This book, Walls and Gates – Parasituation [Ahmedabad], is the second in a proposed series of four. The third and fourth will deliver Projects and City Speculations from the two Post Graduate Programmes that have collaborated in the preparation of the first two books. These latter two books will embody the research of the first two books by presenting speculations into specific situations of Ahmedabad. We encourage readers as much to look backwards from the work contained in the latter two books as to look forward from the research base established from the first two. The first book, People and Pols – Parasituation [Ahmedabad], speaks of the people and places they co-habit. By focussing as much on the people as the architecture, we see how the city and people are completely melded to each other. In the Old City this seems to be mostly to reciprocal boon. In the outer city, in particular the new Sabarmati Riverfront city, such reciprocity is harder to see.
In the Old City there is an intertwining between people and space that is very special. It takes sophisticated cooperative systems to live like this. In a landscape of extreme wet-dry fluctuation, where the heat and dryness extend far longer than the wetness, the pols calibrate sophisticated socio-environmental patterns that necessarily entwine the people and architecture. The pols have developed over five hundred years. The pols offer an architectural and urban paradigm that links multi-scaled hybrid sociality with a highly tuned environmentalism. The sequential spatial depth of the pols, moving through repetitions of lanes, buildings and courtyards creates layers of defensible space but also essential environmental perforations. Courtyards and wells are intrinsic parts of every household. People, air and wetness circulate in oscillating rhythms of cooling shade and warming light. The temporality of the seasons is understood very well by Amdavadis and accommodated in the combinations between fixity and movement of the architecture.
The first book, People and Pols – Parasituation [Ahmedabad], focusses primarily on the everyday Old City. By looking at photographs it works a play between what is “encrypted and what is blindingly obvious.” The images of the people of Ahmedabad, as photographs initially incidental to the research, register more than immediately meets the eye. The places are clearly familiar to their inhabitants. They seem to wear each other. The tendency may be to see the old as holding back the new; we prefer to see the modern world framed by cultural maturity. Evidently there are tensions. However, the spaces as much as the people of the pols seem adaptable. Articulations between inside and outside are complex in both plan and section; subtle systems of benches and steps give a carefully calibrated ground where wet and dry are graded in similar degrees to public and private space, between home and the world (see Figure 1).
This book enters a long running discussion on the material reality of the perimeter walls of the Old City and the gates which open the city and receive the world beyond. Our study is as interested in the potential positive affectivity of the old walls for the contemporary city as to the way they have given order to the Old City. The second book extends the research of the first book by bringing proportion and scale to the walls and spaces they hold, delineating the circumscription of the old city as a series of measured drawings. We call these series of drawings Measured Intensities. They are intense situations measured intensely. These measures offer a further reading of the places which attach themselves to the walls of Ahmedabad. Of course, it can be said that mostly all architecture, all cities, can be described as relationships between walls: there is a fundamental ordering of space that comes by the placing of walls and the articulation of their openings and enclosures. Our drawings give a precision to the material reality of the walls. Our methodology follows the impetus of Patrick Geddes: before we make speculations for the city, we survey it. Our primary research question suggests that if we are to rethink the new Sabarmati Riverfront walls, then, perhaps we can get clues of ordering by a careful examination of the existing walls. From our study it is plain to see that the old city walls are not just a simplistic defence system; they offer understanding of a sophisticated ongoing calibration of the lives of multiple citizens with variant cultural histories who cooperate in weaving the socio-environmental-economic mesh of the city.
|Place of Publication
|Number of pages
|Published - Jul 2020