The service of architecture is not to a client but to society. This is one of the fundamental premises that shapes architectural training at the KRVIA. to be able to think critically about spatial production and evolve skills and tools to participate in it through an ethical framework. In other words, we are interested in shaping the ‘Self’ of an architect. This is the crux of architectural education at the KRVIA.
Manoj Parmar- Director
Course Structure and Components
The main components of the structure of the course in an architecture course typically take the form of three kinds of delivery mechanisms – the Studio, Lecture, Seminar Courses and Electives; while the course content itself is divided across three interlinked streams- Design Studios, Technology Courses and Humanities Courses. While the latter two are imagined to be places where specialised knowledge is gained by the student, the former is meant to be the place where the student demonstrates proficiency in the “Act of Design”. There is also a Study Trip programme that runs through four years of the school.
The act of design is an act of performance. The studio can be seen as the space where the performance is rehearsed through the design of specific actions that the learner is asked to engage with. One of the main determinants for the course is to imagine the act of design as one that conjoins analytical and abstract thinking along with an embodied action. As mentioned earlier, too often these are seen in their own individualised compartments. It perhaps is more useful to imagine the two in a dialectical relationship within which the students through performing the act of design explores the space between. It is this perpetual and continuous meditation and exploration of the relationship or ‘riyaaz’ through which the act of design is embedded in the learner. What this implies is that every studio exercise concerns both the act of conceptualisation and the act of resolution. The parameters that are set for each studio can be pitched based on the position of the learner, the levels of expectation can also be understood based on the position within the learning arc that the learner occupies. However, the act of design has to be seen as one that is not a mere determinant of an abstraction devoid of the real.
The pandemic has forced us all to stay indoors as a measure to stay safe and curb the spread of coronavirus. This has effectively compelled us to negotiate and share the available spaces in our homes with the remaining members of the family. This, an arrangement of effective use of space or organization of multiple uses in a singular space at the same time probably has revealed the close association and influence between space, objects and body.
The course will attempt to develop the desired space, a construct of many objects put together to convenience and enable the performance of the body. The intentions of these performances or the desired transformation of the space will emerge by either locating the absence of things or by realizing the desires of the self and the longing to accomplish them. The need to bring in or create an experience that otherwise thrives in the peripheries of the home.
Studio faculty :
Democracy needs deep roots
The focus of this year’s Architectural Design project is local governance for smaller urban centres. A focus on smaller centres is crucial in broad-basing urban growth beyond metropolitan centres. The project takes the Indian government’s Smart City programme as an opportunity to rethink spaces of civic governance in our cities. These buildings perform vital governance functions such as supply, maintenance, and regulation of services, building permissions and regulation, public health administration etc. The people who perform these duties work in high stress environments and the buildings must address their needs and inspire them in full measure.
The project aims at framing the site as an urban condition. A pair of students must jointly frame the overall arc of the project in terms of its response to the city (as an introduction to urban design challenges in semester 7) their reading of the program and fulfilling these two aspects as a common site plan. The site design strategies will include aspects such as, response to the city (connectivity, environment, visibility, etc.) and the public realm. This exercise will also include a common public program that emerges from existing site conditions. The team must also set a vision for their individual architectural interventions that will emerge as a response to one another within the context of the site plan and then the city.
Faculty team: Rohan Shivkumar, Vandana Ranjitsinh, Shilpa Gore Shah. Jude D’Souza, Sandeep Menon, Avneesh Tiwari, Vishal Jayan & Apurva Parikh.
Teaching Assistant: Aarti Nambissan
In the Technology Studios there is an attempt to create a variety of different modes of engagement of the learner with the subject matter. They include
● Conceptual Modes where students acquire an understanding of fundamental concepts of building sciences.
● Analytical Modes: where students are able to develop analytical processes for the evolution of design either individually or through consultation with specialists depending on the scale of complexity.
● Intuitive Modes: Where students develop intuitive understandings of various building systems and proportionate sizes of components and are able to visualise their concepts as material objects subjected to natural forces, usage and constructional possibilities.
● Tactile (Hands-on) Modes which inculcate a practice of doing “hands-on” wherever the opportunity is available and develop empathy towards craft and craftsmanship.
● Collaborative Modes which value collaboration across disciplines and stakeholders and are able to communicate effectively.
● Representational Modes to develop and represent a technically sound and graphically effective proposal.
● References: which refer to appropriate resources (historical examples, case studies, standards, technical literature, guidelines, handbooks, codes, etc.) as required while arriving at solutions to the design problems.
● Innovative Modes where students are asked to arrive upon unique solutions for the particular problems that they are faced with through a combination of many of the above processes, or in the absence of suitable standards and case examples, they are able to conceptualise building and site systems and custom design details befitting their core idea.
Technology Studio : Semester 4
Community Wellness and Comfort Station
While we think about the way our surroundings are structured at a time when we are in the peak of pandemic it becomes critical to understand and respond to some of the most basic needs of our neighbourhoods. Most cities in India have started their normal routines, while some continue in a state of restricted movement. Mumbai in particular remains in a state of caution. How do we imagine our neighbourhoods, and our building complexes, become better places is one of the critical questions that many are asking.
The pandemic has shown the need for wellness infrastructure in our cities. Wellness is an idea that goes beyond health, including within its ambit the idea of the efforts taken to achieve good health. In this sense it is more of a process than a goal. Thus, the community wellness and comfort station shall attempt to address not only the immediate infrastructural need for access to sanitation and healthcare, but also act as much needed rallying points for community mobilization for future public health challenges.
In the course of the design process, students shall come across and thus learn to address myriad problems, including those of efficient use of limited resources, inequities in access to facilities and the
stigma attached to discussing wellness issues.
As a part of the Integrated Design Studio this semester the students will design a 150 sqm built up Community Wellness and Comfort Station along with sanitation spaces and community areas.
Studio faculty :
Ashwini Gawli (Teaching Assistant)
The History, Humanities and Theory Courses
These courses serve to create a background of knowledge within which the act of design takes place. They expose the students to new concepts, ways of thinking, specialised skills that can contribute to the overall development of the student. They need not dovetail smoothly with the studio space at all times. They can be spaces that support or challenge some of the presumptions of the studio. They largely follow three intersecting trajectories across five years:
1. Architectural Theory
The course intends to inculcate a habit of reflexivity, to open out the critical/dialectical relationship between knowing and doing. The theory of design course will frame architecture as an expanded cultural practice, that engages and borrows from ideas across disciplines. It will frame the act of architecture as a reflexive critical practice and theory as critical and propositional endeavour. It is the place for meditation, discussion and debate about language concerning architecture- visual, spatial, verbal as well as written. The attempt is to create a space for conversation about the dialectical relationships between the idea of ‘architecture’- a disciplinary question concerned with what the domain of architecture is, what it’s identity is, and what its responsibilities and ethical role is; and that of the ‘self’ of the ‘architect’ – a philosophical / psychological question that is concerned with what the particular skills of this profession are, what it’s role is and how does this person place herself in the world.
It aims to engender in students a capacity to think conceptually to enable new ideas and approaches to emerge. The course will expose students to works of Art, literature and architecture and ideas through history, to engender an agility of thinking conceptually across and through traditional disciplinary boundaries. Within the course there is an attempt to challenge the idea that practice and thought are separable – that there can be theory that has no concrete relevance; or that there can be practice that exists outside of thought. The attempt is to allow students to explore the relationship between thought and practice in cultural works, but through the particularity of the here and now. Unlike the history course- it will use a comparative and conceptual framework rather than a strictly historical one
2. History Courses
The History of Architecture course at the KRVIA primarily attempts to enable the student to ingest notions of one’s own cultural identity. The attempt is to understand history not as a sequence of haphazard events but one that is made by people in the satisfaction of their daily needs. The course goes beyond the taxonomic method of categorising and describing the physical aspects of the historical object to include the purpose of its making. While history is traditionally presented as a collection of facts and events that have transpired across time and place, it is pertinent to equip students on existing information and knowledge around these interpretations of facts. The emphasis therefore is on the understanding, analysis and relevance of this information in contemporary times, which will help them in gauging the society and context in which they live and operate.
The objective of the course is to bridge the distance between history as a construction of cultural identities and history as a material expression of the built object. The course adopts the modes of production as a chronological system to discuss the ideas that lead to a production of architecture. History is thus, seen and discussed as an understanding of processes – an intersection of belief, technology and social structure.
Four stages – the agrarian, the mercantile, the industrial and the service economies are considered, to place the study of the history of architecture across five years at the KRVIA. It is imagined that the first three years will place themselves within the agrarian, mercantile and industrial economies. Parallel to the history course the Theory of Design course of the second, third and fourth years explores the history of modernity and architecture up to contemporary times.
The History of Architecture course in the first three years corresponds to the larger pedagogic structure of theory and design learning – the Spatial, Conceptual, and Critical aspects. These aspects are mobilized through various spectrums of thoughts and particularly the simultaneous geographical section. The attempt will be to dissect architectural history through various spectrums of thoughts and responses.
3. Humanities Courses
The humanities aims to establish the criteria to evaluate architecture for what it does, and to test the profession’s claim to validity in public culture. Architecture is understood broadly, as the built landscape – not simply as significant works by significant architects, These courses will encourage students to investigate the built landscape through the social relations of spatial production.