Selected Entries 2018
ARCHITECTURE AS THE COMMON GROUND
B.M.S College of Architecture | Bangalore
The built environment has always been a manifestation of the world around us. It conveys past traditions and continually evolving heritage while addressing context, conflict and memory. It not only focuses on the tangible features of a heritage, but also the intangible elements that make a culture and can be used to confront the difference between indigenous and non-indigenous ways of understanding the built world; Thus looking at architecture as “the common ground”.
“Interpretation “ is a communication process aimed at revealing meanings and relationships of our cultural and natural heritage to the public, through first hand experiences with objects, artifacts, landscapes or sites. It makes a topic come to life through active involvement and extreme relevance to the everyday life of the visitor. This active involvement makes it different from a museum .Even with this involvement, interpretation centers are a one way transfer of knowledge, where the visitor comes to learn about the culture/heritage that needs to be interpreted. But when there exists a living breathing culture, on the verge of uncertainty in every aspect, who is to say who can put whom in a museum?
In this thesis I aim to explore a multi-interpretive platform , where this breathing entity can be addressed in terms of their relationship , conflict and their future growth Where interaction between these elements -whether the varied user groups, the surrounding landscape, or the site itself, becomes key to its successful functioning as an entity.
The Jarawas are one of five indigenous hunter -gatherer tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, dated to be more than 2000 years old and one of the first inhabitants of the Island . They are a negrito tribe of African descent and are estimated to be no more than 400 in number today.
Since independence the reserve has been set apart for their use – within a boundary they are perhaps unaware of, but pressure since the early colonial times has restricted them to the area. They compose of 0.32 % of the total population, within 765 sq km of land, surrounded by 24000 villagers settled at the fringe. Conflict arose with the introduction of the Andaman trunk road (ATR) through the Jarawa reserve, which is the only road that connects the south and north parts of the archipelago. This intervention exposed them to disease, poachers, as well as the concept that something exists outside their way of living.
Their Human rights were violated until recently when “Human Safaris” were conducted with convoys of tourists passing through their reserve to see them, using their travel to the Northern region of the island, and the ATR, as an excuse. The younger generation of the tribe is easily influenced and is susceptible to the influence of alcohol and drugs, a common tool used by poachers to gain the tribes trust and skill.
The tribal reserve is determined as “The last Andaman Forest “, with a large portion of their species endemic to the land. This sanctuary has allowed the Jarawa to develop a knowledge network, which forms the basis of their way of nature conservation in the reserve.
Today the Jarawas are in the most uncertain phase of their lives, trapped between culture and development, between hostility and assimilation, and between growth and extinction.
In this project I address a group of Jarawa camps , and try to provide a space where they can voluntarily and gradually assimilate into mainstream society instead of being forced to do so ;Where their knowledge , culture , skill can be used as a tool to uplift them in society in a way that they aren’t looked down upon as “primitive”.
I begin my intervention just before the ATR penetrates the reserve in order to sensitize tourists and visitors to the cause, while also looking at it as a pilot project whose components can be replicated along the reserve in order to cater to different camp settlements. Locating my intervention at a distance from the reserve also ensures that I prevent the tribe from become sedentary.
The project provides an opportunity to involve the locals – ie the villagers settled on the fringe of the reserve that has developed a better relationship with the tribes over the recent years. It also looks to serve as a research base, for the study and documentation of the tribe , its culture, language and practices which reflects the resiliency of their understanding of nature in a way most of modern civilization has long forgotten.