Collating memories of UVCE etched by many of our alumni, here it is presenting to you – “Decadewise Memories”. This article is a narrative by Pragna about her time at UVCE in the Millennium age.
…23rd October 1998… a day of reckoning?- No, it was our first day in the college! And what a way to begin! The thought that 33 souls with sturdy soles trekked across wild cross country that is J.B(Jnana Bharathi Campus) to zero is on that elusive Shangri-La i.e. Architecture Department can still be rattling one. None the less we were cooling our heels soon before the very building; with a gut feeling that since it was a little bit odd it must be the one. Lo! it was to be our “adda” for the next five years.(We make it in five, what others can do in four!).
We entered the department looking lost trying to figure out literally what architecture department is all about; for there were studios and no classrooms! (You don’t call them classrooms here). Studios with no walls but windows all round reaching down to floor or up to ceiling, (Yes!! easy to give proxy and disappear, but wait, you can be seen for miles around here). Outside cows and sheep would be grazing lazily eyeing us once in awhile, probably wondering that why we can’t join them outside as we were doing the same inside! The studio was literally open to all types of experiences. Time stood still, until some crawly reptilian friend would visit us forcing us to take flights of fancy in every which way! After this and the cows, can the cowboys be far behind! The security staff chasing the grazing cow all around would fit the role too. The odd dog would be there too keep us company. All these added spice over the years.
There was not intensive reading to do (neighbor’s enemy); while colleagues from other departments would be burdened with books. We say it with pictures and drawings, ‘a picture or drawing is worth a thousand words’! Of course figuring out these things from books in the library turned out to be crazy for us too (Hey! B.T.W ours is one of the best “Archie libraries” in the town, Thank you). The staff gave us enough food for thought; whether it was the wonky design ideas, mysteries of history, an earful of acoustics, an elevating experience of lifts or a load of structures. It was the staff that helped us to complete the puzzle by unraveling it. A lot of jargon like concept, form, metaphor, statement etc made things easy to explain (or did it?).
These ‘concepts’ born out of much reflection and deliberation translate themselves into homes, offices, theatres, hotels, cities/towns etc with inputs from Landscaping design and Interior design. This work sometimes involves night outs and night-ups to get completed- typical of Archie students; especially during semester submission time. It also means tracking seniors for sheets, notes and any hard me downs, which they received from their seniors! (Can’t ignore one’s heritage you know!). This sometimes involves collective action or positive synergy, especially when group work is involved- urban studies or critical studies of buildings. Naturally brain-storming sessions follow. Well, stop me if you have heard this before…. (Do you have a choice? Hee! Hee!), if you have a rupee and I have one we still have a rupee each after exchanging them. But if you have an idea and I have one, we have two each after exchanging them!).
Hey! It is not all work and no play. It is festival time for most part. We have our college feast MILAGRO. Right! We gotta make our departmental fest ARCHIKRUTHI a success. Architectural competitions keep us on our toes. We travel to the other end of the country to ZONASA or NASA to grab a few prizes (No Jokes Hee! Hee! ). We have to keep tabs on the latest trends, tastes and styles like fashion designers do. By the end of the course some of us turn out to be designer specimen ourselves, some good, some bad and some really weird (What with all that eighteen hour exams! post-modernist deconstruction theories you become one if you are not already!). We are supposed to be professionals who can make simple thing complex even though we are attempting the exact opposite! Isn’t that how most things are? You dismantle things to see how they are and put them again together, assuming that something is wrong to prove that it is right.
So upside down or inside out, if it requires us to be unconventional to learn things, so be it and if it is upside down or inside out, all of us know where the Dept of architecture is. We are always glad to entangle, oops! …untangle things for you.
Looking back one becomes aware that our waking up to the fact that freedom to think and act is also coupled with responsibility. Those flights of fancy have their feet firmly on ground. The department imbibed in us that all design is essentially a dialogue, not just with the present but with future generations too, a call to leave behind a humane people friendly earth-scape long after we are gone.
A sobering thought indeed!
– Pragna R Prasad