HETAL SHAH [Teacher]

“When a building is being built there is an impatience to bring it into being. Not a blade of the grass can grow near this activity. Look at the building after it is built. each part that was built with so much anxiety, joy and willingness to proceed, tries to say when you are using the building, ”let me tell you about how I was made” nobody is listening because the building is now satisfying need. The desire in its making is not evident. as, time passes when it is ruin, the spirit of its making comes back, it welcomes the foliage that intervenes and conceals. Everyone who passes can hear the story it wants to tell about its making. It is no longer in servitude; the spirit is back.” – Louis kahn

Images Courtesy: See Below

I have witnessed the pre-birth stage of the building, taking shape in the earth’s womb. digging the earth for foundation, JCB machine moving inside the depth of the earth, carving moment by moment the void for giving immense strength to the structure; tying of the string and drawing of the guideline for foundation in the void seems to me a womb is thickening its lining to embed embryo. Those commotional preparations, assembling of huge machines and stacking of material are as if mother earth is strengthening her to hold baby inside. Slowly but steadily erecting foundation column look like anatomical blueprint. If a human skin and buildings design are stripped down, there would be the same overlapping layer of muscles and materials almost at the same place. Those rose up foundation columns’, taking firm grip in the soil seems like supporting spinal cords. then pits are filled up by mechanical arms, scattering soil over foundation columns are slowly-slowly depth vanishes, only steel bars are left on the re-leveled ground which looks like ”umbilical cord” connecting to the mother’s womb, ensuring fetus for support.

day by day going on construction, scaffolding with a central spines of columns, skeleton of beams, layer upon layer of material, like muscles hiding bony structure in human body, which forming solid flesh beneath the skin. Various structural joints allow this remarkable construction to move with great versatility. The building blocks and brickwork between columns and beams are likes a cartilage giving shape and support. The running grooves on the walls for concealed electrification are the nervous system and, wide and narrow plumbing pipelines are like digestive system of the building.

The complete silence hidden in the darkness that spreads through the height of the stair shaft connects the navel of the building to the depth of the foundation. That height can measure the scale of the depth within no time. It strengthens the experience of vertical dimension of the building, at the same time make us aware about immense depth of the earth. It levitates our dream and provides them flight.

The weary laborer who works in the bare footed in the scorching heat of the sun, their skilled\scaled hands rhythmically taking stones from the mutually piled rows and carrying loads on their heads seems a mother struggling hard to bring up her beloved child. At the end of hectic day when laborers sprinkle water to construction, thirsty walls are swigging, the patterns formed by it are like a joyful games of reflection on the surface. What a divine feeling to observe void taking shape! Architecture presents the drama of construction silenced into the matter, shape and light. When the clutter of construction work ceases and shouting of workers dies away, a building becomes a museum of waiting patience and silence!!

The absent minded gage doors and windows penetrates the surface of the physical image like wall and focus in infinity. Building starts breathing through the opening. What interests mean about its transparency is the idea of evaporation. Transparency is also TRANS-APPEARANCE. The building is now sensing the world. It makes the world aware about its being. The geometry of thoughts echoes the geometry of the room. Architecture is deeply engaged in the metaphysical question of the self and the world, inwardness and outwardness, time and duration, life and death. Why do abandoned houses always have the same hollow smell??? Is it because the particular smell is stimulated by emptiness observed by the eyes???

The body’s first line of defense against the possible damage is the skin, which provides a protective barrier between our environment and us. Now it is a time to surface out the building. The tactile sense connects us with the time and tradition; through impression of touch, we shake the hands of countless generation. A stone polished by its usage is pleasurable to touch, it expresses the slow process of the formation, it is time turned into shape. We trace the density and texture of the ground through our soles. One senses the slow breathing of the floor. Stokes writes, ” I should like to eat up this verona marble touch by touch”.

In our houses, we have nooks and corners in which we like to curl up comfortably. To curl up belongs to the phenomenology of the verb to inhabit and only those who have learnt to do so can inhabit with intensity and always in a daydream, the house is the mother womb or a large cradle. I remember even today nostalgic moments of my sweet childhood, when I licked the age of parapet on the terrace and felt a human touch by running finger on door handle of my room. I never have such sound sleep, which I got in childhood while listening music of torrential rain on the roof. I used to be lost in that music for limitless hours.

We have yet not designed the building to end all building; we haven’t yet created the city to end all cities or a thought to end all thoughts. So, as long as this utopia remains non-materialized there is hoping to go on. Architecture is always hiding behind drawstrings, behind words, behind percepts, behind habits, behind technical constraints. There is no way to perform Architecture in a book. Words and drawings can only produce paper space and not the experience of real space, where meaning is derived from the order of experience rather than the order of composition. Architecture cannot be taught, are learnt, it is a passion to be persuaded and achieve. It is the creativity which has brought man closer to the God, the ultimate creator (which is just an Imagination – Hoax)…!!


1. The eyes of the skin _ Book by Juhani Pallasmaa

2. The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom_Book by Juhani Pallasmaa

3. Complexity and contradiction in architecture_ book by Robert Venturi

4. Thinking architecture_ book by Peter Zumthor

5. Space as a Membrane _ Book by Siegfried ebeling

6. Atmospheres _ Book by Peter Zumthor

1. Ar. Umang Goswami, UA Design, Ahmedabad

2. Ar. Umang Goswami, UA Design, Ahmedabad

3. Dipen Gada, Dipen Gada & Associates, Baroda

4. Dipen Gada, Dipen Gada & Associates, Baroda

5. Pintrest


Hetal Shah

I read one statement in books when I was a student that "architecture is the ultimate form of art". I was curious to know it deeply and with my own experiences I must say that now I can understand it truly. I myself, Hetal Shah am a master of interior design with 22 years field experience, with projects not just across India but also in America. A person with a passion towards teaching, I have also been highly involved in academics for the past 17 plus years exploring the limits of my ability as well as of the students I am involved with. I am also a self-made artist who has showcased work in multiple exhibitions and expressed my art on a daily bases on social platforms. I have participated in group shows, nationally and internationally based exhibitions and competitions. Exploring my ideas in art throughout the years in various mediums with recently having interest in working with Indian postcards as my canvas.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Yoginder Kumar Sharma says:

    Interesting write up !!

  2. Avatar Hetal Shah says:

    Thank you

  3. Avatar Hema patel says:

    Very nice

  4. Avatar Percy Pithawala says:

    Very beautiful analogy of the construction process with the human body. One of the few very lucidly written article I have come across lately. My heartiest congratulations !!