Before

What architecture was, was never a one-word answer for Amrita. Before studying architecture, buildings were concrete and bricks, markets were narrow and materialistic, and community spaces were huge and chaotic. Exploring architecture made her realize the potential these places held apart from all those characteristics seen at first glance. She had a different point of view towards the mundane, everyday places. It had started becoming about place-making for her. Space and place weren’t synonyms anymore. Each had a value and meaning of its own. Markets weren’t gone solely for shopping, plazas weren’t gone only to meet her friends in the evening and skyscrapers weren’t awed without looking at them with x-ray eyes. It was starting to change, for good. 

After

Being able to experience a place, she had been going to since birth, from an entirely different perspective was the greatest joy she had ever felt. That small park in her hometown was her safety net. Any fight with her friends, her brother or her mother, they immediately knew where to find her. The park had a few dirty swings, a slider and a see-saw randomly placed, or at least that’s what she thought back then. There were four gates on each edge of the rectangular park and pathways from each gate to sitting areas of different types. She always wondered why each corner was occupied by a group of people of a distinct type. Why did her mother never sit where her grandfather did? Back then she thought it was because of a quarrel they must have had right before coming to the park with her. Little did she know architecture was to be blamed for this. Her perspective of this tiny world within this park changed when she visited it during summer vacations in her second year of college. At first glance, she made a mind map of the park, pathways directionality, primary entry and exit and zoning of spaces depending on age and activity. Finally, her childhood mystery was solved. What a relief!

Europe

The joy of capturing the details, which are often missed by ordinary eyes, in a sketch while sitting in one isolated corner in front of a monumental building is an experience every architect can relate to. While working on projects in studios and firms, this is the one thing architects miss when talking about college work. During one architecture summer school across Europe, Amrita filled sketchbook after sketchbook drawing any and everything she saw. It was a language of buildings of every place that she was journaling. From Rialto market in Venice to Pink Road in Lisbon, she drew it all. She noticed the colours of Paris change throughout the day. In the morning it was a scene of sophisticated working people and by evenings it was a ramp of fashionistas. Walking on the riverside in the evenings was the best part of the day. The plazas there were surprisingly always active, especially in the evening. Looking closely at the lifestyle of the people there she realized why that was so. People there have small houses and after their job hours, the only place for recreation for them is out of their houses. This is true for almost all European countries she went to.

Before and After Architecture - Sheet1
Rialto Market, Venice
(Author)
Before and After Architecture - Sheet2
Nightlife in Pink Road, Lisbon (https://lesfranginsenvadrouille.weebly.com/uploads/5/9/2/8/59287733/5849993_orig.jpg)

The most fascinating characteristic of Barcelona’s architecture and planning was the vehicular and pedestrian movement. While walking around in the city with a friend, she noticed the movement of cars on the periphery of a block and the inside only pedestrians and cyclists. “This is what is known as the Superblock concept,” her friend informed. Looking at the streets then became even more interesting. It seemed like the architecture there was done for people and not vehicles. The way it is supposed to be. Walking on the wide-open street, with nearly no vehicular movement, was like getting lost in the crowd. It was surprisingly comforting, knowing that she was alone but not lost in the crowd. It was like being alone with her thoughts in the chaos. The experience was soothing and unique, something she had never experienced in Chandni Chowk. In Chandni Chowk, old Delhi, everyone knows everyone. The narrow streets and chaotic unorganized markets have a sense of belonging and warmth. The old houses and shops are inviting. 

The chaos of Chandni Chowk (https://indotoursadventures.com/public/storage/blogs/1c47e8016c1b326d46fb1e4be2678d1d.jpg / Indo Tours and Adventures)

Realization

All the architectural elements and features she had learnt about in those four years of college are always coming back to her, no matter where she goes. It brings her joy to see heritage places, which to others might not hold any importance. The view of any architectural marvel being destroyed in war or due to natural calamities brings tears to her eyes because she now realizes that peace might come with a treaty but the structure once lost, will never be regained. 

For her it is no more about just buildings and plans, but about the emotions and experiences involved with the built and unbuilt. 

Author

Krishika is a student of architecture, with an interest in writing, philosophy and cooking. She wishes to be born at the time of Jane Austin with her existing feminist armour. She is a hopeless romantic mentally living by the canal in Venice and looking forward to exploring a new city each day.