No matter how big a tree grows, it is still known by its roots. Do you agree?
Well, most of my life has been influenced by where I live. Undoubtedly, our past resides inside our hearts and minds. No matter how much we evolve and adapt to this materialistic world, we can not leave behind our cultural and social ethics.
I am an architect by profession; pondering over lifestyles and being philosophical is one thing I got from my Architecture school.
I was born and brought up in a joint family in one of the oldest suburbs of Delhi, which I would say, have been paving my path for my architecture journey. I spent my childhood in an 80-year-old house of my paternal grandparents with thirty-two inches thick walls and a big central courtyard. From there, I have naturally acquired an unconscious inclination towards ancient construction and traditional craftsmanship.
From the very beginning, the idea of architecture was not merely about building spaces as per functional needs and building bylaws. There are unexplored emotions and values of the citizenry to be considered. So architecture for me became a design journey exploring buildings and distinct generations growing in one place all together. Thus, it had to be long-lasting and timeless, built with quality materials. There was no plywood or cement used in my house originally but wood and lime. It has a regional character to it.
Soon I realised the need to evolve my architectural perspective and to dive in the ocean of artistic wonders. I can never forget my first hands-on workshop experience. It was being conducted by one of my college alumni whom I had never met or heard. She introduced us to various technologies, materials, etc. I recall throughout the course; she was trying to teach a broader perspective of seeing art and construction. She shared her journey of very different exposures.
I was so enlightened or influenced that I eagerly wanted to have my own story to develop beliefs through my learnings and struggle. Unexpectedly I got this golden opportunity to intern under a renowned architect in Auroville, South India.
Wait! I never wanted to leave my home town. Going to the opposite corner of the country for nine months sounded a crazy idea. Everybody was questioning my survival, including me. But my stars had a bigger plan for me. And I accepted the offer.
My world got upside down. From a crazy crowded city like Delhi to a town with a small population of 3000. I was all surrounded by beautiful, built-unbuilt spaces and world-class technologies. For those who don’t know; Auroville is an experimental township with people from diverse backgrounds aiming at discovering one’s own self in harmony with Mother Earth. Sustainability is a way of life. It feels as if art, aesthetics, science and energies merge up to form the spirit of Auroville. Being in a new world, I also started resonating with their vision of conscious living. I began developing awareness of my surroundings and started living in the present.
I am still figuring out what I like, what motivates me, what I want to do and why. But the last ten months over there broadened my perspective of experiencing life and surely my definition of good architecture. People grow the best with an ever-learning attitude and courage to accept the change. And in the lifelong experience, we realise this vital thing, rightly said by Einstein,
“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.” and that’s where the real journey begins.
By Renuka Gupta