Selected Entries 2019

Lost Charms - A reminiscence of the Irulas

Darshan Lineswala
Sarvajanik College of Engineering and Technology | Surat

Lost Charms is a parable of one of the gustiest tribal community of southern India. Formerly serving as guards to Solanki Kings they adopted several occupations over time, but they are primarily known for catching rats and snakes. Eventually through time they got disparaged and pushed away from the society. This proposal is an attempt to revive their lost dignity through architectural intervention.
The fundamental query arising from this struggle is, what is the ideal approach to for such an intervention as this project is not merely a built form but will mold lot of lives. Having dialogue with the community, it was deduced that they are in a desperate need to be rightfully placed in the society, to have the feeling of being “Equal”. This being the foundational notion the idea of a community center emerged, as it would aid in generating a course of economy, which will lead to more desirable life-style.
Community center comprising of vocational training areas, counseling areas, venom extraction and storage facility and herb procuring and processing area is realized catering the needs and optimizing the skills of the community. The approach lies in the thin line between the regional architectural concern and contemporary articulation of spaces. Integration of functions in a singular built form drives the project from retaining a sense of belongingness for the community, as they are accustomed to perform most of their chores in on open environment. So the concept of segregating the functional spaces into hierarchy of built and opens spaces is realized, this gives a distinctive identity to the project. Multiple Pause points in between function spaces aid in weaving the contemporary architectural expression with traditional ways of living.

Community as part of Expression
Irulas of attappadi not only have customary knowledge of catching rats and snakes but are also engaged in manufacturing bamboo baskets, mats and brooms. This instigated a concept of weaving the skills of the community into the architectural language of the project. Walls in structure usually segregate the interiors from the exteriors, but the idea of utilizing community’s potential resulted in conception of modular weaved bamboo panels consisting of different sized perforations.
These panels placed in a curated fashion, blurred the boundary between the built and the open spaces. Such small initiatives not only accords identity to the project, but also create sense of belongingness in the community. The community participation and use of locally available materials significantly reduce the cost of the project.

Instigate, Evolve, Establish
A process is instigated in the community to strive towards equality through an economic, social and cultural upliftment, which is result of architectural expression.
“The very essence of architecture consists of a variety and development reminiscent of natural organic life. This is the only true style in architecture.”
-Alvar Aalto