In a world where architects are barely able to follow a secondary path other than their profession, Rajalakshmi Joshi has done wonders. The lady, who has worked as an architect, interior designer, television panelist, motivational speaker, corporate trainer, political analyst, social activist, and TEDx speaker, has opened a wide range of opportunities for the new generation. At TEDx BEC (Bapatla Engineering College), one of her best lectures, “Architectural identity- What stories will our building tell?” acted as an eye-opener for today’s architecture students and industries.
Five TED talk points every designer should know
1. Architecture connects two branches
Rajalakshmi Joshi described architecture as being anchored on two fundamental branches from the beginning of its age: survival and identity. Whether living in a cave or sitting in a skyscraper, architecture has always played a critical role in ensuring the community’s existence. Architecture, on the other hand, speaks for itself by presenting a story through its location. She underlined the importance of a tale that connects and narrates a place’s identity, culture, and even history. One similar example by the environmentalist displayed was Mohenjo-Daro, Sindh, Pakistan. “A 5000 years-old place is not enough to explain a story, but its buildings, lanes & by-lanes, artifacts, waterproof swimming pools, or even a stone spoke unknowingly. The answers to What they did? What was their lifestyle? What kind of entertainment they had? And so forth, are given in the story told by architecture”, quoted Rajalakshmi Joshi.
The inspiring speaker had been slowly and steadily generating a solid-impactful branch overlooked by designers until now, after thirteen minutes of discourse.
2. Past: This is our Architectural identity!
Whether Mohenjo-Daro of Indus Valley Civilisation or Sun temple, Odisha, from the Chalukya dynasty, Rajalakshmi Joshi believed that every civilization played a distinctive impact on the architecture. In other words, traditional architecture differed from place to location and century to era, and one of the examples she cited was colonial architecture. Colonial architecture is an architectural style influenced by kings who built during their reign. The following are some the examples: –
- Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh, was built by Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great to grow Buddhist Architecture in his realm.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, was built under the British Empire with its Victorian Gothic style all over the state.
- The Writer’s Building, Kolkata built with red bricks and Neo-Classical style still dominating from 1776.
At this moment, Rajalakshmi Joshi finally reached the significant question ignored and unanswered by designers “What do the buildings of today tell you?”. While the minds of many were pondering, she asked the second one, “What do the buildings of today will tell people in present or 100 years after?”.
3. Present or Future- Is this our Architectural identity?
“What exactly we used to do? What did our buildings tell us? What story did they follow? Who will tell our culture? Who will tell this to the coming generation?”. With these piled-up questions from the future, she reflected on a statement of the present saying- “Our buildings are in total chaos today”. Rajalakshmi Joshi even showed brutal but true examples of today. On one side it was about shrunk, unventilated, and non-identical homes, streets, and surroundings of countries like Barcelona, New York, and India. On the other, the typical glass block is inconsiderable to a place’s climate, culture, or identity. She even added, “What is even a recognition of a structure if we have to look at nearby roads, cars, or infrastructures next to it?” With this miserable situation in architecture, she introduced how we can retain the lost essence of the buildings.
4. Our one National identity
It is very difficult to find a national identity for a country like India according to its varied climate, regions, languages, religions, and so forth. This was the dilemma confronted by Rajalakshmi Joshi. From a small village to a macro-level planned city, factors matching the building’s environment and best technology are the sole reason to depict our architectural identity. She also opened the eyes of the audience to acknowledge our culture, texts, and knowledge of ancient times rather than being waiting and miserable by learning the same things from an outsider after 100 years.
5. It is my Utopian moment, but what about you?
As architects, we envisage having our utopian moments through our structures, which Rajalakshmi Joshi achieved for her guruji with the temple in Ashoke, Gokarna. The 40-acre site was designed to avoid the use of dangerous synthetic materials (steel, cement concrete, and others) in favor of indigenous resources, construction, and traditional architectural styles. She believed the project blended with the landscape and had a zero-carbon footprint because of her bold and proud voice. To be complete within required additional expenditures, time, and study, but she believed the potholes could be filled with the incoming designers. Great enthusiasm and a deep dive into our own culture, expertise, and identity will not only assist us in discovering our utopian moment but will also immediately position us as world leaders. Furthermore, her tagline “Think global, act local”, indicated a shift in thinking, a stronger attitude, and a sense of pride and rootedness in our heritage while utilizing the most up-to-date technologies available.
“When in Rome think like Romans, and similarly when in India think according to the structures that suit India best” – Rajalakshmi Joshi.
The TEDx speaker’s effect was strong enough to prompt designers to consider what is being lost (the national identity). She had the answers to many of the questions she had posed. The new direction, hope, and solutions will be the worldwide leader of tomorrow, bridging the gap of architectural identity’s lost essence.
- TEDx, 2022. Architectural Identity- what stories will our buildings tell?.Available at: <https://youtu.be/YwzP1jrghAM> [Accessed 10 May 2022].