Novel way to remember Laurie Baker

Novel way to remember Laurie Baker

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Novel way to remember Laurie Baker -min

Novel way to remember Laurie Baker -min
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Lakhs of bricks used by devotees to prepare 'pongala' offering at the Attukal Devi Temple festival will not be wasted. Instead, they will be re-used for making art installations to commemorate the legendary British-born architect, who pioneered low-cost housing in the country

Kerala has found a novel way to pay tribute to ‘poorman’s architect’ Laurie Baker who spent later part of his life in the state. This time, lakhs of bricks, used by devotees to prepare ‘pongala’ offering at the Attukal Devi Temple festival will not be wasted. Instead, they will be re-used for making art installations to commemorate the legendary British-born architect, who pioneered low-cost housing in the country.

Every year lakhs of women gather in the month of Kumbham (February-March) around Attukal Devi Temple and prepare Pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, coconut as well as other ingredients) in the open in small pots to please the Goddess Kannaki. Rice is cooked in makeshift stoves made of bricks. After 10-day festival gets over, disposal of the bricks used to pose a major problem for the local administration.

However, a group of architects, artists, designers and firms from across the country, under the aegis of Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), are joining hands with the City Corporation to create 100 installations on March 3 to mark Baker’s birth centenary. Bricks, abandoned by devotees on the waysides after the ritual, will be collected and transformed into series of art installations as a tribute to the master architect, late Laurie Baker whose 100th birth anniversary. They will later be used for social housing schemes. 

The initiative, titled ‘Beyond Bricks’, is envisaged as a mass movement and awareness campaign with a concept of reuse and recycle, as professed by Baker. The installations would be kept for public viewing until March 5, and would later be dismantled to be reused for public housing for poor in the city.

Laurie Baker is an England born architect who made India as his first home due to the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and also because of his own experiences in the remote Himalayas. He moved to India in 1945 and went on to live in India till 2007 when he passed away at the age of 90. He was one of the earliest proponents of sustainable design and use of local materials for construction. Laurie Baker was recipient of many awards and recognitions including Padma Shri. However, it was the Indian citizenship, the only honour he actively pursued in his life, which he considered priceless. He was granted Indian citizenship in 1988.