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.
Which have been your most challenging projects? Please elaborate a bit on each.
If we are looking at context responsive solutions then every project is challenging because each context comes with its unique demands and constraints. One of the most fulfilling projects had been the Post-Earthquake Rehabilitation in kutchchh. We worked through participatory development approach and the challenging part was how to maintain the continuum of the tradition and yet bring in the dimension of new. To convince the inhabitants not to get carried away by false notions of modernity that they associate with urban developments from alien context. Challenge was in de learning of our own of pre conceived notions and not to impose them on people but to derive the direction from the place as appropriate to the context. Another project with high sense of fulfilment has been the Manav Sadhna Activity Centre. Challenge here was the economics, challenge here was to intervene in existing long established fabric. Challenge here was to turn constraint into opportunity. We researched intensely in the context and came up with the strategy of using the domestic and municipal waste and transform them into building components. Convincing beneficiaries as well as the patrons using such material was the challenge. But as long as we maintained their bottom lines of cost, strength and functionality we were allowed our playfield of explorations and innovations with recycled material. Environmental Sanitation Institute has been another landmark project to apply learning of the traditional wisdom in contemporary times to derive one of the most sustainable built environments. Challenge was to let common sense prevail and maintain core values of the local culture, climate and construction in the times of technology, foreign and global being seen as the signs of progress and modernity. Challenge was to maintain conviction that ideals can be achieved even within the constraints and as professionals it is our responsibility to cater to collective societal good rather than addressing client’s personal whims.
Source: Zingy Homes