Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gandhi Topi - A simple Fabric Structure

When I was talking to my friend about Fabric Architecture and fabric form, he pointed me about Gandhi Topi. I was amazed to realize the simplicity of the form, structure and material of the famous Gandhian Topi. Gandhi Topi (Cap) is a white colored cap made out of Khadi (Hand woven cloth, either cotton, wool or silk). Anna Hazare with his Gandhian Topi has brought Gandhi Topi in to fashion world.
Mahatma Gandhi, who brought freedom to India would have got an award for his design of this Cap. In designing this national headgear, he considered many factors- The Topi is simple, elegant, affordable, light and portable. Also the pure white color stood out against many colorful turbans and cloths. If it got dirty, it would show on the white color right away and that way it is worn clean. It is so easy to make, just search on youtube videos.
Anna Hazare

Photo Credit-

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paintings after Visual Analysis

Changes in Paintings after critical examination-

I asked one of my artist friends to review my paintings and made few changes in the paintings. I am posting the same paintings and you can see the changes. I integrated three elements and colors in the first painting. In the second painting, I repeated the architectural wall two times making the urban element dominant. I think the colors are flowing well across the canvas. What do you think?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paintings inspired by urbanization

Attempt to express urbanization through paintings

I made an attempt to express urbanization through paintings. Also, I included flying Saree. The colors are shifted in the photos. They still need to evolve, somehow look incomplete. I have to paint few more to get satisfactory results.
Two Paintings below-

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Subterranean River by Stephen Blumberg

Is it co-incidence or what ?  Some unified similar incidences are occurring around me. My son is playing a piece named "Subterranean River" in California Youth Symphony Orchestra today at Flint Center in Cupertino.  I attended a lecture on Sounds of river last week and I am going to listen to this piece by Stephen Blumberg on Sounds of River.

As he describes it in his words- "Early in the process of composing this music I heard in it evocations of moving water, sometimes tranquil, sometimes rushing, even torrential. There was also a sense of underground spaces – dank, dark, cavernous, resonant, and echoing. In one passage the music slows to almost complete stillness and it suggested to my imagination a timeless, voluminous space, cathedral-like, with crystals and hanging stalactites above nearly motionless, pooling water. The various sections of the piece have tempo and character indications – tranquil, calm; murky, menacing; turbulent, rushing – that suggest different types of motion associated with the changing speed and flow of an underground river. I determined the title, Subterranean River, and as the piece progressed the music flowed through a changing succession of scenes and spaces, experienced through an imagined voyage."

I am looking forward to this symphony today. For more, go here

Subterranean River for orchestra was commissioned by the California Youth Symphony and is dedicated to Music Director and Conductor Maestro Leo Eylar.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"A Sound Map of Rivers" and The "Bubble"

Creative Visions
Not having many active projects to work on, I have been fabricating my own projects and in the process, creative juices are flowing in my brain. May be due to this creative thinking, I keep stumbling upon creative people and artists who want to change the world with their vision. I have to share these two individuals vision.

Annea Lockwood, a composer, gave a lecture last night and shared her work with the audience. Born in New Zealand, studied in London and Holland, now living in America, Annea is fascinated by river sounds and creates a Sound Map of rivers. She has recorded the sounds of the Hudson, the Danube, and the Housatonic at various sites and interviewed people describing their association with rivers. She interweaves the river sounds with the words of people and makes installations. I heard few samples of sounds of water flowing river with changing energies. Very fascinating idea of "seeing into things" in imaginative way. For more, check out here.

Another visionary person is Richard Koshalek, director of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. He believes that museums today have to curate the public spaces and educational programs along with exhibitions.  His words: "If we can develop an educational program that's national and global in outlook, we can have an impact on cultural policy in the U.S.".  With this vision in mind, he is working with New York based Design firm, diller scofidio + renfro to design and construct a 145 tall inflatable cylindrical bubble in the existing building of Hirshhorn Museum.
Photo Credit- Smithsonian............................Photo Credit Hubpages
The "Bubble” is a pneumatic structure enclosed only by a thin translucent membrane that fits into the central open area of the building and oozes out the top and beneath its mass. The translucent interior courtyard will host global eductional events twice a year. Look at the renderings of the proposed space below.
Photo Credit - diller scofidio + renfro
Photo Credit - diller scofidio + renfro
I really admire the vision of both these individuals. The final piece or product or structure is the result of  a series of processes and collaborations. Annea's ambition of just recording various river sounds and Ricard Koshalek's vision incorporating ongoing global education exchange in the existing building are definitely noteworthy in my mind.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fabric Art and Architecture

I like all types of temporary structures. The definition vary from one city to another city but they are generally built without foundation. In most cases, these non-traditional structures are constructed in a short time with a limited budget and secondly they perform beyond shelter. They tell stories of people. They create spaces which encourage participation of people. They are the least obtrusive to nature. They are versatile. And a majority of them have fabric as one of the main materials. Now you know, why I have an affinity with these fabric structures.

There are countless examples of fabric structures around us. Just few to mention-circus tents, kiosks, umbrellas, huge inflatable structures, green houses and so on... They also encompass awnings, canopies, geodesic domes, grid shell structures, tensile structures and inflatable structures. While they vary in scale, function and the designs, they all use fabric as a main material. Fabric are typically coated and laminated with synthetic materials for strength and environmental resistance such as wind, rain and sun. I have chosen a few examples varying in scale from a small sculpture in the room to an airport roof, all made up of fabric and beautiful representative of fabric structures.  The artists, architects and the contractors have pushed the boundary through the design and execution.

Fabric Sculptures
1. Small scale
Starting with sculpture- Jens. J. Meyer, an artist from Germany uses fabric and carbon rods or bamboos for support. This sculpture is fold able, transportable, and independent of a specific site.
Kubus - sculpture and photo credit- Jens J. Myer

Size-2.35m x 2.35m x 2.35 m.
I love "Kubus", a tension textile sculpture, made in
1998 by Jens J. Meyer.

For more of his work-

2. Large scale Fabric Sculpture in Paris
Another large scale sculpture is  by Anish Kapoor. "Leviathan", a large and incredible sculpture, tightly stretched PVC red color fabric over a metal frame is my favorite.
Photo Credit-

Photo Credit -
 38 meters tall x 100 m long X 70 meters deep
The 38-meter high  red tinted structure aims to engulf and overwhelm the participants and viewers. By installing in Grand Palais, the artist is creating space withing a space. It is like a formless monster does not fit and pushes us to think or inquire. His words, “People will be invited to enter the artwork, to immerse themselves in its color and it will be I hope a contemplative, poetic experience.”

This sculpture needs to be experienced with the use of video due to the scale variations and distinct inside and outside space.

Fabric Structures, Small scale-
1.The Sail, Jakarta, Indonesia, built in 2005
Fabric- Polyester coated with PVC, height- 17 meter ( ft) , Advance Membrane System Pte Ltd
Photo Credit -Advance Membrane System Pte.

The project was completed in 9 to 10 months and the fabric structure is integral to the design of the building. The building was designed to have a strong iconic image of the real estate company, "The Sail" and another criteria for design was to withstand high wind from the sea. 
The building along with the fabric sails on the roof satisfy both the criteria. It does have a nice scale of fabric and the building. I am not sure that they use terrace of the building.

Fabric Structures - Large scale, Permanent 
1. Denver Airport, USA  completed in 1995
Architect Curtis Fentress broke the traditional icon of airport and designed internationally acclaimed Denver International Airport. The fabric roof and its form was inspired by Colorado's rocky snow covered mountains. The series of roof covers 1200ft x240ft space.

View from Inside- photo credit-
View from Inside- photo credit-

This graceful, lightweight structure incorporates innovative steel cable systems and two layers of PTFE Teflon coated fabric membranes to ensure sound control and sufficient insulation against Denver’s demanding climate conditions.

Fabric Pavilion - Site specific and Portable
1. Burnham Pavilion, Chicago, USA built in 2009
    A temporary pavilion was designed and erected in Chicago’s Millennium Park as part of the Burnham Plan celebrations by an Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid. She is internationally well known for her architectural work and ranked 69th on the Forbes list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women"  in 2008. 

    Photo Credit -
    The foot print of this pavilion is 300 sq. meters. More than 7,000 pieces of aluminum- no two alike- were individually bent and welded together, creating the pavilion's curvilinear form. Thousands of yards of fabric were custom tailored and tightly fit onto the interior and exterior aluminum-tube structure.
    Photo Credit-

    This fluid structure plays with shadow, light and space, perfect space for exhibiting Chicago's history. I really dig the simplicity of final form, knowing how complex the structural framework is. The drawing above shows that.
    Her un-conventional architectural forms are intricate with complex geometry, they require innovative process of construction.

    I do want to include two links to videos -
    1. Anish Kapoor is describing his sculpture and by watching this,  you will get the scale of this sculpture ( Beautiful lights and structure of the old building) 

    2- Burnham Pavilion by Zaha Hadid Architects Time Lapse Video by Tom Rossiter- (nice music)

    In the next post,  I will cover few small scale fabric structures, mass produced, commercialized and available easily for various short term events.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Fabric of Our Lives

    Design of buildings and cities requires the basic understanding of human behavior however the knowledge of building materials is crucial. I always look for opportunity to explore various materials. In the past, I have experimented with concrete, metals, tiles, stones and plastic. But recently I got a chance to work with fabric or I deliberately chose to experiment with the fabric as I always love the feel and look of textiles from all over the world. In the past, I had made few paintings of flying Saree. Below is one digital painting, printed on canvass of flying Saree in the mountains.
    Flying Saree
    I am starting to understand the manufacturing process of fabric along with its property. On the other side, I am scratching the surface and getting lost in a whole world of flowing fabric. So for some time, I am going to be fabric and interlace the fields of fabric. Today, I want to talk about the use of Fabric and Textile in our life.

    Fabric is a flexible and pliable material. It is soft unlike concrete, wood or stones. The term, textile and fabric is used interchangeably. The fabric is defined as  "artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers". Everyone knows of its use in clothing to cover the human body. But fabric has penetrated in every industry and has become part of our life. Today we can not live without it. I have just illustrated below the types and uses of textile. In the next post, I want to bring to your attention few examples of textile in Art and Architecture.

    In the meantime, attached is a link associated with the term- "fabric of our lives" Cotton industry promoting cotton through this video- very sensuous !

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Reflection of the culture- Art and WIne Festival

    Mountain View Art and Wine Festival

    Couple of weeks ago, I hung out with my friend in downtown Mountain View, California, for 40th Annual Mountain View Art & Wine Festival.  Yes, as the name indicates, it exhibits and sells art and craft works of over 600 artists and also it introduces, promotes and sells wines. I spent a whole day strolling around with a glass of wine in hand, enjoying beautiful art, craft and so many other things. But what I realized that this event was much more than art and wine.

    I was attending this event after three years so I noticed changes in the types of art and craft objects. Generally, art and craft evokes emotions by its beauty or symbols, and it does reflect culture or perception of the artists. This is not for all artworks but many of the artworks/craftworks depict tradition, culture, religion or/and faith of the society. I saw the works of the artists crossing traditional boundaries of classical art. Many of them used  innovative materials such as Aluminum and plastic instead of canvass, techniques and ideas.
    Few of them are cited below-
    Of course the booth selling Tie-dye apparels appeared like new improved comeback as non-toxic dyes and carefully designed patterns. They were ready to be purchased by the environmentally conscious baby boomers creating notalgic feelings of rock/roll music.

    Look at the Magnetic healing Bracelets booth, even sun lights creating these mystical properties of products. Many residents of this city and surrounding area are health conscious and believe in  eastern practice of Yoga(Check out an another event of  peace-EarthDance in the area), Meditation, Acupuncture and so on. They are perfect consumers for these products.

    Another craft object, "Celtic Medallion", a perfect example of reflection of Irish cultures. As shown in the photo you follow the lines of Celtic symbols printed on wooden circle with a wooden stick. They are supposed to take you in a peaceful state of mind. Everybody was stopping to try it out and I wondered about it.

    The music bands had various ethnic flavor. As shown in the photo, a young boy (Look carefully, he is so short that you may not see him) on a drums playing in a live band definitely depicted the enterprising spirit of Silicone valley. Many food artisans were focusing on organic and green products. The wine tastings included wines from Napa, Sonoma, Chillin regions and Italian regions. 

    The community-oriented event like this encourages people to interact with each other and bridges boundaries between the artisans and the users. And of course wine, good food, music and connecting with friends are additional fun.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Back to School Night

    Back-To-School Night

    This post is little unusual but, I decided to share.
     Visiting to children's school event  “Back to School” night took me back to my high school years in Ahmedabad, India. All parents will agree with me on this being very important and crucial event in terms of participating in the kids’ academic life. At least for me, it always is. When they are talking about their teachers, I could put face and personality behind the names.

    “Back-to-School Night” happens in the second week of the school year and Parents are invited to experience their child’s academic life in two hours. Now you know why I did not want to miss it. The whole idea behind this is to meet the teachers and learn their teaching methods and the materials. Normally, parents follow their child’s day class schedule and spend 15 minutes in one class and go to the next class in 3 minutes and spend 15 minutes there. Having both children (Praniti and Curran) in 11th grade and taking different classes, I had two schedules of 7 periods. So I chose 7 subjects from both the schedules and made my own schedule and I was prepared with school campus map, my routes drawn over (check it out), a torch and a comfortable pair of shoes.

    The Gunn high school is clustered in separate one story wings/buildings encompassing small classrooms. These classrooms are flanked with corridors on both sides. Of course, there are trees and shrubs along the buildings. The teachers have their classrooms and the students go from one class to another class unlike in the school, I studied the students stay in one room for all the classes , the teachers come to your class.All parents started this tour at 7.00PM from the Spannenbeg Stadium and we completed at 9.00PM. I move to the next class when the bell rings and I followed the routes and two times, I had to almost run. The decision of wearing comfortable shoes proved right and I could reach to the class in 3 minutes. Of course, I had to be disciplined and not look up to say hi or smile to other parents. I was pleased with almost all the teachers and amazed with few due to their teaching styles and credentials. What impressed me was different approaches of communications our children experience.  Along with traditional materials, the classrooms had digital smart boards, livescribes and the teachers used latest presentation techniques. One younger teacher used "Hands On" method to communicate with the parents. He made us do experiment of lighting a bulb in four ways with one battery. At the same time, he projected his bio-data and the study materials on two walls, very  glamorous and entertaining. Few teachers have their websites to deliver current study materials along with the school portal. I could not believe that my son will have access to lab equipment to do his own gene research in the Advanced Biology class. At 15, I did not have all these things and facilities.  I also loved the reading and study materials of  English and Mythology (Odysse by Homer, Hamlet, and many "classics").  The Law class is University of California recognized  and focuses on Criminal Justice system. These teachers were diverse and impressive, they loved their subjects and had ambitious teaching goals. My children are fortunate to have these resources.

    I copied few quotes hung over the walls of  couple of classes, I have to share few here-
    "Never buy a Beige Car"-  (The teacher had regret of buying a gray car.)
    "Beware of a person who has nothing to loose".
    "Forget Committees : Great Ideas usually come from one person, working alone". (inspiring)
    And I really love this one- Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Gertrude Stein - Creative Collaboration

    Gertrude Stein - Creative Collaborations

    Visiting The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco was on my list for a long time (WHY? Check the next post), so when my long time mentor and Jewish, jewelry teacher invited me to see the new exhibits in that museum, I grabbed the invite and marked the day in my Google calendar. I even offered to drive her and her another musician friend to the city. I was very excited to visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum and Museum Of Modern Art, San Francisco. Again, MOMA, I religiously visit and when I don't, I feel guilty.

    Creative Collaboration - I saw the exhibits at both the museums. I realized that the careful timing of curating exhibits on somewhat similar and related subjects in both the museums made the message and impact stronger. The Contemporary Jewish Museum collaborated with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and curated the exhibit on  "Seeing Gertrude Stein: five stories"at the same time as MOMA's  show on "The Steins Collect". The location of both the museums close enough to walking distance made it possible for visitors to see both exhibits and get the most out of it. The exhibit in MOMA is much larger as the building is larger than Jewish museum and so the exhibit also covers Villa Stein designed by Le Corbusier at Garches, France.
    The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA
    Museum Of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
    Mother of Modernism-
    Gertrude was known as a mother of modernism. She played a big role in life of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway and so many other well known artists.
    The exhibit and the docent tour by my friend at The Contemporary Jewish Museum allowed me to peep in the life of Gertrude. Amongst all the stories, "Art of Friendship" story caught my attention. Gertrude Stein and her brother had keen eye for art and collecting, but she did not stop there, she would attract budding artists and writers, she would continue dialogues with them. She created a community with them. She was born in USA but she made her home and family in France. From 1904 to 1913, her home at 27 Rue de Fleurus in France turned into  Salon. The exhibits in both museums show the walls of her home (see the photo below), which were vertically lined up with  paintings done by artists Renoir, C├ęzanne, Matisse, and Picasso. Many artists brought their friends to her place to see the paintings however Picasso and Matisse were part of her close social circle and went to her salon every early Saturday evenings.

    This salon/her home was displayed in the exhibits became the place for enhancing friendships with all the artists. The wall paper on the wall, personalized objects, photographs and other furniture made the physical space intimate. The Jewish Museum has used  the wall paper(White Dove motif on light blue background paper), mimicking Gertrude's living room on one of the wall for people to experience.
    Gertrude in her Home in France
    The exhibits at both the places showed black and white photos of the walls of Gertrude's home where we can see the paintings. Then you walk around in the same room and see the beautiful, mouth dropping original master works. I almost could imagine Gertrude's space with those paintings. This definitely gave me the glimpses of their lives and I understand the power of paintings now financially, culturally and emotionally.

    Villa Stein- Stein and Le Corbusier
    While strolling at MOMA, I really was surprised to see Le Corbusier's work connected with the Stein Collect. Les Terrases (Villa Stein) at Garches is the largest and most luxurious house that Le Corbusier designed in the 1920s and the house was designed and built for Sarah, wife of Michael Stein, who was a brother of Gertrude and their longtime friend Gabrielle Colaco-Osorio de Monzie.  Michael Stein and Sarah hired Le Corbusier to design their modern Villa and it seems like, Corbu's career started to bloom after this Villa. I had no idea about the Stein family's involvement with modern movement in architecture. It also shows creative collaboration in that time.

    Words + Voices- Gertrude Stein  wrote many books but that I can not comment as I have not read any of her writings. But it is amazing to find out that she appreciated and attracted even many of the great writers of the time, including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Thornton Wilder and Sherwood Anderson. In the same context, the literary collaboration is happening just across both the museums in Yerba Buena Garden. An independent literary festival Words+ Voices, with outdoor series Litquake, is just scheduled in July. Many award winning poets are going to recite and discuss the poetry for public and thus paying tribute to Gertrude Stein.

    I want to end this by Gertrude's two quotes, which I like-
    "An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work."
    "A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears."

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Crocker Galleria and New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion

    Couple of weeks ago, I parked my car in one of the garages in financial district of San Francisco and rushed into an elevator to go to my meeting. I got out at second level of Crocker Galleria and to my surprise, was beamed with beautiful filtered sun lights and buzzed with chatter of people. I experienced a bust of energy in the place.
    The Crocker Galleria 
    The Crocker Galleria, located at 50 Post Street is a 3 story building, with sky lighted atrium stretching from Post Street to Sutter Street and lined up with stores and restaurants on all levels. I looked down from second level and saw people gathered around tables filled with colorful vegetables and fruits. It was weekly farmers market. The central open lobby of atrium corridor is wide enough for Farmers to organize their vegetables, fruits and other supply to display and sell. It looked like a perfect place to transform the atrium into this economic and cultural activity. The local residents, passers by, and people not living there but working in the surrounding buildings were stopping to taste the sample and shopping fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Social, Health, Green, Economic influences- The farmers market where the certified farmers sell nutritious, Californian grown, ripened on trees or vines fruits or vegetables directly to consumers without using extra packaging. It seems like the building owners and organizers are doing great job of promoting and managing this Farmers Market.

    Cultural –Apart from stores, restaurants and art gallery, the building has been a home for the innovative public art installation named “Dialogue” by Mike Garibaldi Frick. The photo shows partial poster but Check out –
    I just love the place where all kinds of activities happen and the place or space can adapt to the needs of people.

    On the side note, it reminded me the vegetable market I used to visit on every Sunday with my dad or mom to purchase the fresh and wholesale prized vegetables in the old city of Ahmedabad. I remember eating Pani Puri (Street food) after shopping with my father as we had that silent pact about not telling to my mom and ruining the delicious brunch she prepared for us. I do not have the photo but attached photos show the character of the place.

    Photo Credit- Reuters

    Probably, the Crocker building was not designed for the Farmers Market or not designed to fit other spontaneous activities. As opposed to, the New Amsterdam Pavilion just opened in Battery Park, New York; designed and programmed to create this experience along with others is worth inquiring. 

    New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion

    Photo Credit-

    Location and Architecture -  New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion, located in Peter Minuit Plaza, 5000 sq. ft is designed by internationally celebrated Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio from Amsterdam and is the result of the collaboration between America, especially New York Mayor and Dutch countries. The structure is clean, sleek white with undulating rooflines and curving walls, symbolizing like a flower opening to its surrounding. The glass in the night glows with LED lights and make the structure visible from all over the surrounding area. It houses spontaneous and scheduled activities like regional organic food stalls by Merchants Market, Downtown New York’s Visitor Information Booth, seating places outside etc.

    Perfect Location- The sculptural pavilion looks over the Hudson river and has advantages of all people using bicycles, buses, subways and water ferries, who would pass by this lyrical flower like structure and it is hoped to become architectural, historical and cultural landmark. (Check the website)
    I have not visited this place after it is constructed and opened for public but sure that it is architecturally and technically noteworthy structure. More so, I hope it fulfills economical and cultural criteria, and leaves visitors with memorable experience.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Ceilings as an architectural Element - Las Vegas

    Las Vegas

    Las Vegas is the paradise for gamblers and entertainers, but the city has attracted all types of visitors from all over the world. Developers are spending a large sum of money over the buildings to fulfill fantasy of the tourists. Architects, designers and artists are commissioned to make each casino, hotel and public building unique. The casino buildings are designed with themes of palaces (Ceasars Palace), cities (New York, Venice, Paris etc), countries and so on. Tourists walk around the roads and sidewalks going from one building to another all day and night long. The experience of this walking from one casino to another is crowded, glittery, and noisy; kind of expected but inside the building the experience is impressive, unique, surprising and exciting. 


    The casino, Venice has the canal lined up with the shops and urban plaza with all restaurants and commerce activities. Everybody seems immersed in the activities and forgetting that it is not outside in the real city but inside the building. The ambiance is created by ceilings, making it appear like real sky.   
    The photos of SKY above look like the scene of outdoors with the evening sky in Venice and night sky in Paris. They are the interior of the buildings with clouds painted over a fabric stretched over the ceiling. You walk from evening to night and back to evening time, whatever fulfills your fancy. Of course the lights play major part in it, but that is another post or may be a whole book. 

    The casino Ceasars palace has grand architectural domes, columns and sculptures. These buildings show affluence with the use of rich materials and ornamentation. Here the ceilings in the photos are decorated with artworks and lit with LED lights to create the drama and grandeur. The idea of painting on the ceilings are ancient and sometimes they are narrative or symbolic or just pure decorative in nature.

    I have to mention the most renowned artwork on the ceilings of Sistine chapel.  “The Creation of Adam”, a famous painting done by Michelangelo in 15th century was commissioned by Pop Julius II. See the Sistine Chapel and the partial painting in the photo Above.

    Modern 3D ceiling overlay


    The noticeable and remarkable ceilings for me were at two places. See the photo above. First was in Japanese Restaurant – where white painted thin metal, CNC cut out and layered over the ceiling creating beautiful shadow and appetizing ambiance.
    The second one in the lobby of Bellagio- translucent blown Glass Flowers have been hung from the ceiling. I recognize that art Installation as I have seen Artist Dale Chihuly’s work at different exhibits. It fits perfect at the lobby of the Bellagio. Visit the site to his work and check the video of his process of creation, beautiful.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Uttarayana and Kite Flying

    Roofs as Extended Space-In the last post, I talked about restoration of  an old house and terrace and converting into an authentic Gujarati restaurant “Agashiye”. This is another post describing the use of the roof tops of the houses in Ahmedabad, India.

    Flat Roofs with the parapet are architectural elements of the houses in Gujarat. This extended spaces above the houses are used for many activities including this special kite flying activity.
    This occurs two days 14th and 15th January of each year and it is called Uttarayana and Vasi Uttarayana.
    The name Uttarayana comes from joining two different Sanskrit words "Uttara" (North) and "ayana" (movement towards). Uttarayana (Makar Sankranti) is the day when the sun starts to travel towards north as a sign of coming summer. It is the day when people of each age group gather over the roofs of their houses and apartments and fly colorful kites.
    This day is very special to me as I have many good memories of connecting through threads with special friends on the rooftops and having kite flying and kite cutting wars.
    Commerce for Kites and threads

    Many workers are involved in the production of handmade kites and coloring of the threads.  The threads are prepared by adding color and, glass alloy to thread reel, which are named Firaki. The kites are made from thin colorful papers and reeds. They are sold in Kite market. All parents go with their children to shop for kites and threads few days earlier so they can have time to tie threads to Kites and make them ready to fly. Look at the crowd in the photos above at 10 PM in the night before Uttarayana. Even the recent conference in Gujarat promoted this kite flying festival on Sabarmati Riverfront. 
    Gujarati Women-

    This day is celebrated by all the people of Gujarat, and I wanted to point out the involvement of gujarati women for this activity. I was on the terrace and captured photos of young girls and women completely engrossed in kite flying activities. The photos below show women holding two firakies, flying kites, making jokes etc. Also, the streets and terraces are marked by threads and kites. 

    Spaces are designed for people- The cultural behavior affects the design of the houses. The houses do not have slopping roofs, they have terraces or Agashiye. People spread mattresses to sleep in the hot summer nights. Also, I remember using solar cooker to use sun on the terrace. Also, home made mango and lemon pickles are safely baked in the sun on the terraces and roof tops. Specifically for kite flying activities, taller houses are better to fly kites. People put music, fly colorful kites the whole day with their family and friends, eat special sweets made with Sesame seeds and Jaggery and have friendly kite cutting wars. I felt like flying in the sky with all these kites as I spent 14th and 15th January in my hometown flying kites and reconnecting with my childhood friends.