B.V. Doshi, Sketch/Study for Bharat Diamond Bourse, 1994
B.V. Doshi, Sketch/Study for Bharat Diamond Bourse, 1994

Pratik Desai—Wallace Stevens once remarked that free from itself does not assume freedom, as a form it is just one more form. In much the same way that disorder may not assume freedom, I will suggest that as much disorder that one can manage, we make them closer to freedom, certainly closer than some of the current architectural orders may bring us. Even if disorder is just another form of order I would suggest that it does allow us freedom we may anticipate when we submit to experiences whose outcome is not predetermined.

MK—Blot tests of life. It is not difficult to see the night-skies as an inkblot field. From ancient times people have put figures to groupings of stars binding them into constellations and giving them identity so that they may be more easily recognizable as amongst their neighbours. I believe that we daily for this ease of identification. We forget the privilege of drawing our own pictures and of course our own conclusions. Once we have been shown the twins of Gemini, even though we know that it happens on a corporate three-dimensional construction, we will always resort to the diagram identification. The easy image is hard to lose—it is an alternative to a field distinction. This may be an indiscriminate field where the component parts exist for their own sake without hierarchical relationships. No class distinction form between them. Colour separations made in printing may suggest the tension of such an idea. Think of a city depicted by energy and service rather than institutions or monuments, public telephones would be as prominent as banks. If colour separations are too mechanical, a detail of a Seurat painting may evoke the idea of disorder or randomness. I am trying to suggest, obviously, I recognize the underlying order, the rationale of Seurat’s method, but nonetheless to the uninitiated eye, patterns of disorder a useful one because it resembles an information field which we are free to [inaudible]  or scan, just as we scan the night-skies and interpret at our will, to own purposes, whatever it may be, whether the field, be it pointillism, Pollock’s paint plans, we can read them as we navigate among them. Indeed this is exactly what we do when we do when we chose a picnic place; we interpret an infinite number of informational points to our advantage and without recourse to other people’s distinctions. We are very good at this, whether it is to other people’s distinctions. We are very good at this, whether it is unconscious or instinctive or not, looking for a picnic place is our inkblot. In an inkblot, we exercise our strategies of place finding. (Um, It starts to get very vague from this point on, Should I carry on?)

I think pinball machines provide rewarding domains for exploring pinball. Indeed if I had to invent a machine that capitalized on interaction through exploration I think I would advise pinball machines. As they exist, it can be observed, that they, like architects, can be categorized by degrees of sophistication. The most basic type simply invites the player to wham the ball across the plaza, a sort of shooting gallery having a few channels of expiration. It is a machine for tourists who do not wish to venture far from the centre or off the beaten track. It…is a formidable access; it reduces the tension of exploration by exactly one half. Worse, it produces a potential of untoward relationship because all the relations must subtend the line of symmetry. This line can become a power line as it is barricaded in the manner of military. I want to imagine a landscape or domains where less prejudiced relationships are possible. My first step is to see an object placed in landscape, a gas pump or a stone, etc. As a one to one, face encounter begins, and things trees, and I am immersed in them. I should like to do drawings which represent the emotional experiences I am surrounded as I tie myself to these things I need, the bric-a-brac of everyday life, light and the of come heat, I would like to overcome the tyranny of T-square drawings. I want to see the constellation of things always without the lines of identification drawn. I think this begins to illustrate an attitude towards how we, in terms of this project, how we can begin to look at the plan, we can begin to organize things, on the plan. I think that there can be varied levels of reading, specially this idea that the clarity of it can become more apparent with distance, but we don’t need to focus necessarily on particular aspect.

Vikramāditya Prakāsh—Can we sort of look more carefully, I think, we should begins by looking at some of the more suggestive ideas in the text. Basically I think, it’s about the idea of freedom, I think its very important. And that’s something that’s strong even, I think, perhaps in the design, given that site. Freedom is closely connected to the idea of exploring personal identity, as you have begin to talk about, and sometimes, intrinsically connected, suggesting that if one participates in pre-given configuration, like in the constellation example, one is just falling into slots that may or isn’t more likely binding.

Desai—No, they’re absolutely binding, that’s the problem. Once you’re given a facility to identify, once that route is shown to you, then it is virtually impossible to deviate from that.

Prakāsh—So that sort of subscribes to the notion of the relationship between the architect and his design object, or his creation or whatever that is ideally of pure freedom?  

Desai—No, no, it’s more an issue of methodology of design. We had a discussion in the conference room about a month ago, the question that was asked was what’s one’s image of the building, of the project. And at face value it’s a very easy question to ask, but a very difficult question to answer. Because it tries to encompass an overall methodology, what I’m saying that even to subscribe to such a methodology, the…that there can be such a methodology precludes other interpretations of what we finally do. Like in the constellation, we only see it in that way, because that’s what you’ve been told it is. We can’t see beyond that we may understand the physics beyond that.

Prakāsh—Yes, yes, it’s a freeing methodology, you would say, I mean I think….

Desai—And I think that we are working that way, I think that the way in which we have been putting together the plate, tells a system, and they come from a different rationale. But the way in which the plate had evolved is pretty much what I’m talking about. There actually isn’t a methodology that one can see, only yesterday you were talking of the virtues of the municipal drawings, and that combination and that sort of way of working, is what I think I’m touching on.

Doshi—I mean I will just add something that happened to me, I went to Delhi, and the NIFT project is coming up well, it’s coming up very well, you know, in fact, I had not thought that the scale would be as beautiful as it is coming. You know, even I myself, am surprised that the tension in the scale. The contractor was talking about it, so he says, we are tired, it’s so complex, the lower part, I cannot understand, we have gone mad, and finally it looks very simple so what I thought was very interesting, was very much like a human being that yet even if a body is complex, we try to talk in simple terms, but actually it is a complex which is talking about simple. So the issue would be very much like this, that really whether it is an identity, whether it is the freedom, I think you know the layers in which, you know, it is manifested becomes very important. Because within the freedom there is also constraint, and when I say that I want a personal identity, I actually wanting to choose, because I want to be free, but I am stuck with my identity.

So I am imprisoned by my own freedom by choosing an identity, by choosing a hook. Now I’m only going by this kind of language, eh. Because I thought that if this is the language than one can talk in this way, which is very complicated. So the whole question is what is it that one is talking about. You see when a construction is simple…Eiffel tower must have been very complex to conceive, and perhaps at that time very complex to build. I think having materialized it, what we see, and what we perceive is very simple.

Prakāsh—Do you not think, Doshi, that while you are articulating this, complex between complexity and simplicity, would it be unfair for me to say that I detect a privileging of simplicity somewhere that you feel that ultimately the resolution would be simple, and apparent, although it arises out of a complex.

B.V. Doshi—Not necessarily, because there was also a period when things were done very simply. They were easy to build, they were easy to manifest, now when it became complex, you knew it was complex, like in decoration, or when they made a moulding, you knew it was complex, it would appear as not seen, but at least you can perceive, at least a part of the complexity. But this building that we have done in Delhi, now, when you go there, it is very difficult to construct, because, the kind of layers that want into it, the columns that shifted, all the things have been shifted. It’s very complex, underneath, one portion, but if you look at the time when it comes out, it’s like a box, you know, it’s made very simple, you can’t just make out. So, intricacy is what one is talking about, you see, intricacy is not complexity or simplicity. Intricacy is a virtue by itself. Because intricacy adds lot of rhythm, it adds lot of choices, intricacy gives you a web, you know, which gives you a whole lot of lattice, or lace, so that you can pick up, you can choose, you can go. The question is, when we talk of this, we must talk of distance, from where we perceive things, how close you are and how far you are. And I think this kind of dimension; one has never talked about in architecture. That what is your viewpoint, are you user, and are you visitor? One. Are you flying in the air, or are you walking on foot? Are you an ant, you know, are you what, are you in the basement a driver? This is something that one has never talked about.

Prakāsh—And you would read differently every time?

Doshi—Absolutely, I think that is what happens.

Prakāsh—But why, what enables a building?

Doshi—Because I tell you why, if I’m not concerned, I may be fascinated by a colour. But if I am concerned as a cost man, that’s why I said perception of everybody, will see it from a different point of view. You will say, you know I am a doctor, so therefore is it working, is the temperature right, or if I am a scientist, or if I am an engineer, is it easy to build, or if I am an economist, you know, how much return am I getting, etc. So my user changes. Also, if I have concern with the building, then I look at it in a very, very, different way. A temple is seen differently by a priest, by a king, and by a genuine bhakta.

Prakāsh—And as an architect, would you see your job as being able to respond to all these…

Doshi—Most of them, I think that is what is the skill of Indian architectures, all great architecture is. Because when you go there, it thoughts you at the level that you perceive things.

Prakāsh—You mean the architect?

Doshi—No, the person, anybody. You see, the point of this, that anybody who goes there, he finds the meaning for him the way he wants to see it.

Desai—What role does the architect’s personal vision play in the…?

Doshi—It comes by making it a totality. Actually the architect’s personal vision is unique visions because you fuse may perceptions together and create a whole. For the other person who has one point of view, he sees many other unknown points of view. So therefore, for everybody there is something else that what he was looking for. And that is what that architect’s contribution is.

Prakāsh—Architect becomes close to God from that point of view.

Doshi—He is. Vishwakarma. He is supposed to be Vishwakarma. I mean he has been entitled like that; his title in India is Vishwakarma. Whether he becomes or not, but that is the way he should think.

Prakāsh—So how do we humanize Vishwakarma?

Doshi—No, no, no, the fact that you have given everybody a part of a fraction or a slice of his vision into that, you have already humanized, because you have touched him. You see there is a very interesting poem in Gujarati about the integration of the hears, so he talks about the Garba, He takes a Garba, in that Garba, there are several stanzas, in which they say that the potter came and potter did the whole ground and made the carving. Then the ironmonger came and made the steel structure. Then the artist came and then he pained. Then the tailor came and he did this. And then, finally, they say, the priest came and the people came and they sang. Now this is what really one is talking about, there is a participation by everybody, there is an understanding by everybody, and everybody’s icons are interpreted there. Everybody knows what is his, so he has identified. That’s what it is, you know, when it is part and whole, the difference is that always consider part, actually part also has a whole. If the part is purely a part, then it is a dissection. But the part also carries a whole with it, then it is different.

Prakāsh—In the sense of microcosm?


Prakāsh—And this is the microcosm, that various microcosms that speak across?

Doshi—That within macrocosm, there are many microcosm, it is still a macrocosm. It’s never the doubt, you know.

Prakāsh—It’s a thing I find difficult to grasp, and I’m playing deliberately, or whatever, is that why must it be, it seems to me that when one states things like this, one somehow places the architect outside and above the creation.

Doshi—No! Not at all, I am saying that because he is human, because he wants to think of everybody else, because he looks at it with such equanimity, his ago is subdued, on the contrary. I think a good architect’s ago is absolutely subdued because what he is doing is only finding a manifestation out of the problem itself, and just wants to put it there. That day only I quoted about Michelangelo, he said, I am not making sculptures, I am revealing from what is inside the stone. But he could have also said that I’m creating the greatest work of art. I think that what was beautiful about it was that even though he was great because the manifestation has become great. The product has become great, which is quite different from saying, I am going to make a unique thing, whether you like it or not, that is quite different.

Prakāsh—That’s quite an interesting thing about Michelangelo making what he makes out or stone. The stone is there and the sculptor or Michelangelo makes what he does he or the creates? There must be….

Doshi—I mean let us take the example of BDB, we had no inkling of what the building is going to be like. So we were discussing and we said what can this be, so we said, oh, it’s in Bombay, so what’s Bombay. You see Bombay is magic, and Bombay has the dynamism, and then we said Bombay also is Bhuleshwar. So we found many aspects of Bombay, which really are highlighted in Bombay’s culture. Like in Bhuleshwar, it’s a crowd, that Jhaveri bazaar, the other places, where even the God lost he. On the other hand the sea, you know, is always haunting, you know, the breeze, and you are always there in the expanse. So on one side you are talking about very congested but very human places. And on this other side you are crowded, but yet you have an expanse. It’s quite different you known, in contradiction. On the other side you see, you see a Film City, which is only dreamland, with the steam and the sets and people coming, appearing and disappearing behind the scene all the time. And on the other hand, you know you find a yard where you build ships which are absolutely in there dimension, which you cannot do anything, I mean they are floating, you don’t know the way the hull comes out, and what not. So one is then talking about the ship. New the moment you get these kind of images from Bombay, you begin to wonder what could be this? So the moment you talk or the ship and the yard, you get one imagery. The other one in Bhuleshwar you get the crowded streets. The third one is the sea and the breeze is what we are talking about. Then we said okay, Client…


Doshi—Simultaneously. Diamonds. So diamond is that? Diamond is the one which is not only a crystal, it has all the reflections, it appears and disappears, it is very precious. It’s not possible that it is given to anybody. And also it is the most luxurious item. You know it is so precious that only rarely people can afford it. So you got an object which is rare. So now you are putting this in Bhuleshwar, an object which is rare, which has many facets which still has an infinity. And which has also the place like a ship. Now these were the images, which means that you got the skyline, you got the water, you got the kind of space, and you got the streets.

Prakāsh—What do you do ,just collage them together?

Doshi—Yes! That’s precisely what we did!

Prakāsh—Is there order to the collage?

Doshi—No! Now, now, the question comes – byelaws! So the order has been given by a very mundane thing.

Desai—There is order there that precedes the….

Doshi—No! No, then we talked about the movement of the breeze and the demand of the client, north-south orientation he wants because he wants that kind or light. He says I must get the most sufficient building. The bye-laws talked to you about, there has to be a twenty-four meter distanced, forty mater height. So these conditions they gave, so you see you put these conditions and then most important condition was that 3000 cars had to be parked. Now, cars have to be parked, so that they are like machines to be parked, so the system has to be so efficient that cannot be moved. So, now if you put this system below, and then gradually you come up and find the orientation, then there are not many choices, and automatically things happen, they taper and then they go, now the diamond begins to appear and disappear. And this is what really happens. It’s not very complicated.

Prakāsh—Two things sort of come to my mind, one is, architecture as a mirror of society, I mean would you agree with that?

Doshi—Architecture is just a mirror, why society, why not landscape, why not  Sky? Why not the people who are poor, society, you are talking of which one, poor or rich? In India, the society quite bit. So we put convention centre, the moment you put a bazaar, even the fellow who wants to sell chana (चना) is very happy, even the other fellow who wants to sell chana is very happy, even the other fellow is at the topmost level, who has the most precious things, and that’s what Bombay is. Next to the tower there are slums. So one is talking about all of them, I thinks, you know, society is what? So if you talk about…. You touch people at different scales.

Prakāsh—My emphasis was more to say, one the nature of this mirror. I mean when one talks about the mirror, what is the identity of the mirror? Does it have an identity?

Doshi—The identity of the mirror is the person who looks at the reflection. Whatever the reflection is. You see mirror is there, and I am sitting here and I see a reflection from there, that image is the identity that I see.

Desai—Mirror doesn’t exist on someone’s looking at it.

Prakāsh—But it cannot not exist.

Doshi—No, if you see the reflection, it exists, if you don’t see the reflection it doesn’t exist. It’s the reflection, which makes the mirror valid.

Desai—It depends on which frame of reference you look at the mirror. If the mirror for you is a theoretical reflection…

Prakāsh—But it cannot not exist.

Doshi—No, if you see the reflection, it exists, if you don’t see the reflection it doesn’t exist. It’s the reflection which makes the mirror valid.

Desai—It depends on which frame of reference you look at the mirror. If the mirror for you is a theoretical reflection…

Prakāsh—An example that comes to my mind…

Doshi—No, I will now answer the question that you ask, because, I think this raises a very important question. Is architecture so serious, so complicated, that we make an effort of typing many things as a collage, as you said? What I have asked you is my question that you see, I’ll tell you, I have come to this understanding looking at my grandchildren, that when they are born they are absolutely helpless, the first day, then all of a sudden the cry comes out, then after four days you begin to see that their eyes are beginning to move. Then after sometime their hands begin to move. Slowly they do their own exercise by doing this. I’ve always wondered what triggered them to do that exercise. Or what inspired them to pick up things, which means that there is something inside that motivated them. But it becomes so natural that it becomes part of themselves, and what they do is very natural, and things happen. So as they grow, and as they pick up, they pick up sound, they pick up this, they pick up that, there’s no telling them at all, that, do this. And that’s how you find you know, very often, children the most beautiful. Now when they grow, you can see their faces, and the face of a teenager, and you see the face of somebody who’s just married, and somebody is old and what not, you begin to see so many constraints, so much baggage have come on their shoulder that all that natural thing which happened and grown has begun to go away. So, I was wondering, is there net a very simple way, profoundly simple way (Prakāsh—That’s a crucial point.) that one could put these things together and do it. That day also I quoted Picasso saying, Picasso says, you know, don’t search, find very easy, very important statement, you know, because what is happening, is that we are all the time trying to search things. We are trying to find meanings, everything we find, but we don’t find what we are, and therefore what is our manifestation so if I had not asked the question about Bombay, or this or that, I would have got a very different answer.

Prakāsh—That’s right. Now that you have brought this example of a child and a mirror, and the question of how we find ourselves, there’s one kind of a metaphor that’s used in psychoanalysis, is that when a child sees its own image in a mirror, when a child first sees its image in the mirror it’s just one of those objects that…. It is only an only when the child recognizes the reflection in the mirror to be a reflection of himself, that his own identity is constituted. So these are tow very interesting examples…

Doshi—That’s right. So now, at that time, he has become conscious of his external body, but not his real self. This is the real difference. Until now the child was himself or herself, the moment the body has become identification, the internal self is gradually getting diminished. This is what philosophically people talk of.

Prakāsh—But another kind of thought I’m trying to we take a critical position on the internal self that philosophically is often talked about, of the lost self, it always comes as a lost self, is actually, it’s like a virtual image, it’s only after you’ve lost it, it’s only when you feel the sense of break, that there must have been an original self, which is not the same as saying as there was, actually, normal itself.

Doshi—See now, I’ll come back to this one, that child has seen this mirror and at that time the child before seeing that mirror, the child has seen the father, the mother, or the tree, or the bird, and the child has begun to perceive the external object. Then the child begins to see the image, and at that time, if the image is seen is association with somebody else, that they recognize, then only they recognize that here, this is their image. If the child was looking at his or her image without anybody else there, they would still not know that that is their image…(change of cassette)…with the external reality more and more and more, Either ways what happens is we externalize so much that this is all that is there. Then not only we are external, but everything external is the one which is important. And therefore the question of losing doesn’t come, because that also was not known to the child. The self is never known, it was manifesting without knowing, it was unconscious. Now the external has become conscious. Only when somebody is thinking about it, because is the whole surrounding, the whole landscape, that one is talking about, that man is in the landscape, this that, so one is talking about discovering the world outside, cosmos, vis-à-vis the house, vis-à-vis the space, new that one is a body which is only external body, it is not the subtle one that one is talking. The realization also will come, and that too, comes to very few, but it is a tradition in the East to question this, is that who you are and what you are apparently seeing in the mirror is not yourself, is not a normal thing at all, and therefore what happens is, the creative act is done all the time with external circumstantial conditions, there are prejudices, there are opinions, there are preferences, and the manifestation comes from that. Only when the person is highly critical, or highly creative, and when he begins to question the external world itself, then he goes inside, at that time he begins to discover himself. And then the real creation happens.

Prakāsh—So its creation in the external world or is it in the non-external world?

Doshi—It is both. The final creation is both because it is a transformation of the external world, but with a preference of the internal world.

Prakāsh—Internal world is superior to external world?

Doshi—Always, because then only the communication, the contacts are very fast. The moment you have created internal world you can touch everybody. For example, the same stone seen by Leonardo or an ordinary craftsman, or somebody else, somebody put the same stone on the floor of the house, and a sculptor can also do a goddess, and you put it an a pedestal. It’s a question of now how do you see the stone, the nature of the stone, and the value. I think the subtler you become, the finer you become. The more subtle you become, the greater you become, because you are looking at now, the real essence of every aspect of life itself, Like when I talk of let’s say, crowd and therefore there are only streets, But I am now looking at a Bhuleshwar where not only the God is lost, what do you mean, lost? What does it means, crowd? Does it mean number, does it mean transaction, does it mean emotion, does it mean smell, sound, but still this is external, so what is now asking that there is a combination of, in architectural terms there is a temple, a shrine, there is also chaos, Architectural chaos, but there is also an apparent unity inside, So one is talking in a very different way, maybe not as profound as it should be, but more so than one is apparently seeing Bhuleshwar as Bhuleshwar. So now the question is, at what level the transformation is taking place? And if that transformation takes place in a very subtle way, it is bound to have more capacity for a greater dialogue, with many more people or spaces or what not. Because it will have something to say, it will have a lot more rapport.

Prakāsh—So, extracting the essence, getting closer to the essence, getting closer to the self is an act that simultaneously takes you in, and out to all the world?

Doshi—It is an absolute balance. It’s a balance, you know, so it’s not in or out. You are there, that’s all. The only barrier is the skin of the flesh but that barrier also disappears, because then that mind that they talk about, you know, in that Vatsyayana’s thing, that the space has transcended. The message has transcended right through, because now it is neither there, nor there, it is aakaar (आकार), it is the total. So in that the scales begin to appear, you begin to know, how to make a judgement of scale, how to make a judgment of function. Your emphasis would not be the same as otherwise would have been. It is going towards making a whole rather than making parts. This is the difference, the more you become subtle…

Prakāsh—What does one mean by subtle?

Doshi—Subtle is, let’s say you know when you have heard music, and it touches you and your hair comes out, they stand, that is subtle. Because deep inside the pore you have felt something. And that does not always happen, but it does happen to everybody, like here all of sudden you will feel something. Now that is subtle. (Prakāsh—So….)Subtle is much finer element, which is not seen, you cannot touch, but you can feel deep within you. How do you know, this is right!

Prakāsh—That is an experience?

Doshi—It is an experience. It is totally experiential.

Desai—And therefore absolutely personal?

Doshi—No, but you will find that it is so much experiential, so subtle, I means, so tuned…that many people would feel the same. Because it is touching you at totally another level. Let’s talk about the sea. The haunting of the sea, millions of people go to the sea, and they are always wondering. It’s rare; the fascination for the sea is there for the child, for the grown-up, for the old.

Prakāsh—Do you know that or do you believe that?

Doshi—No, no, no, you ask them and they will say, I don’t know, I like it. You can find out. You can also find same fascination for the Himalayas you can also see when you stand somewhere and the fragrance and the breeze goes through, and all of us, you know, in fact, oh wonderful, I feel so nice and good. Now five people will say, yes, you are right, you know. Now all those things are part of the subtle experience. So what happens is it is not anymore personal, the personal is totally external. Actually I would say, When you said the personal is totally ex-centric and totally external. The subtle experience is universal. The more universal, the more subtle it is.

Prakāsh—Then how do we construct difference, or different identities?

Doshi—It will automatically happen because it comes from the nature of the place and the requirement. It is the nature, which will suggest to you what is to be done, rather than your individually suggesting what should be applicable here. The fact is very simple that every place, every culture, every minute, and every requirement of that particular moment has its own manifestation. And if I carry the backlog or the weight of my yesterday, then I will not be able to solve it, because I will be looking at it from my point of view. So I will not be able to do as good a project as it should be. I will not be able to create an object, or whatever you want to say. You see look at the beauty of nature, why nature is so beautiful? One for example you plant fifteen trees in the same place, and within a span of ten meters, the same seed, the same tree, it is not the same. When you transplant one tree it doesn’t remain the same. What is it? See, that what you call rooting, roots that one talks about, one talks about adaptability or the whole ecosystem that one talks about- I think the whole idea that the ecosystem is made of many many many fragile things, actually subtle is also very fragile. But subtle doesn’t break, it is very light, it is ethereal. It has fragrance. Subtle has a fantastic fragrance. It is transparent.

Prakāsh—Anything except not vision?

Doshi—That’s right, you can feel only. And you hair would stand. And it would not be you, it would manifest in many places. That is what the theory of Rasa is. The Rasa is finally, after you’ve had the meal, and everything is digested and you burp and you remember, that in spite of your eating so many dishes, you only say, oh it was a great meal. You don’t want to talk about gulabjamun or this or that. You say that the whole thing was great. That is that Rasa. That is the essence. It is only experience.

Desai—One can argue that any appreciation of essence is a cultural or a social condition.

Doshi—Partly sure, not necessarily so, but partly, always. Because I have said that if I have planted a tree there, it will grow there, you see, what happens is it creates its own balance. It has its own balance, like if you take the fresco, you know the bas relief, at Mahabalipuram, Arjuna’s penance, and then if you go to see maybe stalactites, or maybe something else in Italy,  or you want to go and see Museum of Modern Art, something else. I think there is a, if you begin to ask question and find out, you begin to say yes, you know, my God, I think it has all these things, like there is a space, or there is an expense, there is a message, there is a, not only light and shadow, but there is a…. You begin to feel that it is alive. I think the other thing that happens in the subtleness is, that is the life gets manifested.

Prakāsh—Do you think its worthwhile taking as an illustrative analogy the concept of…the understanding of language? If one says the essence of language is its meaning, then the wards which are put together in particular sequence, the essence of the extract that lies above or below it is its meaning. Then in meaning there are different languages. People use wards like….

Doshi—But also the meaning is very different, because if you take Bhagavad Gita, and for last two thousand years it is being analysed and interpreted, then you know it has meaning. But not just saying that this meaning and that meaning, so you see it has also a body, it has a depth but you cannot see it. That’s why I say its like facts, you just see a facet at that point, and you say, oh my God, I have found something which I have not discovered before.

Prakāsh—See, I personally find this idea much more fascination. That, like the Bhagvad Gita example you just gave, I mean, it sparkles at various facets at various times, the whole concept of the particular moment, seems a much more, captivating, or reductive concept, then something that’s constant and eternal and even all time. Should it mean that the beauty of the Bhagvad Gita lies precisely in the fact that it has been, can be, and will be read in so ways by so many people at their moment and their time.

Doshi—But tell me what is that constant and eternal and even, what is that?

Prakāsh—There isn’t.

Doshi—So therefore it is not there? It doesn’t exist? The fact that there is going to be the night and day, the fact that there is a sorrow and joy, the fact you know that there is hard and soft, it will not happen. That even thing doesn’t exist, that’s why that yin and yang become very important that’s how purusha (पुरुष) and prakruti  (Prakṛti, प्रकृति) manifest. That is why, they talk of these two things always, trinity they talk, and they talk about these positive and negative, purusha and prakruti, yin and yang, because these are the two things that will always be there no matter what you do. One without the other, the male and the female is required to do this. As there is good and evil, it is part of the game. So the whole question is, architecturally speaking…

Now, when one does a building, one is not talking about evil. Good architecture does talk about evil that means it does talk about high and low areas in that building, that’s why it becomes exciting. An architecture that can make mistakes is better architecture that very well modulated, articulated architecture. Because what you are talking about, even, subtle, that is what happens with the high-tech business. That it is not, that you do only high-tech all the time, and you think the reflection is everything, once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it all the time. But if you find in the high-tech that there is mud inside, and something else inside, because that uncertainty, that moment of uncertainty is what creates the mystic, the myth, the myth the myth is in that gap. Now that gap is never provided in that even, place, and that is what happened to the contemporary architecture. That it could have a question and it has an answer, they gave the answers in the right way therefore it became very flat. I think you are asking about, even smooth, going; it is that contemplating—answering only one kind of question.

Desai—But I think also, this architecture, these architects would disagree. They would suggest that the reading of a building is clearly a function of the sophistication of the readers.

Doshi—So that’s what I’m saying, no, no, no, no, their argument is correct, I am not denying, see what happens is, whether you take this Bhagavad Gita, or whether you take this subtle thing that we talked about, it touches at any level whether you are educated or not educated, because primarily you are a sensitive person and that’s the end, and if that sensitivity has nothing to do with your culture, your education, and your background, whether you are rich or poor. Now certain technology or certain methods of expression do not cater for all that range and therefore they don’t become less important they don’t become as universal and as long-lasting as the other things happen. That is all I was trying to say.

Desai—Hmm, I think you’re right. But I would question the value of pursuing the universal.

Doshi—No, no, no, everybody has a different viewpoint because universal doesn’t mean and one should never pretend to say that what I create now would be also valid after hundred years or twenty years. So, I think one doesn’t have to be saying that what is done here is because it is radically different, the other one is wrong. I think rejection is one of the things, which is not correct. Neither unnecessary or unwanted or unwanted absorption is right. So one has to go through one’s own channel without one’s ego getting involved. That thing works very well, for example, how can an instrument, whether it is an arrow or a pot, whether you take the Chinese, of whether you take the primitive pots or a line drawing of somebody, how come that they fascinate us today also, because what they do is, within their world, when they did this, they did without expressing their presence. Their presence. Their presence, sure, but they don’t emphasis their presence, this is the point.

Prakāsh—No, but they cannot not express their presence.

Doshi—No, no, no, they are doing it and you have recognized it, there is sign also. But they say, that this could have been done by somebody else, but I am better, is not said. But it does indicate that. The other one is, that one is, no, no, nothing else. I am there all the time. You see, the age is making the other thing less important.

Desai—There was actually a resurgence of that in Modern Art, there’s one piece I saw in which the artist had created something like fifty thousand identical mouldings, and he created this large tray, and these objects were identical in colour, not so big were laid on this tray, each one was initiated by him, and the only identity of each one was, each one was initiated personally by him. And also the work became art because the initial, this I am questioning the issue of originality, where it became art is that each one, even though there are….

Doshi—But if there was no name, the point now is we are not looking at the object, we are looking at the signature. This is the difference.

Desai—No, the point was the signature, the individual signature one each of these objects made the collective….

Prakāsh—It’s like the outfits.

Doshi—I don’t think so. Because you remove the…

Desai—Does it stand above the signature? Or do you think that if you take a little signature, then what happens?

Doshi—If you did not know the artist and if it was, say signed by an ordinary person, would you have said that it is unique?

Desai—No, I think, what we’re dealing with is, the issues that we are dealing with are complex enough, I mean, and one cant’s say that if you didn’t know the artist or if you hadn’t read upon modern art- you have and that’s your frame of reference. It’s when you see something like that; you can’t exclude what you already know about that. You form a critique within that frame.

Doshi—No, no no I understand what you are saying that object, you know, objects do not become universal because you are now putting the individual there, and saying because of that it is there, it is only our interpretation, but indeed to someone else it has no meaning.

Desai—No, no, that’s true that modern art caters to a very, very small audience. Anyway.

Doshi—Which you know, never happened before.

Prakāsh—That brings us sort of the issue of architectural communication, I think it is very important.  And instead of objects becoming such that over time they become inclusive. They just become more and more exclusive and part of the architectural academy.

Doshi—No, no, there is a difference there, you see there is something called prestige, like Mies’ Farnsworth House, was in a sense exclusive, and all that curtain wall business in Seagram, and so reaction is the Portland Building. Because one without anything to say, except his intellectual clarity, and what not, but for the common man, it is all monotony, he says it is all the same, there is no choice, there is nothing else. On the other hand, you go and look at the post-modern building, and he will say that I have this choice, and I have variety, and I have this. So this is what happens, you know when you swing from one to the other. One is intrinsic, and yet it is exclusive, and therefore cannot be appreciated by everybody else. The other one is trying to become inclusive so that people can appreciate, but it becomes superficial.

Desai—Very immediately.

Doshi—No, I was getting into that, one is a curtain wall, other one is also a curtain wall, one is made with a pattern, But one which has the pattern has depth (undecipherable). But one, which has the pattern, has no quality other than that.

Prakāsh—The depth is related to the idea of subtlety.

Doshi—Yes, because it created many more levels of dialogue. I mean Baroque, or even Renaissance was trying to create that kind of a dialogue. There are whole lot of dialogues, which go on within the skin. Whether you take the brackets, or you take the window, or you go inside, and you look at the stone, you look at the interiors; there was a consistency that went right through. It was made into a body, you know, complete body.

Prakāsh—Consistency that you were trying to say? I thought inconsistency with a lot of dialogue.

Doshi—No, no, no, I am saying that there is a thread, you are talking about community of may do they look like there are many people, and it looks like there is something going one which is common.

Prakāsh—Like a weave?

Doshi—Yes. And that is what happens, you know, in the real Renaissance, eve or Baroque, and yet you know it has charm, it has joy, and yet you knew it has a gesture, which is very personal. It is almost like you know, you sit in a big crowd, and all of a sudden one fellow comes out and does a little acrobatics, and he sings and everybody sings, and again he comes back and does his acrobatics. So it’s a relief. What he does is he adds another dimension to that mood. And that is what really happens.

Prakāsh—Like a book, like Joyce’s books, would you say?

Doshi—I can’t say, you know, because I have not read, in depth, I have read

Some books. Yes. Books, of course. Any storyteller would tell you that. Anybody who communicates well, you can read him again and again.

Desai—No, about this issue of communicating well, I think Joyce doesn’t communicate well. Actually he communicates well to a very small audience.

Doshi—And that is the same, exclusive. Bhagavad Gita, or Bible, you know, why are they so fascinating? And why, be it, thousands of years are going on and everybody takes it, and everybody has joy of interpreting, and whenever they have a problem, they open the page and find a solution. What is most amazing is you ask the Christians, or you ask the real Hindus, and they say, when I open the book my question is answered there. Wherever there is a finger it is possible. What is that wonder, you know? I think that it is true.

Prakāsh—I think that there is a crucial point here.

Rajiv Kathpalia—No, no, I think this is the most crucial point.

Doshi—I used to go to my father-in-low to learn about Bhagvad-Gita. I spent six-eight months. Every day I used to go there. I had all kinds of questions, whatever questions I had on that day,…(change of cassette)…Well, Density is something that one never talks of.

Prakāsh—Because it’s too dense?

Doshi—No, no, we never talk about because it is too complex to talk about, because you don’t know how, what is the limit of that density. And when does it become ever-dense, still density is an important aspect. I think experience requires density.

Prakāsh—Meaning, what, what is density?

Desai—I think, that with reference to the Bhagvad Gita, I haven’t read it, it seems that within the language that is available, the language it was written in, it was allowed for within its text. There are many interpretations that are possible within the language it was written in. Which is why you can find an answer, maybe the same piece of text can be and answer to different situations.

Kathpalia—Tell me something, is it written in the book, or do you go with the feeling that you will discover it in any case, so it comes at that point?

Desai—No, no, no, the idea of what Rajiv is suggesting that…like in the Bible, the idea of the Bible, and the idea of this, the Gita, actually transcends the object, or what written in the object itself. It acts as a trigger to…

Doshi—No, I’ll tell you what it does, to me. It gives you an expansive view, no, no, sorry, it makes you, what happens is, let’s say I have a problem, I can’t explain, but I have to come back to the work.

Windows are made in their way, and the sun-breakers are their ways, so he makes an orchestration of each one so independently and puts it is such a way, that they are together and yet they have their own individuality and identity. So the layering comes by those elements and yet it works. So nobody is hurting anybody, this is very important, this is the Dharma. What Louis Kahn calls the brick should do, the brick should do, and what the concrete should do, the concrete should do, this is also Dharma. But then what he does is, that he puts a frame in such a way that within that frame you cannot move. What Corbusier’s saying is I have now frame! I am going to put you into an expansive canvas, and I am going to give you like this, so almost like an Ajanta painting, and within that you are playing a game, and so you are getting a symphony out of each one’s tuning, Bach one’s tone. Then the density is quite different, from Kahn. Kahn does not have that density, because density means many instruments, many tastes, and many tones. It touches you at all you perceptive organs, you know. So you are bringing that panchmahabhuta (पंच महाभूत) into that, you know. You are bringing all you pancha-indriya (पंच इन्द्रिय), all your indriya you are bringing there, all of them get affected, you are much close, This is what happens, and that’s my explanation.

Prakāsh—No, Doshi, the interesting thing, and this is just speculative thinking, I mean, whenever, juxtaposed to all this, the multiplicity, your interpretations of text, or this general idea, the multiplicity, your interpretations of text, or this general idea, the constant rock that one always finds is the body, the immutability of the body. I just find that quite strange, as if the body is not divisible.

Doshi—What do you mean by that?

Prakāsh—Meaning that, I mean, the reference point, or the anchor, or maybe, it’s a bad word but I’ll use it anyway, measure of movement, or rhythm, or consistency, or like you said, whether you are doing more good or less good, the measure for that or something to relate it to, becomes, and I don’t know how this happens, but it somehow does get attached to the constancy of the body.

Doshi—Naturally, it is because, who are we asking to look at, it is never the tress, to make a tree, or what not, because we are talking, I don’t know if the birds are talking about themselves. I never know how the clouds begin to speak, they go up and down and they make this thunder dance, I’ve never asked them, so? Because I see it, I react. Another thing, architecture is only built by us, for us, therefore that’s a problem, and otherwise why should we not talk about the mountains?

Prakāsh—But when, see, there is a funny thing here, when we say I, when we say us, when we say me, somehow it is not self-evident to me that I am referring to me the body, and perhaps what we talked about earlier also that there is something called body and there is something, perhaps what we call unconscious, whatever whatever. Consciousness, or that which is created out of the mind, or even spirituality, belongs to the realm where you have lot of alternatives, you can do a lot of possibilities, there you have lot of alternatives, you can do a lot of possibilities, there are opennesses there, but the body somehow is something else.

Doshi—No, no, no. I think that there is one more difference which you must know. I do not know any other being, which can do things besides reproducing themselves. Something totally alien and something which is consistently changing and evolving, except the human being. I mean that is why the human being is unique, and therefore, it becomes different, like for example, the animals, and other people, other species can produce a nest, but they will produce the same nest for a hundred years, we will not produce the same house twice. We will use metal, we will use glass, if it is not there we will create that glass, the animals do not have that kind of consciousness, the other people do not have, that is where the human being has become very important, that is our consciousness is next to God’s consciousness. Not because of arrogance, that is why they have created, us and they say, you have been evolved over time, and now you have been given this unique position and in our religion it ways that here, from now onwards, you will become mukta (मुक्त), you will become free, you will be liberated, and you go back to the cosmos. So this is that stage where you are just before that, now, if you can behave, properly, if you can behave in the right way, if you can behave with subtlety, you have all the chances, but if you go back down, and you behave in a crude manner, if you behave in a course manner, if you don’t have that Dharma, then you will go back to a stage, slightly lower that what you are today, that is why we talk of the cycle of rebirth. So the reference point has to be only this because, we have no other reference point except the one which is the God’s reference point, the cosmic reference point. But our reference point would also like to be slightly higher than us, so when we say, I or we or anybody, we are saying this body, we are saying this mind, but we are also talking of that subtlety which is present in very few people. But they become our measure.

Prakāsh—You are also referring to the possibility of being God?

Doshi—Naturally, no, no, because the potential of becoming as unique as the whole world is what all the energy is about, we can use the word God, but otherwise, no, other people may not use the word God, so you talk of energy, you talk of power, you talk of something else. But that supernatural, or superhuman, what Aurobindo talks about, is the supra-consciousness, super-consciousness, now that that comes up only when you become very subtle, but yet it is from your reference point you are advancing. So when you look at the glitter, or when you look at the shine, or something we make, fabricated, which is not or cannot be  made by nature, you say, yes you are reaching another consciousness; you are creating something that should never have been available.

That’s why you always wonder, I mean, that’s one of the great achievements or human beings, you send a satellite, or you go beyond, that is not less than creation, it is not course, nut only when it is tied up to Dharma, only when you ask, is it done at the cost of something else, then one get’s into another discussion, but there is where the questions come up. Otherwise I don’t think those questions are there, even Gita would not talk about it.

Prakāsh—I think, would it be fair to say that the fundamental to what you said just now, is a well-defined difference between the natural or the nature, and say, the human?


Prakāsh—The human is defined, or the particular human is defined as that which is not natural?

Doshi—Beyond natural, in addition to natural, not beyond, not in addition to. Because beyond would also say that it is different. No, no, no, it is addition, because when you have a glass, and you have water, and you go on adding colours, so the first time it is red, and blue, and green and all that, but that doesn’t mean that it takes away the water. So we have passed all these stages, we have that and plus that, so it is, plus.

Prakāsh—It’s no opposed?

Doshi—No, no, no. It is nature plus. It is only opposed by the Cartesian and other theories, because they wanted to talk, but in their heart, no. You see, when I want to manifest something, when I want to stand straight, Rabindranath Tagore, has said, the first time, the greatest achievement of the human being was when he out of four legs, he stood up on his two legs and raised his head high. His perceptions changed, he was no more connected to ground, and he was liberated from the ground. But that liberation has taken into the sky, because now his aspirations have become vertical, not horizontal. But when he goes vertically up, if he goes up by himself there is no problem but if he is going to suppress everything else, destroy everything else, then that is not right.

Prakāsh—And needless to say, he could not go up if there was no down? That is to say there is no pure up-ness?

Doshi—Oh yes. There is of course, that is that Sukshma Sharir (सुक्ष्म शरीर), which is pure up. That Prakash, that Jyoti, that one talks about, that light. Ultimately you become light.

Prakāsh—Light is sent by gravity.

Doshi—You don’t know. I mean whether you become a comet, gravity in terms of what, in terms of earth. I mean that’s why this Vatsyayana’s thing becomes very interesting in terms of space, because he talks of that kind of space, that when you become light, what is your space?

Prakāsh—What do you think this Panniker article talks about? The interesting aspects of Hindu myths of creation is that space was created before light, because space was separated the egg separated and Antariksha (अंतरिक्ष), and so on, before it was perception. There was the making of space, which is fundamentally different to, I think, I don’t know if I’m wrong, to Christian mythology, where first God said let there be light. So….

Doshi—I don’t know, I don’t know, because when the God said there be light, he was already in space. Only he manifested the appearance of light in space.

Prakāsh—Right. It’s a question of really, I mean, what I am trying to lead this to is sort of an issue of, ah (Desai—Difference in…) No, between, coming back a little bit earlier to what I was saying earlier, between the object itself and people’s perceptions of the object. In a sense, ah, is perception the precondition for the existence of the object? Or the any way around?

Doshi—it is simultaneously, no? What would you perceive if there was no object? I mean the scales cannot be manifested without an object, you need a comparison. In the infinite sky, if there were no stars, one would not know.

Prakāsh—That’s precisely what I was saying that there cannot be no absolute up.

Doshi—Ha, But I have, as an architect, have carried like this that rather than saying what it is, I think the perception of object, it begins with a sense of wonder, if you can get a sense of wonder, you have get it. It is just that sense of wonder, one word I would use. Because that’s really to me, tells me. How would I get the sense of wonder? It comes from many things; it comes from what I have not seen, not expected, cannot be fathomed. Of course then the whole question is location, its relationship, when you say that, then the sense of wonder begins to give you something else. Then that object cannot be deciphered. Then that sense of wonder begins to happen. Because then there is no measure to know, how do you hold it? You cannot hold, you want to hold, but you cannot, its like air, you know. Can you hold the air? No. Even if it is a colour, for example, whenever we have a fog coming in, or when the clouds come in, and if you are child, in the hill-station, you want to catch it, you can’t. But the moment it becomes ice, you can catch, you know, gradually begin to hold, perhaps. But the whole point is, that then the wonder is there, the wonder comes out of whole unfathomable elusive qualities. And yet, you know it is present. The presence is felt, you can see it, as an architect, I am saying now, you can almost touch it, but you cannot define it. It has to be un-definable. And that’s why when you make an edge, it becomes un-definable, because, you look at it like this and you don’t know what happened. Or when you put a Chhatri on top or…

Prakāsh—It’s when familiar becomes unfamiliar.

Doshi—Inaccessible, you see, here it has to be inaccessible, I told you earlier it has to be accessible to be common.

Prakāsh—But it has to be presented in an inaccessible way?

Doshi—You are giving him an accessibility of an inaccessible object. It is accessible to you, but you know that it is going to move. It’s like holding a glass in your hand, you know that you are going to hold it, and it is so thin you don’t know when it will break. It’s like that mercury, very often, the mercury, when you hold it in your hand, it moves like this and all of a sudden it disappears, by the time you want to do it or the sand, your know, you want to hold it in your hand, you can never hold it, it just goes away. There is nothing there.

Prakāsh—Infinity in the palm of your hand…

Doshi—You see that is one thing that always becomes a symbol, its not only modernity, its progress, it is an object, it is beautiful, and you go to a villager, you go to a most primitive follow, and you go to the greatest scientist. Scientist might say, oh, it is giving me all sorts of microwaves, or short waves or whatever. The other follow says I don’t know, but it is wonderful he sees the horns of the cow, but still talk about it in a very different way. I mean to me, this is really what architecture has to be made of. And everybody becomes euphoric. They are full of this wonder; they are talking of it in a very excited way. This is not theatrical.

Prakāsh—What do you mean by that?

Doshi—Let’s say that it is a cheap thing, it is trash. This is sophisticated, you are talking about it in a euphoria, euphoria is an act of theatre, you know. It inhibits you inside for a long time anytime. A theatre does it only sometimes, and it sits for only some time, in a certain movement.

Prakāsh—You don’t mean theatre, you mean theatrical?

Doshi—No, no, Theatrical, yes.

Prakāsh—It’s again that thing you are articulating euphoric, simultaneously a euphoric that comes with the wonder, that comes with the sense of the unknown, and in my experience, unknown has always, the wonderment, feeling of wonderment, is a joyous feeling that is simultaneously intertwined with fear also?

Doshi—I was going to use the…I was going to tell you that wonder may come with anxiety and fear, it is not correct, you are not anxious, that’s why I used the word, euphoria is not in anxiety. Anxiety will never give you euphoria. Euphoria is a positive spring.


Doshi—Bliss. That’s happiness.

Prakāsh—But here don’t we have one of these pure ups, I mean pure up and…

Doshi—No, no, no, no. You, but [inaudible] happiness changes, it’s never there, you know, but if you can get that experience, if you get that wonder, you should stay. I tell you that, Rudofsky, ’82, long age, I think you know in Japan, came there, I met him few times, and he was taking photographs of the Japanese windows, and all that. We met couple of times at that time, in ’58 the ‘60s, and then all of a sudden in 1982 he came here when there was a festival of India you know. And Rajiv brought him here, so he says how are you and all that, and then he went down the building, and I took him right up and down, and then after he was going, you know, still wonderful manner, he never bent, and at 80, 82 the man was absolutely impeccable. And then he said Doshi, I must compliment you. I said what do you mean? He said that today I wish I had my camera to take pictures. Normally I don’t like architecture, and I don’t take pictures. I had stopped it for years, but I would have liked to, I said why are you saying it. He says the good lesson of architecture; the good architecture is one which you cannot describe. I thought it was a very good description. It is and experience, finished! And that euphoria what you are talking about, you can’t describe it, you can’t cut it into parts, then you cannot talk about it. Like what is the story that you can speak of, like even if you go to the pyramid, you way, I saw the pyramid, and you say it is like this, everybody knows that. You say I can’t describe it, I can’t tell you how it was, I mean everything you explain and you always add that sentence.

Prakāsh—It’s as if the phrase, I cannot describe, I cannot explain, I do not know, does explain, say give you a sense of heroic. It has actually a meaning.


Prakāsh—And, all the description, all the explanations, acquire meaning in precisely the same praise like this, or it requires meaning? There is no immediate or transparent relationship between experience and the words which follow it. So, [inaudible] when one says things like this, that I cannot explain, one is referring to something very specific. Whose explanation lies [inaudible] in saying t

Doshi—and yet you know, you know each thing and you remember that and you get glimpses of that. And you try to put it together; you know the collage is in your mind. You make the story within your mind. By my interpretation that’s what Bhagvad Gita does. That you can’t explain but you still have the idea, and that idea is only unique to you, and different from all of you and therefore us say, oh, I like it.

Prakāsh—I think we’ll try to flesh out this pattern and we’ll try to get some more laws into this system…(change of cassette) …

Doshi—Overlays and the pattern would emerge. Then your creativity or your design begins to get very simple, because it has a logic of its own and it is followed and you are not an obstacle.

Desai—And on the order of the overall…

Doshi—Because the obstacle….see, you subconscious mind is a tune, it’s a big tuning system so if you allow it to flow it will find its own answers for the problem that you are working on. Usually our intellect is all the time questioned, prone to questioning, and therefore, the moment the subconscious mind wants to say something, you say, no, no, no, no, that is not possible. Its creating this problem, this is what is emerging now in the new theories of medicine, science, physics and what not, I mean the Tea of physics, you find that they are talking all the time of the Tea of management and what not, the whole idea is, is there a way that you can find a flow which will grow gradually, you may assure creativity then, your interior creativity manifests but without making a big hullabaloo, it doesn’t make a big show. And then is what I found very interesting, I mean you can see, and not that this is very critical, but I find this way of things becoming very easy, you see this building, you just see, this what I began with, there was some form. This form happened because the roads are there. Then the other read has come here which is to be…this read on top, so this set came up because the dimensions are there. This came up, you know because you want to have this periphery here. Then you start beginning to work and you get the cut-outs, and then begin to work on getting the light, because you want to donate this breeze. You also want the light below, here, so you start working on the cut-outs here in the slab and you start making holes. Then the next stage is you make this, and then you make the landscape, the water that flows. And you say okay this could be the grade at which this flows. The moment you do these holes which are there in that line, you get these holes, and then what do you do, it emerges like this. You are asking me about the design and that is why I am saying; now when you put all this on top, when you put this on top, this begins to become even better, no?

What I am saying is now, this, one is talking about light, air, ventilation, so; actually one is asking those questions. But one is asking them very easily as if a child would ask. Do I need the light, do I need the staircase, i.e. here there are staircases, you see there are staircases put here, so like a minaret, you get the staircases, and you come up here in the gallery, and you get the street and you cross. So there are images, there is a history which you see, there are places that you have seen but, you are not putting them in the beginning, you are putting them as things happen, and actually if you look at good design everywhere, they are very functional. Or the beautiful thing about the traditional architecture, or whatever that architecture is, it is very casual; I mean it is extremely functional. It just happens.

Desai—And the order that exists here emerges with distance…

Doshi—No, actually you see, this is just for example, to me, this could have taken long time for me, a couple of years age, because I would have started working how or what, I would have talked about Kahn and Corbusier, and this or that, I am not just talking, I am talking about building, the building has to breathe, the air has to come, because it is a plate, the light has to come, so how do you get the light, okay, you make a crack, you make in the middle of this one, because this is going on the expansion joint, this has to go in the structure, let us say you know, what happens on the top, you say well there is going to be landscape, so you way, well, the landscape is there, and if this is there what happens? You just put two tracings together and you get holes, and then you say well, okay, when you just come out on top, and the landscape is following, then do you see the hole by themselves? And then you get this.

Prakāsh—And this is an unselfconscious process?

Doshi—No, no, no, that is what I … I am just trying to explain….

Desai—This is just to being up a point you were talking about last time about the references, I think what’s happening is that there’s enough material on a body in what we’re doing, it’s actually self-supporting I mean what you just described has no reference, the way that you said you’ve come about this, that air being almost like a lung, for the underground networks, which is almost as much, most of it, there’s more floor are and thrust and ground thrust, and that acting as a lung rot that, so that sort of a methodology has no reference, I think. Actually, going back to the very first conversation we had about it being, the questioning angle was what’s one’s image of it, I think one’s image of it will emerge from the way we are working. There isn’t, we don’t need to look outside for that image, the image will become apparent.

Doshi—There is only one difference, is that I have a whole lot of experience. I mean, 60 years, and 30,40, years and I have travelled extensively, and I have seen and absorbed extensively, but the whole point is, it has not become a burden to me, that absorption now has given me a freedom, because I am convinced, that all the things that have happened have happened naturally. So what I got was, can this become natural, and do this, that is to have the staircases next to the entrance, it’s a very Classical thing, or when you go to the mosque, or when you go to any building. Now the moment I know that, I say, oh, my entrance, my staircase, my gallery, so its an image which I find, but then also I know that it is good near the roads, so you come back to the road, and then I see a building, somewhere I have seen it, so it is not that is no there, but it has not become now a prerequisite to do this. It is only a supporting element, that such a thing you are seeing and liked it, and if it happens here it is not going to be bad, it is only assurance.

Prakāsh—Its like a deep imbedded palimpsest, which may or may not show as you deep tracing on top. I mean you keep tracking….

Doshi—But you know how I mean, I was myself fascinated, when I started doing those holes on top, oh top, oh my God, its really becoming very interesting, because when I did the first one, because the question was is it a building, or is it not a building, it’s a ground, so, can the ground be like a building, the other one was near the road, and you say, is the road there, or is the road no there, what happens, so you are asking definitely certain questions. That when you are in the road, you must obey the road, and so you are outside the road. When there is no road, it can be always in the middle of the place, and when you are without the roof, you are completely different… oh! These questions are there. And they may not be really the ones, which became…

Desai—And I am suggesting that this building has no background or  shouldn’t have a background…

Prakāsh—But it cannot not have a background.

Doshi—No, no, no, it doesn’t happen like that…that’s right, because at this stage of mind, I have become free, so all the people, Corbusier, and Kahn and Back…all the people that I know, to me they are there, and I am now taking as very nice friends, conversing. They are no more the Gurus, in which I must follow certain rules, they are saying, you are free, only think like this, so they are asking me to think, and so I work. I mean when we are raising those questions, I think, that this was part of that, I thought that I was….

Desai—It can almost be read as a quarrel, is this idea of the sea, when you bring this idea of the sea and this eroded landscape, which you were talking about earlier, now the plate and this foreground, almost becoming an eroded landscape, where the towers are the rocks which are emerging from this continual erosion, that also means, I think by extending these cut-outs, among the expansion joints.

Doshi—See, I was looking at it like this, that I have said that it has to be Film City, it has to be a dreamland, now I was looking when I did this hole, then the images naturally come out, that he has an image, he will have an imagery, I am thinking even if it is green lawn, without the water first, and these acrylic domes come out like this, and when they are lit at night, you are quite stunned in that landscape to see these lights coming out. As if something is below, almost surrealistic…(Undecipherable)…Subconscious


Doshi—Subconscious and conscious, the subconscious is, again I’ll come back to that question of Sukshma, the subtle, and the conscious is connected to the course, Sthul, now the conscious is the one which builds Karma, the Karma is built by the conscious, and the subconscious has no opinion, whatever you say, the subconscious will register, you say, I am not good, the subconscious will always tell you, oh, you are not good.

Prakāsh—Like a blotting paper?

Doshi—Yes, it has no opinion, because, it is pure. But you can clean it up, you know, but if you can tap, it is pure and so good that it will tell you who you are really, and then it can give you all the directions that are required, it’s a fantastic element, I asked a doctor here, when you give an aesthesia, you have make the man subconscious, how does he wake up? There are not many people who can, logically they can say, oh, it was two minutes, three minutes, but they can’t give you an answer. With some doctors who genuinely, that Purandare, very famous gynaecologist in India, he said Doshi, I’ll tell you one thing, we have no answer to that, I can give you any answer, but to be very frank, I can say, there is no answer to this. That who wakes you in the morning, this is what the famous Upanishad talks about, who makes you sleep, who makes you taste, who makes you think, who wakes you up in the morning? So those are the things which are there, you know, the question of design, is what constitutes design? How do we measure design, what is the way to measure, I mean, these are the questions we should be asking? But now what happens is this is what makes you, gets you towards that universality. There are two arcs, one is the upper one, or the communicational, and the other one is the transcendental, so if you were drawing like this. Then you would know what happens. And in fact, this is like this, then you get into this area here, this is too small to be measurable, this is infinity, goes, actually it goes, it just goes. This goes like that. But this one is a closed circuit, the circuit is closed, this is open, and this is a closed circuit.

Prakāsh—Where would you situate the architectural object in this?

Doshi—No, Architectural object is here, the architectural object is here, but this one is actually not there, the arrow comes from there, and this arrow comes from there, do you follow, this arrow comes like that and gradually gives you this focus. This arrow is like this, and it has a definite goal and it fits here, so this is closing in, and this doesn’t. This could be anywhere; this could be as big as possible.

Prakāsh—I mean, are there no arrows from here to here? I mean, are there no connections in this direction?

Doshi—No, no, no.…they always…they come like that. They come here. So, now, actually what we should draw (rustle of paper) (Hm. Yes.)

Kathpalia — (Hm.Prakāsh) this is what it is. You can go deep, and farther. You get this…and this is the diagram. So, if you ask pure function, you will be closing it like this, if you ask societal functions, you will go there. If you ask something more, you will go there. If you further, you will go like this, so this is how you go. In fact, strange you know, look at the diagram, this is what the diagram is. (More rustling of paper).

Prakāsh—Is there a shunya point anywhere? Cannot be.

Doshi—No, no, no, no. See, it depends, no the shunya point is going like this. (Hm. This is a shunya axis—Prakāsh) Because the moment you go further, the whole definition of shunya is changing. (So there is no origin?—Prakāsh) The more you expand, the more nothingness comes.

Desai—So in that case, on this graph, these are not concentric?

Doshi—No, no, no, no, no…they are going like this, they are going. I don’t know, they are going in any direction, yes. And they become like this and they become very narrow, like this. Very strange, you know, one can see what happens to us, you know, our view is here. The deeper you go, the view becomes much more profound, and the catchment area is much larger. Now this is where the universality comes. I can be personal and local here, I can be national, and I can be international and universal here. Actually I think its quite good, its quite good. Local, regional, national, international, universal. No? (Laughter) No, no, no, it’s really like this,

Prakāsh—In different ways would you not way that these were various manifestations of universalities.

Doshi—They are, but if you can get this, and come down, you see if you are here, you are also there. But if you are here, you are not necessarily there. That’s the point.

Prakāsh—But would you say that there is no end-point? That there is no are outside that?

Doshi—No, no, no, no, this is further, no? It goes infinite, it’s going down and down.

Kathpalia—Actually you would be passing, you know, the circle gets bigger, and bigger, so this is getting flatter

Doshi—You know, because they say, there is none solar, like yesterday on TV I saw, that they say there is one solar system. But now they are talking about that there are many other solar systems within the system. So it is actually the universe is expanding, and therefore they are trying to find out whether they can tap the communication from the outer, somewhere else. Now the whole point is these people tap, incidentally you were talking, about the systems. Now I can give you this example, and maybe it will be worthwhile for you to experience. There is a man who died, but in Maninagar, there is a Chhaya-Shastri, the man who looks at shadow, and tells you astrology. I took there many people; you have not gone, ha? You must go. I don’t know if this man is there or not, you can go. He has this Bhrigu-Samhita. Bhrigu-Samhita is written like this, So I used to go there, I took George Anselevicius, I took…every foreigner came, I took them there, and the moment you go there, he says, oh, he will measure his shadow, in fact his scale doesn’t even have…. within this scale there are no subdivisions, as precise, you know, like the compass. So he looks at your shadow, and he takes your measurements, and he says, oh, it is time that…Then he goes inside, he brings some packages from his cupboard. So he says let me road, he says your name

Is so and so, and you have come here. You say, no, no, my name is not that, okay so you take the, you r name is so and so, you have come today, and you are supposed to come with three people whose names are this. More or less. Means you say, yes, okay. The he reads this, now he doesn’t have one billion copies there, he must have, no? But he doesn’t have. So then I said, look, I want to read this, I said this is not possible, that you have that many copies, he says I don’t have. But he says there is a method, and what is the method? When he reads that, he says, now, for him, this page, you read in a sequence, which I will tell you. So in this there are a hundred words, a thousand words, are here. Now I will ask you to read now from here, now, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 20th, 25th, 4th, 9th etc. so that number is given and you read these words, and you get a different sentence. That will be a sentence for you. Same time if you have come, and your shadow is measured, perhaps, it will be the same page, the sequence will be different.

Desai—But isn’t that the same way that one finds the answers in the Bhagavad Gita? A more sophisticated…

Doshi—No, no, no, that is different. That is quite different. This one is absolutely done accurately, it tells you, today you are supposed to come here, this is what happened, and it will tell your past. And you will be stunned, they will tell you the names of your children, now what I am trying to say is, thousand years ago, somebody visualized that he saw on the scan, people going, and moving like this, with all the face, and all the names, now he wants to contain this and put it into this little paper, and now I am going to make for you a system, so that when you make it, in 1992, when you come there, this will happen. First of all, forecasting, visualizing, finding of method, and then trying to tell you how to do that, system. Now why I am telling that is since later, I am talking of twenty years ago, and then I began to look at the computer, and I began to find out that this is the system, that’s why you know, I always tell you, that these are the ways of doing it, and therefore, you get into then, another area, that communication, architecturally, also has a system which we never use. In its full richness. What we call layering, what we call layering is an absolute mundane way, it is very crude. But a layering is very different, you know for example, if you go to a show, maybe a striptease, or some other dancer show, that layering is a very different layering, I mean, an artist’s layering is very different. A musician’s layering is very different. The richness that comes out is quite different, from saying, one two, and three, four, five. And this is what that juice is,

That essence is, is that how you layer things so that you get lot more messages. Much wider messages, much deeper messages. This is what that layering is, and this is what that test is. The wider you go, the larger area you must cover.

Prakāsh—This would be true of all, not only architecture.

Doshi—No, no, no, no. I was talking about; any wise man would do this. But the point is this is what we are talking about, the architects, why are they not doing this? (Pause) No, you must go on. I’ll find out, whether there’s one in Bombay or so, from Madras, Bangalore, you come here. I went to Patan also. My God, what accuracy, I mean even if the person in 60-70% accurate with your name and everything else, it is amazing!

Desai—He knows nothing about…

Doshi—But I can take you to an astrologer here, and he will tell you what you are.

Desai—I’m frightened to discover….

Doshi—No, no, no, no. You see. That is the point, you know. I don’t even follow them. I know whole lot of people like this. It doesn’t affect me, but I learn why do they do this way. For me that is the curiosity. How is it possible that there is some method of looking at the palm and he can tell you whole lot of stuff? How is it possible, what is it there? For me it is only a line, for him it is something else.

Prakāsh—It’s a sign system…

Doshi—No, no, so then does it mean that I can do that, then why can’t I do in my little building, the whole universe?

Desai—The universe is in your hand?

Doshi—You see, the way Rabindranath Tagore wrote, which Satyajit Ray has written once, he said, that Rabindranath wrote that I travelled all over the world, but one fine day, on the window seat of my room, when I get up, I saw a dew-drop, and in it I saw the whole universe. Because in it I saw the reflection of the sky and everything else, whatever it is, but he was, it was very good! So that means you know, any building, see that’s why a classic building, a great building is juicy, is full of contents, full of messages, so size has nothing to do with it. It is that density, I am referring to that density, you know, the density reads that, here. That is important.

Prakāsh—So, in your…what is the language of architecture? You said the language is strong, does it show, everything has its own system…

Doshi—I think the language of architecture is to bring life to space and form. I would really use that phrase. To bring life to space and form is

The language of architecture. All the cadences of music, it is there, it will come, life is there to come, and initially it is only two things, space and the form. To bring life to the container and the controls. Quite different from form follows function. Or form evokes this and that; no I think it is that, you know, to bring life to the form. It has no more barriers then. If you make it alive, it is valid.

Prakāsh—I think life and death are not independent; they are not independent at all. Because, death, you know means that you were alive. And because you die, you will again be born. So I don’t think life and death has any difference. Death is not negative at all. At least, not in our philosophy.

Prakāsh—One would easily say, to bring death to spatial…

Doshi—No, because if you know the meaning of death, if you say, bring death, then you want to kill it, of you want to make it still.

Prakāsh—No, but in the particular context….

Doshi—No, no, no. I think you know, when a building is in ruins, it even speaks more. But even in the death, the building is very alive. That’s what Kahn talked about, he talked about reins, and in the ruins there is , I mean the building strength is more in the ruins than in the actual form.

Prakāsh—Why is that?

Doshi—Because it has all the inherent qualities that is there, one finds in the footprint, or whatever it is. And now the person is not there, you are detached from it and therefore you get lot more there.

Desai—I mean its more widely open to interpretation.

Doshi—That’s right.

Desai—There’s a whole suggestive side of it.

Prakāsh—So in essence, one can even bring that quality to a…

Doshi—See, see, see. There’s one difference from a necropolis. So you cannot make that kind of a…. Necropolis is a very negative thinking. Death is not negative thinking. Death is a very natural phenomena out of which one is reborn. Pre-difference. And all these Italians when they made necropolis, it was nothing to it. It is a merciless affair. And if you say, now its finished. Its annihilation.

Prakāsh—So let’s go back to what you often say, we must, the question is not asking what is architecture, so to say, directly, but you often say, you finished last time with this, we must act as architects.

Doshi—More [inaudible] to them. Already you are an architect within you and therefore you have made it a part of your bloodstream. And in the bloodstream you are a human being [inaudible] and [inaudible] architect because that is an [inaudible] you have go. But in normal [inaudible] Where a person becomes an architect his human being needs to overshadowed by his lust for architecture with a capital ‘A’.

Desai—So its not actually so much the [inaudible] or the creation of the positive or negative are [inaudible] it’s the desire to create an experienced in human terms. So it [inaudible] expands beyond the bounds [inaudible] that they used.

Doshi—No, that is why it gets into this kind of lever, it begins to go beyond the little [inaudible]. [inaudible] are there is much [inaudible] (B.D. more expensive?) there much more concave.

Desai—I would argue that painting or music is alternative or [inaudible]


Prakāsh—What about what the engineers do?

Doshi—I think of your look at Nervi. I think you are as good as anybody else. I don’t think that there you would say that is not architecture either because it transcends it goes into reasons, like Nervi’s buildings are like flowers I mean he is make the [inaudible] so light that you cannot believe that the…