Architectural conferences are usually made of great moments and breeding grounds for exchanging ideas. The 2013 edition of the 361 Degrees Conference which is now in its 6th year and concluded on 8 March, was no different. Over the last 5 years, 361 Degrees has aimed to capture the true essence of architecture and creating a forum where young and old mix in a meaningful interrogation. I was particularly elated to see such a huge number of students attending the conference which well organized – kudos to the team at IA&B who took upon this colossal task.
You come back saturated with great examples and inspiration from the world of architecture. Speakers were an eclectic mix of nationalities with even more eclectic with the kind of work and their individual journey they are embarked on in built environment. On one side there were stalwarts like Charles Correa who choked the audience into tears with exemplary work of Champalimaud Centre of the Unknown, Portugal and on the other, the work of the likes of Kevin Low Mark and Manuel Clavel Rojo. The message delivered was singular and a strong one: that architecture is a multi-layered discipline of social enquiry and how it can be meaningful, socially relevant and profound.
Peter Rich proposed the idea that the world is engulfed in a revolution where much of the erosion has taken place in recent history and is looking at culturally significant countries like India and Mexico to rediscover new deeper ways to solve many problems that we are facing as humanity.
Jenni Rueter works in the domain of enabling communities with the help of architecture which are poor financially. She has initiated several projects in Senegal where she engaged with the community first hand and works with the entire cycle of raising fund and actively involving local community in building their project.
Kevin Mark Low said something extremely profound which is worth noting: “Why can’t buildings be as imperfect as us human beings; why are we so anxious to find perfection in the built environment?” I will be trying to explore and understand this more with an interview with him in a series to follow.
Graham Morrison of UK based practice Allies and Morrison talked about several of his projects on buildings as not being treated as solo achievements but looking at more as public spaces they generate which can be both functional and engaging. He later mentioned something which is of relevance here that roads should not be treated only as means to get to places but as places themselves. This paradigm shift may relieve us from the perils that have emerged of complex web of clinical and detached concrete urban freeways.
Lastly, I will wrap this post with a discovery of work of a Sri-Lankan Architect Palinda Kannangara. He is a man of few words, soft spoken. And his work is speaking the language of almost monkish outcome through his projects, primarily in the residential segment. Serene, calm with a strong sense of geometry and his methodology appeared intuitive and visceral than based on any articulated design principles. Projects had a Zen-kind of impact on mind and you just wanted to be there in those houses, even if it was for a brief time. Perhaps someday when Sri-Lanka beckons.