17th April 2015
It has been 16 months since we started building the community centre for Anubhuti Seva Samiti in Sidhpura, District Kasganj, UP. After months of trials and tribulations for the clients, the space is finally edging towards completion. The ground floor is tiled, plastered and finished. Furnishings are being added gradually while some local activities of the organization have commenced. The first floor walls have been built up to the 7’ lintel band level. Now only the roof remains. As the days progress the space is finally getting a definite shape and scale and is putting an end to wild curiosity of the local people. This is I believe is the most crucial part of the building which can make or break it. The roof is like the icing in the cake and I hope my solution can add to the composition appropriately.
The character imparted to the built space by the un plastered brick is truly spectacular. This is something we all know as Baker has spoken about this extensively, although from the economic perspective. But there are also aesthetic and socio-political considerations. From the aesthetic perspective, as each brick is baked to a different degree owing to many uncontrollable factors, they all have a diff visual character some of them deep red, some pink, some off white while some a mix of all three. Due to this each brick has a different character. So it is an industrial material but not one at the same time.
Since we are keeping the bricks unexposed, the mason/craftsman spends more time to produce good quality brick. This equates to more man days but that money is equivalent to what one would have spent to do a bad brick wall quickly and then cement plaster it. But we ensure that that money is invested back into our indigenous craftsmen so that the money circulates within the village economy and can be used for the education of their children, etc instead of being siphoned off into a cement manufacturer’s pocket. There is more stake for the mason and an incentive and pride to produce good quality brick work.
Adobe that has been made, stacked and stored in October 2014, is now being thrown to helper Vikram from the neighbouring village of Daheli. Due to its compact size of 9”*4.5”*3”, this is easy to do as compared to the builkier adobe of Himachal Pradesh which would break easily.
Some of the perks of working with rural communities is that you always get invited to festivals and weddings. This wedding in the adjoining village of Daheli Buzurg, had all out site craftsmen and workers as helpers in the process. While I arrived there, there was a huge team of women and girls busy making circular puris to be deep fried in the cauldron of hot oil by the upper caste cook to be served to the hungry guests. there were people everywhere , on rooftops, on the sides, on bikes and there were also buffaloes. The scene captured rural India and its all energy quite well!
While on our way to the venue, we passed an old brick vaulted bridge over a man made canal. The quality of the brickwork was exquisite and one could lament the dearth of similar craftsmanship since the advent of RCC. This is something i pointed out to our site masons as an example that we we should aspire towards.
Peacocks are omnipresent in rural India from the plains of Uttar Pradesh to the plateaus of the Deccan. One morning we were fortunate to witness a group of them lazily cantering around the front gate.