“This building has been a companion in my journey; the soaring free-standing stone walls appeared to me as the social barrier and isolation resulting from my long history of drug abuse while the frame of sky they enclosed was my hope for a brighter future.
This building has helped me heal “, My interaction with Shrikant, a former patient of Muktanjan Mitra Drug Deaddiction center, Maharashtra made me contemplate the potential of architecture and buildings in drawing constructive impact on the actors and its innate role in shaping their perceptions. Architecture is essentially social and serves as an interface for direct translation of community beliefs, their aspirations and societal needs in a materialistic form. As a form of social art, its driven by individual and social perceptions of looking at the built entity and it’s utilization. As curators of the built environment, its essential to realize the social standing of built spaces we design, that they don’t stand in isolation to the surroundings, instead form strong tangible and intangible relationships with its environment and users, acting as trans formative engines to change, which otherwise gets undermined while addressing the aesthetic and functional requirements of the building.
Architect Mr. Sirish Beri envisaged the center to catalyze the process of healing of the addicts. Beri focused on establishing highest forms of transparency to break the patient’s perception, that impression of a mental prison and created interactive spaces for reformation and correction. The extensive extraction of natural daylight heightened the spiritual healing of the residents and helped in reinforcing their sense of dignity. Architecture is a process to heal, not only for those who are physically unfit but also to heal the society as a hole of its limitations, negatives, and incapacity. As a part of my research internship under Dr.
Sameer Deshkar, I associated with Sampoorna Bamboo Kendra, training institute run by an NGO working to uplift the bamboo artisans’ community in an extremely remote buffer area of Melghat tiger reserve sanctuary, Maharashtra since five years. The center is entirely crafted out by the local tribesman to celebrate and showcase their traditional art, to serve as an interface between them and the outside world. It has become pivotal in driving village economy today, with training programs, handicrafts sale helping them in their social empowerment. When Shrikant told me that day, this building had transformed his life, what I didn’t realize that he referred to a much deeper relationship between architecture and ourselves; buildings are not simply expressive sculptures, they make visible our personal and collective aspirations, as a society. Sensible architecture can give us hope, sensible architecture can HEAL. I deny with Goethe referring to architecture as frozen music, Architecture is flowing music, it’s an art of crafting spaces which throb with life, the art of breathing life into enclosures and it’s inhabitants, the art of utilizing opportunities to investing in the DIGNITY of societies we serve.