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Sculpting With Bricks


Nisar Khan

MASTERPIECE OF A MASTER ARCHITECT: CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES
Edited by Jayesh S. Pillai
COSTFORD and Laurie Baker Centre for Habitat Studies, 2014, pp. 130, Rs. 650.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 2 February 2015

This book is a monograph on the architecture of Centre for Development Studies designed by architect Laurie Baker. The Centre for Development Studies is regarded as a masterpiece of Laurie Baker and this book offers a documentation of the project. The project is compiled in the book in the  form of many photographs and drawings of various buildings of CDS.   Laurence Wilfred Baker or Laurie Baker as he was affectionately known was born and educated in England but chose to practice in India his entire life. The 90 years of inspiring life of Baker is provided as a chronological biography in the first chapter in the book. The awards and accolades received by him are listed along with the major life events.Although the book is about only one of his projects; all the projects accomplished by Baker are appended as a list in the last section of the book. The positions held by him in various government and non-government agencies are also mentioned in the list providing an insight into the multiplicity of roles he played in his professional life. Laurie Baker was a Master Architect who worked in the alternative building construction technology all his life. Besides, being cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable, the buildings of Baker are aesthetically pleasing in their own traditional and rustic sense.The architecture of Laurie Baker did not evolve from formal training, but was a result of the response towards the environmental and economic efficiency. He was a rebel in a sense to the concrete-jungle construction. The book discusses the philosophy and ideology of Baker in one of the chapters. Much before the concepts of sustainability became standard practice in the building construction industry Baker’s work was illustrative of ecological and social consciousness. Baker never compromised on his philosophies and his architecture is a reflection of his Gandhian simplicity. In the current scenario of impending environmental crisis, Baker’s architectural philosophies are highly relevant. This book is a gentle reminder to the professionals of their responsibility towards environment and society. The technology used by Baker was evolved from the vernacular technology of the place. His technology is not found in the theory and codes followed by engineers and architects. The book presents an opportunity to the students and practitioners of architecture to study his technology. It contains detailed drawings of the Centre for Development Studies providing an important resource for architectural study. The ...


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