The following are the main research projects going on:

Domestic Regional Architecture of Gujarat: The Socio-cultural Nuances: 1850 to 1947

(Tentative Title) By Miki Desai

Architecture reflects the worldview of a given society at a given point in time and the house form and settlement patterns are prime indicators of this. This book is one such attempt to develop a holistic view of the relationship between man, nature and built form. In the last few decades in India, with the predominant emphasis on growth and development, there is a loss of heritage, cultural nuances, and traditional ways as well as weakening of the social fabric. This book looks at the rural vernacular and its progressive transformation into the urban idiom in the Indian context in general and in the context of Gujarat in particular. The idea of ‘type’ and its variations, emerging settlement patterns from such types, integration of people’s socio-cultural identity and built form resulting in as well as affecting the behavioural aspects, manifestation of abstract plan organization into built form and its articulation, etc. are the major areas of concern that have been brought to the fore. The present study of the domestic architecture of Gujarat, in western India, traces its roots to the pre-urban times and following its progress into the era of Independence. From the early mud houses to the concrete and glass houses of ‘modern’ times, it spans a century from 1850-1947.

The mature development of the indigenous architecture expresses the close connection between people and the built environment. It was observed that while there was the death of a traditional urban type that had developed from its rural roots, the variations of the rural type have still managed to survive till today in most of the state. This book aspires towards creating an appreciation and awareness about these living-built environments so that we may equip ourselves better to deal with future design, growth and development of our communities, towns, and cities.

Drawing Portfolios

By Miki Desai

Architectural drawing portfolios in the past were significant educational tools and reference materials for architectural education especially to understand the given buildings. As a tradition, nineteenth-century architects presented drawings of important buildings in grand folios. During the British rule of 200 years, they transplanted and imposed many new institutions, technology, concepts, and forms based on the notions of modernity. The author and his research and documentation office, Archicrafts has documented part of Kerala’s traditional wooden architecture and six other colonial buildings in detail, among many other examples. The portfolio of colonial structures comprise industrial and functional, non-monumental buildings which are hidden architectural gems, while the Kerala portfolio consists of a regional genre of architecture that has a richness of structure, ornamentation and craftsmen’s expression

  • Wooden Architecture of Kerala Rich in timber, religious as well as secular buildings of Kerala are mostly constructed in wood, with laterite stone used minimally for plinths and a few walls. The building structures are about one to five centuries old. There is an unusual homogeneity and continuity in the vernacular architecture of Kerala. Blended with this are the nuances of the classical genre of architecture, creating a unique relationship between the two traditions. The Hindu, Christian and the Muslim communities with their corresponding influences represent the richness of this building art, that includes a range of examples, from the pragmatist to the highly expressive which are documented in the form of detailed measured drawings.

  • Colonial and pre modern buildings The six colonial-era buildings included in the portfolio are: the Solarium in Jamnagar-1939, the Water Tank in Banaras-1880, the Tile Factory in Morbi, the Music College of Baroda - C. 1885, the Kothar in Bhavnagar - C. 1880, and the Panjara Pol in Ahmedabad-1936. They are unique examples of either use of new building materials, innovative technology, local craftsmanship, international collaboration, or a combination of these. Structural challenges, indigenous ornamentation, use of scientific principles, production innovations, etc. characterise their architectural significance. These large-scale, meticulous drawings include plans, sections, isometric views, and a compilation of architectural details.

Exhibition book

By Miki Desai

Architecture is significant component of culture and the embodiment of the spirit of life. Many of the successful and irreplaceable living environments the world over consists of the vernacular/traditional/regional genre. These examples, houses, institutions, and settlements have survived previous stages of modernization and hold many vital lessons for the present. India is a vast and a complex country with a pluralistic society and a range of religious, geographic, ethnic, climatic, and linguistic diversity. Its history is full of intense political, temporal, and cultural experiences. It is a land of villages, at the same time; it has a long history of urbanization. Indian architecture, therefore, has multiple manifestations resulting in layered built environments. Within this vast milieu; materiality, technique and craftsmanship bring about varying region-specific modifications. Different architectural elements are forged by the carpenters and masons to create a regional identity. The built environments and the daily life are inseparable. This book attempts to cover vanishing crafts, processes, objects, art, celebrations and above all architecture, representing the gamut of the tangible; and the spirit, the ethos and the mechanisms that define the intangible of vernacular architecture. In addition, it also engages with the rich colonial heritage as well as key modern edifices of India.