by Niklas Fanelsa, Marius Helten, Björn Martenson, Leonard Wertgen
(Fragment from Architecture Reading Aid Ahmedabad, 2015)
Every morning for two months, we made the trip to Sangath, the studio of the Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi. We would get out of the rickshaw at a nearby crossroads: all around us was a noisy throng of honking cars, motor scooters, and camel carts. In front of us loomed a high wall, overgrown with tropical plants. Beyond the wall were towering trees. Stepping through a gate, we entered into a wondrous garden that also housed the studio. The din of the town slowly faded away. The studio consisted of white domes, partly sunken into the ground: On hot days, staff would cool these with water flowing down in a series of cascades. Studio members would meet for the daily chai break in the shaded garden, which was also used for reviews and the model workshop. Sometimes monkeys romp on the roof, only to be driven away with long sticks.
It was only after a few weeks that we noticed that, in fact, both sides of the wall were being used. A mobile kiosk, a barber, a chai wallah, and a tailor had set up their businesses between the wall and the street. The wall was used to rig up a mirror, served as windbreak and sunshade, as boundary and backrest. We were so distracted by the strange noises and smells, the traffic and the heat that we had not noticed how variously the wall was being used. With our eyes now peeled, we wandered through the city in the subsequent weeks, collecting many new impressions.