Selected Entries 2019

A Place for Khadi Weavers

Viral Mehta
School of Architecture, CEPT University  | Rajkot

We live in a time where Global and Local co-exist and like most things, there are positive and negative impacts of globalization on the local. On one hand, the industrialist model of production has shifted the economical agencies from the craftsperson to a wage based factory worker, even at times, the craftsperson themselves have become the workers. This also implies the shift of identity from pride to entitlement towards the centralized production system responding to the rapidly increasing consumer demands. However, on the other hand, through the lens of the Global, the value and meaning of local is found and the ‘localness’ of it is appreciated. In other words, an exhibition full of varieties of displays, each unique in itself and responding or representing a different context or issue is more celebrated than an exhibition of similar things all across. This encourages (or pressurizes) the local crafts to maintain its authenticity, not only to survive its identity in a pool of thousands of exhibits but also to attract and captivate the viewer. Yet, it is questionable if this increased value of local crafts is adding value to anyone’s life, and if so, whose? With this question unanswered, the proposed project tries to bridge the gap between the three different models of practice of local crafts in today’s time, the traditional way of learning from one’s ancestors and practicing the craft on one’s own small workshop infused with the craftsperson’s homes, the contemporary way of learning crafts from institutions and practicing in a studio model, and the factory model in which the craftspersons are employed on a wage system. Programmatically, A Place for Khadi Weavers brings together, Khadi weavers who are taught and skilled from their ancestors, the young designers who are inclined to learn the craft of weaving from the traditional Khadi weavers and take it forward with the available technologies and teach it back to the traditional weavers, and together generate an economy from the products created in this process of learning and teaching, which is owned and shared by everyone, to enrich the identity of the traditional craft of weaving. Through its architectural manifestation, the project tries to bring together the climate responsive materials such as rammed earth, bamboo and wood, traditional techniques of space making, such as courtyards and semi open pavilions, and contemporary construction technologies to build a flowing fabric-like ferrocement roof. These together create a cohesive atmosphere for the weavers to weave in.