Choice of materials Utility or aesthetics?

Prof. K.Jaisim FIIA FUWA www.jaisimfountainhead.com February2020

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“Architecture is A Profession, A Practice, A Philosophy, A Preaching or the Person!
What is reflected, responded, referred respected and reacted?
FUNCTION and FORM—How significant is their role? SPACE and TIME integration in human life and culture, is it or not?
As an example, I shall reflect on my five decades of practice and my latest experience the other evening. I stay in my cottage in the Suvidha Village. Yesterday, a young architect, along with a number of her friends desired to visit it. I accepted their request and, as it was after sundown, walked them up to my cottage.
As with all Indians, they took off their footwear, in spite of my insistence that they can wear it, and walked in, opening the glass door. I requested them to keep the door closed as not just mosquitoes, but snakes my sneak in. That startled a few! The cottage is a double unit and is a play of spaces and levels. It also has minimum of materials like granite steps, burnt clay walls and integrated clay filler slabs with wooden zigzag flooring and natural rocks.
Among them were builders, professionals and homemakers and it was obvious that they had never before seen a space like this and were walking around in wonder, a teenager among them clicking away on her mobile phone camera. I explained to them that the structure has been made of materials mostly made for other needs, applying one’s imagination and innovative skills. That is the reason why public buildings very rarely have creative responses; they only follow set norms as specified in the books.
The senses and the elements are the only materials and they have to be chosen consciously with movements in mind. The only holding criterion, as always, is affordability. The challenge to choose and change is one’s architecture. The style is a language that the architect speaks through the design of the spaces. Unfortunately, majority of architects try to speak through imitation. Even copying makes sense, but imitation without knowing the language of the time is absurdity.


These days, the words ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ are sown all over the building community. What seeds will grow where no one comprehends. Like Moses and his experience, one hopes for the best, but very often the worst happens. Roses have thorns most weeds do not have. If one closes one’s eyes and chooses, weeds will win. And the smart weeds have also pretty flowers and thus get away. Now to challenge the roses, one must define what does one want?
Aesthetics and utility have their respective roles to play. Very often when one is amidst different professionals and discussing or having a dialogue, it is evident that communication becomes either a bridge or a barrier. But even a smile says it all. This art of communication becomes difficult and least comprehensible in the built environment. Very often, gibberish is confidently touted as style or philosophy of one’s design approach.
This is utter nonsense, but one must be careful when trying to question or comprehend the pattern before one passes a judgement. It is clear that as in normal language communication, when one is not aware or heard or read a language, comprehension is an impossibility. But when one takes time and observes the depth in each word spoken or written, a great understanding prevails. This happens when one has patience to listen or observe a pattern that is not just a repetition, but a play of spaces. And in this play, there is a sense of order. The chaos then becomes a communication.
The initial disturbance has many moods of expression. But the evidence of depth in that spacing in time brings a smile of great clarity. Learning a Language and appreciating it is the greatest form of LIFE. Very often no sense prevails in repetition only sound and noise is there. Often Music and talk is lost. The expression stated in professional bodies is that great architecture is frozen music. I would add, for greater clarity: Great and Timeless Architecture is Living Music and Art.
Technology is one tool of artistic expression, but by itself, technology is just noise. Unfortunately, in the present scenario of built environment, technology has prevailed over sense. I must again stress here that allowing art to dominate is another form of murder. Architecture is a synthesis; of life and art and the technology available to express it.
This debate of sense seeking order in chaos can be an infinite one. But if one were to walk spaces of built environment with candid eyes and communicate with them with a sense of love, joy and happiness, or even sadness, raising the emotions rationally to levels that both the body and mind experience, the spirit spirit triumphs. Life is worth living in these expressions. A philosophy is born.
Nothing is born by itself. Infinity communicates with defined finite. This is design. What influences is a matter of comprehension by the individual. History writes culture and often rides it. The dominant few rejoice with recognition, politics prevail. The real creators are often buried, but in depths they do not care about. Happiness lies in the wisdom of knowing. The Individual is the source and the civilization and the expression of culture that evolves through generations. Nothing is True, Everything is True.