A TRYST WITH CON­TEM­PO­RARY IN­DIA

Charles Cor­rea’s de­sign for the Gandhi Smarak San­gra­ha­laya at Sabar­mati Ashram in Ahmedabad is that one rare oc­ca­sion where ar­chi­tec­ture is cleansed of ego — it nei­ther in­dulges in iconic­ity nor in sym­bol­ism; it is cleansed ar­chi­tec­ture

Domus - - CONFETTI - Text Kai­wan Me­hta

A visit to Ahmedabad, for an ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dent, has pri­mar­ily been a tour of the struc­tures of Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture, the raw brick and con­crete, fol­lowed by a visit to sites of tra­di­tion and her­itage — Teen Dar­waza, Rani Siri Mosque, Sarkhej, and the Cal­ico Mu­seum. It is also one of the ur­ban cen­tres we have cel­e­brated in twen­ti­eth-cen­tury In­dia as the city of ‘In­dian-ness’ (what­ever that means), and one of pa­tron­age from in­dus­trial ac­cu­mu­la­tion. At a later point in time, my re­search on the neigh­bour­hoods of Bhulesh­war and Kal­badevi in Mum­bai led to an ex­plo­ration of Gu­jarati lit­er­a­ture, and brought me a new con­nec­tion to Ahmedabad as a cen­tre of Gu­jarati lit­er­ary ac­tiv­ity. At some points, the glimpses of the city as a po­lit­i­cal cen­tre, and the base of Gandhi dur­ing the free­dom move­ment keep flash­ing. But events in the state of Gu­jarat in 2002 made my com­fort­able and dis­tant re­la­tion­ship with this city, dif­fi­cult. A state torn apart by se­vere ri­ots, ar­son, loot­ing, mur­der, and worse, brought many un­der­stand­ings of a place and its cul­ture in ques­tion. Where did that lib­eral ethos you read in lit­er­a­ture or Mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture van­ish? Had it not pen­e­trated a so­ci­ety, to avoid and con­trol the vi­o­lence it al­lowed? And a key ques­tion — did they

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