top of page

Florence in the World, the World in Florence 

School of Architecture and Design, Manipal University Jaipur, has organized the “Florence in the World, The World in Florence” Exhibition in collaboration with DRONAH Foundation, supported by the “Life Beyond Tourism” movement; Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, Florence, Italy. Dr G. K Prabhu, president of Manipal University Jaipur, inaugurated the event on 9th Nov 2021 at 9:30 am. The exhibition intends to provide a glimpse of Florence, its lifestyle, cuisine and ways of speaking through a set of 14 posters. In complete harmony with the “Life Beyond Tourism Travel to Dialogue Movement” spirit, this show encourages dialogue between cultures. Posters are endowed with NFC technology that allows guests to access additional online content by simply placing their smartphone close to each poster. This is a traveling exhibition, displayed in various cities across the globe, with the support of a network of partners.

Design and Research: Shared Territories

Design Research

The exhibition Shared Territories is informed by the premise that the making of objects and disciplinary connections across different exhibits, ideas, and objects in an exhibition setting constitutes scholarship, and that it is not informed by the imperative of exposition alone, but also by one of discovery. The precedence for this is the ‘Exhibition as Product and Generator of Scholarship’ symposium organized by Susanne Lehmann- Brauns, Christian Sichau, and Helmuth Trischler of Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, which was held on November 27–28, 2008, at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Martha Fleming, one of the contributors to the symposium, writes that the aim was find out “what exhibitions can do for scholarship that publications cannot (2008, 33).” Fleming questions the hegemony and fetishisation of traditional scholarship, and its form as a book. She suggests that if “it is the methodologies that are the scholarly product of research,” then “the scholarship inheres in the practice, not just in the product, [and] then books and exhibitions are both equally forms of scholarship (35).” It is precisely this premise that the Shared Territories exhibition explores.

Inter-action: 2012 Sydney Architecture Festival, Customs House Sydney

Customs House

Inter-Action is not one but many exhibitions under the banner of the Sydney Architecture Festival – Beyond Boundaries, at Customs House Sydney. Building upon Customs House’s profile in nurturing explorations in the fields of digital visualisation and lighting technologies, Inter-action also engages collaborative art and architecture, as well as contributions from the many disciplines that participate in the making of the built realm. Hypersurface Architecture [Redux] is the design of an interactive media wall installation based on physical pixels, working thereby between the virtual and the real, attempting to “generate an infusion of form with media and media with form to work between the two”. The interactive aspect in Sydney from all Angles is achieved by mapping QR codes onto the graphic map of Sydney, which allows a continual and democratised engagement with as well as the curation of the experience of the public realm. Virtual Warrane II is a way of inhabiting the past and participating in the landscapes of the Gadigal people, demonstrating constructed and built occupations prior to and underlying European settlement.


The theme of modelling is explored further in Real/Virtual which highlights technologies of visualisation and different ways of creating navigable worlds. Model City is a display of physical models of key public precincts (under construction) in the Sydney CBD, and it allows people to interact with the emerging public domains. Open Agenda (an initiative of the School of Architecture, UTS) is an “annual competition aimed at supporting a new generation of experimental architecture. Open to recent graduates, Open Agenda is focused on developing the possibilities of design research in architecture and the built environment”. The winning entries this year by Sibling, Tina Salama and Robert Beson explore other ways of conceptualising architecture from participation to performative spatiality to the architectonics of atmosphere. In highlighting the different forms of interactive installations; modelled realities, pasts, and futures; and the speculation of the futures of architectural thinking, Inter-action celebrates the anticipation of the post-disciplinary, which is the emergence of new ways of knowing and practising, rather than the simple convergence of different disciplinary knowledge systems.

Anchor 2

Architecture of Care and Connectedness, Kattipara, Kerala 

The context for the studio in semester is post disaster rehabilitation and resettlement for the town of Kattipara, Kerala. The focus of the workshop is on discovery and the articulation of collective realms of livelihood, resource management, education, care, socializing, entertainment, and so on, which might exist or might have existed in the affected community. These spaces are atypological in the sense that they may not fit into the requirements of taxonomic categorization. The key question for the workshop is “What it means to Settle?” While all forms of connectivity are always spatial, they may not always be architectural or tectonically expressed or expressible. The two-week workshop will require students to revisit the site and interact with the local stakeholders again, using critical approaches of seeing and listening, and document. The search will require students to value and inquire the seemingly ‘ordinary’ and ‘everyday’ as meaningful evidence into a way of life, which the resettlement should try to support and enable.

Narrative, Sense and Space: Cultural Interpretation Centre, Mahé

The Semester Five Project will have students design a Cultural Interpretation Centre at Mahe. The studio brief expects students to understand the complexities in the cultural history of Mahe, consolidate oral histories and memories, and construct a narrative that is shared and meaningful. It is expected that this narrative will be realized through the spatial and tectonic design and material detailing of the Cultural Interpretation Centre, which is a mixed-use public building in a significant location in the vicinity of the Mahe waterfront. Designs produced by students should not only be functional, but they should also have evocative spatial qualities appropriate to an experiential project like the Cultural Interpretation Centre. Furthermore, a very significant aspect of this project is Inclusive Design (designing for the differently abled) as an embedded philosophy and not as a compliance driven approach, so as have positive social impact and be able to provide an experience that is accessible to all.

The specific methodology for the studio is that it deliberately starts with M. Mukundan’s novel Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil, translated into English as On the Banks of the Mayyazhi, as an entry into Mahe as a place. Instead of diving into site and context study, we wanted to the students to inhabit the fictive-material space of Mahe in the novel, and understand that the characters of the novel may be as real as the people who lived/live in Mahe. This fictive-material space of the novel is then made tangible through the context study of Mahe. Students combined physical and historical study of the city with deep listening, consolidating oral histories to amplify their understanding of the city (as the client). The study focused on understanding the transformation of the urban and cultural landscape of Mahe, looking for signs of continuities as well as disruptions of memories, myths, legends, stories, identities, rituals and practices, ways of living, and important sites and buildings. The Design Methodology was experimental and collaborative, in the sense that each student read one chapter of the novel, narrated it to the class, then created graphic ‘tiles’ for each chapter, capturing five moments (event, space, emotion), thereby re-constructing and re-interpreting the fictive space into a graphic novel. The students then selected one narrative (multiple tiles) from the graphic novel to convert it into a spatial articulation, which was then sited, tested and retested to arrive at a precinct plan that combines narrative sequence with urban gesture and strategy. The architectural programme was negotiated into that.


The studio travelled from fictive material space of the city to lived city, from imaging the spatial within the fiction to the architectonics of emotions, from stories within stories, to architectonic assemblages, to siting these assemblages as sited fantasies, to many emergent architectural becomings, concluding that no exploration is complete without such invested methodologies of meandering.

(Re)thinking and (Re)making the Threshold

The research aim of the UNSW studio was to imagine other futures for a structured institutional space, and discover spatial configurations and effects that become possible by approaching the design process outside in. The design project was the refurbishment of a section or a threshold of the West Wing of the Red Centre building (Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp Architects, completed 1998) at the University of New South Wales, Kensington campus in Sydney. There were three stages to the studio: 1) deconstruction (uncovering or becoming aware of surface typologies); 2) construction (assembling a deep surface that synthesizes some of these typologies); and 3) re-construction (translating and transforming the deep surface into architectural space) of surface, engaging criticism, history, and design. Using the building as site, students were to propose a surface intervention based on the conceptual wall of their choice. This was imposed and impressed upon the existing structure. A given organizational order was infected and contaminated with another, with the aim of introducing a shift in the building’s occupation, appearance, and experience, without a complete overhaul of the original building. The project was to be imagined variously as extension, addition, insertion, and wrapping.

Between Water and Land: Wetlands Research and Interpretation Centre

The aim of the brief is to design a Wetlands Research and Interpretation Centre, which will have spaces for Research and Teaching, Information Storage and Exchange, and Communal Use. The brief expects students to develop a clear stance on how the building can foster education, curiosity, awareness, through architectural legibility + circulation; incite emotional responses to the mythical and poetic qualities and perceptions of wetlands and water; and propose ways in which their building touches the ground or extends into the surroundings through a careful consideration of wetland ecology and construction methods.  The design moves must be evidence based and driven by a demonstrable study and synthesis/application of ‘deep’ study of precedents. The building would be instrumental in connecting research (expert knowledge) and experience and education (democratization of knowledge). The project demands a clear and unambiguous solution to the functional programme, but it also expects an appropriate level of abstraction and translation of the context (wetlands/water) in architectural atmosphere through the manipulation of light and materials.

history theory

Chaukhat, Darwaza, Jharokha: Public Life of Threshold Elements in Historic Architecture


This was a MOOC course aimed at uncovering a theoretical history of the elements of Chaukhat (threshold), Darwaza (door), and Jharokha (window/bay window), in traditional Indian buildings, which mark and celebrate the passage between the private and public realms. It positions these readings in the contemporary field of surface studies that refocuses surface as the substance of and spatial. In essence, the learner writes a mini theoretical history of architectural elements, which would be assisted by but not limited to formalist and historical readings. Implicit to this process, is the desire to recover and ‘unlock’ new histories of these elements, without dehistoricizing these elements. The objective of focusing on threshold elements was that they would speak about the making of the domestic interior; the interrelation between domesticity and the public realm; and the shaping of the public realm and the urban ‘fabric.’ The pedagogic objective of this course was also to move away from exclusively text, graphics, and classroom-based education in architectural history, to return to the field, and to trust embodied and situated knowledge and insight. We wanted learners to explore ways in which these threshold elements echoed as well as shaped the rhythms of civic life; evoked alternate worlds, spaces, and realities through their painted surfaces, or surfaces of textiles through their carved surfaces; or suggested new proportional relations to bodies, spaces, and surfaces in the city.

Experiencing Architectural History

This teaching project was based on a critique of classroom and image focused teaching of architectural history and theory, which for students is often somewhat disembodied, fragmented, and distanced from the materiality of the objects of history. The aim was to 1) foster a culture of deep learning; 2) understand the building’s tectonic, spatial, and organizational elements; 3) engage in a process of self-discovery through making, which gives the student greater agency; and 4) allow students to understand buildings in the context of the city. 

There were two aspects to this: 1) The sectional models and parti diagrams of the modern villas helped make these more palpable to students as historical artefacts. Hence, while they were able to ‘survey’ the historical terrain, they could also deep dive; 2) The Shanghai field trip as part of Western Architectural History subject at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University was structured around three distinct urban settings of the waterfront (Bund); the park (People’s Square); and the dense urban fabric (French concession), was an important activity. The on-site production of analytical sketches of buildings (where students tried to highlight the theories of classical composition) mounted a subtle critique of classroom and image focused teaching of architectural history and theory, which for students is often somewhat distanced from the urbanity and materiality of the objects of history.

bottom of page