June 30, 2014

10 Things You Will Find Yourself Saying at Architecture School

   You are bound to meet a variety of annoying people at Architecture School and since murder is a crime the only way to vent all the frustration is sarcasm. Here are 10 things you will find yourself saying to people you want to punch in the face or want to erase off the face of the planet with black magic.

#1 What you say: Oh that's a really nice model you got there!

What you're thinking: You made a model? Seriously? Okay. Now I'd rather just go back home than fail! Thanks to you!!

   Yeah, so all of us have that one friend/classmate who will show up on submission day with a whole bunch of plans and sections and that incredibly detailed scale model and they will make it a point to rub it into your face. They're always so charming when they do ask and the model always looks really fancy, you really cannot comment otherwise.

#2 What you say: Very interesting concept! I would really like to see how this comes out.

What you're thinking: Please! Even a kindergartner can come up with better stuff.
        You know that very enthusiastic friend who asks you what your building'g concept is just so you'd ask them in return? Yes! those are the ones with the most ridiculous ideas on the planet and they want you to know it. They want everyone to know that they think they have found the missing link in the evolution of man.

#3 What you say: I think you will make a very good architect.

What you're thinking: You keep going like this and MY future as an architect looks very bright! Muahahaha!
      To the classmates you had in architecture school who made you wonder so very often what on earth they were thinking when they decided to dive right into the construction field. They are probably better off designing clothes or maybe sand castles?

#4  What they say: You're really not going to give that in tomorrow right?

What they're thinking: Oh I'm definitely giving it in tomorrow. I'm just making sure you aren't. *smirks*

      I'm pretty sure all of us has fallen for this classic con at some point in architecture school. I bet its the same sly fox that reminds the professor about deadlines and home work and who's always talking to the principal and walking around trying to look a very important person. They make sure all their work is done and they also make sure none of us have.

#5  What you say: That's some really nice detailed drawings you've got there.

What you're thinking: Right, So maybe I should use a hundred more line weights to beat that.

           There is always that one guy in the class who was born holding a mouse and a keyboard and whose first words were PLINE, HATCH and VIEWPORT. They always seem to have the most elaborately detailed elevator details and joinery using a whole range of line weights and templates.

#6  What you say: You're structure looks very similar to mine. What a coincidence!

What you're thinking: You ripped off my idea. I know it and I'm letting you know I know.

           It's incredible how people can just copy off other people's work and act like there's nothing wrong in getting a little inspiration. It's almost like they have a built-in photocopier in their brain and there's nothing you can do about it because they will just flatly deny any allegations of plagiarism. Some people are really devoid of a conscience.

#7  What you say: I really prefer working alone. You understand right? 

What you're thinking: No, I'm not antisocial. I just do NOT want to team up with you. That's it.

           This is for that boy/girl who will team up with you and then enslave you. You find yourself unable to deal with the constant nagging and complaining and bossing and its too late in the day to pull out so you grit your teeth and tolerate it till its over. I'm sure all of us who went to architecture school had to team up with that one person who was a pain in the neck to work with. Soon enough we find ourselves using this classic dialogue. "I like riding solo. Thanks!"

#8 What you say: You know, I totally agree.

What you're thinking: Hell no. You are an idiot! I have no choice.

            Not restricted to just Architecture School. This is for all those people who will tirelessly churn out facts and opinions that are so wrong and defend them so furiously you don't have a choice but agree with them and spare yourself another earful of nonsense.

#9. What you say: Nice shoes! *imagine fake Adidas*

What you're thinking: AdiBas? You really think we don't know the difference?

          So these guys are Lil Wayne's best buddies, always flaunting their *fake* Adidas and Jimmy Choo not to mention the Chinese rip-offs of the iPhones and Beats Audio. They just want everyone to know they are living the life of the rich and famous and will go to any length to ensure they own the latest tech and designer clothes. We aren't fooled though.

#10 What you say: Are you going to read that?

What you're thinking: Put the book back so I can borrow it and actually read it.

           Sometimes I stand in the department library and watch people borrow books I can bet they're going to use only as a temporary coffee table until its time to return it. Yet they will parade around the campus with the book in their hand just to let everyone know that they are such avid bookworms. We have an intellectual in our midst everyone! NOT!
Don't forget to +1 or give a thumbs up on Facebook or leave a comment below if you liked this post.  

June 27, 2014

Cupid's Guide to an Architect's Heart

       To most of you young people, architects are, thanks to books like The Fountainhead, a breed of highly intellectual humans with gigantic egos and strange ways.
       After five years or more of Architecture School, we have been trained to observe spaces, spot errors and constantly be in touch with our surroundings. This just makes us a tad bit annoying at social gatherings, romantic dinners and similar situations because we are quite finicky.
      So for those of you completely smitten by an architect/architecture student or probably already seeing one, this post is for you!

#1. We like people. We LOVE the intelligent ones.
If you are loud and constantly lecturing us about how to take care of our skin and eat a lot of fruit, chances are we aren't interested. Its okay to talk about Noddy and Britney Spear's wardrobe malfunctions and try to convince us Santa is real once in a while but if you do it on a regular basis you are probably being mutilated, shot or decapitated in our heads as we listen. We may also just yawn a lot. So take the hint and STOP TALKING!!

#2. We like it when you appreciate what we do.
Tell us if you think our renders look nice or if our sketches are interesting. It also doesn't hurt to read up a little on what we do and how we do it! An architect would definitely love it if they got intelligent criticism from someone outside the field and definitely from someone they like, a lot.

#3. Stationery, Stationery STATIONERYYYY!!!!!
We can never have too much paper or too many pencils. Buying us stationery every now and then is a gesture that goes a long way. Some of us probably have our very on collection of expensive fountain pens and colored post-it pads. Christmas would be an ideal time to replenish our stash of tracing paper and printer ink.

#4. We love it when you give us hand-made gifts.
We spend our whole lives thinking out of the box, making our own scale models - cutting and sawing  fiber board or balsa wood and using bottle caps and sponge to make domes and tree tops  so we really appreciate a nice DIY gift on a special occasion. So handmade cards, useful little knick-knacks and trinkets are on top of the list for those looking for Valentines gift ideas. Witty references to the architectural world when you personalize our presents can win our hearts *snaps fingers* just like that!

#5. Make us Coffee/tea/a meal. 
We spend a lot of days working late into the night. A nice hot cup of coffee or tea at 3 am with a smiley face would earn you those brownie points. Some times we are so engrossed in our work or trying to use every minute left to whip up something substantial for a submission we forget to EAT! It's true! We honestly don't realize we just missed lunch or dinner! So just get us that meal and show us you care!

#6. Be stylish. Stay classy.
Taking us out for a romantic birthday dinner? Going with us for a building's inauguration? Take the trouble to dress well and look smashing for the event. Nothing like a classy +1 by our side to boost our ego. Don't get too carried away though. Your architect boo will be the least bit impressed if you arrive looking like Marie Antoinette going to a ball or like Robinson Crusoe.

#7. Give us a hand. Give us our space. 
If you see us struggling with a scale model and need an extra hand, just sit down and HELP! It's not very complicated to paint a piece of cardboard or cut out windows. Any little thing you can do to help make our work easier goes a long way. That includes you running to the plotters while we put together a presentation. We will be ever so grateful.
Most creative people tend to be moody. We have our high and lows. We maybe sad and we honestly don't know why. Sometimes maybe a meeting didn't go too well or some professor shot our ideas down. Don't volunteer advice. We know we can do better and we are already brainstorming the next course of action. If we tell you what went wrong its simply because we are analyzing and re-evaluating the incident. Be a good Listener and give us our space when we need it. We will come back to you, eventually!

If you liked this post subscribe on +Google+ and add me to your circles. Comment below if you have any more ideas!

June 26, 2014

The Importance of Being Mentored- Part II

         So in Part I of "The Importance of Being Mentored" I wrote on how choosing to be mentored made me a better person. In case you missed Part I here's a link to help you catch up!


Now that you're caught up! Let's dive right in!

         In my opinion, mentors can be anyone you look up to in your field and with enough knowledge and experience to be able to help you. You cant force them to mentor you but rather request it and the last thing you want is to disrespect them, offend them or tick them off.

  • Mentors are like friends. They want to see you grow and are not insecure about the professional competition you might pose later on if you improve drastically. They share wisdom freely and encourage you when they truly feel you have potential. 

  • They are like parents too. Tell them about your wild ideas and big plans for the future. They are bound to tell you the same things your parents would except without all the drama. They can put themselves in your parent's shoes to understand their point of view and at the same time tell you if a dream is worth pursuing simply based on your capability and the odds of it being a success. 

  • They are your role models. Observing how they work, their work ethic, how they dress and how they speak can help you learn the right way they do things and be more professional. After all, they are successful at what they do because of how they do it. They may not divulge their trade secrets to you but they will invariably put it in very abstract terms and let you figure it out.

  • They are the best people to guide your work. Especially things like research papers and thesis require a lot of expert advice to be good. After a while, mentors get to know your areas of interest and will not discourage you to take up a dissertation or project just because their knowledge on the subject is limited, unlike quintessential college professors, because they know the topic means something to you personally. Instead a good mentor will specially read up and do his own research on the topics you love just so they can really understand what you are trying to convey and help you focus and get you past road blocks. Don't expect to be spoon fed though. It's not like your mentor has nothing else to do apart from explaining the difference between Pin-Jointed trusses and Vierendeel trusses.   

          Sometimes, if they like you enough they just might bail you out of a sticky situation or rave about you to other people as well as get you some great opportunities! Find your friend -philosopher-guide and get that jet pack to stay ahead of the rest in the crazy rat race that is LIFE. Cheers to that!

June 22, 2014

The Importance of Being Mentored- Part I

         Before I get on with the actual post,  here is a big shout out to two of my very own mentors +Sundaresan Mahadevan and +ankit bansal. If there's anything I know about architecture as a course or a profession and if I am a better human being today, it's because of these gentlemen who were patient enough to tolerate all of my strong opinions, gravest of mistakes and big ideas and gave me encouragement by the truck load. Thank you!

          All of us who are in a course that involves some creative field be it, art or architecture, are bound to learn little or nothing useful from our respective colleges, especially if we were not fortunate enough to attend a premier institution. It probably isn't our fault having to go to over-crowded classrooms with no actual classes going on. So, in short, everything I learnt by my third year at architecture school was from texts books and magazines borrowed from the department library after terrorizing the librarian and articles my mother would religiously point out to in the newspapers.
          Now I had no intention of finding a mentor and college offered no option, as there wasn't a single respectable professor who had any idea about subjects they were hired to teach or were they inclined to talk to students regarding anything else but attendance reports and deadlines. So there I was left groping in the dark.
         As fate would have it, I happened to intern in a hell hole of an architect's office in the city last July. As every new intern would be, I was excited as ever and always up to do work. But for an extremely highly rated firm in Chennai metro I seemed to find absolutely nothing productive to do. Perhaps it was just the timing. I soon figured out that this was an office charged by high levels of estrogen, huge egos and menopausal women with mid-life crises and by questioning the ethics of the system I had frowns thrown my way and I was banished to the corner of permanent oblivion. Once in a while I was allowed to leave my little corner and accompany the boss to 'meetings' and 'visits'. Now its at one of these meetings that I happened to meet my potential godfather. A classic fresher-in-college style hazing which left me temporarily scared for life did not stop me from liking this person any less. So after a lot of subtle conversations on national politics and boss-bashing, towards the end of my stint with the Devil in Prada, I decided to take this acquaintance forward. I found myself my first mentor. Almost a year later I find myself more focused and more confident of the future after all the constant nudging and pushing.

The Godfather's commandments:

  • Thou shall BE PUNCTUAL. Never make people wait. Time is precious and nobody likes to hang around an office for eons.
  • Thou shall DEFEND an opinion fiercely but gracefully.
  • Thou shall BE HONEST. Put the truth across without offending another individual.
  • Thou shall WORK hard for thy wants. 
  • Thou shall TAKE responsibility for errors committed.   

         In the meantime, I was fortunate enough to meet another career coach, during a brief stay at the capital city of Delhi, who obliged to guide a dissertation for college. This thirty something successful senior architect at an internationally acclaimed firm seemed to be everybody's living nightmare. But I chose to see the man for his accomplishments, discipline and keen eye for error. He wasn't so much of a father figure but a sort of yard stick to go by in the field. Although I was yelled at to a point I was close to tears numerous times, he was kind enough to plod through pages of text and data and systematically wrote down comments and helped me stay on track. I tended to meander off the topic every now and then. At the end of four months, I managed to put together a brilliant piece which was appreciated by the folks back at college. So, post this little experiment a lot of joint projects await in the near future.

A perfectionist's guide to success:

  • Focus. Focus. Focus.
  • Time and tide wait for no man.
  • Be dedicated and STAY dedicated.                            
        So having shared my personal experience with you this is the end of Part I. So before I wrap up this post ....on a very unrelated note I leave you one of the best teacher student moments - A clip from "The School of Rock".

If you liked Part I don't forget to leave a comment and hit share!! 

June 21, 2014

Time capsule: The Regional Rail Museum, Chennai

Vintage Vignette 
         As a child many of us probably got a toy steam engine or a train set on our birthday which was largely a part of our play time fantasies. Be it pretending to be a superhero trying to save a teddy bear tied to railway tracks, or pretending to be Godzilla that trampled down half of Manhattan, that little steam engine was the center of the story.
        Locomotives were a part of a lot of significant moments in history like the Industrial Revolution in America, Mahatma Gandhi's movement to prevent defranchise of Indians in South Africa, to riots in Gujarat. They are also big a part of cinema with Bollywood dance sequences being filmed on the Nilgiris Express to entire action sequences being shot in Super Fast trains.
       The first Railway line was proposed in India, at Chintadripet Bridge, Chennai in 1832 much before the first successful railway line was constructed in 1853, from Mumbai to Thane. Interestingly, the first coach factory for the Southern Railway was also established at Locoworks, ICF in Chennai. This coach factory functioning from 1872 has been constantly evolving over decades since its inception during the Raj.
        Tucked away in the sleepy suburban residential colony of the Integral Coach Factory area, hidden from view by a wall of thick foliage, the Regional Rail Museum is easily missed by commuters on the busy National Highway 205. Its not surprising that, although having been a part of the city since 200, many residents of Chennai city seem surprised when asked about the museum.
      So, for those of you who don't know, here is a peek inside this time capsule.

    The Regional Rail Museum is housed in two Imperial style buildings and over a vast area of greenery. With ample parking and a ticket counter coach to fit with the theme the Museum tries its best to be creative. As one enters the building that contains the technical exhibits the first thing you notice is the cool breeze blowing through the space, dim lighting and the incessant mechanical noise from the old ceiling fans, probably spinning from British times. What really gets you thinking is what a 19th century Mercedes is doing in a Rail Museum!
     After looking at two levels of a variety of engine parts, miniature coaches and an audio-visual presentation on the Integral Coach Factory (the voice-over happily quips "Incredible Coach Factory) one moves on to see the real deal. Set up over an extremely well maintained lawn, shaded by a variety of trees are the life size exhibits of decommissioned and vintage engines and coaches.
Who cried Fowl?

Vintage Mercedes Benz
      Pose in front of a coach from the Nilgiri Mountain Railway or hop onto the 1895 Fowler Ploughing Engine. Step into a coach and you can see the controls. Some of the most engaging exhibits are the Crane Hercules, Signal posts, Railroad switches and Inspection carts. After all the climbing and walking around one can head to the little cafeteria near the entrance for a quick bite or settle into the seats of the tour train which goes around the museum's perimeter. It's really meant for the kids. Past all the live exhibits at the very end is the souvenir shop. The souvenir
Gear on the axis: Engine part 
shop has a large functioning train set filling a good part of the space. Here a little 'Duronto' and an electric train chug along going over bridges and through tunnels. Well for train enthusiasts this section of the museum is a real delight as it also has vintage miniatures and paintings on sale for very affordable prices.
       Now, architecturally this museum seems to have checked off all the boxes which makes it a go-to place. First, the whole museum is incredibly well curated with placards and posters interspersed with the exhibits to break monotony and keeping visitors engaged. The placards provide a background history and a few technical details for those who might be interested. The layout allows a visitor to pick what he wants to see first, the live engines or the technical objects on display. The imperial building, being extremely well maintained creates an ambiance which almost teleports a visitor to the era of the Raj. This sort of lets you imagine men in sack coats and bowler hats walking around looking busy mapping new rail routes and inspecting engines parts.
         The brightly painted pieces of machinery in the open lawn amid the merging shades of green and yellow is visually stunning. The landscaping makes it all the more aesthetic with neat paved pathways and boundaries around the exhibits.
Honey I shrunk the....Duronto?

So for those of you who are in the city or will visit the city soon, put on that engine driver's hat and take that ride to the past and and back!If you enjoyed this post don't forget to hit +1 to share and subscribe!

June 18, 2014

(Class)ified - Kinds of Students in Architecture School

     Every class in Architecture School has different kinds of students. Some who like to make their presence felt and some who you didn't know existed in your class until one day you saw them outside your exam room. But a class will not be complete without each of these characters.

#1. The Dreamers
Every class has one of these guys. The dreamers generally grab the seats closest to the windows preferably at the back of the class. You will spot them constantly staring blankly into space or just looking out of the window. They are so engrossed in their thoughts that they forget to answer attendance or realize someone is talking to them. Most of the time they have absolutely no clue about what is going on and are always confused about what to do about their projects.

#2. The Thinkers  
Perhaps Auguste Rodin's statue stood up and walked into Architecture School. These guys are on another plane all together. They think up the most complicated ideas and design philosophies that you wonder if they applied for a PhD but walked into the wrong class. These quiet listeners always have their work well researched and will have an answer to anything you ask them about it. They do nothing without reason. NOTHING!

#3. Literal Lucy and Commander Obvious
Literal Lucy is just a little too literal for her own good. In the name of inspiration, these lasses will churn out buildings that look like clouds or flowers or mushrooms, quite literally. Commander Obvious will tell you the most obvious things about everything and I bet they've been asked the question "Isn't that obvious?" at least once every day. They are the guys who tend to say things like "Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electricity!".  Like DUH!!

#4. Last Minute Lancelot 
You walk into the class room on submission day and you almost bump into someone darting across with a hard drive in one hand and a T Square in the other. Meet Last Minute Lancelot. This person lives life at his own pace. You can expect him to be the guy who does a mini parkour routine before sliding into an exam hall just in the nick of time to save himself from failing.

#5. The Negotiator
Trust these guys to talk their way out of any situation they find themselves in. Be it bargaining for an extension or asking for an increase in site area. They can put a point across with such tact, even if they are wrong, you can't help but give in. #hostagesituationresolved

#6. The Meth Cooks
This species is so secretive about everything they do that asking them how they are is like asking for one of their kidneys. When asked about project work or how their deign is coming along meth cooks will give you typical answers like "Oh you know! Its coming along.....you know...." or conveniently change the topic "I haven't done much....had my grandparents over for the weekend....you know...Oh my gosh! Are those new shoes?". They work design like a business. They seem to be in the same boat as every one else but do not be fooled for in their basement is a batch of blue that's ready to ship.
That kid who reminds the teacher about homework and always shows up with lots of work on submission day.

#7. The Jabber-naut
These folks can talk and talk and talk .....and talk. They can present a design for a whole afternoon if given the chance. From describing their idea to the different greens in their landscape they can go on and on. So bring a pillow along for the next time they present. At least you won't get a crick in the neck falling asleep in your chair.

#8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Snide
Every class has that one person who constantly passes snide remarks about everything and everyone. Mr. Snide is loud and uncouth and lives to run people down. Yet their own work and ideas would make poor Van der Rohe turn in his grave.

#9. Little Miss Princess
Invariably a girl who everyone wants to be yet don't want to be. This girl will spend a fortune on best quality materials: pens, pencils, handmade paper, any kind of stationery she can lay her hands on. She has probably bought the professors and her friends too! This person is meth cook royalty. So you get the drift.

#10. Mix and Match Copycat
These guys have absolutely nothing original to offer. They have zero imagination and have no inclination to apply their grey matter. So they use the easy way out and copy off everyone else. Don't be surprised if their design looks like Frank Gehry meets Le Corbusier because it is!

Share if you relate to this post! Comment if there are any more kinds!

June 16, 2014

Politics of a Changing Indian Cityscape

      India, being the largest democracy in the world, probably also has the most number of political parties. The ruling party of each state, is ever ready to change the face of the nation, and by that I mean quite literally change the face. As different ruling parties form the government each time, they leave a little something behind by which they think people would remember them. The mementos start with statues of party leaders, then arches and inaugural stones. Soon they graduate to tearing down buildings erected by the opposition and construct a more suitable monument in its stead.
       The two political parties that have been rivals for decades in the state of Tamil Nadu, India are the AIADMK and the DMK. With each party having formed the government at different periods from 1972 the face of the city has been constantly changing. In 2010, when the DMK was in power, the decision to construct a new secretariat was finally taken. The new secretariat, designed by a German based architecture company, was to commemorate the 50 years of association of the DMK with the State Legislature. This building seems extremely out of place in a neighborhood that has the most number of colonial style buildings and practically ruins the old world feel of Mount Road. It has changed the streetscape of the area making the city seem almost ignorant to neighborhood context. The neighborhood has many landmark buildings in the city such as the Simpsons &Co. building, The Mail office, The Hindu office building and P.ORR &Sons which is famous for its clock tower.   
        New Secretariat building, Mount Road, Chennai

    Imperial Style buildings on Anna Salai.

        In 2010, when the AIADMK came to power, just as predicted, the Chief Minister moved the secretariat to Fort Saint George and the newly built secretariat building was converted to a multi-specialty hospital based on public opinion. Obviously, the change of secretariat was not enough to leave a mark. The next building to be altered was the MGR Memorial along the Marina Beach. The Chief Minister felt the existing archway of the Memorial was not grand enough to represent the power and greatness of the ADMK. The existing archway, supposed to represent a pair of palms together (a traditional gesture of greeting) was demolished and a new archway, a sculpture of the party's emblem, the two leaves, was erected in its place complimented by ionic columns on either side and a golden Pegasus.

New Entrance
            Old Entrance
The new entrance just does not answer the context of the site. It defies the idea of it being an entrance all together and comes through more as monumental.
         Now this isn't only confined to the state of Tamil Nadu. In the state of Gujarat, the BJP which has been the ruling party in the last ten years took change to the next level: demolition of a heritage building. The Babri Masjid, or the Mosque of Babur was one the few surviving monuments of the late Tuglaq period. This mosque built in 1527, was claimed to have a Hindu temple beneath its foundation, which is believed to have been demolished by Emperor Barbur after his conquest of the Rajputana state. So the leaders of the BJP felt the need to return the sacred area back to the Hindus and ordered the demolition of the Masjid in 1992. So much for revenge for a crime committed over 300 years ago. After an incredibly long trial that took almost a decade, a verdict passed in 2010 stated a Ram temple could be eventually be built on 1/3 of the area of Ayodhya.
          The state of Uttar Pradesh is not far behind. Although there were no dramatic demolitions and difference in opinion over location of secretariats, four time Chief Minister of UP, Mayawati, has erected hundreds of statues of well known Dalit leaders and memorials all over the state of UP. She also installed over 100 elephant sculptures in parks in Lucknow. Do elephants have anything to do with the city of Lucknow? I doubt, but the elephant just so happens to be the symbol the the BSP. Aesthetic? Yes. Relevant to Lucknow? No. I don't think so.
                                             Babri Masjid, before demolition

                                          Elephant Statues, Lucknow, UP

        This constant demolition and construction by political parties who are so eager to leave behind a legacy has a huge impact on the architecture of a city. It is not only insensitive to site or neighborhood contexts but also unintelligent as this continuous process changes the fabric of the city, sometimes even damaging neighboring property. A city is always transforming to suit modern day requirement but it still tells a story. Most cities get their identity from their heritage, their landmarks. Historic buildings are essential in showcasing how a city was in the past and how it is in the present, and without them there will be large gaps in the timeline. Walking through a city must be like turning the pages of a three dimensional history book. It is important to be sensitive to a city's heritage and people must be aware of its value. Do these facts occur to the quintessential Indian politician? And if they do, do they just prefer to stay ignorant to the facts so as to achieve their end? A politician may have 99 problems but a historic building isn't one!

June 02, 2014

Lost in the Crowd - Delhi's Lesser Known Monuments

     Looking down through a window from an airbus hovering in the stratosphere, ready to land, one can see, past drifting clouds, the almost Utopian layout of Lutyen’s Delhi. One would first notice the wide criss-crossing roads and highways, then the vast expanse of greenery and finally catch a glimpse of the domes of some of Delhi’s most prominent landmarks. But, the rest is a blur of earthy hues. It is among these hues that lies time capsules hidden away in different parts of the city waiting for that lonely traveler to find.
     A view of Old Delhi

     Walk with a tour guide at a popular monument crawling with tourists. The tour guide who has faithfully memorized paragraphs from a history text book about the most famous landmarks in the city would, with a wave of his hand, dismiss the landmark’s lesser counterparts as “something built by some king in the same era”.
      Watch a tourism advertisement for a particular city or even country and one will see glorious visuals of the landmarks the city is identified with. Whilst the construction of these landmarks was in progress other structures were being built for reasons of lesser importance.
In my recent trip to the National Capital Territory of Delhi, I had the privilege to work with some of the best conservation architects and consultants in the country at the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Delhi Chapter. It is here at one of the rallies for public awareness about nominating Delhi to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Cities that I learnt about these lesser known monuments in the city of Delhi. As they say, little drops of water makes an ocean, every single monument, well known or insignificant makes up Delhi's history and heritage. With a little research, I've come to conclude that  Lesser known monuments are indeed important for the following reasons:
First, They are witness to historic events.
-          Like the Turkman Gate, located at the Ahsif Ali Road, Chandini Chowk. In 1976, the slum relocation project was put into motion much to the disapproval of many slum dwellers, who started protesting. There was a rebellion that was started at the Turkman Gate which had a concentration of Muslim traders. They protested and resisted demolition of their houses. Emergency rule was imposed on April 18th .1976. The police opened fire on them and began demolishing the gate, acting on orders given by the then president. Many civilians were killed and this event became global news which left the country shaken.
 Turkman Gate
     Some lesser known monuments showcase the lifestyle of public figures in a particular era like the “Tomb of Mohd. Quli Khan.” This tomb, located near the Quab Minar was remodeled by Sir Charles Metcalfe who was a negotiator between the East India Company and the Mughal rulers. Metcalfe used this structure as a holiday retreat and also to spy on Bahadhur Shah, the last Mughal emperor. This tomb has also survived the Revolt of 1857, during which it was ransacked and vandalized

Tomb of Mmd. Quli Khan

     Some such monuments were built to facilitate a now-forgotten practice, like the “Chor Minar”. The “Chor Minar, as its name suggests, was a minaret constructed at the present day Haus Khas village. This minaret was used to publicly flog thieves and their heads put up on the minar as an example.
     Lesser known monuments along with the more significant ones can collectively help determine the building typology in a place and architectural elements characteristic to a particular style and period in history.
    The Baradari at Sadhana Enclave is a building typology characteristic to the Mughal era. A Baradari is essentially a building or pavilion with twelve arches, for facilitating the free flow of air through the pavilion. The pavilion or hall was used for performances by dancers and musicians of the time. The Khirki mosque at Saket is the first mosque to be covered with rendered stone due to lack of skilled artisans. This mosque also exhibits a characteristic element of the Islamic style of architecture which is the “jaali” windows. Looking collectively at these buildings it can be established that pointed arches, jaali work, domes and minarets were the recurring architectural elements of this era. All elements may not be seen in every building which is why it is important to preserve even lesser known structures as they may contain detailing or be a building typology that the landmarks might not have and might not be.

      While well-known monuments are recommended to first time visitors to a place, lesser known monuments are sure to interest budding historians and seasoned travelers. Just as little drops of water make an ocean every single monument however significant helps tell the story of a city. The cityscape of a place would be incomplete without these structures and hence, must be preserved.
      Preservation and conservation requires a significant amount of effort from not only historians and architects but from also patrons and organisations with similar ideals to help with funds and labor.
All you avid travelers reading this post these monuments are worth seeing as it only makes the big picture on India's rich history a lot clearer.

Hit like if you found this informative. Comment if you know about any more lesser known monuments but you think are significant to a city.  


The things you hear from professors at Architecture School!

Welcome to Architecture School where some professors just make you want to cry and some just make you want to kill them a hundred different ways in your head. Here are some of the things professors have already told you or are most likely to tell you when you join architecture school that will drive you to your wits end. 

#1. So, what exactly is your CONCEPT?
This line definitely deserves #1 slot. A professor will ask you the same question at the beginning of a design project and at the end of it. It is that question that will make you want to tear you hair out in frustration after you have shown them an extended PowerPoint presentation and sketches and occasionally even a conceptual model of what your building might be at the end of the design process. Really, sometimes I wonder if professors ask you that because the concept has actually gone over their heads. 

#2. Your building looks like a box. This is not architecture. 
Okay! Alright! You love DeCon! We get it. So you mean to say that Frank Lloyd Wright and Van der Rohe built boxes? They probably just turned in their graves.

#3. Your design is missing SOMETHING.
Its missing something. Hmm...I wonder what and I will continue to wonder if you DON'T tell me what the something is. The professor won't tell you nine out of ten times because I bet he doesn't know himself. 

#3. You're drawing does not look TO SCALE.
Well, that really depends on what they mean by 'scale'. So I didn't want to spend a fortune on expensive print outs from the plotters so I put two floor plans on one sheet and just because another student printed his one plan per page at 1:100 that really does not mean mine is NOT to scale. Or it just might be because I decided to take it into Photoshop and let it 'free transform' as I was too exhausted to care. Then Guilty as charged.   

#4. The colors you have used seem a little washed out. 
So much for water colors. I should use felt pens next time or your blood! 

#5. Your area statement seems to exceed/fall short of the required FSI.
Okay perhaps I usurped the neighboring plot because I needed the space for car-parking but how would you know. Hey wait. Is that a trick question?

#6. I had such high expectations of you.
Oh Boo-hoo! Too bad! 

#7. This design looks familiar. Are you sure I wont find it on the internet?
Oh my gosh! He did not just say that. Bring in that polygraph I say!

Hit like if you relate! Comment if you've heard any more typical professor one-liners! 

The Architect - Breaking through the Stereotype

   The quintessential architect has been depicted in TV shows (Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother), movies (Robert Downey Jr. in the Due Date), books (Howard Roark in The Fountainhead) and YouTube videos as obnoxious, narcissistic intellectuals with gigantic egos. Here is a post on some myths about architects in general.  

#1. Code BLACK:
I've read in more places than one about how architects swear by wearing black. Architects meet dozens of people everyday from clients to consultants to contractors. So dressing sloppily isn't exactly being professional and black just happens to be one of the safest colors to wear to meetings and conferences. That doesn't mean we have absolutely nothing but black in our wardrobes. In fact, I do know an architect who, given the choice, would wear blue every day of the week.  

This just might be true. We do indeed exploit coffee machines where ever we can find them. Almost every student of architecture or practicing architect would have had phases where they stayed awake for 48 hours. We practically have no choice but to stay up all night working when we need to meet a deadline or prepare for that very very very important client meeting. THAT is why we need COFFEE! Well, of course, for those of us who don't really like coffee there's always tea and RedBull. I also know someone who chews on ice to keep awake. Disturbing? 

#3. The Contractor's worst NIGHTMARE:
This is true but it really isn't our fault. We just have to give contractors a hard time because we need the construction carried out exactly the way we want it because only we know what the building is supposed to look like and why things are put where they are. 

Also true. You will see most architect's walk around with the latest tech in the market. From the latest phones, to computers, to headphones we must own them all. By all I mean ALL.  

#5. All architects are ARTISTS:
That really depends on your definition of art. All architects can basically draw and paint and would own a sketchbook in which they keep a record of all the buildings they see or ideas they thought of. We did spend quite a few hours in the art studio but not all of us have a stash of cubist abstracts in our garage. 

If you know any more bizarre and funny things people assume about architects do share in the comments below! 

Van Der Wrote: What's in store...

    Van der Wrote is not that sort of blog that will help you troubleshoot when your Revit crashes r makes tutorials on how to render site plans on Photoshop. 

No! I do not discuss structures or I sections or steel trusses either. None of it!   

Van Der Wrote will bring you my personal experiences, good and bad, in the world of architecture and a lot of other non-technical fun stuff. 

Any resemblance to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to them and those who know them, especially if the author has been kind enough to have provided their real names and, in some cases, their phone numbers. All events described herein actually happened, though on occasion the author has taken certain, very small, liberties with chronology, because that is his/her right as a blogger.

Read, laugh and enjoy!! 


    Life is like a ferris wheel. One minute you're on top, the next you're at the bottom. Just stay in your seat,       enjoy the ride, and hang on until you reach the top again.