Monday, April 02, 2007

Laurie Baker- Architect extraordinaire is no more

"I have my own principles, which I am unwilling to abandon. I dislike falsehood and deceit. A building should be truthful."

"I would like to mention what I consider as one of the most foolish architectural lies that anyone can imagine - build a brick building, then plaster it all over and paint bricks on the plaster to make it look like a brick building! How stupid can we be! There are several such prominent buildings in Thiruvananthapuram. "

- Laurie Baker

I happened to read the news of the death of the famous architect Laurie Baker in today's newspaper. Laurie Baker, the architect who was a Quaker in his beliefs, and was also inspired by Mahatma Gandhi made Indians to do a serious re-think about techniques of construction.

He had arrived in India in 1944. A chance meeting with Mahatma Gandhi was a defining moment of his life. He had presented Gandhi with a pair of shoes he had made using scrap and a discarded sole. Gandhi had asked him if he could do something for the housing needs of the poor in India. That had encouraged him to settle in India. He and his wife Elizabeth worked in Faizabad, Pithoragarh and Kerala.

He revolutionised construction techniques especially in Kerala He was against needless plastering, and also against the use of cement. "Do not waste money and resources" was his mantra. He also took into account the resources consumed when cement was manufactured. He had once said, "My next principle is to use locally-available material. If the area makes good bricks, use them. If I want to build in an area full of laterite or stone, I would use it. This is not only economical, but the building would also look as though it belongs; it would not sport an imported look."

Read more about this great man and his methods:

(1) The Wikipedia entry on Laurie Baker.

(2) Of architectural truths and lies by Laurie Baker.

(3) Mud by Laurie Baker (pdf version; recommended you see this version as it has illustrations too as opposed to the html version a link to which is given below.)

(4) Mud by Laurie Baker (28 pages, see as html)

(5) Obituary in The Hindu

(6) Obituary in The Indian Express

(7) Laurie Baker: The man we will never forget by Shobha Warrier in

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Blogger agniketu said...

wanted a protege of laurie baker to work with in pune... can u suggest someone????

4:06 PM  
Blogger Renu said...

One of the great architects.

But with developers and mnc clients ruling the scene these days, architects don't have too much of a choice :(

10:34 PM  

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