IIM lib helical stair4s

Originally uploaded by vincusses.

Ashok Damani and his son Kirat gave me a Sri Ganesh, which I figure will be helpful in trying to sell the old house and survive the acquisition of the new one- maybe better than St. Joseph. It was only four days in India, with a day of arduous travel each way but it was worth it. I shared the keynote address task for the Heritage Conservation: Indo-American Perspective conference with Balkrishna Doshi, a most famous Indian architect and a trusted assistant to both Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. I toured ancient monuments with the incomparable Yatin Pandya, a creative architect in his own right who has built entire buildings of recycled materials yet can describe the haptic and kinesthetic experience of a 15th century stepwell or 16th century mosque like no one else. The gift of observation cycling into the gift of creative appropriation of space, and he took us at dusk to Sharkez Roza, which Le Corbusier described as more magnificent than the Acropolis, a series of buildings regular and irregular around an artificial lake and we rowed through still moonlit waters. I toured the IIM with Prof. Vasavada who assisted Kahn on the construction of that masterpiece and I listened in great detail as Vasavada described the difficulty of bending the stair rail for the helical descent through the library. I was given the task of summarizing the entire conference for Dr. Kapila Vastyayan at the end of two days and I talked about the cyclicity of time which is truly a helicity and how the challenges of conservation/preservation in terms of economics and building a mass movement and public support are the same in India and the US. I was impressed by stories of community building through preservation in Ahmedabad and more impressed by how India has a craft tradition to build on so that when Nimish Patel and Parul Zaveri – sustainability architects of the first order – could employ 300 craftsmen for 3 years to construct a new building using only traditional methods, something we could never do in a nation of 300 million where I challenge you to find 300 traditional craftsmen. Mostly it was about recycling, about how time and life moves, truly in an Indian sense, in circular motions, and how our economy has been falsely and non-sustainably based on linear notions, and how preservation/conservation is the essence of recycling and essential to building a future economy that makes sense. But it is more than living and bread alone – as Debashish Nayak said, heritage conservation is not only the key to sustainable human development – it is the key to our identity. Without it you are no one.

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