Text: Charles Correa ‘The blessings of the sky’
Building: Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur
In the essay Correa talks about his approach to developing an Indian architecture. Consider the following questions through comparing the writing with his Jawahar Kala Kendra: should architecture have national traits and reflect political boundaries? Should Indian architecture somehow look Indian, or even South East Asian? Does it help to define identity, or merely reinforce colonial stereotypes?
Your essay plan
Introduction: (give some overall sense of the theory and the building, and get us interested)
Analysis: this is most of your essay, and you are looking to organise it in a way which suits your analytical findings from reading and thinking.
It is very, very important that your essay should not mainly describe either the theory or the building. What is needed is a critical discussion of the relationship between the two. You may assume that the marker knows the outline of both theory and building, and you only need to refer to them where needed for your argument.
You might want to try one of the following outline structures:
Part 1, ways in which the text does usefully apply to the building. Part 2, ways in which the text fails to apply to the building, and the reasons for this
Part 1, the ways in which theory influenced the building. Part 2, other factors which influenced the building. Part 3, how the architect resolved the conflicts or uncertainties between the theory and the design
Or (for those looking at texts critical of their buildings)
Part 1, aspects of the criticism which you think are fair and useful
Part 2, aspects of the criticism which you think miss the point or are unfair in the case of this building
You are not limited to the above structures, but please DO NOT use the following structure which will not encourage critical analysis:
Part 1: the text
Part 2: the building
Part 3/conclusion: some attempt to talk about the two together
Summarise what you have found, and if possible add briefly some interesting extra element: some way in which your analysis casts light on other parts of this semester’s course, or some way in which your reading of the theory and the building might influence your own design work or architectural thinking.
Things to cover in the Essay
- Illustrate your essay with relevant images which support your argument, and include quotations from the text where relevant.
- Research the building which goes with your text, look carefully at plans and sections of the building to understand its design and functioning, as well as photographs. Find out as much as you can about how the building serves its specific function, how the clients influenced its design, how the site and surrounding influenced its design and how the architect’s work does or does not conform to the ideas of the text you have been asked to read
- Where the building does not conform to the text, is this a failing or a deliberate choice, and what are the reasons for it?
- Nevertheless, you are not looking for (and will not find) a simple correspondence between the theory and the building. Theory is not a recipe which produces a building. Instead what you are looking for in comparing them is similarities, influences and differences. Test the writing against the building as well as the building against the writing. What is not dealt with in the text but is important in shaping the design of the building? Should these other factors have been covered by the text or is the text only aiming to discuss one or two aspects of architecture?
- Don’t be afraid if you find that the buildings are doing something different from what the text might suggest: this is almost always at least partly the case, and it’s the differences that can be so interesting, so describe them and have a go at working out why they have come about. Or you may find that what the comparison shows up is weaknesses/vagueness in the text. Again, be precise about it. If the answer is that part of the theory does not really make sense in practice in the case of your building, that is interesting – give that answer as clearly and precisely as possible.
- The thing which this essay will be marked on above all else is good analysis: your own observations and careful thought about what the text and the building tell us about each other.
- Does the building support the text’s arguments, or undermine them?
- How helpful is the text in thinking about the building?
- How helpful might the text and/or the building be in thinking about your own design work?
From the text (always include page number if given on the document)
- What is the text saying?
- Are there things it is not addressing that you think it ought to address?
From reading on the building (always include source and page number)
- Why is the building designed the way it is?
- Role of function
- Role of client
- Role of site
- Role of architectural theory
- What echoes of the text do you find in the building?