The Subjunctive Pause The Nature of Architecture and Its Representation in the Works of Indian Architect Balkrishna Doshi

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Swaranjali, Pallavi




This dissertation takes a critical look at architectural storytelling that imparted a polysemic and contronymic nature to architecture and its representation in the works of Indian architect, Balkrishna Doshi (b.1927). It studied three modes of architectural storytelling that Doshi adopted, namely, tectonic (through his buildings), visual (through his miniature painting style illustrations), and literary (through his written stories). His non-conventional ways of storytelling disregarded the notion of architectural creation and representation as a formulaic and precise visual image and explored the possibility of converting them into instruments of imaginative dreaming for making, inhabiting, and conversing in architecture. Doshi's built work and its representation, created a 'pause'—bringing in a reorientation to present the invisible by offering a poetic and syncretic virtual world. This 'pause' solicited engagement. It was a clever contraption to engage in an imaginative understanding, conceptualization, inhabitation, making, and reading of built work and its representation, inculcating novel points of view to engage in a broad and deep architectural discourse. This dissertation argues that the 'pause' was a quality of architectural conceptualization, experience, and representation that imparted to his architecture a subjunctive character that opened a space of translation between the author (architect) and the reader (users and others who are involved in the architectural creation) to foster an imaginative assimilation of architectural activities, in which they viewed architectural creation not only through a positivistic lens, but allowed the imaginative, oneiric, and fantastical to contribute. For Doshi, architectural creation assumed the form of a verb—the act of dreaming collectively a numinous architecture, rather than a substantive—the architecture of production that celebrated the singularity of the architect or the building as a seductive and commercialized image ignoring what he considered the basic tenet of architecture, which is its ability to promote a joyful and virtuous human life. The subjunctive act of dreaming that Doshi demonstrated and induced for others to practice created a contronymic condition through storytelling, by evoking the latent presence of a virtuality, the particularity of which was its ability to make architecture and its representation become analogous, vying for each other's status and qualities.


Doshi, Balkrishna V.




Carleton University

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