Selected Entries 2018
IDARAH-e-IZHAAR (a place for expression)
CEPT University | Ahmedabad
The project is situated in the old city of Srinagar, the ‘Venice of the East’, a place long known for its natural and cultural richness. Unfortunately, this ‘beautiful city’ is also well known for its long history of dissent and tension between the people and the state. Towards the end of the 20th century, the city witnessed a dramatic shift in the socio-political situation, where this strife was at its peak. The bustling city was turned into a fortress and faced desertion, as a result of the people inhabiting the old city moving to the plains.
This constant and continuous state of fear has impacted the psychology of the locals tremendously, especially the children born during and after this time, for whom this state of scrutiny is normal. This has lead the youth to question the idea of their identity and as a result, has allowed for interesting experimentation with different forms of expression and media to vent out their feelings.
The intervention derives its conceptual roots from the Sufi institutions called Khanqahs that functioned as important public spaces in the dense fabric of the old city. These Khanqahs served as platforms for informal discourse and expression, bringing in people from all walks of life to engage with and contribute. These institutions laid the foundation of the liberal multicultural environment that the city was known for.
The intervention aims at the interpretation of a space for expression and congregation in the current times where public gathering in the city is prohibited. The intention hence is to provide a space for the new forms of expression and discourse that the new generation craves. Given the existing character of overlays and palimpsests in the old city, the intervention is set in the perimeter of an existing commercial complex, providing an example of the possibilities of the accommodative nature of the old, and creating hope.
The idea for the built form is to have a space devoid of any religious and political domination, giving the people a place to claim in the city, to provide for the existing yet changing dynamics of the individual and the collective, and giving a contemporary manifestation to it.
The intervention includes incorporating the character of the existing appropriated public spaces like the street shop seating (called the waan pyend) and the old ghats (called yaarbal), aimed at their continuation and revival. Modulation of the plinth is used as a gesture to allow for people to gather, orient and occupy, and the architectural details as an abstract of the ideas of freedom and expression.
The intervention as a whole is a dialogue between the new and the old, a place for people to express themselves, and call their own.