Evoking Character of a Place Through the Eyes of its People
The explosive development of New Delhi, India after Imperial British rule began a process of expansion away from the river highlighted by a frayed urban fabric and lack of a shared social identity. The 1920’s masterplan by Lutyens, in the heart of the city, along which governmental institutions are located epitomizes this physical and psychological divide; Lutyens’ Plan to this day represents the continuation of a political power structure which resists moments of reflection and shared identity necessary for the development of a cohesive society, leading to issues of growth, waste, water, health, war, and oppression.
The urban project draws inspiration from literature, the people from Rana Dasgupta’s Capital, looking to create a situation in which a shared identity can emerge. It analyzes the city by transect, not zone, and seeks to reveal the latent identity and memory of the urban fabric shared by its people. New transects and urban zones are divulged retroactively, stitching together the city and creating new relationships and memories.
The urban project stitches together the existing urban fabrics through the introduction of new systems of ecology, water, and buildings. A new cultural museum is founded along the site; a Cultural Transect for an Independent India. Independence is a march from oppression towards transcendence in which history and identity is constructed through a sequence of events; a progression of ancient forms and landscapes found across the diverse regions of India. This sequence creates a network between the past, present, and future; nature and city; culture, education, the arts, creating a shared democratic space. The project allows identity to emerge through moments of recognition and shared experience of a free people.
Who influences you graphically?
Currently there is no direct unifying influence on my graphical work, I am still early in my career and seeking a lens of expression.
However, I am very interested in graphics that evoke the character of a place through the eyes of its people. The street photography of Brassaï has particular interest to me in the way the essence of Paris was captured through its people. For this specific project, based in New Delhi, India, I was interested in conveying acts of resolve and play while adding missing moments, particularly those of calm and reflection.
All the images with the exception of the aerial plan speak the same language, what is the reason behind this difference?
The aerial plan is to be understood on the objective level, by diagram, line, zone. It is not about an experience of texture, light or shadow; by its very scalar nature the aerial plan is removed from the direct experience of those that traverse the site. There is also the simple nature of clarity in the drawing. Shades of grey show clear delineations between existing and proposed, softscape and hardscape. Color is used to denote the occupation of territory and various structures at play across the site. I felt the introduction of additional textures or unifying colors for the sake of graphical continuity would confuse the design intent.
You explore your proposal through all means of representation with the exception of the axonometric, why so? To what extent might this objective means of representation reinforce or weaken the proposal?
This is a great question! My answer derives directly from the classification as axonometric as an “objective” means of representation. The project narrative and design proposal is all about creating moments of reflection, atmosphere, and useable space based in the direct experience of people on the site. Total commitment to that intent required that no axonometric be used (no drawings of the buildings were shown during the review even, just the series of renderings along with the masterplan and accompanying diagrams) because the project is not about the singular object, but about space for people.
The buildings were generated from the typical act of drawing in plan, section, and elevation, but drawings were completed only after the review as a form of analysis. The plan existing as the only line drawing (because plans are the genesis of a building) and elevations existing to show formal composition, materiality, and the play of light.
Accordingly, if the axonometric were to be used for objective means, it would most strengthen the representation of the masterplan, something I will keep in mind for future development.
What is the reason behind the choice of a ‘paper’ texture as backdrop?
I wanted to convey a sense of time through the representation while also including the qualities of India that I experienced. The paper texture works hand in hand with the the painterly qualities of the sky, the weathered buildings, materials, and the morning sunlight to question when these building physically exist. Are these aged photos? An act of painting by someone at the place? A drawing of a future proposition?
Joe Brookover is currently a 2016 Master of Architecture Candidate at The University of Virginia where he serves as a Design Education Fellow and is lead editor for the Catalyst III publication. He received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University in 2012 and worked professionally for three years.
Like many, he finds that design is often commodified in traditional architectural practice and is actively pursuing a career which integrates multiple disciplines to leverage new modes of practice. His interest is in a critical architecture which draws inspiration from existing physical and cultural contexts; creating spaces which connect and respond to those who use it, often sited in diffuse urban territories. He believes that the next century will be about breaking down large societal systems which have sought to perfect the way people live and searches new opportunities for architecture that move beyond isolated form-making.