ARCHITECTURE Theory • Practice • Research • Pedagogy Dr SS Bhatti
Architecture is not only a profession that is studied or sometimes even not studied, and practiced by many, but once chosen, it becomes a way of life. As Le Corbusier declared that “Architecture is not a profession; it’s a habit of the mind”.
The book ARCHITECTURE Theory.Practice.Research.Pedagogy by Dr SS Bhatti, published by White Falcon Publishing, is the best example of Living in Architecture or Living Architecture.
This book is a compilation of presentations made and talks delivered over several years to varied audiences involving professionals like architects, artists, litterateurs, planners, journalists, sociologists, geographers, and the public. This is an overview of the book highlighting the essence of the scholastic content as details are beyond the scope of this review.The first article is on History and the last on Architectural Education—with everything else falling between the two.
Architecture to many may be just designing buildings but it has many facets. It is not only the harmony of your own sense organs by which you conceive and imagine but also bring to reality the form and shape as Built (or, Human) Environment in rhythm and total balance with the Natural Environment. Dr Bhatti explains it as “Although all Architecture is essentially Building, all Buildings are not necessarily Architecture! In this precise, if esoteric, sense, ‘Building Design’ consists of Architecture, Engineering, and Aesthetics.”
It is widely believed that Art in any form that is practiced by anyone brings sensitivity to that person. It is a dormant variable in each soul that comes to life when polished, as is in the case of diamonds. And that Design cannot be taught but it has to come from within!
Dr Bhatti in this book has very aptly tried to ignite and infuse design parabolic simultaneously. He has limited the horizons under four headings.
Theory is thought
Practice is Action
Research is Investigation, and
Pedagogy is Communication
Under each heading, he has given exhaustive encyclopedic details on every topic chosen. In his words
“Seen and read in the spirit of a new approach the Contents of this book will not appear either unwieldy or esoteric. They are intended to pep up inquisitiveness so that the readers may be motivated to expand the horizons of their perceptions to understand and appreciate Architecture in its ever-expanding scope in the making of the Built-Environment that inspires Creativity in each individual human person—as a grateful reminder of God’s illimitable benefaction.”
The reading of the book is a journey that takes you through various nuances of the profession. It is a good guide to career choices within the fields of architecture and engineering, intertwined with personal opinions and views, such as, “Whatever one may do to other branches of Engineering but Civil Engineering must continue regardless of how many students opt for it. This is where the role of institutions comes into play: they must do earnest counselling in this regard so that students make intelligent, farsighted choices with respect to various branches of Engineering.”
Dr Bhatti’s unlimited knowledge on every minute aspect of Architecture and other art forms related to all sense organs is exemplary.He has changed the figure of speech from “Jack of all trades…” to Master of all trades…! For students, practitioners, and the faculty, this book is a ready reckoner with detailed write-ups and numerous images on:
- Architects and their works, from all eras
- Architecture Styles based on religions and time periods
- Theory of Design
An interesting addition and a new angle is described in the chapter GAP-SEAL, that talks about almost everything that belongs to the disciplines of Geography Architecture Planning – Science Engineering Art Literature. Dr Bhatti explains that the three basic disciplines of Geography, Architecture, and Planning (GAP) are treated and taught as mutually exclusive and autonomous areas of knowledge and practice, creating a GAP. The GAP could be sealed with the inclusion of Social Sciences, Engineering, Economics, Arts, and Literature (SEAL), among others, in higher education. He talks about the interdependence and symbiotic importance of each discipline/subject in Architectural Creativity, thereby pioneering an offbeat, integrated approach to Holistic Building Design.
Further on, Le Corbusier and Chandigarh have been evaluated under many chapters in the Section of Practice, from every imaginable angle, which during the flow of studying may seem repetitive, but each chapter has a new dimension. The complete study can become a great prototype for developing a new city, that Dr Bhatti, (in the chapter titled Futuropolis under Design Fiction) has proposed as Garden City, close to Chandigarh, for which Gujarat (India) Step-Well concept has been taken as a Guiding Principle for development of the Master Plan (City of the Future).
And last but not the least; one whole chapter is dedicated to Women Architects. Starting from the creation and spiritual importance of women, he has picked and chosen a few selected names both from national and international fame but limited to a certain age-group. He credits their design capabilities like no other author has done perhaps, while explaining the positive side, e.g.
Jane Drew’s historic contribution as Woman Architect in getting Le Corbusier to make Madhya Marg (Central Avenue) a curvilinear road can be better appreciated in this picture. The monotony of the straight-line street would’ve been deadly! This brings out the little-known contrast between Woman’s Instinct for the Right Choice and Man’s Obsession with Aesthetic Theory driven by ratiocinative cerebration.
Overall, in my assessment, this book is an excellent read and a must-keep in the library of architecture colleges, for students to quickly consult on all subjects from History of Architecture, Theory of Design to Architectural Design. Likewise, it will be a good reference for young graduates joining the field of teaching besides administrators of Architectural Education worldwide.
My Association with the Author
My personal association with Dr Bhatti started in 1977, the day I went for admission with only my 11th class marks-sheet in hand. He in his own inimitable style welcomed me to CCA (established in 1961) of which he is a founder-teacher. Unaware of the impact and association I was going to have, today, when I relook 43 years back, I realize that he is my mentor. Destiny kept our association alive through mutual contacts and at every milestone I had a personal note from him irrespective of where I was living, India or Nigeria. After reading the book, not surprisingly, I was reminded of how many subjects I have learnt from Dr Bhatti in college (CCA) English, History, Theory of Design, Architectural Design, Sketching, Graphics, and Building Construction. No doubt, all these subjects are compiled here and one can easily complete at least first four semesters of architecture without the need of any other reference book.
About the Author
Dr SS Bhatti, an alumnus of Sir JJ College of Architecture in Bombay (1955-60), took over the reins of Chandigarh College of Architecture in April 1982, and earned his first doctorate on “CHANDIGARH and the Context of Le Corbusier’s ‘Statute of Land’: A Study of Plan, Action, and Reality” in 1991. This work won him the 5th JIIA [Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects] National Award for Excellence in Architecture (research category) in1993. He has authored many books but a special mention to his PhDs on subjects other than architecture are “CREATIVE MYSTICISM: A Study of Guru Nanak Bani with Special Reference to Japuji” in 2000 and “SRI HARMANDARSAHIB: A Study of Architecture, Engineering, andAesthetics” in 2008. Besides his work and proficiency in architecture and its off-shoot subjects, his power of aligning and amalgamating spirituality into rendering his paintings or penning the verses is undefeatable. The ease of portraying his thoughts into words and sketches is an art that cannot be acquired but one that needs clarity of thoughts and meditative sculpting.
About the Book
- Hardcover:282 pages
- Publisher:White Falcon Publishing; First Edition (2017)
- Author:Dr SS Bhatti
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 27.9 cm
Indian Edition available on: