Architect Gita Balakrishnan has embarked upon a 1700km walk from Kolkata to New Delhi, to spread awareness on how good design can play a substantial role in changing lives. The walk sheds light on the role of the Architecture and Design fraternity, their contributions to society, and issues that they aim to address through design. Ethos Foundation in collaboration with The Council of Architecture and The Indian Institute of Architects has conceptualized this initiative. Gita will be transcending the cultural and geographical boundaries of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
Gita founded Ethos in 2002 as an initiative to bridge the gap between students and professionals from the ACED fraternity (Architecture, Construction, Engineering, and Design). It is a platform for up-and-coming professionals to engage with each other and to empower them. As one of the four verticals of Ethos, and an initiative under the Ethos Foundation, Gita introduced Arcause as a platform for acknowledging, enlisting, and actualizing Social Responsibilities of Architects, Designers, Engineers, and others associated with the ACED Fraternity. The walk will commemorate the milestone of Ethos completing 20 remarkable years in June 2022, and celebrate the spirit and architectural magnificence of India after 75 years of independence.
In the words of Ar.Habeeb Khan, the President of COA, “Architecture as a profession and architects as professionals and service-providers need to be more visible. Their work and the power that they wield needs to be highlighted. Walk for Arcause will bring the spotlight on an expertise that can make a difference to our future. The Council of Architecture is delighted to be driving this initiative with Ethos Foundation.”
Ar. Gita Balakrishnan says, “Architecture and design are central to lifestyles, to well-being, to healing, to connecting, to growth, to living and to life itself. However the power of design can impact a lot more than it does today. This walk is a humble attempt to learn, to receive, imbibe and generate ideas from what I see, hear and experience through the stories of others. I walk in the hope that this will spur a lot more social and responsible action from all stakeholders.”
The different engagement programs along the route of the Walk for Arcause will shed light on the Architecture and Design fraternity, their contributions and role in society and issues that they aim to address through design. Every step taken will be a new lesson learnt. Learning from communities, cities, institutions, organisations, climatic conditions, landscape, built and unbuilt environments, formal and informal settings will allow the two-decade-long efforts of Ethos to come full circle. Ar.C.R.Raju, President of IIA said “IIA is happy to collaborate with this laudable initiative – the overall intent of which is to bring the focus on architects in the social realm and on Architectural Social Responsibility.”
Gita Balakrishnan is a graduate from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. She completed her practical training at the Centre for Building Performance and Diagnostics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. Ethos and its events have enabled her to influence more than 45000 students of architecture and civil engineering and to create opportunities for them to showcase their talent. She has collaborated with various NGOs for Financial Inclusion programs, sustainable health and sanitation projects, and inspiring talented young professionals to act upon such vital issues.
Activities along the route have been designed to spread awareness on design and design as a career choice is being elaborated upon by Gita through her interactions at schools along the way. This has become a movement and several institutions of Architecture and Design across the country are now taking Design as a career to schools in their vicinity. ‘Mera Ghar’, an interactive module for educating lay persons on common building practices has triggered insightful discussions in smaller towns and villages. Certain stretches of the route would be traversed by Gita during the night to emphasize on the need for safety in our cities, talking about their claim to spaces.