ABSTRACT OF INTERVIEW WITH INDIAN ARCHITECT AND BUILDER.
What are the ideas that define SPASM?
We have a flamenco kind of approach and Ping-Pong kind of pace. Shared experiences over the years make every project we take on enjoyable. Our approach is very chaotic upfront. Our team is intrinsically involved from the get-go; several ideas are put on the table and worked through laterally. Essentially, our expression is based on the concerns we develop while understanding what the task is at hand. These concerns are then translated into a physical tangible buildable construct using our own personal intuitive logic – rational decisions based on relevance, appropriateness, technology, budgets, craftsmanship, locale, the list is too long…
SPASM is not interested in being avant-garde. Like Marcel Proust said, “To see new landscapes you don’t need to always journey, but have new eyes.” We try to be very human in our approach and not too fussy in our details. We do try to bring a poetic touch to our expression but never at the cost of appropriateness. An eastern kind of “inclusivity” is sought; every aspect of building, occupation and future ageing of projects is mulled over – many, many, many times over. Every commission is an opportunity to discover ourselves, through what we propose and build.
SPASM has designed in India and East Africa, what ‘concerns’ arise as a practice based in India?
The concerns remain the same throughout:
How honest can you be?
How sensible can you be?
How humble can you be?
What is relevant?
How long will it remain so?
Can your project go further than its apparent purpose?
How humane can it be?
Will it be endearing, through how it performs?
Concerns also change; it’s all very fluid.
What are SPASM’s ‘objectives’ – individual and professional?
SPASM is a small controlled practice. We’re interested in an intimate relationship with our studio, our team, our collaborators, our models, drawings, visualizations, products, buildings and our clients. We do this because we love it. We sense displeasure; we respect questioning and constructive criticism on all the projects. We don’t know how to run our studio any other way. The extremely personal way our studio runs gives us immense happiness. Our ultimate objective is simply happiness – a sense of doing something.
You both graduated from the Academy of Architecture and initiated the practice with a collaborative agenda – what influences your architecture?
Influences are many, from all spheres of life – from travels to our children. People who think outside the box to achieve difficult goals and challenges are inspiring. People who teach you what NOT to do through their work are also very important influences, perhaps beacons….. Both of us have many personal influences and mentors from art teachers to books we’ve read, colleagues, professors, ex-employers – too many in facts.
Practicing in developing India and continuing to produce patient qualitative architecture can be challenging. What essential ideas contribute to this quality? What is the ‘process’?
Our buildings try to be the best representations of their own reality. An architect channels all the conditions, constraints, functional issues, resources at hand, etc., into a resolute whole. That’s where the special quality comes – in an architect’s sense of light, lightness and weight of materials, workmanship, the act of putting things together….. More than ideas, we feel that it is the inner sensibility that contributes to that special feel or quality.
Process is a constantly changing animal! Sometimes it’s as easy as a stallion to ride on, and sometimes as difficult as a chameleon to nail down – it’s never the same. However, there always comes a, “this feels right” moment.
Having pondered about what we do every single day since 1987, one can't help but get to the truest answer of this profession. Architects world over try to solve problems, the way they go about it, is their method statement or ethos or angle at the profession. Most get identified through the atypical yet recognizable way of arriving and realizing projects.
We, find this constant honing of ones obsessions or preoccupations rather tiring. Also, with every project even if all are just homes, how can a singular debate solve or provide relevant solutions. Identifiable yes, purer and purer yes, however missing the mark by far.
More so in India, a country of such differences, Land, climate, social structure, aspirations, and many more. It would be blasphemy to create an architectural method that is identifiable and singular. The part that stings is world over practices are pursuing paths of spatial research, data based or invention hinged. Basically missing the core of the project. Something we call the SOUL. Missing the INTUITION, the artist is capable of….
Architecture is also seen, studied, and analyzed in a rather tired way, newness. It seems only newness, visual at most is recognized as ground breaking. Can data gathering result in good architecture? To us architecture is not a problem to solve but rather a celebration of peculiarities and aspirations, a mood not a message.
There is very little or no content based introverted thought on the genesis of common sense Architecture.
As a practice, which has dealt predominantly with homes, we have spent lot of time analyzing what we are meant to deliver? How to erase our own foolish preoccupations?
Look at birds, so many different, beautiful, and absolutely perfect beings.
The brief is the same ....However evolutionary mechanics has created each masterpiece based on its specificity. Can't our work be as informed or try to be as close to personality free and contextuallyloaded.
Tough ask this, the whole shaping of an architect at school and after is based on a case study model and being the,” art related”, profession it is , what we take in first is the visual not the visceral . The building blocks or thought processes become deeply engrained early on and naturally dictate how we even begin to see the world. Our methods provide easy paths.
Geoffrey Bawa, once remarked, “Too much architecture between me and the view”. Remarkable few words…..
Pure intuitive, experiential building of atmospheres. How difficult is that.
Different houses explore different THEMES, stories of the emotions that led to their birthing. Sites talk, they convey a lot, if you listen, intently.
When beginning the project, one carries the information and personality of the users within. Once on site, time is spent perceiving deeply, thinking but from the gut, no room for intellect to interfere in the process. Humility is a key, in understanding firsthand the essences.
Homes, are vessels for living, they embrace laughter, joy, family life, love, despair and painall the emotions we go through. They keep us warm, allow us to control our experience of the climes. A good home is like a loving parent…..
The eye and the camera are opposites, in the way they work….
The eye is at once, umbral - penumbral, flickering and registering in real-time the myriad, changes in mood and light, moods can change in a fraction or prolong over a still crimson morning.
The eyes perceive, they build in depth with apparent focus. The eyes relay and record, leaving a seemingly vivid impression of atmospheres which become cerebral preserves, fantasies suspended in the subconscious. Revoked at will and at times involuntarily with peculiar stimuli, a scent or temperature or a tune……
The camera, on the other hand, is feeble yet useful. It captures a still, with the intensity of a kind of precise jab at the moment in time. Producing the closest there is to a shared experience of the space or mood of the moment.
Perhaps architectural or spatial photography is the most challenging as there is no animated subject, rather a kind of still somber space, however in the right hands, a camera can elevate the image beyond words and relate a story.
As architects, we tell specific stories of locales, climates, atmospheric content and imaginings of life lived therein. A photograph conveys so much more than the written word, primarily because again the eyes take over! The eyes transform the printed image into a phantasmagorical reality for a fleeting moment immersing the reader into the story being related.
There can never be any equal experience than sauntering through spaces, pausing to take in the nuances of light, shade, depth, vibrancy of color, rustle of leaves, wisps of air, sounds of birds and the crunch of gravel underfoot.
On a recent trip to Angkor Wat, humbled by the magnificence of the ancient relics, we experienced a sudden burst of torrid rain, like the sky just opening up and weeping in joy, at 4:30 pm, in the golden light of the sun at an acute angle.
It was like time and place twisted into each other to show us how magical this planet is and how its beauty is revealed abruptly and unabashedly just for 15 minutes. No one clicked a picture; some moments are best left to the spectacle of Nature.
A realization came to us the best picture is the one you never clicked. There is however a need to document our world projects and stories there in.At best we can relate to the simplicity of a photograph, to its directness and detached nature of reporting just the visual. Light, texture, sky, movement, depth, contrast, vibrancy, perspective etc. …. It’s when the quality of a picture that goes beyond mere reporting to establishing a deep connect with the essence of image that it etches words and feelings , it becomes poetic .
Spasm Design Architects
310, Raheja Plaza, opposite Yashraj Studio,
Shah Industrail Estate, Off Andheri Link Road,
Andheri (W), Mumbai - 400053.
Tel: +91 22 26741501 / +91 22 26735862
Fax: +91 22 26733287
For business enquiries:
- The Plan Award 2017: Finalist for 'Gomati'
- AD50 - Listed in the AD50 for 2014 - 2017
- PLAN - Overall winner in the villa category for Diya.
- DCIPL Offices: Best Project Award for office interiors by the IIID Awards-2000
- Vohra House: A special mention for Residential Interiors in 2006
- Oorja (An Indian Store): Runner-up at the National level for IIID Awards-2007, India.
- Starcom Media Offices: Winner – Corporate Interiors - West Region, MK-IIID Awards-2009
- AR Awards 09 - Commendation for EXIM TOWER
- Best Building Awards conducted by AQRB, Tanzania- Third place for Exim Tower
- AICA 2011 Award for Artists in Concrete for AON Headquarters
- Selected as top 7 Architectural Practices in India 2011 by Forbes, India
- TRENDS EXCELLENCE AWARD for best architecture and design 2013
- Aces of Spaces Award For Brick kiln House
SPASM- Is not a singular practice....
Two station points in an architectural perspective render greater depth to an image. Over the last fifteen years, through endless hours, we have used each other as station points of revelation; evolving and developing out particular expression to specific conditions.
SPASM, very early on its career, has had the opportunity to actively operate in both India and East Africa - tropical zones but both culturally different.
Today, as we see it, the demands of this profession have grown the human animal is rapidly evolving, constantly on the move, interested in every experience there is to be had ...
We cannot claim to be regionalists - we are Indian, educated here, Practicing in India and East Africa ...
We search for a fresh and pragmatic solution every time by examining each situation within its own specificity, peculiarity and cultural definitions ...
We do not, promote a method or solution.
We do not, theorize.
We do not; think the process is in any way similar in every project.
We seek... to capture the fleeting essence.
We seek... a reality check before we face our clients.
We seek... to uplift the human spirit.
We search... emotion.
We search... apparent ease-effortlessness.
We search... clarity.
We search... for the ‘this feels right’ moment.
Certain considerations are paramount in our understanding of our work...
The primary source of evolving any project is the client sensibilities and cultural definitions, our belief is that any of our projects is by the user and for the user and can only survive if it is user-focused.
The essence of the site’s context: climate, physical features, views, reachability is crucial to inform the project.
The inquiry into what lies at the core of the project’s purpose; shapes its relevance in architectural, economic and social value.
The evolution of a project is generated directly from the act of human occupation, through the quality and variance of light, the reference to other spaces and the directness of view, the ability to adapt and the patterns of erosion in materials and memories.
ACT OF CONSTRUCTION
The process of putting together the construct, the impact of geometry, the weight, textures, and spatial qualities of the materials informs the physical embodiment of the project. The crucial task is to compose the project rooted around the essence of these considerations. And above all, deliver an endearing, relevant, humane project.
Our methods remain very intuitive, the first strains of the idea approaches through several dialogues within the tea, different perspectives are debated, weighted for originality, authenticity, and appropriateness, edited and fine tuned to their potent best.
Many times, initial ideas are shelved due to inappropriateness, and recur as themes for other conditions where their potencies are reclaimed even stronger.
Geoffrey Bawa once said “Too much architecture between me and the view!” This perhaps has become a sort of ethos of SPASM’s architecture.
‘The greatest reward is to be untraceable, as architects’