Interview with Architect Yatin Pandya, Ahmedabad
You are an activist, academician, researcher, author and an architect. Which role do you enjoy the most?
I have enjoyed all the roles intensely and it is the combination that makes me ME. I thoroughly enjoy the role as architect as a privilege to create/ bring forth something new and be able to influence lives of many. I have loved being teacher as it keeps one informed and young in presence of enquiring minds and the satisfaction of learning something in the process of sharing the knowledge with others. Research remains the backbone of our practice and is absolutely vital to take informed decisions and to arrive at contextually appropriate solutions. Research is the key to derive sense of clarity and conviction in approaches adopted. Authorship is a natural polarisation of research and teaching to share the ideas and ideologies with wider group. It also helps one to be clear on stances and publicly commit about them. My writings have been not about preaching but to discuss alternatives and debate development choices. Activism is not a conscious role but has emerged as response to situation that threatens the convictions and collective concerns.
You have been running programs to raise the awareness of our architectural and cultural heritage. Please tell us more about these programs.
Demonstrative architectural work, setting up of museums and cultural nodes, articles in mass media, making of video documentaries for distant learning, writing books, organising as well as lecturing in seminars, conducting workshops, actively engaging with teaching at various scales, initiating voluntary visits to landmark sites as well as designing architectural theme maps and souvenirs have all been tools and multi prong aspects of raising awareness amongst different groups about different issues of heritage, humanity and sustainability.
Slum Development Initiatives are close to your heart. What is your design philosophy when it comes to low cost housing for the poor?
Architecture has to strive to improve the quality of life. This is only possible when it is responsive to realities and aspiration of the context in terms of place and people. Housing for the poor has to be envisioned holistically not simply as physical shelter but as wholesome neighbourhood which has hope, opportunity, survival resources and proves to be a resource rather than burden. We can learn from spontaneous settlements about their needs and priorities and the socio culturally responsive living environment within strained economic resources. Spontaneous settlements are the solutions people have provided to themselves without any help. If we can simply see this as solution to housing and strengthen them through land tenure and service infrastructure, it would be a way forward to optimise resource and involve people in processes of housing provisions.
Source: Zingy Homes