SYNOPSIS WRITTEN FOR CROSSROADS 2014
'ART IN ARCHITECTURE'
CROSSROADS is an initiative by the architectural fraternity of Calicut to create a platform for some genuine architectural deliberations, critical thinking and ideation in the field of architecture and urbanism. The conference, in its first edition addressed the dynamics of the public realm through its theme of ‘Public Architecture‘. It was an attempt to revive the importance of public architecture in establishing the social and cultural equity, by actively involving & participating in building the public realm. The event featured talks by keynote speakers, a walk through the historic core of the city, workshops, exhibitions of public projects, competitions and various other activities, which created a platform for some great interaction and some critical architectural discussions.
The theme of the event this year is ‘Art in Architecture’, where we want to address the relevance and necessity of Art in Architecture. Although entwined in a symbiotic relationship, we find that there exists a dichotomy in the way art and architecture is integrated in our spaces today, with the end result being the highly chaotic interventions in our cultural landscapes. Our cities and built spaces are filled with numerous examples of arguably irrelevant junk which masquerade as art. Further, the duality of design as a functional response to a programmatic requirement and also to notions / questions on higher metaphors needs to be explored in today’s context. No approach is absolute, yet, we find our spaces increasingly being defined by faux notions & symbols of artistic concepts. There are critical questions that we must ask – how deep is the role of art in architecture? How does art reflect and enhance our cultural construct? How can art inspire architecture in the exposition of a positive spatial and social agenda?
The subcontinent provides some excellent examples of integrating the regional craft traditions into the built environments. Presently, these craft traditions are being eschewed in favour of a globalised vocabulary, borrowing heavily from international imagery and graphical creations, without having the conceptual depth to contextualize the designs and to make it more relevant to the regional context. The pertinent question that we need to ask is if at all it is necessary to incorporate these micro-narratives into our spatiality, and if so, what are the social, economical and psychological implications?
Questions on the relevance of new media and digital templates in the architectural discourse need to be further addressed. How do we embrace this explosion of content and arrive at relevant themes? Today, the evolution of architecture is taken forward by newer economical realities and technological innovations. The tools of the trade are becoming increasingly digitized and the traditions of using the hand are being neglected and the cognitive process of design is being redefined. The directness of the hand drawn sketch in evolving and distilling ideas in the design process is being overlooked in favour of other digital media. Is this a positive evolution or is there a need for moderation?
Considering these multiple levels of enquiries, ‘Art in Architecture’ can evolve multi-directional approaches and positions which can help articulate a meaningful and relevant social perspective. Consequently, at this juncture, we feel it would be appropriate to address these new realities, to start a dialogue, to contemplate and to postulate, so that there is a much better understanding and appreciation of this critical agenda.