India has been experiencing a tremendous dynamic of change for several decades, which, however, does not affect all its regions equally. This asymmetric change takes place in and through the shared spaces and can be vividly experienced in a number of spatial phenomena, such as fractures and segmentations, contrasts and hybridisations.
For future architects – or more concretely: people who are professionally engaged in structuring, designing and programming cities and buildings – such encounters and experiences are important in order to understand the interplay of spatial objects and interventions with other actors and actions; not least to assess the scope and agency of one’s own discipline.
The book is a documentation of a journey to southern India in June 2019: Bangalore, Kanchipuram, Mamallapuram and Chennai. Whilst there, we – that is eleven students of architecture and three members of academic staff – met with a wide range of people: activists, architects, urban planners, craftspeople, publishers, historians, book makers, screen printers, artisans, potters and waste pickers. We engaged in discussions with representatives from institutions such as the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), the Goethe Institute, the Foreign Office and Saveetha College of Architecture and Design (SCAD). We travelled on foot, by bus, by train.
We compiled our days in India in the form of this visual guide; a compact compendium of some of the stops we made and conversations we had. It speaks of the range of topics and challenges we aimed to engage with. And yet, it is but a glimpse of this journey for it doesn’t transport the heat or relay the smells, and it certainly doesn’t carry the noise or the many bonds made.