IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 2nd Jan
“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.” —Anonymous
EDITORIAL HUNT #295 :“Preserving the past : IIM Ahmedabad | UPSC”
William JR Curtis
Preserving the past : IIM Ahmedabad | UPSC
Preserving the past for the future
It is the intangible spirit, the underlying metaphysical order, which lends Kahn’s architecture its power. His masterpiece in Ahmedabad must be preserved in its entirety, restored from one end to the other.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : History : Architecture
The Buddhist stupa at Sanchi, the Hindu temples at Khajuraho, the Jain temple at Ranakpur, the tomb of Humayun — these are like architectural friends. Recently, the key modern buildings in Ahmedabad remain vulnerable to destruction. Comment-(GS 1)
- What does Architecture signify ?
- The concept of buildings
- Protecting Architecture
- Way Forward
- ARCHITECTURE SIGNIFIES POWER OF RULERS : While a work of architecture is created in a particular period, it may nonetheless continue to move us over the centuries through the power of its spaces and forms.
BUILDING REFLECTS VISION
- BUILDING SPEAK IDEOLOGIES : Buildings embody the values, political ideologies and dominant beliefs of their time but they do not express these directly, as they are idealisations of social institutions.
- BUILDING REFLECT THE VISION : They resemble constructed myths symbolising the cosmic order or supplying visions of the way the world ought to be.
- DIVERSITY INFLUENCES WORK : A great work fuses diverse influences and traditions in a fresh synthesis of idea and form, image and material.
- WHY WE PROTECT MONUMENTS : They are among the greatest creations in the history of humanity and are protected by both national laws of patrimony and international decrees underlining their cultural, aesthetic and spiritual value.
- IGNORANCE : This is both negligent and tragic for India that within its boundaries some of the major masterpieces of modern architecture, such as Louis I Kahn’s Indian Institute of Management (IIMA) which are vulnerable.
- KAHN’S MASTERPIECE : The recent announcement by the administration of the IIMA that it intends to knock down most of the dormitories in Kahn’s masterpiece while keeping only the library/ teaching block as an example of “heritage” .
- CULTURAL VANDALISM : This act of cultural vandalism is being challenged from all sides, by committed individuals, by prestigious institutions and by articles in the national and international press.
- NEO LIBERALS : Such are the dangers of a neo-liberal ideology which emphasises private profit at the expense of professional probity and long-term public interest.
- THREATS TO MODERN HERITAGE : Today laissez-faire capitalism, political corruption and land speculation pose threats to ancient and modern works of quality.
- LESS INTEREST IN RENOVATION : In a society where it is “the price of everything and the value of nothing”, there is insufficient interest in the cultural enrichment provided by fine modern buildings.
- TRADITIONALISM : One of the key figures in this process of “naturalisation” was Louis Kahn who, while remaining resolutely modern, was inspired by essentials in tradition.
- CONTRIBUTIONS : On the Indian sub-continent he created two of his most profound masterpieces: The National Assembly Complex in Dhaka, and the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.
- DEPICTION IN BUILDINGS : His art form depicts grappled problems of a democratic monumentality by Bengali traditions, including mosques of the Sultanate period and ruined Buddhist stupas, monasteries and mandala plans.
- IDEOLOGY : It is the intangible spirit, the aura, the underlying metaphysical order, which lends Kahn’s architecture its power.
- ARCHITECTURAL STYLE : He distinguished between library, administration and lecture halls, and student residences, but integrated all in a unified concept, a citadel of learning where spaces between are as important as the buildings themselves.
- INSPIRATION : Kahn was inspired by monasteries with their cloisters, courts and private cells, and by the outdoor rooms in the Palace complex at Mandu (15th C).
- The plan of the campus at IIM reveals Kahn’s prodigious skill in weaving together solids and voids, rectangles and triangles, orthogonal and diagonal geometries.
- Alas the temporary tenants of this masterpiece, do not seem to understand that they have a responsibility to bequeath this great work in its totality to future generations so that they may be inspired by it.
- The director stated recently that it was hard to accept that a set of buildings only half a century old might be considered as “heritage”.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Preserving the past : IIM Ahmedabad | UPSC