Birth centenary celebrations of architect in Kottayam

Laurie Baker should be remembered as a visionary who used tradition for a movement towards modernity that we should all embrace, said Arundhati Roy. The writer-activist, who is a trained architect herself, was speaking at the district-level birth centenary celebrations of the veteran architect in Kottayam on Monday.

Reminding the audience that society had not given Baker his due, Ms. Roy said he was an architect who placed ‘justice’ in the centre of architecture. “Not only to the client, the land, building materials, environment, but in a deeper sense,” she said. Remembering the construction of her mother Mary Roy’s school here, Ms. Roy said he had found a way to fight one of the major issues that still plague Indian society, caste.

“Every classroom had a small toilet. Unless the students themselves cleaned it everyday, theirs would be a filthy, stinking classroom. In a society that makes other people clean our faeces, this made an equal space where students learnt how to clean our own toilet,” she said.

On a personal level, Baker was one person who showed her how a space could affect our thinking.