Here is the complete article written by Zarine Ahmed published in Timeline Goa magazine Summer 2016 issue.
“Organic Arts + Architecture” is an architectural office based in the quaint old quarter of St.Tome in Panjim. Architects Sadhana Kembhave and Joachim Haider explain how the term organic fits into architecture and more about their two year old establishment.
1) What is organic architecture?
Organic architecture depends on how you shape the building, the form and you think of it like a living organism. So everything should be created in a way that it knows what it is doing. Every element in a building has certain function. Functions should be expressed in form. Organic architecture is about how they express their functions. Our planet earth is like an organism. When we start constructing, we start destroying what is done by the creator but if you think instead of destroying, because it is necessary for us to have shelter, you can transform it into something beautiful, so you try your best to do it in an artistic way, add to the beauty of what is already there, instead of destroying it or making something ugly.
2) Could you give some examples?
You have an entrance for instance; an entrance should always be have a welcoming gesture. The entrance should say ‘welcome, I am happy that you are going through me into the house.’ For example in some shops, we just go in without knowing, the way they hang their clothes, it will lead you to one to the other before you know you are inside the shop whereas some shops hang long dresses and sarees at the entrance, you don’t want to go into it because you will have to duct through it, its like blocking it. You see in Goa the balcao, it’s nice, you sit there, and it is like a layer in front of the house. You can sit and experience the movement of people and if a passerby wants to wave to you or pass a message, they don’t have to go inside the house. This feature is completely missing in contemporary architecture.
3) How did you come up with ‘Organic Art + Architecture?
What we did was in the last two years we built up a library of designs, people ask what is organic architecture, so we did residential, urban and commercial models of everything, then got a website up. We built up the brand ‘organic architecture’ and if anybody comes to us we tell them you can get this kind of architecture, so people who are like minded should say “wow, we haven’t seen this kind of architecture before and we love it.” We also do landscapes, not trees and plants, we do the the hard landscaping, we tell where the pond should come, where should the club house be located, where the paths are coming, where to have a pavilion, fountain and others. The software that we use for virtual modeling is called ABIS, it is from Austria and somehow it is like a video game. You can go up, down and in every direction in the 3D building model in real time. It helps the architect to see what he is designing, so that later there won’t be any clashes. The software will show each and every detail, the shadow falling on the walls, the glow of the walls etc. after all this makes it for clients very easy to identify them with their new residence from the beginning.
4) Is there a touch of eco friendly element in your architecture? How do colours play a role in architecture?
Eco friendly elements can always be added. Even to a simple box-like structure, you can make it eco friendly. Sustainability and eco friendly elements come as an addition and they are totally welcome but it is not the main thing about organic architecture. As far as colours are concerned, if you open an architectural magazine or google bedroom you see only three colours, you see beige, brown and white and from far you don’t know whether it is a kitchen, is it a bedroom, it is totally ridiculous. There are so many lovely colours, colours reflect to us, white for office is okay but imagine it in a bedroom, it will be like a clinic and that’s not nice. Colours represent moods and has different functions, for example for weddings we have bright colours, it compliments with cheerful moods. You can always go toning, for example go for some complimentary colour, make some highlights or if you have a wall you can start with a dark colour and go lighter as you reach the ceiling. Or we can use different techniques, if you have a spatula you can create a texture that adds extra dimension to the eye, our eyes react to colours, if you stare something monochromatic it is tiring. In nature for example, there is nothing monochromatic, there will always be light and dark, light and dark and have different shades.
5) What about senior friendly bathrooms? You said you want to get more into that field.
In India, senior friendly bathroom equipment is available. From grab rails to non slippery tiles, they are all available. If you see sometimes, these senior friendly apartments, the door to the bathroom does not open to the outside, it opens into the bathroom, which is wrong. If you are in a wheelchair and you suddenly fell unconscious it is difficult for the helper to open the door because the wheelchair blocks it. Besides, we need larger sizes, larger dimensions or you have to reduce the walls. You need more space for the wheelchair to rotate. Even with seniors with walking sticks and clutches, they also need more space, you can’t have too many intrusions. They should be able to move easily without tripping over, overall for seniors you cannot have narrow spaces and doors should be wide. A built in bench may be also necessary where the senior can sit and have a shower, if they are not comfortable with their knees or ankles. Today, we live longer; a senior friendly building is “the” key element for good designs.
6) What do you think of today’s architecture?
Worst is copy and paste. This is the death sentence to creativity. We have lost our ability in the last fifty years to design something beautiful. You go to America, you go to Africa, Europe, they all look more or less perfect and all the same which is boring. Somehow we have lost the idea of proportions, idea of creativity, idea of colours. Today, there is no individuality and creativity. The architecture should represent that area. The same technologies have come everywhere so we can’t tell the name of the place by seeing the houses. There are the same kinds of houses everywhere. We should not make the mistake of blindly copying the past. If we blindly copy them, then where is the development? It should blend with the area and the times we are living in. We can use old designs in a contemporary way and not put the same features as they don’t fit in the modern picture. When I say we should not copy the past, it does not mean that we should erase it, we will always fight with our claws and teeth to keep heritage building behind and these should be well preserved for our future generations.
7) Which are the projects you have designed and what are your future plans?
All of our projects are in the designing stage. We have projects outside Goa too. As far as future plans are concerned, we want to turn into developers because we know how to handle a project, design and execute and everything and we will have control over the quality in addition to our design work. In a way we will be more on the proactive side rather then waiting for clients to come in. We will start with small projects. The working title will be something like ‘ The Goan Revival.’ We are looking at the unique quality of architecture along the Konkan coast and transform it with a modern approach. We are searching for plots; so that next year we can start constructing and when we finally pass away, we know that we have left some buildings behind that had enriched this place.