By AU Staff

Crossroads, the annual Young Architects’ Festival (YAF) organised by the Kerala State chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), took place between 27-29 October at Sarovaram Bio-park in Kozhikode. The 3-day event was inaugurated by lighting the lamp. Eminent personalities like Ar. C. R. Raju, President, IIA, National, Ar.Vilas Avachat, Vice President, IIA, National, Ar.Leena Kumar, Joint Honourary Secretary, IIA, National, Ar.Sathish Mane, Joint Honourary Secretary, IIA, National,
Ar.Divya Kush, Immediate Past President, IIA, National, Ar.L.Gopakumar, Chairperson, IIA, Kerala Chapter, Ar.Lalichan Zacharias, Past Chairperson, IIA, Kerala Chapter, Ar.Jabeen Zacharias, Past Chairperson, IIA, Kerala Chapter, Ar.Vivek P. P., Chairperson, IIA, Calicut Centre and others were present at the inauguration. The event witnessed around 2500 registered delegates, 200 guests, 10,000 footfalls. Three hundred fifty volunteers were involved to manage the show.

Reweaving Kozhikode

Day 01 was all about professional practice, public governance, and the city’s needs, all coming together via the curated National Design Competition- REWEAVE KOZHIKODE. The nine finalists had presented their entries, each one as sensitive to the stake holders, responding to the context and looking towards a sustainable future for the city.

Ar.Peter Rich, principal architect, Peter Rich Architects, South Africa, said, “The level of commitment of the entries, to how holistically looking at what was a complex problem, they didn’t just treat it as heritage, they dealt with it more holistically in a bigger context, so that it becomes something that more enabling and gives pleasure of use.”

Architect K.T. Raveendran, another jury member, said the project should not be over-developed. “It should be retained as a healthy green heart of the city,” he added. Architect Soumitro Ghosh said it was an opportunity to recover the past.

District Collector N. Tej Lohit Reddy, M.K Muneer, MLA, and former MLA A. Pradeep Kumar were among those who participated in discussions on Comtrust development.

A documentary on architect N.M. Salim on the occasion of his 50th year in the profession was also screened on the occasion.

The two programme packed days always began by serene morning ragas live by talented artists. This opened SABHA (main stage) for several thought provoking sessions one after the other. Lokasamgraha addressed the YAF theme: Architecture for everyone and the discourse revolved around the idea of how to bring architectural conversation to the common man, by bringing awareness to the common man vs architects step down to empathise with society and communicate in their language. While sessions like Katha: “Art can speak, not just words”, and Vistara: “God is in the details, to enhance the experience is divine”, addressed the nuances of the design process and its impact on the user or inhabitant of the space; sessions like Shikshan: “Architecture, knowledge of form or a form of knowledge”, and Paristhiti: “The world is changing, are we?” addressed wide spectrum inquiries into architectural education and environmental responsiveness. Disha: “There are 360 degrees, why think linear”, displayed spectacles such as those of Wallmakers, Bhoomiputra, Pink studio and Kanan Modi Associates; and Sanskriti: “Art, history and heritage as tools for holistic development” conversed about challenges of integrating the same with mainstream architectural or urban development. Kala-Neeti, Vikalp and Niyam discoursed the much ambitious levels architectural practice in India aspire to achieve. Having Ar.Peter Rich and Ar.Pallinda Kannangara on stage together expecting to have a discourse on “When east meets west”, unexpectedly, in a pleasant way, turned out to be either of them marvelling at each other’s works and professional journeys. Ar.Pallinda unveiled the book: The Architecture of Peter Rich, Conversations with Africa.

YAF Awards 2022

The Young Architects Festival Awards 2022 were distinguishably reformatted this time to commend young practices and not just projects. The format required the firms to submit multiple projects in diverse 8 categories. A whopping 100 entries showcasing around 450 projects were received to be deliberated, discussed, evaluated, and shortlisted to 40 entries. Each category had eminent jury panels and they all had intensive dialogs to be able to wane down the entries to winners and several commendations were inevitable. The jury were really impressed with the way the young minds in the fraternity were addressing core issues, being empathetic, contextual, responsive, and responsible and several of them pursuing sustainability to the extent of zero footprint. As jury panellist, Ar.Bharat Ramamrutham mentioned, the future of Indian architecture is indeed in safe hands.

The Workshop series were a delight to the participants. They transpired to be very inspiring, educational, and insightful. Each of them was curated with much thought by the array of distinguished mentors. CHINTA was all a 48-hour hard work for one of the city’s strategic locations including the erstwhile Municipal Office building, the street connecting it to the beach, new corporation office premise and a vacant land in between, all on 1.5 acres of land extent. The mentors, Ar.Shimul Zaveri Kadri, Ar.Bijoy Ramachandran, Ar.Biju Kuriakose and Ar.Pallinda Kannangara had an enthralling two days with the young minds who were much positively receptive and inquisitive of the mentoring they had and were elated at the opportunity. BHAVANA and the school children turned out to be a learning experience for the mentors in return. This workshop yet again addressed the design possibility of another public space in the city: the Lion’s Club children’s park. Working with the primary stakeholders and engaging with their untapped sources of creativity, proved to be an exercise where the child became the father of man, responded the workshop mentors, Ar.Madhav Raman, Ar.Niranjan S. Warrier, Ar.Shtam Purvankara, Ar.Vishnu and Ar.Aromal. Unbelievable responses creating AI games, place making, bird watching, storytelling and much more were the results of this engagement. NIRMANA by Masons Ink studio, AKARA by Er.Manjunath and SAMSARA by Akon Mitra on “oritechture” were experiential in being hands-on with materials, its many properties and applications. LIPI gave a wonderful insight into Architectural journalism and writing, while the mentors Tanya Khanna and Suneet Langar from Epistle Communications, also looked into branding and its cues.

The Forum addressed current challenges in the industry that heeded an eager audience. “A new perspective to architectural journalism”, “Walk for Arcause”- in conversation with Ar.Geetha Balakrishnan and “En-gendering architecture” we discoursed before a much enthusiastic gathering. The rapid fires with starchitects were a fun and engaging session with direct access from audience to the guest architect on the hotseat.

The festival did get sunny too. YATRA was a curated series of outdoor activities early in the morning. Public project tour gave glimpses into the results of IIA, Calicut centre’s decade long effort in trying to connect architecture to the streets, in making a difference on ground zero. The Freedom Square- a public stage and sculpture narrating history, Samudra- a convention space for the fisherman community, Government Higher Secondary School at Karaparamba and Udayam- a home for transition for the destitute of the city, all proved how the fraternity can work hand in hand with the governance, people’s representatives, and people themselves, to create their own public spaces and eventually the city as well. An inspiration for the entire nation to uphold and work towards bettering our own built environment. The Heritage walk curated by Captain (Retd) Ramesh Babu and Sketching trail with Ar.Peter Rich and Ar.Jayakrishnan were also a positive way to start the day.

What is a festival without a cultural extravaganza. The event curated several, small stage, big stage, cultural snippets that were of local flavour. The Pancharimelam, Thayambakam, Kolkali and the flash mob by gen-Z were indulging experiences. The on-stage perfomrances by Mamangam India were mesmerising interludes to the grand finale of the event, the awards night. Urban Angadi, the flea market showcasing 40 small and medium businesses from the locals, 9 live bands and engaging performances along with cultural savouries for the watering mouths were the sweet cherry on the top.

A splendour of a festival for three days in the land renowned for its hospitality. Its beaches, its hillocks, its markets, its streets, its culture and food, its people, they recharged, rejuvenated, inspired, revived, motivated, uplifted, cheered, made happy its 2500 guests from all over the country. A new benchmark to the conduct of events in the nation. A new paradigm to the curation of the celebration of architecture, art, culture, food, music and much more. Calicut, rising to be a Design Metropolis and paving the path for an architectural renaissance in “God’s own country”- the State of Kerala has done it all!

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