There are times you contemplate: what is humanity? …Who are we? … We are simply a set of memories. Memories are our experiences of the past and the recollection of the same which is one of the greatest functions of a human mind. It in actual fact makes us individually unique. If we take away those memories we are just another body with a mind. Try to imagine the result if my memories were taken off and some other memories were put in place. Don’t we see that happening in architecture today? We seem to be disregarding our culture, heritage and traditions and replacing it with some one else’s!
When we delve deeper into this experience, you wonder -Is there an external influence beyond yourself? Are you as a person “anything” by yourself? You are a part of the influence of the environment immediately around yourself. That could be your family, friends or your immediate neighbors. Now this faction forms the basic group. Beyond this it’s their interaction and interfaces with the other groups. These groups become sub groups .This may later develop into neighborhood. This neighborhood has its own reflection of architecture. Now these neighborhoods then interact with larger neighborhoods which then have an interactive architectural reflection. Now already the basic entity –“you “is almost lost. May be if he is powerfully dominating he could influence the larger neighborhood but that’s very rare. Eventually, these neighborhood and communities become towns and cities. And cities of influence become nations.
However, today there is a sense of the whole world coming together. That’s because all these influences start merging together to a point that it becomes one. It becomes a compromise. A larger language is heard and expressed. That’s the essence of globalization theory – It says that you can have anything, anywhere in the world at the same cost in the same way. But how can we have a single facet in architecture?
Even trees and plants grow differently in different places. Do the plants on the sea side grow the same way as that on the mountains? Heritage originates from nature. Heritage is the nature. You don’t see nature manifested in the same way in two places –then why should architecture be perceived in a single dimension? When this analogy is directed on a higher perspective- the ultimate form of nature is the human mind. All the other forms of existence are attainable. To a point where any other forms of nature can be recreated. The mind that is capable of comprehending and conceptualizing all this is incapable of being recreated. The brain can be recreated but not the mind. And the mind is the human being .And that mind is the “Architecture”! It is the highest form of expression. You can express culture, heritage, tradition, technology, science and you can even express the mind.
Architecturally we have been taken over by defined spaces of a particular technology rather than the traditional “defined spaces” .The logically consequent defined spaces are influenced by the individual where as the technologically derived defined spaces are pre-designed by a mechanical output process which pronounces that a human being requires a definite quantity of space. It becomes a very industrial, mechanical, global logic process. At times, it takes out all the sensitivity, perspective and rationale out of architecture. Architecture we are seeing today could be anywhere in the world. It does not have any identity, depth and it doesn’t speak beyond itself! They are designed on very hardcore functional patterns of production. Unquestionably, a lot of thinking has gone into it but that thinking has happened somewhere else …not here! And when that expression is used in our context it becomes gibberish. It does not echo the specific needs of our environment. Architecture is responsive, contextual and logical. You will have to connect architecture with circumstance and individual spirit. In architecture, you have the ability to infuse certain traits at will and take away a few at will. You are able to push in and pull out at will according to the contextual framework!
Then again, what is global design? It is obviously a preferred language. It’s like English which is spoken everywhere and can be understood everywhere. It is a global language. However when it comes to India it becomes “hinglish”. We improvise it according to the way we spell, write and speak. That means when you come into the smaller plateaus the dialect and parlance changes. It’s is still a language for communication but varies according to the circumstances and context. This is another interesting way of looking at heritage and tradition .The smallest axis of communication is between two people. When a third person enters the dialogue, he may not understand the communication between those two people. But in spite of everything there is a communication- a primitive communication. Now when this communication goes beyond a few people and to the whole of human race and is taken in by everyone two things happen. The larger issue is understood by everybody but the subtle innuendos and inferences are understood only by the minor fractions. This means that your ability to communicate is limited to the other person’s ability to understand. So the understanding and communication gets marginalized to a point that it gets averaged. That means that anything specific becomes communicated between only two people. And that becomes small nodes of great architecture which some one can appreciate when he understands it. But when you put that language outside its context it becomes pure nonsense. Because it makes no sense in a different context- this is happening in architecture today in this country. Dialects that should have worked somewhere are being thrown in someone else’s place without any contemplation.
On the contrary, if we built our building our way which can’t be built any where else in the world- it becomes more valuable and distinctive. But if we build something that is already perceived in New York or Chicago- No one is going to come here to see it. Why should they? They obviously have better quality buildings of that nature elsewhere. But if we made our buildings our way – as something that can be achieved and realized only here that will create a whole new enterprise. Sometimes I think that if I had a little more time on any of my projects I would forget the purpose of the project and make the project the purpose. People then may not come there for the function of the building but will come there to see the building itself. For instance, people don’t come to see Tajmahal because Mumtazmahal was buried in it. They come to see it because it is a marvel. We should always go beyond the point of purpose to create architectural masterpieces. This sense of working in timeless as well as temporal frameworks makes architecture unparalleled and extraordinary
As Ayn Rand’s particular brand of humanism called objectivism articulates…” Collectivism as an intellectual power and a moral power is dead. But freedom and individualism, and their political expression, capitalism, have not yet been discovered. I think men will have time to discover them. It is significant that the dying collectivism philosophy of today has produced nothing but a cult of depravity, impotence and despair. Look at modern art and literature with their image of man as a helpless creature doomed to failure, frustration and destruction. This may be the collectivist’s psychological confession, but it is not an image of man. If it were, we would never have risen from the cave. But we did. Look around you and look at history. You will see mans unlimited potentiality for greatness and the faculty that makes it possible. You will see that man is not a helpless monster by nature, but he becomes one when he discards the faculty: mind. And if you ask me what is greatness: I will answer, it is the capacity to live by three fundamental values: reason, purpose and self esteem.”