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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Silence

There was anxiety.
Uncontrollable anxiety.

It was vicious. I couldn’t understand what it was about. I was sinking; into a well so deep, it seemed impossible to come out. Underwater. Breathless. I kept trying to bring my head out to the surface to catch some air. My lungs were under a penetrating pressure.

I thought I was underwater.
That’s exactly how it felt.

I felt stuck, so suffocated, so trapped. Yes, trapped. That’s what I felt. There were moments during the day when I tried so much to move, to get up and on with life. But I didn’t have the strength to do anything.

I wanted this feeling to end.
I felt irrelevant. I wished I didn’t feel this way.

The world around me silently kept telling me to not worry. This feeling wasn’t going away any time soon. What I wanted was irrelevant. My infinitesimal dreams of existence meant nothing to the Lord up there.

Or was there even a He up there?

I clasped my hands, the pressure was so intense, I didn’t even feel it. But it hurt. I wanted to know where the hurt really was. The sting was deep, it stabbed right through the rib-cage and made my entire existence tremble with its force. I didn’t even know what I wanted. What would make it go away? I wanted the universe to tell me. What would lessen its power? What would give me the strength to be myself again?

I wanted the universe to just tell me.

There had been moments in my life when I had been the person I loved being. The happiness then had been so easy, almost natural. Now, the present numbness was my only natural. Had I ever been happy? Felt impossible. The life around me was a blissful life. I should be ecstatically smiling for the camera. I was smiling, only it wasn’t real. The sting down there made my sheer existence an act. Why did I keep sneaking away in corners to catch a deep breath and shed that weight that had been hanging over me for an hour? I couldn’t let anyone see it, they wouldn’t understand. How could they, even I didn’t understand myself. I knew there was something that miffed my existence. I felt like someone had pushed their hand through my chest, grabbed that pumping heart and was now squeezing it with such intensity that it made me dizzy. I felt a black cloud coming down around me. I wanted to be able to breathe. But that darkness just kept descending.

  It will not end. It will not end. It will not end.

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.

Fleeting

It was a rebellion.

A rebellion against humanity.

A rebellion against life.

A rebellion against what I thought the world was and what it turned out to be.

I thought about it long enough. Everyone thought I was over reacting. Maybe I was. But I really wasn’t.
I was reacting. I was genuinely reacting against the false impression I had had of life; the thoughts, the aspirations, the hopes, the desires, the failures, the heartbreak.

It was like a blackout for the longest time. I tried hard to understand what was happening, what had happened and what was going to happen. But it refused to make any sense. It was as if someone had wiped the chalkboard before I had had the chance to note it all down. Almost like a dream, it was unbelievable that circumstances could alter so fast. It was fleeting, boundless at one moment and a joke at the next.

I could feel someone standing there, pointing a finger and laughing at me. “Did you really think that would last? *laughter* Did you really?” I didn’t even know who that someone was. Or did I? Maybe I did at some point and now I didn’t. It was all so fleeting, so unreal. Someone standing in front me now had a solemn expression, giving me an unsaid lesson with those earnest eyes, so intense it sent me shivers through my body. I could also hear the raindrops. Fat little drops of rain falling on the shed, fat little drops of rain falling on the shed, fat little drops of rain falling on the shed. I had made a song out of it and hummed along. Suddenly, that was a moment that made me forget about my very grave thoughts, moving with the hum of my new song. It was a hit on the head when I got back, realized what I had become.

A hymn for the universe; the highs and lows; I was coming alive to being human, I was coming alive to it all.