Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Architecture, Balancing Creativity & Professionalism!!

“As we live and as we are, Simplicity - with a capital "S" - is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.”… Frank Lloyd Wright.

I have been always fascinated by architecture as the word is other name of creativity yet in the world of FSI, Viability the creation part has taken back seat is a fact! Yet in a way it has added challenges in creativity is what I feel & in such time when your niece becomes an architect that too with second rank in her college, I felt like sharing my love for architecture with her & here is outcome…

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“A professional is one who does his best work when he feels the least like working.”  Frank Lloyd Wright.

Dear Baboo & now Architect Ms Shruti Mahajan,

It feels amazing to write to the moody, temperamental, small girl not only has become a full-fledged architect but with flying colors & first of all congrats to you, as getting second rank in hundreds of girls, that too in a professional course like architecture is not small feet to achieve! And whose words other than one of the all time greats in architecture I could have used to share my feelings with you when now the basic education is over & your real journey in the field of architecture which is other name of creativity, starts which strangely is called professional world. Baboo I always wonder, when compared to other professions like CA, Advocate (you have one very much in your home), Doctor are few well known, and how architecture can be linked with it as a profession! Because professional is attitude towards the job at hand & even Frank Lloyd says in his quote when you least feel working yet you deliver its best; this I can understand being an engineer myself which also is a branch of consultancy as professional because not necessary that in all rest of the above mentioned professions you must like the job! May it be a legal case or medical emergency or filing returns & saving tax, these all are the jobs where emotions gets ruled by the hard facts of the life but architecture is different, its blend of creativity versus delivering the results to  your client i.e. profession! And that’s why this is most wonderful & challenging profession as you have to give justice to your clients needs (read demands) & at the same time you can’t allow the creative you within get killed while you fulfill needs of your client!

Baboo, long back during your admission days when I started interaction with your teachers, I asked your Princi one question, how come every successful architect is a philosopher as the way I used to read quotes by the names like Charles Korea, B V Doshi, Frank Lloyd, Frank Gehry & many more; one thing I realized these guys speaks about life more & not about bricks- mortar & plans, which actually is there life as a professional! Your Princi smiled (in his special way) & said it’s actually reverse, they all are philosopher first that’s why they become successful architects! Well my respect for the Princi did grew a lot that day as it’s like you keep on banging a door to somebody open it from inside & then a person passing by makes you realize its actually closed from outside only & you only can open it in a moment! It was just like that for me about architecture by the way let me share with you, I too wanted to become an architect (no I am not even a bit of philosopher by myself) but any building or say project or structure is creation of an architect first is what I believed. And thanks for that belief to Ian Rand’s “Fountain Head’ & the iconic architect’s character in it, yes Harvard Roark, & I was not the only one who wanted to be Roark! Though there will be always a debate that it’s an engineer who makes that creation possible in reality but by me you can’t build something which hasn’t thought of in first place! There is a famous story in Panchatantra where three young men travelling together find ashes which actually are remnant of a girl’s burnt body. Each of those men has one super power, i.e. the first man can recreate the subject from the ashes, so he tries his power & the ash took form of a girl. The second man can decorate or say make clothes out of anything, so he make that body clad in finest of jewelry as well clothes, transforming the mere body in a beautiful lady. The third man has power to bring back the dead & give them life, so he uses his power & make the girl alive! Now when the girl is alive, looking at the beauty they all think of marrying her & the debate starts between them, that who has got right on her? As they can’t conclude whose power is more effective to have his claim on the girl whom they have rejuvenated together! So they took solace to a wise man & after sharing the story of the girl asks him which of them can marry the girl? The wise man after listening the story tells to the first man, you have given her form which she belonged to as well the second man indeed has given her clothes & jewelry to make her look beautiful but it’s the third man who gave her life as that’s what most important aspect of any living person, so he is the one who should marry her! (Pardon for the girl as nobody asked her choice but it’s a story after all). Role of the architect in making any project is like the last man i.e. it’s the architect who give life to any structure by his/her touch & that’s why for any project architect is true owner of the same!

Coming back to the philosophy aspect which I don’t know whether was part of your syllabus or not, yet mind one thing unless you understand life you won’t be able to bring the same in your designs. And here is where great architects differ from normal architect (with due respect nothing wrong being normal) what I meant is this is why some buildings or say structures stand out from others as one look at them & you can feel the life in those structures, may it be as mechanical structure as even a bridge! Baboo every structure has a soul just the way living objects has got & it’s the people using the structure who makes it livelier as why we design any structure in first place but for the people to use it, so it’s the people about whom we should think of before designing any structure! As there are two aspects of creativity, one is which you design for your own-self but not necessary it will ever come to existence as you need to have a taker for the same (read client) & another is how you use this creative self as per the needs of your client. I will call this second aspect as creative professionalism & I think this is what Frank Lloyd was referring to, as there will be times when you won’t like the needs (read demands) of your client in very first place yet you have to give your best creative mind! And in such case to create something on those lines is the most difficult job as how can you create something which you don’t like? Well, that’s life of an architect is what you have to learn now; though this doesn’t mean all the time you have to do against your likings but first you have to create a position for yourself in the profession where let people (read clients) understand your creativity, make them respect it by creating the structure beyond their needs i.e. giving more than their imagination & then you will reach to a position where whatever you create will be considered as your clients need! I think then that doesn’t remain just a professional success but it will be success of Architect Shruti! 

One more thing, once you accept the tag of creator then do mind it comes along great responsibility & in present times the biggest responsibility is towards nature! As under the name of development, growth, modernism we are perfectly destroying nature in all forms, may it be green cover or thousands of species which are endangered now courtesy we the creator. Because if we are carrying the glamour of being a creator of any structure then we only should carry the guilt of displacing nature for our creation & to understand this you should spend time with nature as do you know who is your biggest or most valuable client, well its nature! And it may not pay you in Rupees or Dollars but it will pay you in a currency which will last ever & that is inner peace! Of-late if you have studied works of any so called philosopher architect (I deliberately didn’t said successful architect) then you will realize he or she has inspired by nature in their work & they generous enough in giving due credit to the nature for their inspiration! And then only those structures have been survived on the scale of time which has not just accommodated but become part of the nature!

Lastly how you consider yourself a successful architect is the question I will want you to ask yourself! As unless you have clarity about the answer of this question, you won’t reach to your destination in this profession. As these are times where success of your work is counted on money you make, whatever profession you may be in! I am not against making money but the time you realize money is not everything, you have lost something’s which that money can’t ever buy & I don’t want you to make that loss in the balance sheet of your life! And one more thing whenever you will be visiting your crated structures as a user you should be happy & at peace while doing that as that only will make the architect in you proud!

Yes one last thing, I know the hard work you have put in while you achieved this degree but never forget when you were awake whole night to complete your drawing sheets, it’s not just your two but six eyes in total were wake with you & the other four eyes were of your parents, so when you draw any line on the paper just remember those four eyes will be always looking at you, make them proud as you will be always Arch Shruti Nitin-Punam Mahajan, though the middle name will be always silent! All the best & looking ahead for visiting your project site soon…

Sanjay Kaka

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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