How does one go about setting up a long question from themselves?
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
On the 10th of March 2022, SEA invited recent graduates from various schools of architecture in Mumbai to participate in a symposium to discuss long questions in setting up a practice. The panel consisted of 17 students from across the city from different institutes (see full list below) and moderated by Anuj Daga (SEA) and Bhavleen Narula (BSSA).
The discussions revolved around the individual tones of self that the students established for themselves through their own trajectories in the past and the practice and question that they seek to pursue. I bring out the notion of the self here as an important anchor point for this piece. It is through the discovery of the self that one gets to set up a long question for themselves. This exploration happens through various avenues - that of the home, family, friendships, the school or other academic institutions and also creative practices that one engages in.
The institution of the school and academia became a key point for conversation. The coordinates that were laid out began from a look into the past, into the idea of architects being generalist rather than specialists. The generalist was often someone whose works blurred different practices and fields to help formulate new spatial imaginations. The specialists had specific charges that pushed and shaped their imaginations. The discussants focused on diving into the framework of academia and syllabus to critique the trend in institutions producing specialists today. In some aspects, this critique holds true, but the school is a place to unlearn and explore - to break free and sprawl across different avenues to figure out what sparks a question or thought about the self. Although this does not translate into a generalist idea, it is very impractical to think of our agency through these two means today. The self is constructed through various nodes that inform and shape each other constantly - identity, political climate, emotions, relationships, social media, everyday conversations and creative endeavors, all become these nodes. When all of them come together, our learning in the institutions and our practice gets more nuanced and no longer fits into the binary above. And it should exactly be the goal to discover oneself to place themselves in this blur, because the professional realm of studios and offices often force the erasure of practice and allow the development of specialized skills.
The next discussion was based on the students articulating their long questions that have shaped or would shape their practice. These questions do not have to be complex in their formulation but provide a heading or a purpose into anything we do as architects. The avenues of art, architecture, life and pleasure all start to merge and become equally rich in the development of this question. For some students, the long questions emerge from personal enquiries, strong emotions and experiences, while for others, they emerge from the geo-political context and relationships with the world.
The conversations allowed me to introspect and critically look at the articulations of the students - to ask a question for myself and understand what practice I set up for myself. I feel that it is through the exploration of the self and the enjoyment that one experiences through different endeavors that one could begin to set up a long question for themselves, if not set up already.
Shrushti Shah - Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture
Aum Nilesh Gohil - Academy of Architecture (aided)
Priyanka Shelke - Academy of Architecture (aided)
Ronak Savla - Academy of Architecture (aided)
Chintan Shah - Academy of Architecture (unaided)
Kushal Vaghela - Academy of Architecture (unaided)
Devika Kale - IES College of Architecture
Tejashree Karande - IES College of Architecture
Prem Rangani - Lokmanya Tilak Institute Of Architecture & Design Studies
Sarita Prasad - Lokmanya Tilak Institute Of Architecture & Design Studies
Manish Shravane - School of Environment and Architecture
Foram Shah - School of Environment and Architecture
Khushita Wagle - Aditya College Of Architecture
Riyesh Patil - Rizvi College of Architecture
Vishal Rohira - Balwant Sheth School of Architecture
Fauwaz Khan - Balwant Sheth School of Architecture
Sakshi Tiwari - Sir JJ College of Architecture