Since my visit to Delhi during the summer where we re-evaluated the building design and strategy at Anusaran, construction has been going strong and the new classrooms have been flying up. It can be frustrating not being on site to see how things are going, get my hands dirty, and develop ideas more as they build, but every so often I’ve been getting new photos of the work and it’s always exciting to see the progress. I really don’t understand how an architect could ever work at a distance to their project though- all these offices with projects going on abroad in places like China and the architects only visit a couple of times, it’s mad!
One thing that’s been learnt from this project is that things just don’t work from a distance. Decisions need made on the ground instantly, and if you aren’t there to make them, well the builders will just decide what’s best (although very often they do know what’s best, by far!). It was absolutely essential that we spent a good bit of time in India while producing the initial designs, but ideally we would have stayed even longer, and really got stuck into the actual construction and craft of the building. That’s when it all becomes real after all. As designers we are sometimes stuck in the realm of the virtual, and we miss out completely on the mud, grit, tactility and reality of what it is to build. It’s all too easy to draw a nice crisp line for a wall and forget about the skilled process of carefully hand-mixing the cement, carrying the bricks and knowing their weight and strength, judging and feeling the walls as they rise.
The architectural profession is so removed from this craft these days, and I suspect it might be this connection that will help keep buildings thoughtful and human.
Below is a selection of the photos which I’ve been sent during the construction. The building is due to be completed on 20th December, pending on a final nudge of fundraising.
If you want to give the kids and women at Anusaran the best Christmas present possible then please consider giving something so the construction can be finished in time- we need to raise a final £2000! Simply visit our giving page at https://my.give.net/anusaranind (UK donations only)