An artisan utilizes his hands to create unique and functional handicrafts or structures using traditional techniques. They are masters in their art forms. They generally make products such as toys, clothes, tools, or furnishings. They learned these artisanal techniques through decades of their tribal knowledge and keep passing ahead within families and communities. Many artisans depend on local resources to create these items. In economic terms, an artisan is a producer of items who owns their production and makes a living out of that trade. They have mastered a particular trade, typically native to their region, culture, or tradition. They have practical and theoretical knowledge about creating a specific good and transferring their working craftsmanship to forthcoming generations. 

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Art and Architecture – Unwinding the Beauty in Buildings

Artisan inclusion in design - creating value for skill in the economics of architecture - Sheet1
Taj Mahal_©art.scholastic.com

Art and Architecture have always shared a blurred line. Though the majority of architectural projects may primarily focus on function, great architecture merges function with form to create spaces that are not only functional but also visually appealing. Art is something that narrates a story to the people or creates an emotional attachment; to interpret its meaning. Art echoes the artist’s creativity and imagination. Pleasing architecture does the same but also has to meet the basic functional requirements for ensuring safer buildings. The challenge that all architects have to face is creating functional art.

While it’s undoubtedly necessary for a building to function well, and meet the client’s or occupant’s needs, all it takes is a little creative thinking to find areas where we have a chance to create art within the overall design of the building. Practical mandatory elements such as windows, lighting, and finishes can easily act as opportunities for the designer to create something beautiful.

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Artisans and Architecture

Artisan inclusion in design - creating value for skill in the economics of architecture - Sheet2
Decorative elements in Krushi Bhavan_©Andre Fanthome

Architecture has the power to bring back the artisans and their arts and crafts thus supporting them economically and also giving an identity to the regional flavors of our nation having a diverse culture. Architecture is all about problem-solving through design but it’s not limited just to the minds, even hands-on skills are required for the same. The best solution comes up when the brain, mind, and heart all work together. When architects and artisans come together they form a unique vocabulary of architecture. However unfortunately nowadays artisans are just limited to mere laborers on site.

“If you look at a sari, it’s one unstitched piece of cloth, yet there is the pallu, the body, the buttis, and then the way the fabric is draped. Without any joints, it still has numerous elements coming together. That dependency, to me, is the role of artisans in architectural projects,” says architect Sanjib Chatterjee.

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Artisans’ inclusion in design

Bamboo houses in Bihar_©Hunnarshala foundation

Craft has become a commodity, unfortunately. These days, there is very little demand for handcrafted buildings. In modern buildings, approximately 70 percent of the capital is utilized for materials and only 30 percent goes to the labor. In locally handcrafted buildings, the labor earns about 70 percent, and as the materials are locally sourced, the costs are not more than 30 percent. If handmade mud bricks would be used in the village for houses, schools, and other structures, they wouldn’t need cookie-cutter concrete boxes in their villages. Each region has its local materials, and architects can work with these traditional systems. Mutual collaboration and finding new expressions will generate job opportunities and reduce rural migration too. Great design approaches can enhance lives, communities, and organizations. They can help create better places, bringing together communities, and have the power to transform business and public services. It is a way of thinking that helps small, medium, and large organizations alike, social enterprises, and charities change the way they work.·         

In India architecture has always been much more of an art and craft than structural engineering and this is crucial to bring creative meaningfulness out of every building. Since the past, it has evolved as a craft that reflects the socio-cultural background and the context in which it is designed. It is deeply rooted in the basic principles of form, shape, scale, and proportion. Architecture has a very humble and respectable position in society and is a reflection of the collaborative efforts of all. The craftsman added soul to the project and in turn, they benefited in terms of money as they got job opportunities and thus the community grew. However, the role of craft in architecture decreased as architects moved towards a more pragmatic approach towards making buildings more practical and simple rather than beautiful. Architecture as a craft was a beautiful collective journey of all the artists and crafts persons each and reaching it by their best creative and innovative sensibilities whereas today it is more of a scientific process and technological advances leaving behind the much-needed human touch.

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Conclusion

Today the focus is more towards the financial balance sheets rather than creating a balance between cultural values and the spirit of human coexistence. We have not owned the adopted architecture of a different time but also of different sensibilities and sensitivities. Buildings have to now stand out loud and celebrate their arrival unlike in the past when they accommodated themselves very harmoniously with the surroundings and contributed to the whole city in giving it a sense of identity and much-needed emotional value.

We as architects need to understand and accept that art is an integral part of existence even if it exists in our subconscious minds. Many times a beautifully designed crafted piece of work has had an influence on the lives of people who were involved with it – the artisans. In projects, on one hand, architects put in their great knowledge, heart and minds and on the other hand, the artisans pour in their soul. 

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Bibliography 

News, C. and News, H., 2021. Craft in architecture is as crucial as craft of architecture | Hyderabad News – Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/craft-in-architecture-is-as-crucial-as-craft-of-architecture/articleshow/7750187.cms

News, C. and News, H., 2021. Craft in architecture is as crucial as craft of architecture | Hyderabad News – Times of India. [online]. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/craft-in-architecture-is-as-crucial-as-craft-of-architecture/articleshow/7750187.cms

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Author

Manali is a fresher in the world of architecture. Holding a strong passion for writing and profession of architecture, she has a vision to combine them both along with her skills of research and analysis to make this world a better place for all.

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