To students of architecture, and architects in India, Laurie Baker was a legendary name. As an architect Laurie Baker came closest to the Gandhian Principles of sustainability in architecture. His amazing body of work is a testament to the man who spent close to seven decades working in India and making it his home.
Laurie Baker passed away today on April 01.
Here is a text of an email sent out by the Dean of my architecture school, who held Laurie Baker in the highest esteem and who has successfully inculcated the spirit and ethos of Laurie Baker’s work and teachings into the curriculum at Rizvi College of Architecture.
Through Patrix’s article, I come across the first two links on this topic. Definitely worth a read.
Elsewhere on the blogosphere, people are talking about Laurie Baker
- A review of “Laurie Baker: Mud”
- Parayil Tharakan: A Personal Account with Laurie Baker
- Laurie Baker: Living for a Cause
- Lest We Forget: Laurie Baker
Prof. Akhtar Chauhan writes
Laurie Baker left for his heavenly abode this morning. He was not keeping well for some time. He inspired many generations of architects, engineers,constructors and citizens to follow the Gandhian principles of self reliance and simplicity. He promoted sustainable, appropriate and humane architecture through his designs, works, constructions, writings and guidance. His ideas and works shall continue to inspire new generations of architects and students
I have fond memories of meeting him in Thiruvanthapuram, when I went there to inaugurate the IIA centre. I requested him to become a member of the IIA. He was surprised. He said that why should he become IIA member when he had resigned his RIBA membership. On inquiry I found out that he wanted to design and build his unique architecture because local contractors and engineers had failed to meet his specifications and qualitative concerns. I informed him that IIA had adopted a charter at Ahmedabad and prepared an action plan at Nagpur convention that enabled architects to design and build. He finally agreed to become IIA member.
I visited his home, which was stunningly simple and beautiful. It was sited so well that it became a part of landscape. It was full of surprises and sustained interest of visitors to its last detail. I met his wife and it was great meeting them at their home. He promised to give his membership form before I left for Mumbai. He kept his promise and literally came running with his membership form just in time before my departure. I disclosed our real intension only then. I informed him that IIA Council was thinking of awarding him IIA Gold Medal for excellence in architecture, but our problem was that the award could only be given to IIA member! So it was important that we had him as a distinguished fellow member of the IIA. The IIA Council awarded him the prestigious IIA Gold Medal.
He came and delivered an inspiring lecture at the International Conference on Education of Design Professional for Sustainable Development at Thiruvanthapuram. As usual his lecture was inspiring and enlightening. When the lights went off and AC stopped, he suggested that we should open the windows and allow the natural light and ventilation. He said that it would have been better if we were sitting under the tree to discuss sustainable architecture and development. I had never met Gandhiji, but in meeting Laurie Baker I could understand Gandhiji’s thoughts and guidance in a much deeper way.
A few years later, I wrote to him as the founder president of the International Association for Humane Habitat. We wanted him to accept our proposal to award him the first IAHH Gold Medal. He declined citing his inability to come to Mumbai due to old age. He had already won HUDCO award, UN Habitat Award, CAA Robert Mathew Award and so many other awards. His works have been our continued source of inspiration at Rizvi College of Architecture. He was one of our role models for evolving humane architecture. His life and work shall continue to guide us in our quest for humane habitat.
May his noble soul rest in peace in his heavenly abode. Amen.
Akhtar and Pradnya Chauhan
Faculty and Students of Rizvi College of Architecture.