Category Archives: Architecture

Intersections: Where the Bus Stops

Fancy Days, getting our Bus Stop design published in a magazine.
I participated in a local Bus Stop design Competition for the Lahore Transport Company a couple of months back. It was organized by the Lahore Bienniale Foundation, Parks and Horticultural Authority and  Lahore Commissioner’s Office. It eventually got selected among five other designs and we got called in for a workshop under the Social Innovation Lab in Lahore. The three week design research workshop introduced us to Human Centered Design to further develop our Bus Stops towards the construction phase.

The crux of the workshop was a paper on the Social Study of the Existing Bus Stops in Lahore using Inductive and Deductive Research Techniques with Implemented Prototypes. I will be uploading the paper and videos that we developed out of the workshop shortly.

We were then expected to present the finalized design (shown in the image below) to a diverse jury panel.

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Very recently, our bus stop design also got published in Good Times as FOR ART’S SAKE- Intersections: Where the Bus Stops. Super Exciting. Proud Moments.

The construction of our stop is under way. Onsite Construction pictures and stories coming up soon. Stay tuned!

Radio Show

I got invited as a special guest on Burgers and Bun Kabab, a radio show that talks about the food of Islamabad (Capital City of Pakistan).

We spoke in detail about how the interior of a cafe makes the place stand out and how it inter relates with its menu. We chose a few that stand out as examples and ended the show with ideas for future entrepreneurs!

I would love to hear what you guys think about it.

 

 

Another Glorious Day

Looking back on glorious days spent in Lahore.
Of particular importance can be this particular spectacle : The Quaid-e-Azam Public Library in Bagh-e-Jinnah, also known as the Lawrence Gardens.

The Library was built in memory of John Laird Mair Lawrence, first Chief Commissioner and Lt. Governer of the Punjab from 1853 to 1859 and subsequently Viceroy and Governer General of India, and Robert Montgomery, second Lt. Governer of the Punjb from 1859 to 1865. Built in 1866 at an initial cost of Rs. 108,000, the library was later named after Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Open only to members, it has a spiraling collection of more than 100,000 volumes, both in English and Oriental Languages (Urdu, Arabic and Persian).

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The architectural presence of the magnificent structure was breathtaking. Pictures of the Library are not allowed from all angles due to security reasons, but it would do absolute justice to leave you with my favorite which captures the real essence and timeless beauty of the era that it represents.

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Death in Architecture

A funeral procession of
Marching ants carrying a dead bug,
Or a discarded bandage after the wound has healed.
Orange peels decomposing in the winter sun-
Like an old couple relaxing on the beach
So much is useful only to spell out its own end.
But where does life go
When the will has died?
Where does love go
When the lovers have denied

As a general conscience, it is understood that death is a crossing from one form of existence to the next. It is a period of time, or a span of any variant against which there happens to be a constant rebellion of temporary recognition attained. It could simply be that or the reason for maybe a silent message to the generations that there once existed an unmatchable power of art, wealth, position, knowledge, dominance etc.

Everything, living or non-living, may have to come to an end. Civilizations have existed through centuries, slowly becoming ruins; evolutions dictates new cultures and empires on top of the rubble that eventually become a part of the ground itself. Some are forgotten, other ruins are still looked at in fascination. They live beyond their time. However, death can be of anything, a good person inside, death of evil maybe, of an era, of a purpose, of decay, or can be of a declining of a power.

Death in architecture can be looked at from a number of different perspectives. Death of a building is not just a physical demolition of its existence but could be the death of its value, which for a human is spiritual death. Now it is just a body that is occupying space, useless, wasted and unimportant to itself and to others. It can now be demolished, or it can keep standing in the midst of other architectural pieces .

Death ‘and’ architecture can also literally refer to death-related architecture- to monuments and other funerary architecture. That depends on different cultures on which it depends, and how that culture translates the complex correlation between life and death. It is that cultures hopes, fears, and beliefs that make this architecture what it is. (Carta, 2013) The Egyptians built their enclosed pyramids, burying their kings with possessions for their afterlife. The Hindus have open cremation temples where they burn bodies, freeing the soul for its next birth. And other cultures believe in death as the end to human existence and simply bury their bodies.

Daniel Libeskinds Jewish Museum in Berlin, was constructed with the sole purpose of creating something that commemorated the dark history that intertwined the Jews and Berlin: the three major experiences being continuity, exile and death, thus it starts by taking visitors down a tight staircase into a dim basement. There are a number of passages and hallways, making the visitor decide for his own, some with dead end to echo the grave significance of death. Libeskind says it’s ‘in order to disclose how the past continues to affect the present’. (Schneider, 1999)

Another dimension to the concept of death in architecture can mean the evolution of architectural styles and eras. Man resorts to Romanticism at the end of every declining era to express its emotional instability and suffocation; that’s when a new era takes birth. Arts and Crafts gave way to Modernism, which flourished under staunch but simple ideas, which gave way to Postmodernism and now its Deconstructivist architects that are dominating the world. Perhaps the world awaits a revolutionary transition in architecture. It is yet to come.

The problem with this evolution is that it makes a lot of courage for man to accept something that goes beyond his perceptions of the art. Famous Modernist photographer, Julius Schulman retired from his profession when architects like Robert Venturi changed Mies’ “Less is More” to “Less is bore” and encourages the world to ornament their buildings a bit. Man, as his nature dictates him, did not accept the absurd ideas of deconstructivists like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid when they were originally introduced to the world by Frank Lloyd Wright. Man resorts back to the past, never letting die what he loved, always trying to incorporate a bit of it somewhere in his new ideals. This is when rebirth of an old era takes place. As Ruskin stated once, “Death in architecture is reversible.” However, architecture should be worthy in its main task as the interpretation of a way of life valid for our period. There can be no question of ‘Death’ or ‘Metamorphosis’, there can only be the question of evolving a new tradition, and many years of signs have shown that can and is in the doing.

The term urbex stands for urban exploration. Urban exploration is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment, including amusement parks, factories, fallout shelters, asylums, poor houses, sewers, drains etc.

If thought of critically, the idea of urbex reminds me of an igloo. An igloo is a temporary structure, for as long as it serves a purpose. After which, the essence of it dies. This igloo is nothing but a block of ice which will melt into the origin of its existence. Similarly, a house is a home only once living souls settle in it. These souls give life to this house turning it into a home.

Age is a process of growth, spiritual, mental, growth of ideas, growth of perception, of creativity or even the growth of abnormality. A building here literally is an imitation of a living being, where it eats, nurtures, lives, takes influence from the surrounding and tries to adapt to its environment, in its own meaning; with also its ability to outlive.

Peter Zumthor talks about the reality of buildings. He talks about how they don’t just exist as fragments of imagination, but also have a concrete standing in the real world. Aging is a process that the outer skin shows, like it does in the case of humans. Similarly, a building has a number of layers to itself. The way human anatomy tells us about the many organs and parts under the skin. Layers of a building are the play of lights in it, the sounds, smells, sensation of touch. Now, as a building ages, the layers sort of remain contained and intact within the main structure/skin, like an atmosphere, with the space contained. The materials on the skin show the traces of aging in the building that adds to its beauty and experience. The light falling on one wall shall always be different from the light falling on its opposite wall, but this play of intangible element will always remain the same and be as captivating in years to

come. What’s tangible is the material itself, used on the skin of the structure. And that shall show the signs of aging. Or shall it not?

Alvaro Siza says something along the same lines, A building is never finished. There’s a life that goes on after our work on it.” The building is dictated by its surrounding, it acts as a constant stimulus to reconsider space. On the other hand, it is also a reaction to the buildings surrounding it. It ever dies. There are a number of aspects to its existence that keep unrolling as its years pass. It can outlive, in the real essence of the word, and exist long enough to survive the tests of time.

Thus, it can be understood that death in the sphere of architecture, can have a number of different meanings. What matters is its purpose, as every building has a purpose, even if it is just a Temple dedicated to Man himself, as Frank Llyod Wrights famous Unity Temple. It does age, it can also outlive. But if it runs out of purpose, it has to be demolished. It has to be killed.

Works Cited

Carta, S. (2013, May 15). Death and Architecture. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from Beyond Icons 2.0: http://silviocarta.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/death-and-architecture-2013-v/

Schneider, B. (1999). Daniel Liberskind: Jewish Museum Berlin: Between the Lines. New York: Prestel.

Wonderland

Let me give you a route to go.

A window to pass from.

An arch to look through.

A broken wall to climb on.

What if the window is half your size?

What if the arch is big enough to house your entire city?

What if the broken wall is a hike up a mountain?

With close up, space expands.

The bricks peeked out at me. They came, like a sudden scene in a film, a dynamite of the tenth of a second. There was red and brown, a skyline of broken lines standing in sheer contrast against the blue.

It was floating, almost unreal; a physical interconnection in the suspended reality of its half burnt walls in the midst of its far flung ruins and debris.  The ethereal fragility of its soul just existing in the midst of consciousness; the past with its destinies and transformations all gathered into this instant of an aesthetically perceptible present.”

It gave evidence of the present I was a part of, the possible future it could hold, and a scattered image of the past that had defined it. Time had gnawed on those walls and dragged them down to their brink. The crumbling walls lurking beneath those thick layers of overgrown foliage. Nature had taken its toll on them. Man was irrelevant there in the midst of grass ten feet high, trees forty feet high, a river of fast flowing water, fishes of golden color, melodic chirping in the background.

Thesis Journal Entry Six

I began to feel a pinch of discomfort in my eyes so i blinked. Upon blinking more than once; i opened my eyes to see. Blackish gray painted on the graffitti walls glowed as i stood feet away. There she was, swaying with strokes of her brush, like a puppeteer handling her manequin, paint swiivelled across the huge canvas; imagination pouring out of her consciousness. Behind her was a grand facade of arched windows, remains of burnt wood along the sills, a piece of steel net hanging out from between two bricks higher up. The wall was standing, just freely standing there; a backdrop for her strokes of genius. There was overgrown vegetation peeking out from the gaps of the red brown wall. White pebbles graced the ground it stood on. It looked so unreal, almost smelled beautiful but i knew that had to be untrue. She slowly moved away and turned herself towards the glass on her right. A divine light seemed to somehow pierce through the thickness and through the inverted jagged lines of its top between and beneath the glass, making its way to catch my attention. The inside of a studio space, visible from the glass; the curvature of the opposite end, although static; was everything that seemed just out of reality. Though the walls remained in that space in time; i was uncertain of mine. A drifting passage of harmony so oblivious to my becoming became the only source of support for someone like me. I stayed. I dreamed. I admired. I felt it. I could just stay there for yet another moment before folding inwards.

Thesis Journal Guest Entry Two

“I swing open a hollow wooden door with force. I walk in. I glide with persistance. The emptiness of the room; so vivid; begins to fill my heart. I take a deep breath and move forward. Dark. So very dark. I believe but begin to question myself. I let myself a little lose trying to feel something; anything. The huge rounds of the shadow begin to approach me; nearing me with motive. I feel cautious but somehow manage to catch myself. There are broken pieces of glass scattered randomly like blood in a crime scene. I move forward but slightly towards my left this time and stop. A mirror. A perfect yet insignificant mirror stands a few feet ahead of me. It shines. I can see myself. The wounds of my past have healed; leaving behind obscure scars on my cheeks, forehead and parts of my neck and hands. I feel empowered by the idea of saddness and i feel it; preserve it; and adore it.”