Discovery of Architecture

September 2013
Presented by: 
M.N.Ashish Ganju , Narendra Dengle
Greha New Delhi, India

The Discovery of Architecture - a contemporary treatise on ancient values and indigenous reality,by M N Ashish Ganju and Narendra Dengle, is an essay on the need for a new theoretical understanding of architecture relevant to our times. It proposes an analytical framework which can form the matrix for the new understanding to emerge. The authors have been practising and teaching architecture for several decades, primarily in the Indian subcontinent.


Pedagogic Potential of The Discovery of Architecture

The workshop was jointly organized by the Department of Architecture, School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi & The Indian Cities.

This multi-disciplinary workshop was attended by over 35 faculty members, (both full time teachers & visiting professionals) and Academics from various institutes of Delhi and other parts of Northern India.The participants were from across many disciplines-architecture, planning, housing, landscape design, urban design, sociology and cultural anthropology.

Based on an essay,entitled "The Discovery of Architecture : A contemporary treatise on ancient values & indigenous reality', co-authored by Prof. M.N. Ashish Ganju & Prof. Narendra Dengle, the workshop attempted to explore teaching methods in architecture colleges and encouraged alternate ways of sensitizing students to the environment around them. It tried to explore this by a series of structured interactive sessions, (in conjunction with the participants and the authors) where questions like "What is Indigenous Design?", "How does one communicate it to students ?" and "What is its relevance in contemporary times ?" " among others were explored.

Along with the authors of the essay, Prof. Neelkanth Chhaya from Ahmedabad & Prof. Savyasaachi of Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, were the resource persons for the workshop. 

Each day comprised of three sessions. The first day began with identifying the key issues that need to be addressed in architectural education, today and for the future.Prof.Narendra Dengle shared his thoughts on some of the most imperative ideas contained in the essay. Prof.Neelkanth Chhaya pointed at the need to look at indigenous realities in relation to architectural thought. Sociologist Prof.Savyasaachi expressed his views on architecture and his interpretations on ‘how the act of building cannot take place in a philosophical vaccum’ were revealing. Prof.M.N. Ganju deliberated further on the structure of the book and reiterated the need to create an architectural discourse for contemporary architecture in the country.The issues to be addressed in architectural education were thendiscussed in light of the concepts contained within the essay, the inputs of the resource persons and the dialogues that emanated among the group.The second session of the day was in groups of ten,with each group discussing one section and the stated proposition from the essay. Each group came up with their interpretations of the proposition, which formed the theoretical construct and was exemplified by examples from the built environment.The ground reality was assessed and analyzed, to come up with questions related to the profession and discipline of architecture. This lead to the building up of architectural discourse and pedagogy,on how ideas are discussed,transacted and communicated in class. In the third session, two groups combined to share their findings and explore the main objective of the workshop - what is indigenous design, how to read and communicate it, how does one design with indigenous knowledge and it’s contemporary relevance. 

On the second day, the participants designed pedagogic space programs, keeping in mind the preservation of language, experience and building skills and the negotiation of material/technology /culture. The second session focused on creating curriculum structure or deriving course modules inculcating all the concepts and thoughts that emerged in the two days of rigorous work. The last session of the workshop consolidated the issues along with that could possiblyset a paradigm shift in the way of thinking. This was done with the hope, toeventually be absorbed in the curriculum of architectural education.

The workshop was received well by the participants and all worked together to come up with new ways of thinking about architecture and  architecture education.  

Credits: Workshop coordinated by Parul Kiri Roy (Asst.Professor, Architecture, SPA, New Delhi) and Archana Gupta (Founder, The Indian Cities). Organizing Team - Ranjana Mital (Advisor), Anjali Mittal, Vandana Kothari, Shuvojit Sarkar, Mekhla Parihar.Staff of Department of Architecture, Audio Visual Section, CASS, Mess, SPA New Delhi.

Many thanks to the Director, Dean and Head of the Department (Architecture), SPA New Delhi.