OFFICE KGDVS – STUDIO MUMBAI / ROTATIVAS # 06

Viernes 19 de abril, 2013
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Studio Mumbai,  “Work-place”, instalación en la Bienal de Venecia, Italia, 2010.

Después de un breve silencio, presentamos una nueva entrevista del ciclo ROTATIVAS. En esta edición, los arquitectos belgas Kersten Geers & David Van Severen interrogan a su colega Bijoy Jain, fundador de Studio Mumbai, afianzando su vínculo, inquietudes y búsquedas compartidas. Las cinco preguntas vía online abordan temas como la influencia de las artes plásticas en su disciplina, el legado de Louis Kahn, los vínculos entre arquitectura y artesanía y los procesos de investigación con los materiales, diseño y construcción del estudio hindú.

Kersten Geers & David Van Severen/ 1. Los Angeles. Since the biennale of 2010, where we first met, we have been crossing track quite often the last two years. To the extend that we started to have the feeling that we start to share, both thoughts and things, and this despite perhaps very different incarnations of these in our architecture. We thought this conversation could be an opportunity perhaps to discus some of these common interests.

First of all, both us and you have spent a period in Los Angeles. For us, the period was short, and perhaps never disconnected from a European regard. As we have discussed in the previous conversation with Johnston Marklee, we believe Los Angeles became the catalyst for an interest in Hedonistic Modernism, or perhaps transplanted European serieux. We often talk about LA artists, like Ed Rusha and John Baldessari, who developed a very conceptual approach to the reality as found, both embracing it and criticizing it. How is your take on this particular part of your former life and education? What is the influence of Schindler for example, another ex-pat and on superficial look, an architect of influence to certain aspects of your work?

Bijoy Jain/ The time that I spent in La (1989-92) was the hotbed of art and architectural expression. What I bring back with me is more a free spirit and an open minefield of ideas and diverse approach that was being explored at that time. More importantly it was my teachers Robert Mangurian and Marianne Ray (Studio Works) and my time at the Richard Meier Model Shop that influenced me in my practice.

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John Baldessari, Rollercoster, 1989 – 1990

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Ed Rusha, Standard Station, 1966

KG & DVS/ 2. Louis Kahn. Another American architect to tackle perhaps is Louis Kahn. He is as monumental as he is despised, author of quite many pseudo theories. Over time we have visited many of his buildings, and in reality not one seemed disappointing, as strange as some of his solutions might seem. If we are not mistaken, there is a possible lineage you, Doshi, Kahn… is that correct? How do you deal with the (weird) theory of him, do you ignore it? Do you make up your own topics and things?

BJ/ Louis Kahn is misunderstood when looked at with an architectural lens. His spirit in his approach to making architecture to me is what is monumental. As far as the lineage is concerned, that you write about, is more the place we build in that is common ground. Given what we do, it would be difficult to ignore his work, practice, and ideas. What remains seminal in his work is to transcend time and place.

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Louis Kahn, Instituto de Administración de Empresas,  Ahmedabad, India, 1974

KG & DVS/ 3. Wood and concrete. A result of your stellar ascent in the architecture scene is the (mis) conception that you’re the ultimate incarnation of the architect of wood. It is a very heavy weight to carry, not without its pleasures and advantages perhaps. Recently you talked to us about concrete. Is the concrete architect another architect then the wood architect, or is he just the same?

BJ/ Wood can be light, not such a heavy weight to bear. But to know that it also has its limitations, and that’s where the problem of weight comes in. For me I don’t see there is a difference whether it is wood, concrete or steel. Its not about being a concrete architect or wood architect or both but for me it is the opportunity of forces that might dictate their natural selection. This selection comes from an economy of means based on availability of skills, the climate, budget, longevity, and other such variables. Only last week I had the opportunity to see the Parliament Complex in Dhaka where what struck me more than the use of material, be it concrete or brick in this case, was Louis Kahn’s ability to negotiate and understand the geological forces, and in this case water, which is really the material at play, that has been used to shape the Complex. The material is more a means of self expression.

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Studio Mumbai, Casa Tara, Kashid, India. 2005

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Studio Mumbai, Casa Palmyra, Nandgaon, India. 2007

KG & DVS/ 4. Arts and crafts. Making and crafting seems an important element of your work. With many people involved in the making of real mock-ups 1/1 and the realizations in the end. Many details, many elements, many objects, much work… what about arts and crafts? Is the cost of labour as opposed to production a key factor, or just a minor element?

BJ/ My main interest is more in the value and the skill that is on offer and the potential that can be realized with tacit the knowledge that is available. There needs to be a balance that is continuously measured between the relationship of economics, labour, material, and all the other elements that are in play. Models, mock ups, drawings serve more as mechanisms to enable a more dynamic and fluid communication disabling any prejudice of preconceived notions of how things should be.

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Studio Mumbai,  “Work-place”, instalación en la Bienal de Venecia, Italia, 2010.

KG & DVS/ 5. Installation vs. Architecture. We got to know each other while we were making an installation at the Venice Biennale (ver video). Part of the result is that we are both often asked to make a temporary installation, that is both as much an opportunity as it is a burden. How is your approach to that? Is it walking away from the actual task of architecture, or is it rather a test case? What do you prefer: installation or architecture?

BJ/ My view is that you can’t extricate one from the other. Both architecture and installations fundamentally deal with space, economy of means through material, skill, technique and agility. What is important is that one feeds from the other and vice versa. Between installation and architecture what one seeks is to find neutrality in its context, the aim being to negotiate the landscape.

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OFFICE KGDVS, Garden Pavilion,  instalación para la Bienal de Venecia, Italia, 2010. Fotografía por Bas Princen

Ver anteriores:

ROTATIVAS #01: Monoblock – Álvaro Puntoni

ROTATIVAS #02: Álvaro Puntoni – Luis Callejas

ROTATIVAS #03: Luis Callejas – PRODUCTORA

ROTATIVAS #04: PRODUCTORA – JohnstonMarkLee

ROTATIVAS # 05: JohnstonMarkLee – OFFICE KGDVS 

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