Dr.B S Bhooshan Principal Architect, BSB Architects
When I left my remote village home to study engineering at Trivandrum city in 1963, little did I know what is architecture. Yet after one year of engineering, I stumbled into the newly opened architecture course, only for the love of drawing and the carpentry that I had seen along my childhood. Another four years flew fast and at the end, this college of Engineering spat out five of us of the original 28 admitted at second year of architecture.
We landed into the unsuspecting world outside to conquer with a tool called a B.Arch degree and avague heroism of modernity, baked by greats like Corbusier, Frank Wright, Charles Correa and Doshi.Laurie Baker was being hunted out as a mad guy at Trivandrum by local engineers and the digital architects, (digital because too few in number to be counted by digits in the palm). But many of us were tickled by the looks and a sense of purpose of his works so different from the cream monuments of boredom called public architecture.
Most of us were more at odds with ourselves as to not knowing why our homes and old buildings did not look like glass buildings of Phillip Johnson or Rohe and not have any thing in common with what we studied as architecture. I felt bad about what we saw all around us.
Peeved at being a less than average for having studied in a remote place compared to the Meccas of modernity in India, I tried my luck at to get into Masters at SPA, New Delhi.Having been ridiculed for poor English and poorer drawings at the interview, I landed at SAP, Chennai. Two years of Town Planning that was more Greek than the unlearned Latin of architecture and feeling more disgruntled, I went on to work on a research project there for another year, to make educational material on space and shelter for low income population at Chennai.That introduced me to the social side of architecture hardly ever heard in my classes.In 1971, I joined Institute of Development studies at University of Mysore to work mostly with social scientists on human settlement and housing policies and norms.
My mind opened to view architecture from the social points from outside the profession “as if people mattered”and that architecture happens in no social vacuum. Thirteen years in research, teaching, several publications, international consultancy, and a doctorate, boredom made me get out. Architecture lured me again to start practice in 1988.First works were for local housing and urban development agencies. The project received a prize in the HUDCOs low cost housing ideas competition. In 1988my house, the first design with all eco-friendly ideas (almost no one talked about sustainability those days) got another national level award in 1990.My work since then has been informed by the following:
Technology, in both its dimensions of material and technique, has been at the core of my work. The attempt has been to use contemporary technology albeit in a manner suited to local conditions and ecology, never as an end to itself. This view led us to pioneer the use of various materials, including stabilised mud blocks, and extensively develop and use various construction methods including brick vaulting and various types of domes and partial prefabrication.
The firm has worked on various types of buildings, resorts, hotels, individual hoses, very few apartments, and schools, and has been selective to work on limited scale but intensely. We are hardly removed from the work site. Our works have received nine national awards and a nomination for Aga Khan international award.
My design ideology and methods attempt to be collaborative -the client, the builders, contractors, the site engineers and the workmen are partners in the process. The prime foci aspects are – impact of buildings on the place and its ecology and architecture as interpretation of the cultural text, that makes the place and its everyday architecture.