July 8, 2009

The Fountainhead and More

I am reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand these days. The novel is the story of an architect, an architect who designs buildings keeping all factors in mind and does not follow the faulty yet conventional way of design. He meets with a lot of resistance, everybody hates him, stands in his way and admonishes his work just because it is not conventional. The novel thus also tells us how success never comes easy, the path of a hero is always filled with obstacles.

One of the most interesting things is when I was reading the novel I realized, it is an old novel, and yet it is so relevant today. Forget the theme - originality versus conventionalism, heroism versus struggle, even the subject matter about architecture is so relevant. I haven't studied architecture but I like buildings, I like art and design, and enjoy the way they are incorporated in buildings.

An interesting thing that I have noticed in architecture that is coming up in India today is IT parks. The IT parks seem to be modelled on the way buildings are made in the West. They employ a lot of glass, and the way this is beneficial is that, it allows sun rays to permeate the building and thus a lot of heat gets trapped. This is really ideal for places with cold weather but India? Its more of an expense. Sure, we save money on the building costs, glass is cheaper but we end up spending more on airconditioning. This also harms the environment more because more AC usage leads to more CFC in the environment.

Architecture of this type actually reflects the Indian mentality of aping everything from the West. We don't really need that, its conventional because the common Indian mentality is that anything from the West is loved more whether it has a good value or not. The city I live in, well they can't even come up with original names for the buildings, we have the Balmoral, the White House, Pentagon and the Times Square to name a few buildings. Thankfully they haven't named something as the Taj Mahal or Qutub Minar till now. But really, is it so hard to come up with original names?

The architecture too, is it hard to come up with more environment friendly designs? Isn't it an architect/builder/construction company's responsibility to bring about a change. Should they not be focusing on incorporating more eco friendly features in their buildings? Its not that people would object, or wouldn't pay, why the price of property is really high, so what keeps an architect from trying, why follow the conventional path especially in times where the need for change is an absolute necessity?

4 comments:

  1. The problem/ question you give.. is not so easy to solve. It's all about the money.. like everybody knows. Eco buildings are very expansive to build.. And spending too much money on an architecture building, is mostly uncommon. Supply and demand. To say it in a short way: " Our economic system is obnoxious for our environment! "

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  2. Yeah true but in the long run, we will benefit more from spending on eco-friendly designs today.

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  3. Must be an enjoyable read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

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  4. @Rohit, thanks! Yes, really like the book a lot, do let me know how you find it :)

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