Architectural journalism needs to be brought back to people as architecture needs to be brought back to people as well. Stories of how creation happens is something that has been too sacrosanct to even talk about in our society. Either is too unimportant to not matter and passes by as Jugaad. Or it is made extremely out of the reach of common man when seen as the commodity of the extremely wealthy and, simply, lucky people of the society.
Good design is like a basic right. It is like primary education. People need to be aware enough to design a good life for themselves, and the environment they build for themselves is a very important part of that design. The passive environment that they construct around them, which ends up affecting all their active activities, thus plays a very important role in how their lives turn out.
In our Information age, information is being declared a basic human right by the union of nations worldwide, the UN. Like basic health care and primary education, unlimited access to information has been deemed the same value as things that keep a human being alive. And I believe this information needs to include the information about how to design a good life for ourselves.
Architecture and art as modes of designing lives for ourselves, need to be brought back to the people of the world. Those in power have time and again tried to seize this basic human right from individuals and the powerless. They have built huge unimaginably grand and complex structures, sometimes functional sometimes out of faith, in order to extend the consciousness of their authority over people, in their everyday life. So that whenever a person walks into a grand temple or a mosque or a huge city built where there was once the ocean, they are left spellbound by the capabilities of those in power. How and how much can they control their lives and can have their lives controlled by those in power?
True freedom is in a emancipated and free mind. The mind that can make its own decisions, choose for itself, make mistakes and then have the courage to correct those mistakes. Without freedom, we are no different from the robots – lifeless, egoless, selfless. We are the nightmare that the dystopian science fiction predicts for the future. We are that nightmare today and now. And no this thought is not anti developmental or defeatist. This thought is a step towards a wise way of life that has been time and again predicted by many a Cassandra’s of the world. The prediction that each one when fully aware and in acceptance of their job, working to their fullest capacity, even if under a subjugating regime, contributes to a bigger structure that can achieve great things. If those at the individual levels of a group or organization, be it a multinational corporation or the human body, are denied their freedom, we end up creating highly efficient yet unsustainable organizations. We end up creating slaves and not comrades. We end up creating men and women who are continuously at competition with each other in terms of who can follow the orders the best. And not those that work in competition with themselves, bettering themselves from their yesterday’s self.
One of the most important ingredients of a sovereign and independent way of life is the ability to create. To create opportunities out of difficulties. To create dreams out of failures. To create success out of setbacks. To create. To be able to create. To have the freedom to create lives, designs, houses, localities, cities, countries, etc. And this design thinking needs to be made more common, more mainstream. More removed from the elite class who have a lot of time and money to spend, to the most downtrodden ones who struggle to make ends meet. They both should be able to choose and design a life of their choice for themselves. They both need to be in a position to choose the kinds of lifestyles they find best suitable to their tastes and their abilities, irrespective of where they begin. They should be in freedom to take steps towards the kinds of lives they choose to live, wherever the starting point. The delta, the difference between the life they inherited and that which they leave behind is what counts in the end. The distance we all came along the way, is the most important thing. And nothing else matters.
Bringing this design thinking, in all its dualities of scientific as well artistic/intuitive aspects, to the people is what I wish to achieve in the long run. To bring art and science of designing ones surroundings, ones living and working spaces, ones breathing and loving spaces, ones dancing and collaborating spaces, is what I wish to achieve with my inherent love for storytelling. For storytelling is one of the most efficient and effective ways to reach out to the empathetic beings that we are, the human race. To help them find themselves in the stories of others. To help them be inspired by the stories of others who have made it to the other side, of finding their freedoms and living with the responsibility of that freedom.
The future belongs to the deeply liberated and self realized individuals, that function as organizations in themselves. The era of the specialist is on the downfall. The one who can specialize in multiple arenas, or at least be a jack of multiple arenas is the one that will survive. From modern day politics to the chaos theory in science, we are time and again seeing how the jack of many trades is multiple notches ahead of the master of a few. The spider’s web in two dimensions is far more enduring than a single thick thread it spits out linearly. And the spiders of the world, the designers of their lives, all humans alike, require this information. They require the skills and inspirations to pursue the ambition of building a web more often and more robust.