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An autobiographical portfolio tracing and archiving a journey in design, architecture and research. The ideas presented within this portoflio have been crucial to my growth not only as a designer, but also a thinker, imaginator and a person. I construct myself through varied connections and co-relations of these conceptual ideas. Thus, these ideas represent me. Collectively, they define me.
idearchiveanuj daga | INDIA
I present this portfolio as an autobiographical archive of my ideas. There are so many ideas that do not see the light of the day. This doesnot mean that they donot have value or are unimportant. I believe, an archive helps validate vague thought processes into a coherent whole. Hence, it is important to hold fragments of ideas together as an entity. I use the opportunity of compiling this portfolio to create a personal idea-archive. This archive precludes chances of losing my ideas, and helps me to channel them towards tangible output.
The ideas presented here have been crucial to my growth not only as a designer, but also a thinker, imaginator and a person. I construct myself through varied connections and co-relations of these conceptual ideas. Thus, these ideas represent me. Collectively, they define me. I use this archive of ideas
not only as self expression, but also to make meaning out of the world I exist in. Through this idearchive, I wish to go beyond the self and open up new ways of thinking.
anuj daga | 2011
...from architecture schoolbasic design
architectural designbeyond classroom
final year thesis
...from practiceopolis architects
charles correa associates set design
...research & teachingstudio work
krvia research fellowship
poetries Things yet to be introduced
2d-3d studiesSpace for comic charactermicrocosm competition seriesCinema for the Blind
Chamomile BoutiqueTan TienHouse for two sistersarchivalAnjor Kaaya
Imaginary Machines for Orientation WorkshopsExpression Space Marrying MachinesHouse for collectors Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki
exploring the self
idearchive from childhood
Poetry and drawing were windows through which I imagined the world outside me. I began writing naive poems at the early age of 6 which, over time, matured to be published in college annual magazines and other anthologies. One of my poems Pollution was selected through an online poetry contest to be featured in the anthology Letters from the Soul in United States.
By the age of 12, I would maintain a book called Things yet to be introduced. In this book, I used to sketch out things that might be useful, but not yet been made. Sometimes they came out of strong concerns of energy crisis in interiors of India - massive power cuts, no telephone lines, etc. Some of these ideas were therefore a resolution towards such issues. Others came out of pure fascination for mechanics or scientific techniques. I used to draw
them out through my imagination.
The Mumbai Local
You dont bother how crowded it is,For any how you manage to squeezeInto the bodies of numerous menAnd the train jerkily starts right then.
You see people hanging onto its doors,You see people sitting on its floorsBut still you dont want to miss that one From the bridge to the platform, you make a Marathon run!
You step in and it makes a startYou try to pacify your pumping heart!And hang on to the bars inside,And close your eyes to neglect the crowd aside.
You curse the one stamping your feet,And keep a sharp lookout for a cheat.You abuse the one who is pushing you,And try to keep away from him all the way through.
To inhale fresh air you strive,And impatiently wait for the station to arrive.At last, you get out of the train,Wishing that you would never board it again!
But every morning you have to face this mob - On seen the crowd, you heart will of course throb...Among the bodies you enter again,For you have no option, other than the train!
I still rememberTaking a waste piece of paper,And quickly rolling it into a pipe!Then filling a mug with water And preparing a soapy solutionAgitating it to get foam of froth.
Then going out to the barsti - Overlooking the world against the parapetCarefully,
Dipping the paper pipe into the mug,I would blow out bubbles of soap in space.Some would rise up the air taking them even higher,Others would descend down due to gravity.Both would eventually burst.
But not dampened by the spirit;Putting the pipe again in the suds,IWould blow out more globes of glass - Till the water emptiedAnd the paper dissolved
The Geometry Box
I divide your lines with my two handsAnd my brother works only when he standsWe fall under the same object classWe are the divider and the compass
They tell me I am a DBut my name only starts with PI can divide a circle into a sectorI am your own little protractor
Two of us give you straight perpendsAnd line which may completely cease to bendWe can draw parallel when jointWe work with lines and not with points
And I measure each of the aboveAnd you can always fall in loveI am most important toolI am no one but the foot rule.
Pollution! Pollution! Pollution!There is no solution.One who spoils our nation,Should be kept under restriction.
Where is pollution not found?By air water and sound,In the parks, gardens and grounds,Disturbing man, plants and hounds.
Now-a-days wherever you glare,You can find rubbish and garbage there,We are getting caught in pollutions snare,A thing which we cannot bear...
Pollution today is found everywhere,Clean places are found very rare,All is because we dont take care,We cannot get pollution out of our hair!
We know what harm can pollution cause,We very well know all our flaws,We must not break environmental laws,To make our earth back how it was!
Things yet to be introducedIdeas + Drawings
Idearchive from architecture school
I was introduced to architecture around the age of 14, through models. I already made several models before joining the architecture school.
I entered the architecture school when I was 18 with a lot of enthusiasm hoping to craft things in three dimension. Architecture introduced me to the formal processes of drawing, graphic visualization and ideation. I enjoyed exploratory exercises in graphics and space making that the school offered. It was the first time I played with light and space. Later, ideas
of movement, organization and experience were introduced.
Another aspect that opened up was the idea of form and function. I tried to engage with these architectural ideas through one of my first
architectural design projects based on creating a space for a comic character.
Issues of imagery and visual culture remained my primary engagements later. I explored it through my undergraduate thesis and other research projects.
Basic Design: 2D - 3D Explorations
Space for comic character
This project was about bringing a comic character out of its fictitious world into the real.
My character pair being Chacha Chaudhary (a short old man) and Sabu (an giant from Jupiter), I explored the idea of working simultaneously with two drastically different scales in this project.
After investigating into various combinations of spaces for the two, I decided to make a skin which enveloped a living space for tiny Chacha inside while facilitating activities of giant Sabu through the exterior.
S T R A T E G I E S E X P L O R I N G S C A L E
movements of sabu
movements of chacha
1 2 3
Chacha Chaudhary & Sabus house in the city
Microcosm: a world of miniaturecompetition series
Microcosm was a competition series I organized as the Cultural Secretary of Academy of Architecture during 2006-07. The idea behind organizing such an event was to engage the architecture student community in smaller dimensions of design through tasks that were micro in scale. The competitions urged participants to think out of the box, merging tools and techniques from different design practices ultimately culminating into micro-objects and ideas.
Final Year Design Dissertation
Cinema for the Blind
The overdependence of architecture on image became the prime issue that I began to question in my undergraduate thesis, Cinema for the Blind. The project made an inquiry into the relevance of the capital driven image that architecture generates (while simultaneously, exploring the irony-ridden a-spatiality of blindness). The Cinema became a metaphorical tool to represent the city as a complex construct and producer of images. On the other hand, the Blind was a tool to question the spectacle spatially as well as theoretically. The metaphor of blind sharply pointed out the visual insensitivity in contemporary urban environment.
In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle.
The purpose of the thesis was twofold. The primary scope of the project, was to try and understand the space of the blind. The larger scope of the project was to thereby look into the reasons of urban blindness.The title Cinema suggested a medium which is a passive as well as an active mode of visual communication and the symptoms of blindness were deep rooted in the contradictions of the visual world. Cinema for the Blind didnot aim to solve the problem of blindness, but it merely aimed at addressing the current situation of our built environment.
The Lamington Road, with Imperial Cinema nestled in green.
The site was selected concerning the antithesis of the title. Imperial Cinema, one of the older cinema halls in Mumbai was selected for an intervention. In recent times, these large one-screen cinema halls are giving away to small sized multiplexes. Imperial Cinema at Lamington Road in Grant Road provided the necessary contrast and the area provided the required density for such an intervention in the city.
D E S I G N S T R A T E G I E S
D E S I G N P R O C E S S
The underground courts and context
23 Section bb
The cinema spaces are connected by a maze of passages inspired by visually misguiding lanes of the city, in a hollowed chamber devoid of visuals. The building doesnot create awe, but still creates surprise by hiding itself in the ground, and establishing time on the busy street.
Entrance Cinema Interchange Hall
Exit Cinema Frame
Architecturally, my thesis reprogrammed the Cinema Hall from a place of fantasy to accommodate the blinding experiences of the city.
I saw the mass production of (similar-looking) built forms and new emerging grid planned neighborhoods through the project as visually disorienting urban elements which, ironically, become objects that actually guide the blind inside the hollowed cinema box.
Thus, my thesis problematicised the hollow preference of image over experience, and in the process proposed a new recreational space for the Blind in the city.
Cinema Halls: Plans
Circulation: Cinema Halls
The Cinema for the Blind project works at two levels firstly at a pragmatic level where it works out
the architecture for the blind without the luxury of the visual dimension. This is done through a mix of programmatic redefinitions and a tidy architectural
strategy. The cinema space is interpreted as a dark space, which is often understood as the space of the blind. The cinema hall provides various experiences through the medium of a film, which is interpreted
as a story or a narrative. The Cinema for the Blind creates a structure of a spatio-temporal space, which offers new experiences to the blind with every changing story.
The other level where the project works is as an urban insert. It is here where the ideas of non-building are explored. The project is proposed in the dense inner city area of Mumbai. This area has seen some of the loudest transformations in recent years, where the old city fabric of streets, shops, low-rise dense housing and industries are rapidly changing into flashy malls, multiplexes, sky-scraping apartments,
etc., the Cinema for the Blind is proposed as an underground structure on a site of an old derelict cinema theatre, the Imperial Cinema in Lamington Road, which would have otherwise converted into a multiplex. In doing so, the project not only makes a building that does not have (nor requires) an image at all, but also develops a sensitive urban insert. It plays with the minds of the people on the street, bringing them in and creating a surprise not by awe, but by its sheer non-existence. Id
Idearchive from professional work
Dimensions and details became much important in the profession. Profession was more about managing agencies than discussing design. However, at Opolis Architects where I practised as a Project Architect, I had the opportunity to work on projects of all scales - interior design, architecture as well as urban design. To pursue my interests in architectural writing, I worked briefly for Indian Architect & Builder later- Indias premiere Architecture Design magazine. Here I organized the 361o World Design Conference and executed an exhibition of Master Architect Fumihiko Makis works.
The managerial and organization skills I learnt at the earlier two offices were best put to use at the archival work I undertook at Charles Correa Associates. Such work deepened my interests in archives and history.
In parallel, I explored the craft of architecture through set design and small interior projects I did on my own. I got the opportunity to design and execute the sets and promotional art material for a musical play Anjor Kaaya. The challenge of the project was to create a single set for five stories that formed the entire play. In this project, we experimented with material, painting and light. We got a chance to translate stories / ideas into real space that kept transforming over time.
I present here, my work from Opolis Architects, India, Charles Correa Associates and freelance work for the theatre sets.
In Chamomile boutique project, I designed the landscape which had a Japanese character to it. Along with it, I also made working drawings for the custom designed furniture and various art works. I was the Project Architect for the designing and execution of other large residential interior projects.
Plan of Chamomile Boutique
_Opolis Architectswww.opolis.in_Opolis Architectswww.opolis.in_Opolis Architectswww.opolis.in
Detail of Clothes & accessories display
ARCHITECTUREI was the Project Architect for designing a Weekend House for two sisters, in Alibaug. Opolis collaborated with Rahul Mehrotra & Associates (RMA), Mumbai, on the project.
_Opolis ArchitectsWeekend House at Alibaug
Master Plan: Tan Tien Healing Centre
URBAN DESIGNTan Tien (Japanese for healing space), was to be a healing centre developed through the Indian and Japanese philosophies of healing. I made preliminary conceptual layout plans which was eventually developed into a well integrated design project.
_Opolis ArchitectsTan Tien Healing Centre
In the year 2011, Ar. Charles Correa - one of the most distinguished architectural practitioners in India (as well as the world) decided to retire and therefore shut down his practice in Mumbai. This meant the archival of his illustrous career which included not only of architectural works, but also his published and unpublished works, interviews and films. This archive
would become a part of the RIBA Library, London.
During the two months of my involvement, I prepared an overall structure of archive based on kind of content. Further, I took charge of preparing detailed annotations for different material and taking it to the final level of hosting on an online portal.
I not only developed my skills as an archivist, but
Charles Correa AssociatesArchival
also familiarized myself closely with an architectural practice which has significantly shaped and
influenced the built environment of modern India.
This experience of archiving architectural practices further set my academic and research temperament.
Realizing the importance of archiving such practices, I decided to document works of two other architectural practices: Sen Kapadia Associates (founder of Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture, Mumbai, India) and Ranjit Sinh Associates, in Mumbai. I intend to develop a rich documentation of architectural works in post independent India through this initiative. Such documentation can be of great value for academic studies and further research.
Freelance workSet Design: Anjor Kaaya
Freelance workSet Design: Anjor Kaaya
Idearchive from academia
In our design classes we have constantly been experimenting with top down and bottom up processes of working. The structure of the first year design studio is a good balance between conceptual and exploratory projects. Thus where on one hand we try to keep students interested through experimental projects, we root them into the pragmatic issues of form and space, structure and constructability while yet opening up cultural debates.
Every year before commencement of the architecture course, we hold an Orientation workshop for entrants from various areas into design field. Here we take day to day situations and objects and make students look at them in newer ways.
Some of the other studio projects are listed here:
Expression SpaceAcademy of Architecture, session 2010-11
In this age of massive cultural change, we experience a major transformation of everyday practices which have restructured due to technology, economy or fast changing urban life. The project dealt with understanding patterns of operation of professionals who make up the city, which are later developed into architectural languages. Patterns are evolved out of movements, objects, mappings or experiences of these professionals. The final projects culminate into a 50 square metre space of expression which shall engage the user with the experience of these professions.
Marrying MachinesAcademy of Architecture, session 2010-11
If machines were to have their own lives, what would they do? How would they behave? Whom would they like to be with? Could machines, like humans, adjust to surroundings? Could machines change other machines? What would happen if two machines married each other? Would they perform differently? Would their behavior change? The programme aimed at studying individual machines that students brought from the junk yard in detail through drawings, sketches, structural diagrams, their form and movement to be able to construct machines which perform newer functions.
Houses for CollectorsKRVIA, session 2009-10
This project dealt with the programme of work-rest-eat for people who collected fantastical ideas. Some of these included porosities, spectacles, reflections, shadows, toys, foliage, light, etc. The architectonic of each house was developed as a result of the understanding of the practice of each of these collections. It was here that students explored and understood the cultural aspect of architectural form.
I continue to conceptualize such project alongwith my faculty team at Academy of Architecture, where I am a full time faculty. Along with Design studios, I also teach subjects of Graphic Represenation and Western & Indian Architectural History.
Orientation Workshop: Stress Buster in traffic jams
Orientation Workshop: Hybridising objects by scaling elements
Computer + Colour Tubes = Colouring Machine
Watch + Ball Pen + Ear Phones = Floor Cleaner
Orientation Workshop: Street USB for transporting goods in a traffic jam
Expression space for a civil contractor
Design Studio: Expression Space
Expression space for a Dietician
Expression space for a dabbawala (tiffin supplier)
Expression space for a GuitaristExpression space for a Hindu Priest
Expression space for an Archaeologist
Marrying Machines Sewing Machine + Coffee Grinder
Design Studio: Marrying Machines Wall Clock + Door Lock
Entire Student work for Marrying Machines project can be found atwww.marryingmachines.blogspot.com
Marrying Machine Umbrella + Motor
Design Studio: House for Collector of Shadows
House for Collector of Toys House for Collector of foliage House for Collector of Spectacles
The trigger for the project was the existing schism between the academic aesthetic (beauty) through which the profession of interior design operates and the local aesthetic that users of domestic space relate to. Domestic spaces seem unclean and cluttered (a mismatch) as against the minimal professionally designed interior spaces. Often, the perception of such domestic space becomes difficult due to the moralistic position that we take as
architects or designers, being trained primarily in the field of the aesthetic, to make things look good. The
domestic space seems to be an ambiguous idea in the frame of academic beauty.
But study of such domestic space would be of great value in recording the cultural history of a city, of the way people lived, or the way a city evolved or even how the practices shaped living conditions in the city. In The Cultural Biography of Things, Igor
Kopytoff talks about a possible biography of people through objects they make. In doing the biography of a thing, one would ask questions similar to those one asks about people. What, sociologically, are the biographical possibilities inherent in its status and in the period and culture, and how are these possibilities realized? Where does the thing come from and who made it? What has been its career so far, and what do people consider an ideal career for such things? What are the recognized ages or periods in the things life, and what are the cultural markers for them? How does the things use change with its age, and what happens to it when it reaches the end of its usefulness?
The project explored how cultural biographies of objects in a domestic space change over time. It established a brief history of prime ideas that pervaded in the domestic space of the city.
It intends to open up discussion on the practice of interiority and design by seeing in detail, the conditions of the domestic space.
The research is a compilation of narratives of the making of domestic space. The narratives are constructed through personal interviews, questionnaires and photographic documentation of houses of the middle class section in the city of Mumbai. Every case presented here represents a phase of idea that persisted in the domestic space of the city. The title of each story hints at this idea. The cases chosen for the study were selected on the following basis:
1. Most cases talk about the domestic space of the apartment type present in the city. The apartment
typology has almost become the identity of the home for the aspiring middle class section of the society in the city (due to its sheer number of availability, affordability and the emerging character of the city).2. Most houses fall in a similar economic bracket within 1BHK (Bedroom-Hall-Kitchen) to 3BHK. The space and the luxuries they could afford (as surveyed in the questionnaire) confirm this.
3. Most houses are privately owned houses. This conveys that permanent changes could be made in the configuration of the house.
4. Most cases are 20 years old or newer. This time period characterizes the establishment of the interior design profession in residential spaces and also is representative of the liberalization phase in the country, which brought in new ideas to the house.5. Finally, most selected houses have been set up without the use of architects or interior designers.
During her wedding, her parents had presented to her a folding steel bed. Another one was added to this by her father in law. Folding steel beds during that time were ideal for long term durability and were cheap, but useful gift for a newly-wed couple.
Just within a year, there was a leakage in all the rooms of the house. Year by year the leakage went on increasing. Since the wall was already damaged permission was given to the daughter to paint and draw on walls and doors.... In the evening when her mother returned home from office, she saw the half cladded wall in stone. Since the whole house is on steps (and there are two levels in the house too), her mother immediately associated the stepped pattern of cladding on the wall and the house and asked her daughter to instruct the civil contractor to continue the step theme.
When they were doing their house, American magazines and several Indian magazines had started talking about foreign furniture.
While making their house, the prime requirements that the family identified were a TV cum storage unit, a work-table and a bed. To lay these out, they tried taking help of a draftsman-cum-designer who provided some rough drawings for the layout. Keeping in mind the budget, they finally commissioned the work to the family carpenter, who had earlier worked for his elder brother.
The idea for the sofa set was taken from a newspaper ad, which suited the image he had in his own mind. He referred it to the carpenter, and asked if he could match the design. The carpenter was supposed to use the old-style main door of the new house, since he suggested, that the wood was natural teak wood and should not be disposed off. So the new modern looking sofa was to be executed out of the old style natural wood door.
excerpts fromSTORIES OF DOMESTICITY
Domesticity is the way in which we inhabit an interior space and relates to the activities that happen inside the home. This process of inhabitation involves bringing a lot of ideas and objects together which relate to the way we live, and the way we want to project our living. The objects laid together in the house give meaning to the everyday activities and thus are cultural manifestations in the design of a house. People get objects in their house with an idea of something that would perfectly suit their living in utility, taste and conception. Thus, these objects embody the ideas of the ideal. Home making is an active process in the city. Homes are constantly upgraded, transformed and they adopt new ideas. The domestic space contains ideas of an ideal space.
but (it) is the everyday cultural practice through which the work of imagination is transformed - Arjun Appadurai; Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization
The shaping up of the domestic space has always been the task of people who inhabited it. People have always been designing their own houses - dealing with multiple agencies like carpenters, masons, plumbers, fabricators, etc. involved in the making of the interior. The introduction of the interior design profession in the 70s and the rise in the number of houses in the city during the past few decades have generated interesting characteristic conditions of domestic space in the city. The profession was responsible in a certain organization of agencies which worked towards the execution of the interior - resulting in a formal image of the interior. As the image of this professional interior aesthetic
establishes itself, the image of the informal domestic seems insignificant. In the following essay, I would briefly like to talk about the various important phases that occurred in the domestic space, using references of objects, ideas and agencies.
One of the most important furniture in the domestic space has been the steel cupboard. The steel cupboard became an ideal container for different kinds of storage in the house and it almost became a symbol for safety and durability. Steel beds too were in use then since they could be folded and stretched to regulate space. They mostly became popular with people staying in small spaces like chawls or single room tenements.Shortage of living space resulted into introduction of a lot of folding furniture. The early folding furniture like folding chairs, beds and stools was all made in steel.
Previously, use of natural wood allowed a good amount of detail. Carvings, intricate decorations and embellishments were a forte of the carpenters during the time. Also, since natural wood wasnt available in large sheets, furniture would have a lot of joints, which were concealed with mouldings. As plywood became available in large sheets, the number of joints reduced. However, the decorations on furniture continued. In 1989, Fevicol came with its range of furniture books in India. It presented a range of patterns for wall units, beds, tables, etc. While the early focus was on objects, eventually Fevicol introduced room-specific books. Furniture books were primarily given to Fevicol and plywood dealers who could distribute it to the carpenters making such units for people. The units - as one can easily
observe, are joint intensive. These units had many compartments, requiring a lot of strong bonding for the cross members. Fevicol was a great option and it gave ideas for free.
In the 80s, American ideas of making ones own home became popular and a lot of do-it-yourself manuals were released and distributed with magazines like the American Readers Digest. These would explain how to make beds, wall units, kitchen storage, partitions, etc. in the house. They brought the American interior into Indian domestic space. Plywood had become a very common building material, and its consumption rose sharply by the late 80s. But plywood was bland and did not have the richness of natural wood grains. The concept of a finishing material - the laminates brought in a possibility of imitating textures and bringing in colour separately to the otherwise flat sheet of plywood.
There has been a constant progression of materiality in space steel and natural wood have been replaced by plywood, fibre board and even non-fibre materials like plastic etc. The objects in the domestic space have taken on many such materials and the image of its manifestation therefore appears fragmented. One sees many kinds of objects together from different time periods, from different geographies and encompassing different ideas together in a domestic space. What keeps this fragmented palimpsest together is varied compulsions of taste, beliefs and sometimes utilitarian necessities. There are distinct patterns of such tastes too, which have not been the focus of the study. Through such patterns, one can understand what kinds of people the city
is composed of. The practice of interior design almost nullifies such perception of the city because of its preoccupation with plainness and emphasis on importance of space. Although the home is an extremely difficult territory to operate upon, the interior design profession has only constructed it through its academically learnt skills. To be able to understand the home in its totality, the profession will have to look at the house through many other frameworks of anthropology, ethnography, sociology, mathematically, etc. Such new understanding will help in revising the academic idea of beauty which the profession currently operates in.
The domestic space allows us to transform the city into what we want it to be. Something that it is not - comfortable, cozy, intimate, personal, private, soft and ideal. The contentedness of the user of the home shows his achievement of the platonic object the idea of a perfect entity. Can the practice of interior design deal with multiple ideas of putting up a home together? Can the practice offer more in less? Such questions open up a possibility of tweaking the existing practice to suit our domestic space. Interior designers can feel proud of the sanitized spaces that they design. But the truth is that the images they project in their portfolios are taken just before an interior-designed space turns into a domestic livable space.
Note that above text is a fragmentary excerpt from the original full-length research paper.
As they say, a collection is never initiated in order to be completed.
Idearchive remains an ongoing attempt to assimilate ideas and open them up for discussion and debate. This archive can be plugged into various other sources like my blog (www.anujdaga.blogspot.com) where I practise writing, Book of Ideas where I record concepts, sketchbooks that contain strategies and personally crafted objects. Through such mediums, I ensure that this system of production of ideas doesnot become static.
These ideas have constitued themselves as a system on the basis of which one can piece together a personal microcosm. This microcosm is a part of a larger world which I need to locate and understand. I believe that in the analysis and understanding of this system lies knowledge which could become potential base to transform the evergrowing trove of ideas into informed action.
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