This is a story about an architecture student’s thesis. Well for starts I shall explain the process of doing our thesis in a college in India, well maybe at my college;
Step 1: Submit a synopsis with three options on the subjects you would like to do your thesis on
Step 2:Walk into room of people which is occupied, half by people twice your age and half by people thrice your age; Which might range from numbers 10-15 and present your synopsis, because at the end of four and a half years you should definitely learned to voice your opinion in a restricting, de-motivating and suffocating atmosphere.
Step 3: Meet a person called your guide. Twice a week is the norm.
Step 4: Sit for 4 painfully long reviews in a cold room ( quite literally). Site effects might be headaches, depression thankfully no one has died yet.
Well if you get through step 4, step 5 only gets worse.
Step 5: Stand through a painfully long review and present your whole thesis to people thrice your age again in an extremely cold room.
Step 6: Attend a review session held by the university, this is sure going to be a piece of cake after all the psychotic sessions you have been through earlier.
Step 7: Submit a report thanking everyone who helped you and didn’t help you and everyone who was annoying and spoilt your design as well.
Step 8: Try to find a job and fail greatly.
But before all this there is a story, I have barely made it to stage 4 at the minute and I am tired already. My panel has asked me to write my design goals which got me to writing my story. Why I choose to do a University Town for a thesis Project?
… Like most stories this involves a childhood unfulfilled dream of a not so little girl who dreamt of growing up and going to a place far away from home to study. I didn’t hate home as a child, but its best to say I wanted something called freedom of thought and expression from an young age; which lead me to believe I would grow up and leave to study in a large campus with no restrictions where I could peruse something creative but also get to play sports and Indulge in music and read in real libraries than visit the small ones in the neighborhoods. I was a child and I read too much Harry Potter with a love for Jane Austen, Malory towers and bend it like Beckham; enjoying theater and debates and questions. And then I grew up to read more books like Catcher in the rye and Fountainhead and questioned education and its goals and there were certainly more questions at this point. Indian authors like Chetan Bhagath added glamour to the university living and came the movies like good will hunting elaborating on an idea of education and acceptance. This was not the end of it, I was in search of a liberating atmosphere where we can breathe, learn make choices, fail and find new ideas and more unanswered questions.
But have you heard of an anti climax, our renaissance painted, self discovering person did not get large sprawling lawns or walls as a canvas. She did not even get her sports or the music, the only debates she had were inside her head. She got a parking lot and a white building, with lawns that read please stay off the grass and where students wore whatever they chose with restrictions and noise was not tolerated neither was running on corridors and thus began the life of an architecture student.
But there were ups, I started seeing more clearly, observing with clarity and travelling with uncertainty and yet learning through new landscapes. Like a virus, the idea that I was not learning enough probably allowed me to understand more, I consciously started to travel to see buildings and built forms ancient and new, I would crowd that into even family holidays, with my brother complaining of sore feet; at least they were not an eye sore. Yet college was unfulfilling, logical but not poetic trying to find meaning and learning was driven out by competition and students discussing marks, so much that I left out calculating my GPA in the last four years and am probably the only one who knows no what she scores.
After four and a half years, I don’t know if I’ll ever go to a university. My parents probably won’t be able to support my education to one and I desperately want to learn working at the minute. So, this was like a tribute to my childhood dream, I was literally living it. To build castles in the air was finally worth it. A university town for me was an economic model of growth, in a humanitarian way. WHY? Because everything at universities is subsidized and yet people make profits! It was a place of cross culture, I was being selfish here; I was wanting my dream to study physics and arts and theatre and play sports and enjoy music and read all in a walk able distance. Lastly I think it was safety, Universities are safe, even in the middle of the night how much can go wrong with a bunch of people who know each other on a daily basis and live in circles. I wrote a lot of other things on my synopsis though , I wrote about luring universities from abroad and an new kind of economy; and learning spaces. What I actually wanted to write about was the quote from Walden “How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living”.
This was my lifeline, like Randy Paucsh I was trying to live my childhood dream and we are in the end all self involved people, and thesis was my big fake before the basket.