The star crossed semester

March 4, 2019
GD Goenka University honours architect Raj Rewal with an honorary doctorate at Chintan 2019
April 2, 2019

The star crossed semester

The background study – the Aya Nagar Bridge project (Ma’am, will we be designing a bridge in Aya Nagar?) was conducted as a vertical studio with 2, 3, 4 year working, hypothetically, together.

The students of fourth year, obviously, reacted adversely to the whole idea of housing in Aya Nagar – why Aya Nagar, we want to build an iconic housing tower in Gurgaon, how will we learn housing, WHY Aya Nagar, we will not work on Aya Nagar, we hate Aya Nagar and the faculty who is making us work on it, why AYA NAGAR and other mundane thoughts were thrown about nonchalantly. So now what?

In the face of adversity and general mayhem during our star crossed semester – the desperate have to carry on. So in the face of stiff opposition, the studio team persevered and engaged and held hands and screamed and begged and threatened and cajoled and laughed and cried…and something started happening. Some of us started staying longer for critiques while others stayed away and watched from the fringes and the discussions on Aya Nagar were no longer acrimonious. The animosity gave way to confusion- the first stage of understanding – and developed into spirited defence of their design solutions – “…but I think the resident of Aya Nagar would want to live like this…” Groans of despair on the announcement of a new submission deadline became less audible and as one of the students complained at the end of the semester that this semester is tough and we are working hard, another quipped “but we just started working.” Nonetheless the doubters went on about why should we “produce” drawings and why so many and what is the point of doing anything when the world is coming to an end in any case…

As in any design studio, some students were successful in understanding the context, others produced an efficient plan, some experimented with radical ideas on design process while others interpreted form and spatial complexities, some were safe while others did not care – so we had a wide cross section of design solutions which was the one of the original aims of the studio. The external jury was the final hurdle to cross. Watching the tongue tied nervousness before the start of jury, the joy of a positive feedback, the grudging admission that the jury was correctly pointing out failures and gaps, the childish glee at the end of a confusing semester, I realized that a critical threshold had been crossed – it will be very difficult to get mad at this lot anymore!

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