• Can Design Shape Culture ?

    This Thing Called Cultural Space 
    By Sidhartha Talwar

    India's diverse geography, climatic variations, and socio-economical conditions have given rise to various cultures. The culture of a place fosters its quality of life. The country offers a rich, age-old heritage of crafts and bioclimatic wisdom passed down generations that offer designers immense potential to build a contemporary and relevant architectural narrative. The cyclic nature of the relationship between culture, space, and time can guide designers to recall the strong foundations of the past to modulate the present and build a culture to the needs of the future.

    It is becoming increasingly relevant to evaluate a design brief and the site context and how they represent human values and experiences, which can guide in articulating a narrative for the subsequent design intervention. Locally sourcing materials, assimilating indigenous methods and practices of building, and engaging with artisans to develop skill sets that unite traditional techniques with contemporary requirements can reinforce the distinctive identity of a place.

    Located in Bhubaneshwar, Krushi Bhawan is a facility developed for Odisha's Department of Agriculture. The building is designed to transcend the typical closed-off office campus morphology by integrating government functions with direct community engagement and education. We developed the patterned brick fa├žade as a nod to Odisha's famed Ikat dyeing technique, created using clay in three colours to represent the region's geographical diversity.

    In a similar vein, RAAS Jodhpur's latticed screens borrow from Rajasthan's doubled-skinned structures, creating a dialogue between the old and  the new. The authenticity of local materials such as Jodhpur sandstone and craftmanship infused an element of luxury into the design of the spaces.

    We also had the opportunity to transform the Patiala Crafts Mela in Punjab into a canvas of bright, festive colours to reflect the state's cultural vibrancy and enthusiasm. The use of colourful fabrics inspired by phulkari, a local embroidery technique, and cost-effective solutions heightened the essence of Punjab and the spirit of the traditional 'melas'.

    The idea of culture is far more profound than designing and detailing, and as designers, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge it, interpret it and integrate it into the process of building spaces.

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