Shortlisted Entries 2020

Re-Thinking the Idea of Memorialization

Suchetan Sonavane
Rachana Sansad , Academy of Architecture | Mumbai



The inherent conflict of freedom vs oppression lies within all of us. Freedom within ourselves, the freedom within our relationship with the state and with each other is a conflict which knowingly or unknowingly resides within each of us. That conflict is explored deeply through the contemporary scenario of our built environment being exploited for political showmanship and vote bank politics. 

This thesis came from a critique of all the emerging statues all across our countries and looking at how they are being sold to the general public. Under the guise of commemorating a personality, taxpayer money is being spent on making a spectacle. So the main question was, how do you celebrate a personality and their contributions to society in a way that creates a positive impact all around. Herein lies another conflict, of a revered personality’s ‘portrayal’ vs their ‘principles’. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar stood for equality and freedom, so it is only apt that the design and architectural intervention should reflect and promote those ideas to their fullest potential. Thus, a think tank center. 

‘Public Participation’ is a concept wherein the conflict lies between “the people” and the “governance through the state”. This conflict can give rise to positive or negative outcomes depending on how both parties act and how it is resolved. A space to play this conflict out is a democratic necessity and has been incorporated into the built environment of the design as a “Public Parliament” which provides and encourages a free space for debate and discussion to solve essential conflicts related to governance. 

The final design intervention and its framework explores another conflict which reflects the essence of Architecture. The one of ‘Built vs Unbuilt”. There are pillars on all 4 sides, which form the foundation of democracy and everything is suspended on those pillars. The structure symbolizes how a democracy works, how you have freedom of movement, freedom of speech , freedom of expression but under a particular mechanical and systematic framework. 

The framework of the structure is such that it is adaptable and interacts with the context by keeping a free flow of movement. So essentially, this is a true tribute to an intellectual who himself preached ‘equality’ by not making the person itself larger than life but trying to apply their principles in the built environment so as to enact positive change in the society. The terrace and landscape areas have been provided for commemorative days such as 14th April and 6th December so as to serve as shelters and accommodations for the large number of people who travel during those to celebrate Babahseb’s life and contributions. Various other functions, like the social media factory, art galleries, libraries and classrooms have to foster skill development and foster free flow of information in a hyper connected world.