Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Religious Building, Church at Parumala, Kerala

Modern Church designed by Charles Correa

The Malankara Orthodox Church at Parumala, Kerala, India  is designed by renowned architect Charles Correa.  The church satisfies antiquity of the Orthodox Church along with the basic customs and traditions of the people of Kerala. The church has two major parts. The Holy Alter (Sanctum Sanctorum) and the room where the mortal remains of Parumala Thirumeni (kabar) are entombed, is kept and connected to the main part of the church. The main circular building has the main entry from the courtyard side, which is facing west direction and the interior space is protected from direct sun by screens and tall, thick wooden doors. 
| Approach from the Street, through Holy Tomb structure | St. Peter's and St. Paul's Orthodox Syrian Church, Parumala, Kerala |  photo credit- Neela Design

Main Entrance at the Back, facing West | St. Peter's and St. Paul's Orthodox Syrian Church, Parumala, Kerala
photo credit- Neela Design
The Building design took 4 years and design was accepted in 1993. The construction started in 1995 and completed in 2000. The church, plastered in white and modern in appearance is circular in design with an inner diameter of 117 feet (39 meters). The three alters are on East side and the western side transitions to Verandah and the porch, as well as the main entrance. The height of the central vault in the center is 54 feet (18 meters). 

Plan of the Church Building and a room where the tomb is placed connecting on the side.

photo credit- Neela Design

| Interior Space |
photo credit- Neela Design

The white color painted interior surfaces unifies the curved ceilings and slender tall columns. 

The vernacular motifs on the building walls and stained glasses shower the interior space with beautiful glow and serenity.  I sat down on the floor like locals to reflect and contemplate; I felt my spirit was lifted high and I look up and see the glimpses in the golden light.

The space as shown below shows different types of columns and windows, it is an open pavilion leading to the sacred tomb of  St.Gregorious of parumala, who died on 2 November 1902. He was the first declared saint from Malankara Orthodox Church. It also connects to the main Church hall which can occupy 2000 people. 
Entrance from the side, Holy Tomb Enclosure
Glimpses of Syrian- Malabar Orthodox Malankari in Red Robe and White Robe
photo credit- Neela Design
DhwajStanbh,  Pole of copper/brass and at the back gate of the property,
An iconic symbol, pole also present in South Temple Architecture
photo credit- Neela Design
Panoramic photo facing South !  Bell Pavilion on the left side | photo credit- Neela Design

Outside the Church, I saw this man doing calligraphy on the plastic ring, which was partially inlaid to the plastic surface and I had to see him work on my ring. Below are two photos. 
Craftsman torched the in scripted golden letters on the ring in 3 minutes! Impressive!
Bonus Photo of the building under construction, East side view- 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Religious Temple in Chengannur, Kerala, India

I visited an another prominent Shiva and Parvati Devi Temple in Kerala, the first one was in Assam State of India. The link  -

This temple is built many years ago and its architecture is different than the one in Assam. The plan consists a courtyard with the main temple building in the middle. The structures and space are used for various rituals which occure on certain times of the year. It could have different life when filled with people, though my photos do not reflect. Below are some photos, I captured.
photos credit- Neela Design
Aerial View photo credit- Web and Unknown
| Stone and Wood |  Artifacts- Brass Bells and Oil Lamps |
photo credit- Neela Design
| Decorative Painted Wooden Columns | Tiled Slopping Roof |
photo credit- Neela Design
 | Priest performing Vahan (Vehicle ) Puja | photo credit- Neela Design

Friday, May 4, 2018

Dubai Gate!

Few Hours in Dubai

I did not see Dubai as a tourist but on my way to my friend's house, I saw little far away view of skyline and was not very impressed by it. But one building took my breath from the balcony of my friend's house. I clicked many photos. and here are few photos. What I learned that the building just completed few months ago and it is symbol of gate and connects old and new Dubai.
Below are photos. Enjoy!
Partial Skyline of Dubai
My dress pattern enhances with geometry of the buildings facade!
Dubai Gate!
LED Lights illuminating Building

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Peace and Harmony at the Spiritual Temple!, Guwahati

Kamkhya Temple, Guwahati!
Happiness is an human experience. That experience, which makes us happy, depends on both external and Internal conditions.  All the senses and brain need to register the surroundings and receive those information and then take time to process all or else everything passes by in moments and it feels like a dream. Yes, it sounds philosophical and the discussion is starting to go in a different direction then I intended to write here, in this post. What I mean to say that I believe that I could identify few tangible tangible elements, which played partial role in creating happy, memorable and dream like experience. It was an experience of  my short morning visit to  Kamakhya Temple in the city of Guwahati, Assam.
There was a look out pavilion and I walked there to see the skyline of Guwahati and noticed the temple was still up on the hill and the steps were visible at the far end.

View from the Temple site
Harmony and Balance
Rituals and Culture:
Kamkhya Temple, I did not know anything about except someone mentioned it somewhere. I decided to take an auto rickshaw early in the morning and head out. It is 7 KM outside of Guwahati, Assam, and it is a temple complex on a hill. I was dropped at the beginning of the street which leads to the site. I walked to first Chaiwala, I encountered to have first cup of tea. I waited while his first pot of milk, water, sugar and tea leaves yet to come to boil. It appeared very quiet though many ritualistic activities were visible across the street.

He burned  the incense stick and  arranged the mini wooden models of temples outside his stall (Check out in the photo above).  I have no idea why but I gravitated towards them and touched them and checked them out without any intention to purchase.  Soon, he handed me a tiny cup of tea, which could be 3 to 4 sips but I managed it to  multiply them twice and made 6 to 8 sips, paid some cash and started to walk ahead.

Synergy between Physical layout, design and Spiritual beliefs, Faith :
The current structural temple, built and renovated many times in the period 8th-17th century, gave rise to a hybrid indigenous style that is sometimes called the Nilachal type: a temple with a hemispherical dome on a cruciform base.  The temple consists of four chambers: garbhagriha and three mandapas locally called calantapancharatna and natamandira aligned from east to west.
Steps to ascend and leave the worries at the bottom
Somehow, there was this calmness around. People were dressed and carrying flowers and other items for offering to Goddess. The door was not opened and I hung out there and sat on the steps, from where ai got to see everything around. Below are the photos and I think the space was in perfect harmony with its proportions and scale. Goats, birds and people were all using the steps to rest and enjoy the morning sun.

Peaceful environment and serenity(
Steps to sit, observe and pray (
Feeding the Birds! 
Feeding the Goat!(
I noticed the place included people who appeared calm with complete devotion. Even I experienced a type of silence and peace; I felt as if super divine power touched my soul!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Kolkata Buildings at a glance!

Aesthetic language of Buildings by People in Kolkata, India

Below is a collages of building facades from moving car. Each one has distinct architectural element or color. What I believe that these are derived from functional or specific needs of the space just behind the facade and personal definition of beauty. Indian people are not afraid of colors, which is very obvious in the landscape. Also the Chief Minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, made policy to remove one year of property tax if the building is painted Blue, which she believes “blue and white signifies happiness and the city looks bright in this color scheme”.

Residential Complex

Colonial Residential Building and Building adorned with Green Plants
Hotels (American Chains)

Commercial Buildings (Wonder what is that white building facade with no window) 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Non-Interference approach to landscape! Chandubi Lake, Assam

I remember reading somewhere the definition of  Spiritual experience as when;
"The experience of life transcends the limitation of material world!"
Exactly, that is what I would describe part of my trip.
Chandubi Lake, 65 KM from Guwahati surrounded by lush hills is a hidden gem. Only one road to reach to the lake and is lined by a series of thick forest of Sal trees (shorea robusta) which are large, deciduous trees with Oval shaped large leaves. Every part of the tree, from timber to leaves to seeds is used by local tribes. I forgot my headache and itching of throat, and we stopped the car on the side after a short heavy rainfall. Below are few photos, not even close to capture my feelings.

Danny Gam, Me, Diane Bracken
The continuity of forest was interrupted slightly by small village and rice field and small tea estate. Below are few photos of those pauses which were adding extra oxygen.
I am keeping the best for last. The destination ! I want to post photo of the only guest house very close to the lake but you will not know its presence if you walk out the gate 200 feet on the left side. We were the only guests and all the employees were cooking for us as we demanded! Nothing processed, everything from soil and lake.
Below is the guest house-
Guest House
Chandubi lake where only my heart captured the movement of water through live fish and wind!
"I am nature and nature is Me"

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Designed Spaces reflect creativity of Adobe's products!

Headquarter of Adobe's Dinning hall and Break room, Makeover by Gensler!

Adobe has been one of my favorite companies due to their creative products.  Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere to name few of their software stayed  my companions for long time and  have enabled me to play creatively with my ideas. When I visited their one of the floors, it did put the spell on me.  What a perfect remodel by Gensler!
Adobe Headquarter in San Jose, California (photo credit-

 It reminded me of visiting Candy-land with my daughter or Lego-land with my son and seeing the reactions on their faces. But this time, I had those emotions on my face. The scale and proportions of the interiors encompassed various cluster of  well designed, sophisticated and warm spaces for communicating, interacting and exchanging ideas. The whole floor was occupied by living spaces, dining spaces and food serving/cooking spaces in various configurations.

LIVING SPACES ( Bookshelf showing small scale artifacts, Vibrant Colors)(photo credit-

The eclectic furniture, use of textures and graphics reflected the creative freedom Adobe's products offer. The space is opposites of drab interiors of traditional old companies. For some this might be over excitement as they all are on the same floor and are flowing from one to another, but I prefer excitements over predicted boring gray and white interiors.
It feels like I could forget here that it is work place. I am sure, performance of the employees could benefit the company. Everyone wins.

Dining spaces, Modern take on the traditional furniture (Photo-
Slick and Modern Materials and Furnishings (Photo Credit-
By the way, these photos do not have employees as it was late in the evening and somehow, I was trying to respect their privacy and selected the area without people in it to click. Though, you can imagine these spaces buzzing with hundreds of employees. I think that Gensler really reflected Adobe in the space designed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Human-centered Design

Refugee Camp Shelter/Structure, Is it architecture?
Is it Architecture? Which is better?  What makes it better?
I am documenting the photos of different refugee shelters from various countries. The last video shows the shelter designed by architect.

1- Dedaab Refugee camp Structure.
This is a sad narrative of the temporary structures.  They are as shown in the photos, made by plastic sheets and tins and clothes. There are dried branches as walls. Want to know more about the shelters and people living in them, please read the book, "City of Thorns" by Ben Rawlence.
It seems like the largest refugee camp, Dedaab in Kenya, where the approx. 400,000 refugees live with the fictional dream which are difficult to sustain after more than 20 years. They are not allowed to work and earn, as well as they are not allowed to leave the camp so they live in those temporary structures for 10 to 20 years. Check out the tents made from whatever materials available to them.

An Aerial view of one of the camps at Dadaab, Kenya; credit B.Bannon, UNHCR
2- Container Shelter

Syrian refugees are moved to these sturdier houses made from container boxes. These are Syria but towards the border of Turkey

Syrian Refugees transferred to containers shelter Credit-

Credit- Kilis, a refugee camp in Turkey near the Syrian border. 
CreditTobias Hutzler for The New York Times

Bakka Camp in Lebanon credit- Dubai Media Office

Bakka Valley, Credit
3-Better Shelter by IKEA in Europe for Refugees

IKEA Foundation along with Swiss architects came up with the best solution. This structure is durable and easy to install, costs $1000, but of course these are shipped in Europe.Check out the video below.
IKEA Shelter equipped withinsulated and sturdy panels plus solar powered LED light which can give electricity for few hours in the night for reading
Check out the video below-