It has almost been a month since I renewed my domain and hosting plan, which means I can continue attempting to write for another year and also that I am dangerously short on money. Sometime back, I found myself faced with the opportunity of attending an architecture conference in Mumbai called the 361 conference. The theme they had planned for this year’s edition was ‘Architecture and Identity’ and they had a line up of speakers from all over the world who showed promise of breaking down the vast realm of architecture to help understand how design and built mass could relate to the identity of an individual and the surroundings.
From the time I started off with architecture school, I had been among the lot that always skipped conferences and seminars to find better things to do. In my defense, most of them used to host speakers who were more confused than we were! This time around though, I had gotten a fellowship invitation plus the opportunity of travelling to another city a midst horribly hectic work days seemed too good to give up.
A long wait later, I finally found myself in Mumbai, sweating sufficiently to do justice to the city’s humidity. As with every city, I was ripped off by the rickshaw driver who, halfway to the hotel had me wondering if I was going to be kidnapped. After sweating some more, I reached the hotel and eventually, the conference venue.
Not knowing what to expect, I sat like an obedient child in a classroom with a pen and book in hand waiting to furiously begin taking notes. Over the course of three days, I didn’t take down any notes.
The conference saw the likes of Balkrishna Doshi, William J Curtis, Aniket Bhagwat, Rick Joy and SPASM design among other reputed professions. Most speakers were impeccable with regards to what they had to say about the subject and their works and it gave everyone an insight on what architecture can and really should be. As with everything else, Shit Happens. Steven Holl, one of the most reputed architects in the world, bailed and did not turn up at the conference. No matter what the reason, it was fairly unprofessional on the organizer’s part to have not informed everyone before hand (there is no such thing as last minute, given how you can’t fly around the world at will without a visa).
Everything said and done, I decided to make a post out of this experience for the sole reason that, as an individual I never found myself too keen on attending conferences for several reasons – most conferences are crazy expensive and given my internship stipend, I sometimes have to ration out my food intake, they somehow happen far away from where you are, they are very subject specific or the speakers are just blah. This time around, I thought of giving it a shot and on the last day, it just seemed like I had learnt a lot. Learnt a lot of things that might help shape the way I think about architecture in the future. Help me figure where I need to be headed as an architect. It opens you out to avenues of thought and then the five years of architecture school somehow, just add up. Louis Kahn’s ideology of talking to a brick makes sense. Blank walls look beautiful. A wholesome image of architecture like it’s supposed to be begins to emerge. With design, there is no fixed answer. It is always a development and re-development of someone’s ideas and emotions and impressions.
The more we explore as architects, the better are our chances to change the world. Better are the possibilities that one day, we are truly deserving of being architects.