SAMIRA RATHOD: SPACES, IMPRINTS & VIBES | WOMEN ARCHITECT IN INDIA | AR. MOHSIN SHEIKH.

Hello everyone!!!!

Welcome back to the blog. Today we have someone so diverse in her practice that her caliber of spectrum of works is unparalleled. She has shaped architecture design to reach new level through her practice.

Let me take you through a journey of a revolutionary architect, whose work is not just restricted to design but also writings, research, films and education. She’s a perfect inspiration if you are someone who’s an architect trying to blend research and design.

Ar. Samira Rathod
Ar. Samira Rathod

SETTING FOOT IN ARCHI-anarchy-TECTURE…

Samira Rathod is a Mumbai-based architect, writer & teacher, who completed her Bachelors in architecture from Sir JJ School of Architecture in 1986, and went on to achieve a master’s degree in 1988, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

While in the states she worked for the firm of Don Wald and Associates, California on various projects, in India she worked for Ar. Ratan Batliboi.

SETTING SAILS & THE JOURNEY AHEAD…

Ventures of her own started with RLC, a firm she opened in partnership in 1995, followed by her 1996 solo furniture exhibition called ‘Liasons de Formes’, which brought her to the forefront. In 2000, she started Samira Rathod Design Atelier (SRDA).

What followed, is a plethora of projects, experiments and numerous awards and acclaim. SRDA in rooted firmly in the philosophy of the architecture of BLIRS – beautiful, local, indigenous, recycle and reuse, and small.

She believes that the context of buildings is a starting point to design. Architecture should rely heavily on its context, including the materials available, local craft etc. She goes further to say that the firm’s designers strongly believe in objects as characters that speak to you.

In the same way, architecture influences and speaks to the person inhabiting that space. The architect says that the firm, rather than merely prioritizing functional space planning, devotes a large part of its work to “creating experiences, using space to interpret – rather than reiterating the definitive,” using light and texture.

Poetry draws the distinction between a piece of architecture and a mere building. She compares architecture to poetry in the sense that poetry is the “unraveling of layers of meaning, whereas architecture is unraveling of experiences; surprise, serendipity, comfort, relief, romance.” However, Rathod explains that “esoteric” sources of inspiration such “stories, books, conversations” may be brought into designs but subliminally. “not necessarily as physical manifestations.”

Until 2003, she was also involved in furniture design under Transforme Designs. In the role of an editor and a writer, she created SPADE – a biannual journal deliberating design and architecture in India. Spade aims to invoke introspection and provoke thought, explore ideas and inspire aspirations towards a fine architecture, especially at a time when we must shoulder the huge responsibility of nation building.

The articles, essays, projects are all of academic significance and will then remain as key markers for ideas to follow, question or denounce by fellow designers. Spade may be a great source for reading and understanding for students and the upcoming generations of designers in the country and is one forum that will discuss openly and unabashedly.

SHADOWS, DANCING ARCHES & MUCH MORE…

While there are numerous amazing completed and ongoing projects and initiatives to the credit of SRDA, here are some remarkable ones.

The School of Dancing Arches.

This school in Bhadran, Gujarat, seems like straight out of a child’s drawing book, with its asymmetric arches. The form weaves experiences and fascination, as a child explores it encountering trees and play elements on the way. The material used is local terracotta bricks for walls, floors and roof (including a layer of concrete), and is beautifully crafted to precision by the local labour.

The shadow house:

It’s a house where the light and shadows, play and contemplation are intrinsic. Its idea began from the site context, scorching heat and two lonely trees! This two-storey house, along with a courtyard and a swimming pool, exhibits various intonations of light, hence there is always a room to explore with every turn. While the exterior does not give away much, unraveling its layers on the inside.

Maze, Tree house, a wall as room are some installations that present a new premise to perception of spaces.This is just the tip of the huge iceberg that is SRDA.

SPADE & THE BIG PIANO…

SPADE is a periodic journal on architecture – a platform for thoughts, that may not essentially be conclusive, narrative or argumentative in nature, but are thought provoking. As its motto rightly justifies, it is about ‘taking a harder look at ourselves’.

Under its subset of SIRCLE, Spade also undertakes research projects, some of which include Project boject, A Dark Rhapsody, Visions and Divisions- The Banganga Experiments and more.

The Big Piano is a product and furniture design initiative that perceives them as pieces of art and craft, while simultaneously blending functionality. The materials range from old recycled woods, to metals and more.

SPREADING THE KNOWLEDGE…

Samira Rathod is an adjunct faculty member at the Kamla Raheja Institute of Architecture in Mumbai and has been invited to be a part of juries and panels all over the country and abroad. She has also given several talks and presentations on architecture at various events.

SRDA have a YouTube channel, wherein excerpts from various talks (such as The Architect’s Retreat, a SPADE India initiative), Anarchytecture – a film by SRDA, In the mood for Love (an experiential retreat) and more. The way architecture and its dimensions are presented in the designs, videos, documentations of SRDA is unconventionally interesting.

WHAT WE LEARN FROM HER…

Architecture has both tangible and intangible components. It is thereby important to widen our perspectives and understandings in different realms like research, writing, competition. Also, drawings should be our primary mode of communication, hence its very crucial how we represent things in them. Architecture should be viewed as both the process and the product.


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Ar. Madhavi Desai: Professor, Writer, Speaker and a Committed Feminist| Ar. Mohsin Sheikh

HELLO EVERYONE!!!!

Welcome back to the blog. Academically architecture is quite romanticized, contrasting to that practicing of architecture as a profession is quite different. Now as a young graduate you think you are not contributing to the optimum level to the society, which you thought you’ll do once you are an architect. Now this is not a common phenomenon it won’t happen to everyone, if you’re someone who’s affected by issues in society you will understand what I am trying to say.

Change in society is difficult to bring about. As an architect the positive here is that we can address nearly each and every issue.    Now This week’s architect is someone who has not just created an impact but also brought about a change through her writings. Madhavi Desai, renowned architect and a passionate writer. In this attempt to run through the milestones of her life and her contribution through the medium of Architecture.

Architecture is a tool where we can affect positively or negatively people’s life. And from history we learn from our mistakes and develop our Architectural sense. If not Documented properly history won’t be adding value to the future.

If you want to destroy a civilization, don’t destroy their money or people, just simply burn their books

Research and Documentation are the two main important aspects of History. And catalyst like Madhavi Desai play an important role in guiding us to our better future.

In the ‘often considered male dominated’ field of architecture, there are numerous women architects contributing commendably to the multifaceted profession that it is. Be it leading the frontiers of design, research, writing, teaching or allied fields, one always finds notable contributions of women. One such versatile architect and personality is Ar. Madhavi Desai. She is a principal architect at the joint studio Archicrafts for about 25 years since 1981, along with Ar. Miki Desai.

Ar. Madhavi Desai has an M. Arch. from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She also received the senior research fellowship at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture in MIT, USA and Sarai, New Delhi and also from the Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi.

Besides these she has received grants for various national and international assignments and has been an adjunct faculty at the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad since 1986.

As a passionate writer, she has authored and co-authored some amazing pieces. Her book ‘Women Architects and Modernism in India’, is a fascinating account of era from 1940s, paralleling modernism and unconventional women architects and narratives of their work, life & experiences. This is a remarkable feat because of lack of any pre-existing archives on the matter.

Another very significant piece is the one that she has co-authored with Miki Desai and Jon Lang is, ‘Architecture and Independence: The Search for Identity, India -1880 to 1980’ (1997).This book traces the connection between architecture, independence, culture and aspirations of us as a nation.

It examines the effects of colonization and sheds light on ‘the iconography of the signs and symbols of a culture’ and ‘the role of architecture as a cultural phenomenon’.

Yet another interesting work is the book, ‘The Bungalow in Twentieth Century India: The Cultural Expression of Changing Ways of Life and Aspirations in the Domestic Architecture of Colonial and Post-Colonial Society’, a book that portrays various technological, political and social developments that shaped the bungalow as a building type and its evolution with respect to the same.

It offers a holistic analysis of the connection between architecture, culture and life and is a remarkably commentary on something as personal and intimate as a home. Further on these lines, she has authored the book titled ‘Traditional Bohra Dwellings of Gujarat: Architectural Response to Cultural Ethos’, which elaborates on the community centric dwelling style and eventual development of the same as a typology.

Ar. Madhavi Desai has also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, published by Oxford, UK in 1997 and was the editor of Women Architect Forum’s Newsletter, Ahmedabad (Since 1993 to 2001).

As a professor, writer and speaker she has graced many conferences and has lectured at many universities in Europe and the USA. She has been an adjunct faculty at the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad since 1986.

At CEPT, she has mentored students on various relevant and sensitive topics such as ‘Introduction to Society and Culture’ and ‘Gender and the City’ as well as ‘Gender and Space’.

Widening the realm of writing further, she has also published articles such as ‘Architectural Education in India: Women Students, Culture and Pedagogy’ and ‘Woman’s Eye, Woman’s Hand: Making Art and Architecture in Modern India’. Being a woman architect’s contribution itself, these articles highlight the contributions of many more so.

It is truly remarkable how intricately weaved and yet how bold and headstrong these works are. It has added on substantially to the pool of knowledge about the South Asian and particularly Indian architecture.

Not only for all the women working in (or wanting to work in) architecture, but Madhavi Desai is an inspiration for many working and aspiring architects.

If you are interested in reading books written by her, I have provided the links below. It takes a lot of effort for such a revolutionary initiative. So, don’t hesitate to tweet to Madhavi Desai and Thank her for the contribution to our society.


BOOK 1: WOMEN ARCHITECTS AND MODERNISM IN INDIA

BOOK 2: ARCHITECTURE & INDEPENDENCE: THE SEARCH FOR IDENTITY, INDIA – 1880 TO 1980 (1997)

BOOK 3: THE BUNGALOW IN TWENTIETH CENTURY INDIA: THE CULTURAL EXPRESSION OF CHANGING WAYS OF LIFE AND ASPIRATION IN THE DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF COLONIAL & POST COLONIAL SOCIETY.

Also, a big shout-out to Madhura Kulkarni, our team Member for helping me with this blog. Show her some love in the comment section below. You guys have been really supportive till now and without you guys we wouldn’t have been where we are now. And without your support we wouldn’t have been a family of 700 followers whom I feel as my extended family. Now we need to spread it to a family of 1000 members. Show some love and Keep Supporting.


We write blogs on Architecture and everything around it, so if you are interested get in touch through these mediums:

Don’t forget to Like, comment, follow and share it with your friends
Say Hi on INSTAGRAM
Tweet us @moh0392
Want your space designed by us, mail at: armohsinsheikh@outlook.com
UNTIL THEN, STAY TUNED & STAY SAFE.