Architect Yatin Pandya, being a practicing architect in India is also an author, academician, activist, researcher as well as the and has a firm named FOOTPRINTS E.A.R.T.H. He is a graduate of CEPT University, Ahmedabad, and has availed a Master of Architecture degree from McGill University, Montreal. The architect has been involved in various typologies of projects like city planning, urban design, mass housing, architecture, interior design as well as conservation projects. Along with this he has a keen interest in writing and has written a number of articles in National and International Journals. His main concern regarding design is to raise awareness about socio-cultural appropriateness and sustainable built-form.
In the youtube video archilogues: an initiative of Spatial narratives by Yatin Pandya he speaks about his viewpoints regarding questions posed to him related to the field of architecture. According to Yatin sir architecture is simply an extension of life. He is reminded of a story where a pupil goes to learn architecture, and get to know that can be learned after understanding sculpting which further takes him to learn dance(pauses and rhythms), followed by music and then poetry. And in the end, poetry comes from life. Hence looking around, absorbing and assimilating, interpreting, and then applying in the design is what is his approach towards architecture. Sum total of culture, craft, art, climate and construction all such aspects coming together creates an aesthetics experience in a design.
According to him a good architecture must inform, involve, and inspire. It must engage the onlooker to a given subject.
His own firm FOOTPRINTS EARTH, meaning (Environment, Architecture, Research, Technology, Housing) all these entities come together to complete architecture.
On being asked how he got involved in writing and asked to share his experience, Yatin sir started with this beautiful line that “Communication is not dependent on proficiency of the language, it has to do with the clarity of the thought, the validity of the thought and the consistency of the thought.” He further says that one should be precise and owe what one thinks about. His first book ‘Concepts of Space in Traditional Indian Architecture’ is his personal inquiry why 1000 millennial old monuments continue to still aspire us and awe in our mind but on the other side, many new glamorous buildings can be seen once twice or thrice but then they are not given a second glance. Architecture is an assembly of elements, it’s a play of space and creating an experience through it. Architecture cannot be conceived as room after room. It’s all about space, for example, a park, which is spread and in this way a space is created. Architectural elements play an important role in creating architectural space-making.
Being an architect, a professional, one has to look for a collective good, be responsible for the environment, ecological balance, cultural ethos, harmony between human and human along with human and nature. As long as these factors are respected in all dimensions of design, professional duty is taken care of. Humans are shaped by the environment around them but architects shape the environment around humans.
There is a common notion that people have that urban design is a large scale development, more than this, urban design is a larger concern. Even at a residential scale, when we think about the surroundings and street, the context, the neighbors, ie., visual connectivity, we are thinking about the larger concern.
Pandya sir considers his practice to be research-based, wherein every project they tend to analyze for the core ethos. It is about the ideas they want to demonstrate, quest to explore, whether it’s about technology, typology, integration of the environment, drawing light in slum settlement without touching the periphery. The firm spends lots of time researching the project before they start the designing process, i.e. iterations starting with pure theoretical research.
Talking about the firm’s design approach and thought process behind low-cost housing and rehabilitation projects, they focus on a self-created built environment, with frugal resources and how to create a built environment which is at least socioculturally and environmentally comfortable and true to their lifestyle. Aranya housing and other previous projects gave him a chance to apply these understandings in the real project and that gave a lot of conviction. Hence in his teachings and workshops, he says one should know it’s not just the act of building but the sociocultural dimension of what you create and how you create a neighborly bond and a healthy society.