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Memory is redundant by Nidhi Sharma

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The AJ Writing Prize 2014: Entry

Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist. - Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

I have read Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities quite religiously. It is a narrative of cities with no visual reference but one can still experience taking a walk with the Venetian traveler, Marco Polo. The vivid description of activities and populace by Calvino is fawlessly refecting the image of time and space in the book.

Imagination is a faculty of associations which one constantly makes in life. These associations come from either experiences or memories. Unlike architectural discourse or stories, spatial experiences are often contemplated as a calculated phenomenon.

Architectural making of a space is culmination of several processes and thoughts and only a fine balance between the two creates an experience of unforgetable nature. School of Architecture also known as Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmadabad in India is one such example.

The frst building in this campus was built in 1966 which now expands from one school of architecture to school of planning, interiors, engineering and other workshops and gallery spaces. The structure is uniform yet paradoxical for each building. Parallel, load-bearing brick walls and the major blocks like library, administrative, studios spaces.

Since there is no exaggeration in form of the campus and material used, the space marks no boundary between animals, nature and humans. It fows from one space to another and the variation used for fooring by using exposed brick and kota stone subtly accentuate the indoor and outdoor space. It refects the spirit of Rabindranath Tagore’s educational ashram in Bengal popularly known as Shantiniketan.

Prof. Doshi who is the architect of the school and a disciple of Le Corbusier has used both memories of working with Corbusier and association with the city of Ahmadabad. He incorporated the use of overhangs for shading the southward facing openings, north lighting for glare control, thick walls for insulation, north - south orientation in the School.

Fluctuations of built and unbuilt create a vibrant sense of volume and scale. Unlike the balance between shade and light, transition spaces juxtapose with green mounds and built space provide passive and active zone of interaction in the campus.

The campus in itself lives like the city with essential space for everybody who enters to have a simple tea in the canteen or buy stationary or even celebrate festivals. There walks the spirit of experience to create a very basic institute of architecture, art, humanity with just a hint of sensitivity. That is all is required from us to create inspiring places for everyday use.

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