I have a dream, maybe it’s utopian, but I hope someday we will together do what is best for our ecosystem, our society and our collective intellect to flourish. I believe many of you share my dream. And a small step in the direction of realising this dream began with Ethos 17 years ago.
I believe young minds need inspiration and motivation to seek the best in themselves, to then be able to contribute to social change. Thanks to these 17 years of working closely with the profession, academia and the industry, I am very hopeful. Yes, values have changed from when we were students in college to now as students of life. Yet, I see the spark in so many of my young friends.
The road ahead after the architecture program need not only be limited to designing buildings – one may find more solace in communicating about architecture; in detailing and site work; in documenting and photographing buildings; one may even become an expert on building materials; services – there are so many alternate roles that could be focussed on and every role is as important. More importantly, this attitude also makes space for many more. I am not an architect who designs buildings any more but I believe I play a crucial role in influencing those who design and build. This is the path I have chosen for myself and I am proud for doing so.
On this bright morning of Indian Independence, I thought I should connect with you, Millennials as you call yourselves. You are different from us at your age. You are the new India and its future. But first let me speak of my generation. My generation was born and raised in a socialist India. The socio-economic settings of our times then were governed by socialist values of visible equity, limited options and uniformity. The new generation is born in a liberalized, globalized, privatized India. Your socio-economic milieu showcases variety and the capitalist notion demonstrates that everything can be yours to consume.
Hence, now more than ever it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we learn to seek balance. The balance that makes us design right because we give a damn, as Cameron Sinclair says. Today you have young eco-warriors in quest of ‘meaning of life’ and following their heart; young architects are diving into social service and humanitarian architecture; many are exploring vernacular systems and innovating, and many know how to appropriate technology for the betterment of humankind and our environment. My heart brims with joy when I speak with youngsters who have made working for the common good, their life’s agenda.
Even so, the state of Design and Architectural education has not reached its optimum best. I know from my personal conversations with some college heads, who are waiting with open arms for professionals to come and mentor their students, but their aspirations do not materialize as logistics plays the spoilsport. I also know of so many professionals who, even when caught between deadlines make it a point to visit colleges and nurture young minds. I have also witnessed the unrest in those who wish to help but cannot because their schedule doesn’t permit them the travel and at times the colleges are so far away that many just drop the idea.
Last year on this very day 15th of August 2018, we launched an e-learning platform for curious minds interested in Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Design – ACEDGE. The genesis of ACEDGE goes back a couple of years earlier and I am thankful for the deliberations and intense brainstorming with Naresh and Aparna Narasimham well before we started. Once Ethos decided to embark on launching ACEDGE, sessions with Giri Balasubramaniam, Saagar Tulshaan, Rajorshi Ray, and Vrinda Vijayarajan helped make the roadmap. We hope to complement college education by facilitating good mentorship and curating programs to meet pedagogical aspirations of colleges. I am thankful to all those who helped ACEDGE grow. Sanjay Prakash, Satya Prakash Varanashi, Mahesh Radhakrishnan instantly agreed to come on board and we began our first round of online Studios and Spotlight lecture series.
Ever since that first leap of faith, we have gone beyond our expectations, and reached goals that once seemed like a dream with 28 Lectures, 11 live studios, 8 Ask-Me-Anything sessions, numerous self-paced courses, 2 College Electives, 1 Assisted Studio. We have hosted our lectures to over 35 colleges of architecture in India, 3 in Nepal, 1 in Sri Lanka, 1 in Pakistan, and 1 in Dubai. Mentors have joined us from all parts of India as well as from Bristol, Queensland, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Cambridge and Toronto and we have had 4000+ unique learners exploring their strengths and weaknesses to bolster their understanding of design processes. Of course, we won’t say that we have perfected this e-medium. We are systematically noting our limitations and working towards better systems as we are growing.
But as we grow, the one thing that we are strong and clear about is the intent of beginning ACEDGE – why we’re doing this? We launched the Sense n Sensibility lecture series to discuss both- tangibles and intangibles. Sense n Sensibility is about integration and the big picture. We seek to dishevel the older notions of compartmentalisation of knowledge and introduce learners across the country to collaborative and interdisciplinary studies. Our young designers need to have a holistic understanding of concepts, systems and processes. They should be sensitive and empathetic towards the needs of all strata of society. They should learn to balance ecology and micro-environments on their sites. They should appreciate bottom-up planning proposals as well as participatory processes. They should also understand the political scenario, engage wherever possible and suggest ways to improve central and local systems. We need our young designers to connect with one another, share ideas, have healthy discussions and passionately speak for their cause. Architecture and design will, then balance nature and culture. Young minds will learn to reflect upon ecology, archaeology, anthropology, psychology, aesthetics and technology to develop holistic solutions.
We have a series on Practical Insights which focuses on systematic study of typologies. We have programs on Pre-Design those discussing intent and ensuring it is embedded in the final outcome. We have lessons on allied fields like sociology, environmental psychology, environmental economics, textiles, theatre amongst others. As we support the documentation of our heritage we also seek designs for digital domains. We aim at curating lessons not just for the wants of the fraternity (those which have popular demands) but give our equal attention to ideals which we believe learners should imbibe through our online courses.
I think towards the end I would like to thank everyone who joined us on our journey. This was only possible because you and many more had faith in our cause – Christopher Benninger, Ramprasad Akkisetti, Anuradha Chatterjee, Harimohan Pillai, Anuj Kale, Preeti Pansare, Divya Manek, Tamalee Basu, Rasya Kumar, Apurva Bose Dutta, Daraius Choksi, Srinivas Murthy, Richa Bose, Swapnil Valvatkar, Ayan Sen, Mayank Mishra, Kavita Murugkar, Preeti Kolambekar, Pratik Dhanmer, Shardul Patil, Naresh V Narasimhan, Rohan Chavan, Dr Vivek S Desai, Nandini Bazaz, Kaustav Ghosh, George Ferguson, Amit Pasricha, Vijay Garg, Rajesh Advani, Manoj Mathur, Vertica Dvivedi, Anubhuti Beohar, Anubha Fatehpuria, Pranav Kashyap, Darpana Athale, Binti Singh, Pleasa Serin Abraham, Rohit Pansare, Pratima Joshi, Devayani Deshmukh Upasani, Anurag Biswas, Shikha Jain, Ankon Mitra, Rahul Kumar, Wu Wai Chung, Jakub Novak, Sarvadeep Basur, Shilpa Sharma Chogle, Mallikarjun Naralashetty, Nagappan Annamalai, Aabid Raheem, Manguesh Prabhugaonker, Azmi Wadia, Bharath Gowda. You have and continue to show us the way.
I hope that many more find the time to mentor as many more colleges find value in this interface with professionals. We are indebted to Ritu Deshmukh, Yashwant Pitkar, Sheeba Chander, Dharitri Das, Tamilvanan, Rashmi Ashtt, Bhakti More, Deepika Shetty for believing us wholeheartedly in the last year.
We hope to make good mentors more easily accessible to colleges across the country in the future. We hope to ignite in you the curiosity to be a lifelong learner. The first five years will give you a foundation to understand and assimilate the world of design but the learning will continue. Let me share with you a humbling experience. A few years ago when the design problem for Transparence was ‘A Mother and Child Hospital’, I asked Ar.Sanjay Mohe to be the curator. His response was so revealing. He said, “We have done a few research institutions in healthcare but not a hospital ourselves and hence I would need to educate myself to be able to set a brief.” Someone who has close to 40 years of experience and one of the top architects of our country is still learning. So my young friends – you all have a long way to go.
Hope our small initiative brings in you the joy of learning.
From a Eureka moment to 365 days of effective change!
From hours to days to months and a year strikes its celebratory moment, with Acedge that began with an aim to evolve, to express and to create an EDucation designed to give an EDGE in the field of Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Design.
#ACEDGE marks its first year anniversary with new trends in education creating milestones for today and tomorrow.
This gives us the opportunity to thank all the mentors who believed in our cause and conducted courses with passion and the belief for a better future.All the learners and institutions who found the value on our ideas, hoping to make their small differences to the world.
So much hard work, and this output is only possible with all the people who sailed the boat with us- Everyone who has worked with Acedge till now, contributing in their most special ways.
All the volunteers who have dedicated their time and diligence in creating small to big genres of impact.
We have gone beyond our fencing, and reached goals that once seemed like a dream with 28 Lectures, 9 live studios, 8 Ask-Me-Anything sessions, 2 Self-paced courses, 2 College Electives, 1 Assisted Studio. We have hosted our lectures to over 35 colleges of architecture in India, 3 in Nepal, 1 in Sri Lanka, 1 in Pakistan, 1 in Dubai.
Mentors have joined us from all parts of India as well as from Bristol, Queensland, Montreal and we have had 4000+ unique learners exploring their strengths and weaknesses to understand design in a more profound way.
We believe that one of our most effective ways of thanking everyone involved, is to continue to grow this platform to greater heights, creating new benchmarks and profoundly impacting to create the basic human values that are needed to be a full-fledged human being, a decent, productive citizen of this country; a responsible and creative professional contributing positively to society.