Tuesday, January 23, 2007

FLAME Campus

A 1500' x 1500' view of the project I've been involved with at Sangath. Organized along a central corridor, the school--the first liberal arts university in India--will eventually form the core of a new community.

Monday, January 22, 2007

sarabai house, ahmedabad

Saturday, January 20, 2007

sangath colleagues

sun temple, modhera

rani ki van stepwell, patan

*Top image scanned from Krit Mankodi's The Queen's Stepwell at Patan, pg. 29

adalaj stepwell, ahmedabad

Friday, January 19, 2007

institute of management, ahmedabad

After being denied entrance to the Mill Owners' Building I moved on to Louis Kahn's campus . . . reminded me of Rome.

mill owners' association, ahmedabad

I made it to the Mill Owners' Building this morning--I simply had to tell my rickshaw driver to take me to the McDonald's across the street. The building looks glorious from the gate but I was there too early to get in. I'll try again next week.

museum of the city, ahmedabad

I tried to get the auto-rickshaw driver to take me to the Mill Owners' Building and ended up at this Corbusian building instead. Close enough. The galleries were closed but for about seventy five cents the security guard took me up to the roof.

sangath, ahmedabad

I've spent the last few days at Sangath, Balkrishna Doshi's office. It's a modest complex (the studio space is sunk below grade) that houses urban planning, architectural design, research, a student internship program, and visiting international studios. Tea inside at ten thirty and tea outside at four.

portico systems, delhi

Two examples of informalized formality in Delhi: on the left is Lutyens' Connaught Circle and on the right is Chandni Chowk. Connaught's classical architecture acts as an armature for encrustation while Chandni Chowk's ceremonial linearity permits individual property owners to vault toward the street, aggregating into extensive porticos and pulling the street face into three dimensions.

Monday, January 15, 2007

mixed-use, delhi

Sunday, January 7, 2007

entry 1 _ pre-boarding

My name is Andrew Ballard. I am a fourth year student in UC Berkeley’s three year Masters of Architecture program and I am about to embark on another year-long graduation postponement.

My 5-year academic hermitage might suggest a certain fear of the real world, but I can at least maintain that I like to visit — In my second semester of graduate studies, my design studio flew to Rome, Italy. I spent the next semester studying there. When I rejoined UC Berkeley in the spring of 2005, I spent two weeks in Venice. I traveled to Shanghai for a design studio, visited Portugal as a student instructor, returned to Shanghai to conduct field research, and then moved on to Germany, France, Spain, and New York City. In the fall of 2006 I returned again to China—this time Tianjin and Beijing—to help coordinate an iteration of my earlier Shanghai studio. Moving among foreign cities has crafted my curiosity about the tendons of the urban environment and instigated my current study, titled, “Infrastructure as Instrument : design in the larger construct.”

I will land in Delhi, India on January 12th beneath a backpack overstuffed with digital equipment, clothing items, and fragile naïveté. There I will grab my wits, cling to them until my knuckles are white, and go ahead and do whatever it is that I’m going to go ahead and do . . . for a year. It makes me want to cheer and pee myself at the same time.

Hopefully of course, my preparations over the last year won’t be for naught. I’m acquainted with the object of my study, infrastructure—a common-sense term for all the utility conduits, road networks, and communication lines that feed our cities, neighborhoods, and homes. I have researched case studies and contacted local architects. And my method of study should be suitably flexible, allowing me to shift as needed among video, still photography, technical drawing, sketching, and text. With these tools, I will re-examine infrastructure’s conventional assumptions in order to articulate its spatial (and therefore architectural) potential. If infrastructure can be understood as “that which is fundamental and fixed,” then my goal is to develop a design sensibility wherein infrastructure guides (but does not determine) subsequent growth and development.

The great thing (and the biggest danger) about setting off to study infrastructure is that infrastructure is everywhere. Its seductive irreducibility derives from the term’s inherently prepositional condition. Call something a “structure” and peak under its skirt to find its infra-structure. Which is to say that the world is as full of infrastructure as it is of wild women. So, since a man can cavort for only so long before he needs to settle down, my challenge has been to define the scope of my inquiry. My criterion is pragmatic: “Is it useful to conceptualize this phenomenon as infrastructure? If so, why and how?” The notion of usefulness is paramount because, as a designer, the intent of my observation is to temper my creative sensibility. I am approaching my study with a specifically constructive bias. Unlike a historian . . . or sociologist, or geographer, or anthropologist, or any other academic researcher in the urban realm . . . I am more interested in conceptualizing the built environment’s physical characteristics than I am in chronicling its socio-economic or socio-political underpinnings.

Yet, even within this limited sphere of scrutiny, there is simply too much world and too little time for me to rope everything down in a year’s course. And if I’m not overwhelmed then I’m not the traveler I want to be. I solemnly swear to take my study seriously and pursue it with righteous rigor but, throughout the year, I also intend to exploit it for the adventure of a lifetime.

Thursday, January 4, 2007