Sunday, November 24, 2013


Long time no see.

I'm back at vir.mueller, this time as a junior architect. I like the work, and get plenty of responsibility. I think it's a great place to work if you want to practice architecture- but that's just it. I'm not sure (I'm quite sure) I want to. Certainly I don't want to practice only architecture.

I'm interested in so much more. Research, writing, conversation, design, understanding what design can do for people. And as ever, the visual communication of all of this stuff. Layout and editorial and indesign still make me happy.

Graduate school;
aka confusion.
nounnoun: confusion; plural noun: confusions
uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required.
"there seems to be some confusion about which system does what"
synonyms:uncertainty, lack of certainty, unsureness, indecisionhesitation,hesitancyscepticismdoubtignoranceMore
a situation of panic or disorder.
"the guaranteed income bond market was thrown into confusion"
synonyms:disorderdisarray, disorganization, disorderliness, untidiness, chaos,mayhembedlampandemoniummadnesshavocturmoiltumult,commotiondisruptionupheavalfurorefrenzyuproarbabelhurly-burlymaelstrommuddlemessshamblesMore
a disorderly jumble.
"all I can see is a confusion of brown cardboard boxes"
synonyms:jumblemuddlemessheaptangleentanglementtumblewelter,littershambles More
the state of being bewildered or unclear in one's mind about something.
"she looked about her in confusion"
synonyms:bewilderment, bafflement, perplexity, puzzlement, mystification,stupefaction, disorientation, befuddlement, muddleMore
the mistaking of one person or thing for another.
"there is some confusion between ‘unlawful’ and ‘illegal’"

Many people have told me that confusion isn't essentially bad. At least I'm thinking beyond a pre-destined path. But right now, when in the midst of all this confusion? I just feel horribly stressed and tense and aaaaaaaah.

I want to do many things. How do I choose which of those things to master in?

Also, the etymology:

confusion (n.) Look up confusion at
late 13c., "overthrow, ruin," from Old French confusion (11c.) "disorder, confusion, shame," from Latin confusionem (nominative confusio) "a mingling, mixing, blending; confusion, disorder," noun of action from confundere "to pour together," also "to confuse" (see confound). Sense of "a putting to shame" (a sort of mental "overthrow") is late 14c. in English, while that of "mental perplexity" is from 1590s.

Sense of mingling, mixing, blending of my many, many (ill-defined) goals in life?


I've been considering pursuing a masters degree in graphic design for a little while now. I know I don't want to do an M.Arch, and I don't want to do only architecture. I think it's critical to acknowledge the larger field of design, and being in a multi-disciplinary environment where I can learn from everything is very important to me. 

I've always been interested in the graphic arts and visual communication; I've volunteered for projects at school and I really try to focus on articulate presentation of my work. 

I'm also inclined towards teamwork, research, and writing. I want to be a part of discussion and conversation on the relationship between design and society/ culture.

I think successful public discourse is as much about serious content as it is about effective communication. Working on creating a branding and communication strategy for Delhi Dallying has reinforced this. It's made me recognize the ability of good design to involve and engage our audience, and to provoke them to think. It is equally important for me to create content and to be able to successfully present it, often in order to promote the generation of further content.

Much of the work I have done as a student and young practitioner lies at the intersection of my personal interests, and I am deeply concerned with evolving a method of praxis that combines research, design and visual communication. I don't quite know what I want to do in life, but I want to be always learning. I quite possibly want to know everything.

I'm just so confused! What I want is to go to a great, vibrant city, be around brilliant people who are interested in all sorts of things, and I want to learn new skills, to hone my interest into something more practiced and concrete. 


I hope to study and better understand the dynamic relationship between the built environment and social behaviour, as well as the effect of society/ culture on the design of spaces.

I believe that architecture is as much a study of people as of spaces. I understand spatial and social fabrics to be interdependent and adaptive. The way we build and the way we live are deeply intertwined and affect and accommodate together. They co-evolve.

As architects and urban designers, we have the ability to add value to the social and physical structures of user-generated cities. However, it is important to first understand and establish connections between the social and urban systems which govern living environments. By making ourselves aware of the richness and complexity of societal and cultural linkages, we situate ourselves in a better informed and more capable position when it comes to making policy and design decisions. I also believe that familiarity with the economic, political and cultural structure of a settlement allows us to place greater weightage on the natural and spontaneous traditional knowledge pool of a community, and encourages us to learn from this resource.

Such an approach is especially critical to the development process of settlements not considered to be traditionally “planned” or “organized.” These settlements form the majority of Indian conurbations; examples include urban villages, “slums” and historical districts. 


One good thing:

FINALLY made an online portfolio.

Comments are very welcome.

may we meet again, sooner.

Monday, May 20, 2013

weekend workshops

Had a great time this weekend attending two workshops: The Hands On! Advanced Origami workshop and the Create Change Design Writing workshop by British Council and Kyoorius.

The Hands On Factory organizes some very interesting an engaging workshops. It's run by friends, and I'm really proud of the amazing work they're doing :) This was my first workshop with them, and I really enjoyed it. It was so satisfying, to have this end product in your hands at the end of the day, knowing that you had definitely learnt something new. Because I also wanted to attend the writing workshop the next day, I could only attend day 1 of 2. Nevertheless,  I had great fun.

We first made a modular dodecahedran.

and then an interactive fireworks.

later we made a vault, a hyperbola and a caterpillar.
The writing workshop on Sunday was a bit underwhelming. We did a couple of fun exercises in the first half, which really broke the ice between participants. The second half ended up being a sort-of group discussion, and I was a little disappointed by that because I've had many similar conversations amongst friends and it seemed like nothing new. I had fun in parts, was a little bored in parts. But I met a lot of very interesting people and that made it all worth it, I guess. I'm still very glad I went.

Sunday, May 19, 2013



A lot of work. Sleepless nights. Tension. Angst. Hesitance. Uncertainty. 

Satisfaction? Relief? Happiness?


About this semester. About thesis. About architecture.
I feel so blah. Disappointed. Disenchanted.

A Facility for Progressive Self-sufficiency
at Hauz-i-Rani

from my narrative notes for the jury:
I believe that architecture and design are powerful tools that might be employed to bring about positive social and economic change. In these five years of architectural education I have realized that architecture is as much a study of people as of spaces.

For my thesis project, I have chosen to attempt to tackle a socio-economic issue. The design problem I have chosen to tackle is two-fold:

The development of urban villages in the city.

Today’s urban villages might evolve in either of two ways:

  1. Land is scarce in the city and fetches high prices. Rapid gentrification. Villagers sell and move out or become landlords. Abrupt change in livelihoods, lifestyles; loss of social ties for many villagers.
  2. Slow economic growth over many years with only some public investment in infrastructure. Villagers often find it hard to develop on their existing skills or learn new ones to compete in the job market. Because the village remains poor and pays few taxes, civic bodies do not invest in infrastructure. Cycle of stagnancy.

Is there a way to catalyse or hasten this development process without gentrifying the village?

Based on economist Sanjeev Sanyal’s analysis of the evolution of urban villages:

  1. The process of development depends on decades of steady investment by the owners.
  2. Public investment in the “commons” speeds up the development process.

So, what is needed is skill and asset development of the villagers, which would lead to an increase in income in the long run.

(The lack of) inclusive public spaces near mass transit stations in the city.

Available land near metro stations is generally used to accommodate high-rental commercial space. There are very few places where one can just wait, sit comfortably or “hang out.” The functions assigned to such spaces also often leave the immediate residents behind.

Thus, my thesis proposition is:

Is it possible to build a facility which may act as a catalyst towards the economic self-sufficiency and so overall development of urban villages while remaining inclusive to the city?

My thesis was really process based. I went through so many iterations. Every week.
This was, maybe, a bad thing. That I didn't persist.
But it was, maybe, a good thing. That I was searching for something better.

Click on an image to enlarge.


This is what I presented. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Taking on DU

This has been in my drafts section since June 2011. Don't even remember when we went on the walk. Enough already, it's going up now, however incomplete.

Taking on DU

Only the historic monuments, of course.

HT City ran an interesting story a few days ago, about a group of SRCC students -SIFE: Students in Free Enterprise- who had helped organize a bunch of rag tag rickshaw pullers into a group of amateur tour guides. The DU Darshan tour allows these rickshaw wallahs to supplement their income on the weekends by taking fachhas around DU and introducing them to the historic monuments nearby.

Since I'd only been to North Campus once (when I sat in on a very boring lecture at the Faculty of Law with my cousin) and that too when I was in school and thus had none of the awesome Dilli knowledge and spatial understanding that architecture school has imbibed me with, I thought, why not? and so me and Rohan registered for the tour happening today morning.

Not off to a good start. Woke up at 6.25 when I had to reach the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station by 7.30; nonetheless managed to make it there by 7.40. (Was pleasantly surprised by the Station, some very nice clear glazing separates the escalator going up and the street, and makes for great views of the blue blue early morning sky.)

Getting back on track: there was no one around. Well, besides the seemingly dozens of rickshaw wallahs clamouring around for the emerging sawaris-to-be s' attention (laa phacoolty? sen stepphenz?). No Rohan (who said another ten minutes), nor any fancy rickshaw with different black sunshading.

7.45 I called up -and woke up- the organizer in charge, who promised to get back to me. Rohan came. The rickshaw wallahs got into a fight (with each other). A constable came rushing out of the Metro station and -very impressively, I might add- broke it up. Many drivers fled the scene of the crime. We admired the (sadly still closed) SMS stall: Snackes, Maggi, Shakes. Another rickshaw wallah fight broke out, but an older bhaiya set them straight. It was now 8.15, there was no sign of the SIFE rickshaw, and neither of our two contacts were answering their phones. Needless to say, we were very annoyed; the combination of heat+hunger+thirst wasn't helping.

The organizer finally messaged us the rickshaw guide's number, who said he'll take another 10 (read 20) minutes. We finally found the rickshaw, but were told that we'd have to wait for the other group who'd booked the tour. That pissed us off, considering we'd been waiting for an hour, and after some debate we convinced our bhaiya to start already.

Honestly, by this time we weren't even surprised that there was no map and that all we were given in terms of information was a photocopied bunch of pages which talked some-what vaguely about the stops. The rickshaw bhaiya didn't know anything, and I had to rely heavily on my two Delhi bibles, Lucy Peck's Delhi: A Thousand Years of Building and Percival Spear's Delhi: its Monuments and History. Neither could he really show us around; since we were the only rickshaw on the tour he was wary of leaving his vehicle unaccompanied on the road while we went inside the gated enclosures surrounding most sights.

This is where I stopped.

The rickshaw ride (once it started) was quite good, actually. We saw all these places we hadn't seen before, and some were were really beautiful. I remember how I felt when I saw Pir Ghalib, and the Mutiny Memorial.

The real surprise however was the only bit of DU proper we saw (after the tour): the Shri Ram College for Commerce. The campus was, really, stunning. I'm guessing that we saw a different side to it on a quiet Monday mid-day, during the summer break. But it was so, so lovely. Exposed brick, white plaster, concrete, sun shades, thick borders, colonnades. Light and shade and shadows. Sigh.


you may have noticed.
i've changed the header image.

what i really wanted was this:

Wall detail from the Rosia Montana Roman Gold Mines in Romania. Wikimedia Commons.
but Blogger doesn't allow you to upload images larger than 300kb, and no variation I resized on psd would meet the requirement and still be be big enough to fill the size / not tile.

oh well.