s Department of Public Works. Van Eyck addressed the issue of interstitial voids and defined space and place, producing interventions that were both numerous and ephemeral. His ambition of creating a space for children that was “more durable than snow” was realized in the desert of Lima.
It is surprising to note how the constant transformation of the housing units distracted architecture reviewers, while the collective spaces attracted hardly any attention. The collective space, immaterial and flowing, is the most determinant and lasting element of the PREVI.” Quote from an excellent dap paper Issue 9 by Marianne Baumgartner on collective spaces. http://www.architecturalpapers.ch/index.php?ID=90

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“EL TIMPO CONSTRUYE! TIME BUILDS” by Fernando Garcia-Huidobra, Diego Torres Torriti and Nichlas Tugas Barcelona 2008. A rather difficult book to get hold of, but I understand most of the Domus graphics and details are attributed to this book

Domus April 2011, report by Justin McGuirk.

Julian Salas & Patricia Lucas from openhouse international vol 37 No 1 ‘The validity of PREVI, Forty years on.

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Wayland Tunley intentions from the start were to have a wide variety of uses and housing on this site as he saw the dangers in housing 3000 people in a repetitive layout lacking amusement and joy.

A clearly understood street, cycleway and pedestrian network were to lead to a lively central area to be shared with the adjacent grid of Pennyland and to be linked to the city via the grid road. He intended to provide maximum variety of public areas surrounded by house types and designs which people were familiar with and liked. The layout consisted of varied building designs around streets, mews, landscape styles, offering surprises and vistas.

The trap of using unfamiliar building materials and contrived forms was also avoided by using red bricks, tiled roofs vernacular throughout the grid where the topography of this prominent site offered the variation sought by the designers to achieve a village plan within the grid with entrances marked with gate piers, timber oriels, lanterns, balconies, pergolas and its own ‘green’ and clock tower

A wide variety of mostly wide fronted one to three storey houses was employed often placing living rooms on first floor to take full advantage of the views. Most of the houses were originally meant for rent, some for sale. There was also specialist accommodation for Spastics Association, employment office, shops, a Pub, health centre, housing for elderly, schools. This variety building types was fully utilised to provide variation of scale and roof heights.

The streets and mews are named after old crafts, within context of a ‘village vernacular’ of a comprehensive newly designed picturesque village community lost within a modern large new city designed for cars.

The local centre lies within Neath Hill but casts its visual net to cover the adjacent grid of Pennyland and indeed announcing itself to the speeding motorists on the main grid road. Neath Hill and Pennyland are special grids as the local centre shared by the two adjacent areas is a departure from norm and addresses the main grid road to break the MK planning rule of hiding the centres in the heart of grids surrounded by housing and a lush belt of hedges and trees to keep the housing grids secret and private to the local population.

Wayland Tunley is the main ‘conductor and composer’ in this area. The housing varies from simple and plain to celebratory and elaborate, depending on the placement within a very rich mix of public spaces and pedestrian circulation. The hidden secret of these grids lies in the joy of walking on footpaths winding their way through matured landscape reminding you of intimate country lanes, village greens, with beautifully framed views of building landmarks. Grand Union Canal has also been included in giving an extra boost to this subtle experiencing of marriage between the social architecture and the best traditions of British informal landscaping by offering a mini ‘Venetian Corner’ with a British twist to the complete surprise of  casual newcomers.

By the time Pennyland come to the drawing board, the energy conservation was becoming a significant issue. The first phase was built to higher standards if insulation and employed quite a few energy conservation experiments and studies.

Wayland Tunley left MKDC in early 1980s and won a competition to build canal-side housing (I assume as a builder/developer partnership) which used traditional canal side architecture and language of Netherfield very effectively. Housing built further away from Neatherfield was carried out by other architects and developers.

When one comes across the words Bangladesh and architecture, the image of monumental Louis Kahn’s building in Dacca immediately comes to mind. This little school by Anna Heringer of Austria and Eike Roswag of Germany which received the Aga Khan Award of Architecture in 2007 may not be able to reach such heights of poetic monumentality but may be able to impart a much richer legacy for the well-being of millions. The school was considered a model for future development of high design quality achieved with traditional local materials like bamboo, mud and even fabrics for Saris with the involvement of the community.

These words from the Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture are worth quoting.

“This joyous and elegant two-storey primary school in rural Bangladesh
has emerged from a deep understanding of local materials and a
heart-felt connection to the local community. Its innovation lies in
the adaptation of traditional methods and materials of construction to
create light-filled celebratory spaces as well as informal spaces for
children. Earthbound materials such as loam and straw are combined
with lighter elements like bamboo sticks and nylon lashing to shape a
built form that addresses sustainability in construction in an
exemplary manner. The design solution may not be replicable in other
parts of the Islamic world, as local conditions vary, but the approach
– which allows new design solutions to emerge from an in-depth
knowledge of the local context and ways of building – clearly provides
a fresh and hopeful model for sustainable building globally. The final
result of this heroic volunteer effort is a building that creates
beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning, so
enriching the lives of the children it serves.”

The architects describe the two- storey structure as being ‘hand-made by local craftsmen, pupils and teachers together with a European team of Architects, craftsmen and students.’

The ground floor is made of thick mud walls, with organically shaped cave-like spaces to the rear of each of three classrooms, while the upper floor is a porous, latticed space in bamboo.

The aim of the school project was to improve existing building techniques, maintaining sustainability by utilising local potential and strengthening regional identity. The architects note: ‘We are convinced that architecture means more than just satisfying a need for shelter, For us architecture and building is closely linked with the creation of identity and self-confidence. This is the basis for sustainable and forward-looking development.’

An excellent link from MoMa for this project

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/smallscalebigchange/projects/meti_handmade_school

The contents and photos are attributed to AD of November/December 2007,with the title “Made in India”

Westbury Farm is one of the hidden treasures of Milton Keynes. This ancient rambling farm has provided a shelter for many artists for more than 30 years and has also become a resting place for either insitu ‘installations’, unfinished, unsuccessful or experimental works which could not reach the desired standards or intended destination by the artists occupying the farm.

The following abstract comes from a case study for Westbury Farm carried out by The Price’s Regeneration Trust.

“Westbury Farm is a 17th century timber framed farmhouse with brick infill and is Grade II listed. Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC) compulsory purchased the farm and farmhouse for development purposes with the intention to develop the site out as part of the masterplan for the new town of Milton Keynes. The farmhouse and land surrounding it today remain undeveloped in the south-west of Milton Keynes and are now in the ownership of the successor of MKDC, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

MKDC were approached by the Silbury Group, an artist led not for profit organisation, to lease the farmhouse for use as artist studios. MKDC at the time were keen to promote art in Milton Keynes so to encourage artists to move to the new town, and the provision of artist studios at Westbury Farm was seen as an important step in achieving this aspiration.

Lasting outcomes

HCA has continued the arrangement which sees the farmhouse occupied rather than left vacant and vulnerable, resulting in reduced security and general holding costs while ensuring that the farmhouse remains in good condition.

Leasing the farmhouse to the Silbury Group has meant that any problems in regards to repairs and general maintenance requirements are reported to the HCA as and when they arise, preventing repair and maintenance issues escalating in terms of cost and scale as a result of such issues not being identified quickly enough. All of these benefits deliver value for money in the interests of the tax payer, as well as resulting in a sustainable temporary use for the farmhouse that benefits the local community.

A disposal strategy for the farmhouse will be identified when the land surrounding the farmhouse comes forward for development. As the farmhouse has been well maintained then it is unlikely that there will be any conservation deficit, making the asset more attractive to potential purchasers.”

The activity shown in the lawn infront of the farm is a weekend Raku Workshop which took place earlier this month.

Some of the ‘left-over’  works are constant reminders of artists who lived and worked here in the past and their works are only recognizable by their distinct styles.

Quiz: Below is the out come of most of  the Raku day. Can you hazard a guess as to which part of the table houses the handiwork of a ‘cranky’ architect?

Non-Architects Build Small

October 4, 2010

The exhibition at V&A Museum,  ‘Architects Build Small’ and Studio Mumbai’s contribution to it caused a lot of interest in the subject of survival of poor on the streets of an affluent city. To look at this sad but brave attempt through a magnifying glass in a museum of a wealthy developed country and enjoy or indeed celebrate the artistic and spiritual aspects of these meagre attempts appeared a bit voyeuristic and left me slightly uneasy.

Last Year I was in Lahore for a family visit and saw something close to Studio Mumbai’s creation in real life. This humble structure standing on a ‘postage stamp’ size plot of land must have been housing 8-10 people. The structure was obeying all the basic rules of privacy (a crucial issue here), ventilation, thermal comfort and hygiene.

The honesty of this simple, economical construction to me looked stunningly attractive in its directness. I wonder to this day as to the layout and size of inhabited rooms here, but answer must be in Studio Mumbai’s  exhibit.

Following is taken from my Blog regarding this visit to Lahore

“I also saw the construction of humble dwellings for the people who were displaced from the  slums  where these huge roads are being built. They can only afford to  buy tiny plots of land and are forced to build 2-3 storey houses for large families or often for partial letting to make ends meet.

It was no surprise to know that without fail all of these structures were using a mixture of reinforced concrete walls/columns, floor slabs and stairs to save and gain precious inches of floor space and heights.”

The surprising thing is that no architect has been anywhere near this construction at any stage. In retrospect perhaps Studio Mumbai  was right and I must alter my stance accordingly.

Some other examples of  similar housing in the same area.

The picturesque Cotswold can hardly fail to remind most of us of picture postcards, chocolate boxes and soft schmaltzy classical music but it would be tragic to ignore the vernacular and even worse to turn up the nose at genuine attempt to build modern buildings in these delightful environments.

Edward Cullinan was commissioned to design this residential Study Centre soon after leaving Denys Lasdun’s office and building his own mews house in Camden in 1965.

It may be worth saying a word or two about this generous architect/teacher and now also a Royal Gold Medal winner for 2008, who has influenced hundreds of young architects to carry on the best traditions of a very special ‘romantic pragmatist’ branch of expressionist modern architecture in this country for last half of the 20th century. Calling him ‘collective architectural Dad’ to me is an apt description.

Kenneth Frampton said that Ted  produced “.. an architecture of Resistance” and that in his work    ” .. both landscape and materiality work together to secure the uniqueness of any prevalent and continuing sense of place”

In my humble view this early project from his office encapsulates the gist of the quotation above.

These plans are attributable to Architectural Design, February 1968. It is hoped that the younger architecture enthusiasts could observe that the humble approach to create this subtle and sensitive environment does not use any ‘tight rope tricks’ and yet produces an ageless building which can not fail to enrich all the senses of viewers and users for a long long time to come.

The three buildings in dark lines were the existing structures. The main house was converted to a common room, dining room, kitchen and offices; a malt house is now a library; and the barn now houses the conference rooms.

The cross section (left to right) Roof forming cloister round the courtyard; Section through the new main residential block, cloister run next to the boundary wall at the back;  Cross section through barn and conference room.

Top left. The old malt house now a library opposite, the old house now connected to the new long housing wing.Bottom right. The footpath passes between the conference rooms on right and new bedrooms on left and leads to the staff houses at the far end of the site. Note the use of insitu concrete and concrete blocks with simple stained timber and stone walls and roofs.The new residential wing turns at right angles and reaches the river, enclosing the communal space and separating the staff quarters. The end elevation of this new bedroom block helps to define the river’s edge.

Top left. Conference centre with cloister link with residential block; Bottom right. As you leave the village, all you see is the back of the old house and the stone boundary wall forming cloisters behind the residential block.  This was my second visit to see the building after about 30 years and I almost missed the building because it was so well merged in its surroundings.

The second architect I would like to draw your attention to is Kamil Khan Mumtaz. A Pakistani, British trained architect, who has been working in Lahore, Pakistan since late 60s. He has been involved with Aga Khan Award of Architecture, has also led several architectural juries. He has made tremendous contributions to architectural education in Pakistan in his own modest manner.

While studying at Architectural Association in London in early 60s, Kamil was no doubt, fully exposed to the modernist thinking of that era. In tropical department at AA, Dr. Konigsburger and Rory Fonseca were there to impart the best knowledge about designing for comfort in tropical climates. Kamil also worked with Keith Critchlow and Buckminister Fuller in Ghana for a while.

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On his return to Pakistan he started his practice with all the current design influences and produced some work using modern 20th century influences. It soon became apparent to him that that all his western training and appreciation of modernist principals were at odds with the local building and cultural traditions and to make meaningful architectural progress in these environments required a reappraisal of all he has learned.

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Like Laurie Baker, he was fully conversant with the sustainable approach to built forms rooted in local traditions. Laurie Baker’s professional work adhered to his own brand of Quaker humanism. Kamil’s faith in Islam is influenced by Sufism, a much gentler, tolerant and almost secular approach despised by the hardcore intolerant Islamic wing causing the current disquiet throughout the world.

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Laurie Baker’s was born  brought up and trained in a different cultural and religious world away from India. This may have sharpened his powers of perceiving, assessing the prevailing conditions and needs in his adapted homeland and then using his humanity and talents to directly contribute to built environment which absorbed essence of prevailing cultural conditions, materials and building techniques. The resulting buildings   were not afraid to introduce new materials like reinforced concrete where appropriate but never lost sight of affordability, always responded to social and climatic conditions.

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Kamil Khan Mumtaz was born and grew up on the sub-continent, surrounded by some of the best examples of traditional craftsmanship, vernacular and civic architecture from pre-Mogul to British era. His professional training abroad, in his view, almost put him off course and he was forced to make some ‘mid-way corrections’ to his professional progress to return to a point where his work was ‘seamlessly’ connected to the centuries of  of traditions. The factor which is starting to separate him from Laurie and others is his understanding and sincere belief  in Islam and Sufism which is shaping his new work wherever enlightened and like minded clients allow.

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Islam and its rich heritage offers him a framework to bridge the gap between alien western culture on one side and prevailing lack of continuity and cultural relevance in local architectural world on the other. He is striving hard to regain the understanding of the past where religion, culture and building forms and techniques were in harmony.

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I have been aware of his high standards of architectural output for a while, particularly his interest in indigenous approach, trying to keep alive or revive the building traditions that continue to suffer and deteriorate in Pakistan. This is not an easy balance to strike if your clients have  differing expectations and ambitions, which are sufficient reasons for Kamil to politely decline such projects.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Kamil in Lahore a few months ago, when he very kindly accompanied me to show some of his building projects currently under construction.

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I am going to show you the photographs I took there and apart from few descriptions I hope to use his own words abstracted from his writing or interviews (in italics).

The sensibilities of the architect are moulded by his academic training. He is sensitised to the role of “function” and of “pure aesthetics” of sensible form, but not to that of religion as a factor in the design process. Thus it is only in deference to a valued client’s sensibilities, or as a cultural metaphor rather than as religious symbol; that the average architect may be persuaded to incorporate some token reference to traditional forms into his otherwise “modern” designs.

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I have been able to evoke the delights of discovering the hidden paradise with internal patios and fountains.

I have learned to work within the framework of a new discipline of symmetries, proportions, and rhythms which reflect the cosmic order and perfect balance underlying the apparent chaos of the universe

An architecture based on appropriate technology will fail to convey its message unless it also employs a language that is appropriate and meaningful in the context of a specific culture

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…within these same environments the opportunities have also existed for architecture to act as a catalyst in promoting a meaningful debate which addresses issues which should be central to the discourse of architecture in these environments: Architecture can play this role by positing strategies for urban development in the context of high rates of population growth, high rates of urbanisation, and persistent poverty; by exploring the validity of urban forms and morphologies which have evolved over the millennia in this particular geographic context; by imaginatively exploiting available material resources and skills and developing appropriate technologies; by designing buildings which are responsive to the climate of their region; by developing an architectural vocabulary which is meaningful to the people and relevant to their culture and history; by creating relationships of spaces and buildings which are sensitive to prevailing social values and norms; and by clarifying the issues in the current debate on modernity and tradition in these societies.

It will be rude of me to question any of these admirable and sensible thoughts, but in all honesty I feel that Kamil may well be fighting a rearguard battle in some cases. In Lahore I saw and observed local builders and their donkeys using bamboo scaffolding, constructing very advanced modern road networks with flyovers and bridges, using pre-stressed/pre cast concrete elements of spans large enough to put the most advanced western contractors to shame.

I also saw the construction of humble dwellings for the people who were displaced from the  slums  where these huge roads are being built. They can only afford to  buy tiny plots of land and are forced to build 2-3 storey houses for large families or often for partial letting to make ends meet.

There was no surprise to know that without fail all of these structures were using a mixture of reinforced concrete walls/columns, floor slabs and stairs to save and gain precious inches of floor space and heights.

This self-help mode of construction is well understood by all local builders and also becomes an ideal vehicle for reflecting success and ambitions of the proud owners. This often results in creating excellent stage set ‘parody’ of large upper class houses locally and in Abu Dhabi, decorated with colourful ceramic tiles and rendered surfaces and recessed lights in concrete slabs.

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There is another potential pitfall of creating a schism in building new religious/civic structures and large houses for fairly well off clients in a ‘sustainable’ manner while the business of mass affordable housing is left to the self correcting Darwinian principles.

However, on balance, I wish Kamil Khan Mumtaz best wishes and luck in the world. He has already started a debate and highlighted the issues which are crucial for the well being and future of architecture and has produced many exemplary buildings to prove his points. His efforts have already  introduced many craftsman to the lost art of traditional building materials and techniques. May this long continue and multiply.

Kamil Khan Mumtaz Architects site here;

http://www.kamilkhanmumtaz.com/