Interview with Architect Aman Nath,New Delhi
You have been doing a lot of different things. How do you manage to excel at each of those?
If you look carefully, they are all related – architecture, design, writing. It may be because of aesthetics and if you understand the beauty of aesthetics, then everything comes down your that. If I were to design a dress, then I would design a dress and I would be are happy with that. There are no barriers and shouldn’t be. Nowadays, I think it has become fashionable to specialise in something, but you can’t say that I specialise in the left sleeves of the lady’s dress because that is silly. I think that the lines that people draw between one art form, one design form one aesthetic form are hypothetical. Look at Leonardo Da Vinci; you are talking of the renaissance person. You can re-invite the renaissance when you meet people with no boundaries. Closer home, we have had Rabindranath Tagore who was good in very many things. There are none and there shouldn’t be any barrier. We began to draw lines because people now want to mark their territory and sit on it. It’s like, “I do the left eye so if you have a problem in left eye, I might cure it well. I specialise in it because of my total concentration on the left eye. ” Everyone says that I am an eye specialist, so when one says that I am a left eye specialist, probably people would trust him more because he concentrates 100% on one thing. It might be a marketing skill or specialization, but that is how it works. I understand and don’t understand that. I think in today’s world we should get an education which spans a holistic view and one should move freely from one “specialisation” to another, then the other and finally enrich the world. Look at Da Vinci. He was an astronomer, astrologer, artist, painter, and engineer. I am saying this to defend that you said I do so many things. One actually does not. Its all the same. Again, when I am doing one thing, I do it fully. So when I was an Ad man, I was completely an ad man. This requires concentration. In a normal life, when you are doing one thing do it passionately. Even when asked to cook, I would consider doing that passionately. Though it is very late for me at this stage but I think of learning to cook. In India men are not trained to enter kitchen, there’s always a lady to supervise your house. My mother once asked me “How can you run a hotel when you can’t even run a house?” With this attitude, you would be able to enjoy whatever you are doing. One should not stress themselves unduly with other tasks.
Who and what inspire you and you works?
No matter whatever my upbringing, my education and my exposure was, it comes from within. My inspiration is not from those people who have done underground building. I mean people ask me from where did I get the idea and the answer remains the same that it’s all an urge to create something new, something different. I felt that architects don’t do great things. They build great buildings and then they convert it with glass and the glass catches heat so they air conditioned it. So they say that the building can sustain cold climate and every time we hear the same thing. And when I did an underground building, nobody could believe. It’s quite a mad building and people ask where I got the idea? The idea came from the stupidity of other people who don’t think. So if you go 22 feet below the ground anywhere in the world, the temperature is the same as it is up here .So it’s such an important thing. So, if you have to live in Siberia, you just dig 22 feet down and you can stay over there as the temperature down under is nearly 22 degrees. And the dig is not that big; the normal houses we live in are about 14 feet high. I think all cold weather places should have underground buildings.
What has been your most defining moment?
Post the partition, after my family migrated from what had then become Pakisan, we came to see my uncle in India who lived at the place where American Centre stands today on Kasturba Gandhi Marg. When we arrived here, we had no grandeur, no status, like our Indian relatives as we had left all our belongings back in Pakistan and lived in tents here in India. It soon became apparent that you weren’t trusted and treated well by people unless you had a similar or better standing in the society. And apparently, it was wealth that decided your worth then. Ultimately, my family took charge of themselves and their safety as we were declined any helping hands from our relatives. That, for my father, was a defining moment and somehow passed on to me as my defining moment too- to have that thrust of achieving something in my life and taking charge of it. My father was an all India champion of badminton and my uncle was a runner up in the world cup. They were stars but used to do all their work on their own and were self made. So defining moment was not one, there were many.