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Concept. Anupama Kundoo 'Feel the Ground' Venice Biennale 2012

'Feel the Ground. Wall House: One to One' was an invited installation, as part of 'Common Ground' curated by David Chipperfield for the 13th international architecture exhibition of 'la Biennale di Venezia'. Anupama Kundoo's Wall House in Auroville was constructed in full scale, making the point that architecture is a collaborative act, and that we are more common than we are different across the globe, regardless of our diversity. The curators wrote: "Kundoo, has built an ambitious, 1:1 facsimili of the Wall House, a building she designed in Auroville in India in 2000. The common ground is in its making. A team of Indian craftsmen, some of whom had never left their home country, were brought to Venice to construct the project in collaboration with staff and students from the University of Queensland, and students from IUAV in Venice, creating skills exchange across 3 continents. The final piece embodies the dialogue between construct on cultures, and also is a showcase for Kundoo's architecture, a lyrical modernism at easy with the demands of its climate."

'Feel the Ground. Wall House: One to One' was an invited installation, as part of 'Common Ground' curated by David Chipperfield for the 13th international architecture exhibition of 'la Biennale di Venezia'. Anupama Kundoo's Wall House in Auroville was constructed in full scale, making the point that architecture is a collaborative act, and that we are more common than we are different across the globe, regardless of our diversity.
The curators wrote: "Kundoo, has built an ambitious, 1:1 facsimili of the Wall House, a building she designed in Auroville in India in 2000. The common ground is in its making. A team of Indian craftsmen, some of whom had never left their home country, were brought to Venice to construct the project in collaboration with staff and students from the University of Queensland, and students from IUAV in Venice, creating skills exchange across 3 continents. The final piece embodies the dialogue between construct on cultures, and also is a showcase for Kundoo's architecture, a lyrical modernism at easy with the demands of its climate."

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Feel <strong>the</strong> Ground<br />

1


“<br />

Underpinning my work is <strong>the</strong> philosophical belief in <strong>the</strong> syn<strong>the</strong>tic<br />

nature of architecture. Architecture is a total experience whereby<br />

<strong>the</strong> variables of context, spatiality, construction, material capacity,<br />

and humanity are inextricably linked. ” AK<br />

What we have ‘in common’ is much more than our ‘differences’ despite <strong>the</strong><br />

apparent discordances in <strong>the</strong> way diverse societies express <strong>the</strong>mselves through<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir built environments. There are indeed common aspirations, and a rich<br />

culture of shared material and spatial traditions across <strong>the</strong> world and also<br />

through time. Each innovation in one place has helped technologies to evolve<br />

worldwide, and we continue to fur<strong>the</strong>r ancient building traditions that continue<br />

to survive in <strong>the</strong> collective memory.<br />

Wall House One to One transplants a contemporary architectural<br />

project from rural India to within <strong>the</strong> walls of <strong>the</strong> historic Corderie building<br />

of <strong>the</strong> Arsenale in <strong>Venice</strong>. Through this act, <strong>the</strong> project seeks to demonstrate—<br />

in <strong>the</strong> most direct way—that we have more in common than we may imagine.<br />

It dwells on <strong>the</strong> similarities between two apparently divergent architectural<br />

cultures.<br />

The ancient brick pillars of <strong>the</strong> Corderie set in lime mortar are interwoven<br />

with traditional south Indian brickwork also set in lime mortar. However,<br />

<strong>the</strong> traditional hand-made Indian achikal brick continues to be produced<br />

while Italian brick making has become industrialized. The plan of <strong>the</strong> Wall<br />

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House is interwoven into <strong>the</strong> plan of <strong>the</strong> Corderie, merging <strong>the</strong> new and <strong>the</strong><br />

old, <strong>the</strong> temporary and <strong>the</strong> permanent. The exhibit and <strong>the</strong> space of exhibition<br />

flow into one ano<strong>the</strong>r without confrontation, each attempting to flatter <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>the</strong> dialogue that occurs between <strong>the</strong>m. Integration instead of confrontation<br />

is <strong>the</strong> essential approach. Spatially <strong>the</strong>re is much in common: <strong>the</strong><br />

long plan, <strong>the</strong> linear arrangements and circulation, <strong>the</strong> double height central<br />

space with mezzanines on ei<strong>the</strong>r side. Structurally too one notices <strong>the</strong> catenary<br />

curves, arches and vaults, metal tie rods instead of buttresses, jack arch slabs,<br />

fired clay roof tiles … Architecture’s richness is enhanced by <strong>the</strong> shared understanding<br />

across continents and time, about materials and of making buildings.<br />

Architecture as a total experience<br />

The rebuilding of <strong>the</strong> Wall House in 1:1 scale enables <strong>the</strong>se ideas to<br />

be experienced first-hand. The installation of a full-scale model challenges <strong>the</strong><br />

exhibition of architecture as artifact; a practice that can overemphasize <strong>the</strong><br />

visual component of architecture while foregoing <strong>the</strong> significance of all o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

sensory perceptions and variables. The idea of Wall House One to One is to<br />

exhibit architecture as a total experience.<br />

The dialogue that occurs in <strong>the</strong> original Wall House between <strong>the</strong><br />

materiality of <strong>the</strong> architecture and <strong>the</strong> non-materiality of <strong>the</strong> voids for human<br />

use, is augmented with overlays of <strong>the</strong> new site; <strong>the</strong> Corderie. The complement<br />

of scale and spatial composition between <strong>the</strong> Wall House and its new context<br />

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Wall House One to One 1: 20 explorative model<br />

displayed in <strong>the</strong> foyer of <strong>the</strong> School of Architecture,<br />

University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia<br />

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is imagined to create a harmonious balance and sense of quietude within <strong>the</strong><br />

exhibition space. Instead of imposing an autonomous object within <strong>the</strong> Corderie,<br />

it is intended that <strong>the</strong> insertion will melt into its context and reveal to <strong>the</strong> senses<br />

<strong>the</strong> genius loci of <strong>the</strong> space.<br />

Brick, <strong>the</strong> unit of common ground in architecture<br />

Materially speaking, brick could be considered <strong>the</strong> unit of common<br />

ground in architecture. Brick is <strong>the</strong> first manufactured material and continues<br />

to be developed to sophistication. Made of <strong>the</strong> earth itself brick has survived<br />

all transitions in building technologies. It is <strong>the</strong> bridge between <strong>the</strong> past and<br />

<strong>the</strong> future, between <strong>the</strong> developing countries and <strong>the</strong> developed countries,<br />

between <strong>the</strong> high-tech and low-tech manufacturing processes. Yet <strong>the</strong> brick is<br />

not to be taken for granted. There is much to be discovered and learnt from it.<br />

The building showcases a range of technologies using fired clay, in walls and<br />

roofing systems.<br />

In bewildering array. Textured and tactile.<br />

“<br />

Inviting touch, intimacy. Red orange.<br />

The colour of Auroville earth, complement of<br />

<strong>the</strong> forest. As a potter and maker of brick and<br />

tile, this is a material to which I readily respond.<br />

In <strong>Anupama</strong>’s new house, still under construction<br />

we see <strong>the</strong> village pots as filler in a concrete<br />

slab. Again, guna tiles for vaulted roofs and jack<br />

arches in extruded hollow clay segments. Bricks,<br />

not <strong>the</strong> standard European size, but achakul,<br />

18 × 10 × 2.5 cm used in vaults, sprung low, and<br />

in walls where <strong>Anupama</strong> plays with scale, at<br />

once emphasising and subordinating <strong>the</strong> brick<br />

size in a massive façade rendered delicate by <strong>the</strong><br />

rhythm of broad, deeply raked joints, off-white,<br />

<strong>the</strong> colour of <strong>the</strong> lime mortar. Making a bold and<br />

quite literal statement by coming to a point in<br />

an acute angle at <strong>the</strong> north-east corner, <strong>the</strong> ‘wall’<br />

is introduced as <strong>the</strong> pivotal conceptual element<br />

of <strong>the</strong> structure.<br />

”<br />

From Ray Meeker: The Interior of Being, Inside<br />

Outside, January 2000<br />

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Cross section Wall House One to One<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Corderie<br />

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My approach to architecture is derived from a basic respect and<br />

“<br />

appreciation of <strong>the</strong> hand and its capacity to generate, make and experience<br />

buildings. My aim in exhibiting a representation of my own<br />

house at one to one is to celebrate <strong>the</strong> many hands that shape and<br />

drive my practice and to reveal <strong>the</strong>ir imprint on my architecture.<br />

Hands signify <strong>the</strong> sensual, <strong>the</strong> tactile, <strong>the</strong> human, <strong>the</strong> individual<br />

and <strong>the</strong> personal engagement involved in <strong>the</strong> crafting space. Hands<br />

are not just for making but also for thinking and solving like when<br />

we draw and make models.<br />

” AK<br />

Celebrating <strong>the</strong> Hands<br />

The rich culture of <strong>the</strong> ‘handmade’ in buildings is endangered in contemporary<br />

architecture. Absorbing crafts into buildings as structural and textural<br />

solutions ra<strong>the</strong>r than as ‘objects’ added as finishes and superficial decoration<br />

re-establishes <strong>the</strong> fine culture that we had until recently. Handcrafted elements<br />

are an integral part of <strong>the</strong> architectural expression, crafts are incorporated in a<br />

tectonic sense nei<strong>the</strong>r decorative, nor incidental to <strong>the</strong> main. They shape <strong>the</strong><br />

form and <strong>the</strong> structural system and <strong>the</strong> spatial experience significantly. When<br />

something goes through <strong>the</strong> hand, it’s not just <strong>the</strong> skill that is represented, but<br />

also <strong>the</strong> care and involvement, <strong>the</strong> wisdom contained in it.<br />

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Wooden model 1:20 Wall House One to One<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Corderie<br />

Bricks produced within <strong>the</strong> ‘Baked-in situ earth<br />

construction’ project, Homes for Homeless Children,<br />

Volontariat in collaboration with Ray Meeker.<br />

5% of coal dust was infused into <strong>the</strong> brick clay<br />

so that <strong>the</strong>y self burn till <strong>the</strong> fuel is spent.<br />

Pondicherry 2008.<br />

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The original Wall House in Auroville, Tamil Nadu<br />

The building is situated outside <strong>the</strong> planned city limits in <strong>the</strong> Auromodele area<br />

which is designated for research and experimentation a testing ground for<br />

architectural prototypes.<br />

The Wall House was planned as <strong>the</strong> architect’s own place of residence,<br />

compactly accommodating everyday needs while effortlessly expanding to absorb<br />

visitors. Ultimately, <strong>the</strong> house can be seen as an attempt not only to redefine<br />

<strong>the</strong> building program for a private-residence in rural India, but also to test<br />

various spatial and technological innovations to inform o<strong>the</strong>r projects.<br />

Spatially, <strong>the</strong> innovation lies in <strong>the</strong> redefinition of borders and transitional<br />

spaces in which a keen responsiveness to <strong>the</strong> conditions of local climate<br />

and culture are demonstrated. Technologically, one of <strong>the</strong> fundamental concepts<br />

behind <strong>the</strong> project involves <strong>the</strong> use of traditional and local materials in<br />

new and inventive ways given <strong>the</strong> global resource crunch as well as rapid urbanisation.<br />

The technological innovations are based on redefining <strong>the</strong> use of<br />

age-old benign materials and thus result in a visual landscape that is modern<br />

with confronting or rejecting tradition and culture.<br />

Landscape design is an integral and inseparable part of <strong>the</strong> overall<br />

architecture. Existing trees are incorporated in <strong>the</strong> design as extensions to<br />

<strong>the</strong> spatial compositions created, enabling a smooth transition between <strong>the</strong><br />

building and its surrounding natural setting.<br />

Exhibition Design<br />

<strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong>, Michael Dickson<br />

Structural Engineer<br />

Greg Killen<br />

Associate architect India<br />

Nitin Bondre<br />

Associate architect <strong>Venice</strong><br />

Alvise Marzollo<br />

Material Production<br />

Head Craftsman:, Sekar Sokkalingam<br />

Logistics<br />

Gautam Chatterjee, Frederick Schulze-Buxloh,<br />

Marina Kiriakova, Yashoda Joshi<br />

Student Assistants<br />

Katie Hawgood, Jessica Spresser, Yohei Omura,<br />

Brianna Towers, Sari Bianca Basini, Alexandra<br />

Kelly<br />

Craftsmen<br />

Sekar Sokkalingam, Ponnuvel Samikkannu,<br />

Manimaran Govindasamy , Janakiraman<br />

Krishnamurthy, Kumar Saminathan, Gopi<br />

Seetharaman<br />

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Location plan<br />

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Relevance of <strong>the</strong> original Wall House<br />

The Wall House was <strong>the</strong> culmination of ongoing extensive research and experimentation.<br />

This involved <strong>the</strong> search for a balance between high-tech and lowtech<br />

which incorporated everyday materials through techniques that include<br />

<strong>the</strong> contribution of those with lower level skills and education. Such hybrid<br />

forms of construction focus on new ways of using age-old local materials.<br />

They combine hand skills and local craft traditions with knowledge-based<br />

scientific systems. Situated in rural India, surrounded by rapid urbanization<br />

and its associated constraints of unskilled labour and lack of resources, <strong>the</strong><br />

house serves as a laboratory to arrive at suitable and relevant technology models<br />

for <strong>the</strong> future development of <strong>the</strong> city, as well as <strong>the</strong> local area beyond.<br />

Student assistance in construction<br />

The University of Queensland,<br />

The University of Sydney, and<br />

Università Iuav di Venezia:<br />

Zeglar Fergus<br />

Elliot Harvie<br />

Daniel Lau<br />

Samuel Bowstead<br />

Amy Learmouth<br />

Georgina Russell<br />

Leah Gallagher<br />

Nicola Eason<br />

Marjorie Dixon<br />

Peter Tran


Dr <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong> Born in Pune, graduated<br />

from <strong>the</strong> Sir J. J. College of Architecture, University<br />

of Bombay, and began her independent practice<br />

in 1990. Closely associated with Roger Anger in<br />

<strong>the</strong> planning of Auroville, she was responsible<br />

for <strong>the</strong> detail development of <strong>the</strong> Administrative<br />

Zone, its Habitat Areas, and Auroville’s City<br />

Centre. In 2008 she was awarded her doctorate<br />

at <strong>the</strong> TU Berlin. <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong> has had <strong>the</strong><br />

experience of living, working, researching and<br />

teaching in a variety of cultural contexts: Mumbai,<br />

Auroville, Barcelona, Berlin, London and New<br />

York. She is currently teaching at <strong>the</strong> School of<br />

Architecture, University of Queensland, Brisbane,<br />

Australia.<br />

The University of Queensland<br />

School of Architecture<br />

Room 318 · Zelman Cowen Building,<br />

Brisbane QLD 4072 · Australia<br />

P +61 420 678436<br />

F +61 7 3365 3999<br />

www.anupamakundoo.com<br />

info@anupamakundoo.com<br />

Andreas Deffner lives and works as a photographer<br />

in Berlin and India. His art projects<br />

have made him explore more remote areas<br />

of both <strong>the</strong> Indian society as well as <strong>the</strong> subcontinent.<br />

White too White, <strong>the</strong> exhibition on<br />

Indians suffering from albinism has won him<br />

a Lead Award. His perspectives: Wall House.<br />

Making and Remaking 1996 to <strong>2012</strong>.<br />

Harun Farocki lives and works in Berlin. He is<br />

<strong>the</strong> author of more than 100 productions, for<br />

cinema, television, and in <strong>the</strong> last 15 years also<br />

for art spaces. He was a visiting professor at<br />

<strong>the</strong> UC Berkeley and Harvard and tought film<br />

at <strong>the</strong> Academy of Art in Vienna. In Comparison,<br />

diverse social realities across <strong>the</strong> world through<br />

<strong>the</strong> making of brick.<br />

Ray Meeker studied architecture and ceramics<br />

at <strong>the</strong> University of Sou<strong>the</strong>rn California. With<br />

his wife Deborah Smith, he founded <strong>the</strong> Golden<br />

Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry, South India in 1971.<br />

Through his experiments in fired buildings he<br />

has gained recognition from <strong>the</strong> architectural<br />

community in India. Agnijata, <strong>the</strong> making of a<br />

baked insitu mud building.<br />

<strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong>,<br />

<strong>Venice</strong>, <strong>2012</strong><br />

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Finding common ground between imported techniques and local<br />

traditions, <strong>the</strong> project seeks to enhance <strong>the</strong> capacity of <strong>the</strong> developing world<br />

to grow sustainably and equitably while nurturing livelihoods and tradition<br />

for <strong>the</strong> rich culture of <strong>the</strong> ‘handmade’ in buildings is becoming increasingly<br />

endangered.<br />

Collaboration<br />

Many hands have been involved in <strong>the</strong> making of this work. Diverse groups<br />

such as staff and students of <strong>the</strong> University of Queensland, Australia and<br />

students of Università Iuav di Venezia, <strong>Venice</strong>, have worked alongside craftsmen<br />

from Tamil Nadu, India, assisted by professionals from different countries<br />

and cultures. The project also sought to reveal <strong>the</strong> common ground in<br />

architectural practice and building construction through <strong>the</strong> direct collaboration<br />

of diverse people who may not even share a common language. The combined<br />

efforts of all <strong>the</strong>se participants confront <strong>the</strong> common ground of building<br />

practice between industrial, handcrafted, unskilled and semi-skilled labour.<br />

The issues raised here are fur<strong>the</strong>r expanded through showcasing <strong>the</strong><br />

independent work of artists whose paths have crossed mine. Their work will<br />

widen <strong>the</strong> discussion while contextualizing my own research, and approaching<br />

<strong>the</strong> subject through <strong>the</strong>ir different perspectives:<br />

Andreas Deffner, Harun Farocki, and Ray Meeker.<br />

William Chan<br />

Michela Benedetti<br />

Valentina D’Alberto<br />

Elena Favaro<br />

Laura Spezzoni<br />

Paolo Toldo<br />

Gabriele Longega<br />

Stefano Zeni<br />

Enrico Perini<br />

Alice Babini<br />

Luca Iuorio<br />

Giorgio Braga<br />

Mattia Bittolo<br />

Special Acknowledgements<br />

Natarajan Bala Baskar<br />

John MacArthur<br />

Sauro Mezetti<br />

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We are all quite fascinated by your proposal. This could be quite spectacular<br />

and beautiful. We have identified possible locations within <strong>the</strong> sequence of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Corderie. The scale of your proposal means that it will be a very significant<br />

part of <strong>the</strong> exhibition and to some degree we must plan around it. We are<br />

quite confident that you are dealing with <strong>the</strong> logistic issues and <strong>the</strong> administration<br />

of <strong>the</strong> biennale seems happy that your proposal can be realised from<br />

a practical point of view.<br />

The following pages were added after<br />

<strong>the</strong> exhibition. Photos: La <strong>Biennale</strong><br />

di Venezia (1), Andreas Deffner (16),<br />

<strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong> architects (3)<br />

Right: Title panel in <strong>the</strong> exhibition,<br />

Italian/English (English see next page)<br />

We very much look forward to realising your project with you.<br />

Best wishes<br />

David<br />

Excerpt from an email to <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong><br />

from Sir David Chipperfield, Curator of Common Ground,<br />

<strong>the</strong> 13 th Architectural <strong>Biennale</strong>, <strong>Venice</strong>, Italy, <strong>2012</strong>,<br />

3 April, <strong>2012</strong><br />

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Feel <strong>the</strong> Ground. Wall House: One to One<br />

<strong>Kundoo</strong>, architetto indiano che vive in Australia, ha costruito un ambiziosa<br />

copia 1 :1 della Wall House, un edificio che ha progettato ad Auroville, in<br />

India, nel 2000: Il terreno comune è nella sua realizzazione: una squadra<br />

di artigiani indiani, alcuni dei quali non avevano mai lasciato il loro paese<br />

prima, sono stati portati a Venezia per realizzare il progetto, in collaborazione<br />

con i docenti e gli studenti de l’Università del Queensland e con gli<br />

studenti dello IUAV, Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, creando<br />

uno scambio di competenze tra tre differenti continenti. L’opera finale rappresenta<br />

il dialogo tra le diverse culture della costruzione architettonica ed<br />

è anche una vetrina per l’opera di <strong>Kundoo</strong>, un modernismo lirico che si adatta<br />

bene alle esigenze del suo territorio.<br />

Con iI supporto aggiuntivo di:<br />

University of Queensland, Think Brick, Sharad Hegde,<br />

Viabizzuno progettiamo la luce<br />

17


Dear <strong>Anupama</strong><br />

It has been a pleasure to walk through <strong>the</strong> exhibition after <strong>the</strong> stress and<br />

chaos of <strong>the</strong> opening days, and to calmly enjoy <strong>the</strong> installations. You were<br />

a real star of <strong>the</strong> biennale, not only for your idea but for your spirit and<br />

enthusiasm, you taught us all a lesson, and it was an honour to work with<br />

you. I am happy that your efforts have been well understood by visitors.<br />

I have heard many compliments. I know how much effort went into your<br />

project and I thank you for your commitment and patience.<br />

David<br />

Sir David Chipperfield in an email<br />

to <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong>, 1 September <strong>2012</strong><br />

18


Feel <strong>the</strong> Ground. Wall House: One to One<br />

<strong>Kundoo</strong>, an Indian architect now based in Australia, has built an ambitious,<br />

1:1 facsimile of <strong>the</strong> Wall House, a building she designed in Auroville, India<br />

in 2000. The common ground is in its making. A team of Indian craftsmen,<br />

some of whom had never before left <strong>the</strong>ir home country; were brought to<br />

<strong>Venice</strong> to construct <strong>the</strong> project in collaboration with staff and students from<br />

<strong>the</strong> University of Queensland, and students from IUAV in <strong>Venice</strong>, creating<br />

a skills exchange across three continents. The final piece embodies <strong>the</strong><br />

dialogue between construct on cultures, and also is a showcase for <strong>Kundoo</strong>’s<br />

architecture, a lyrical modernism at ease with <strong>the</strong> demands of its climate.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> additional support of:<br />

University of Queensland, Think Brick, Sharad Hegde,<br />

Viabizzuno progettiamo la luce<br />

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The Hindu, Sunday, December 16,<strong>2012</strong><br />

(Chennai edition)<br />

36


Uncommon Courage. <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong> at <strong>the</strong> <strong>Biennale</strong><br />

We entered <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong>’s generously allotted exhibition space in <strong>the</strong><br />

cavernous Corderie of <strong>the</strong> Arsenale as <strong>the</strong> corks popped. Champagne. 8 pm,<br />

fourteen hours before Vernissage, <strong>the</strong> three-day preview of Common Ground.<br />

Deborah and I had just flown in from Chennai. Work was still winding down.<br />

Ga<strong>the</strong>red <strong>the</strong>re in <strong>the</strong> midst of Wall House 1:1 was an extraordinarily diverse<br />

group. <strong>Anupama</strong> was hosting—toasting—in her own home, masons from<br />

Tamil Nadu, students and engineers from The University of Queensland in<br />

Australia, photographers from Germany and a variety of Italian professionals<br />

from <strong>the</strong> official <strong>Biennale</strong> team, a group that made a fitting image of <strong>the</strong><br />

common ground.<br />

“This is <strong>the</strong> first time that anyone has attempted a full scale installation in<br />

<strong>the</strong> history of <strong>the</strong> Architectural <strong>Biennale</strong>.” Italian engineer Enzo Margis with 13<br />

years of experience at <strong>the</strong> <strong>Biennale</strong> said.<br />

I got a call from Australia in late April. From <strong>Anupama</strong>. “I have just been<br />

accepted as an exhibiter at <strong>the</strong> Architecture <strong>Biennale</strong> in <strong>Venice</strong>. Need help.”<br />

Back in <strong>the</strong> mid-90’s I made terracotta tubes and jack-arch elements for <strong>the</strong><br />

original Wall House in Auroville and was so taken by <strong>the</strong> concept that I wrote<br />

about <strong>the</strong> house in Inside/Outside even before <strong>the</strong> house was finished.<br />

<strong>Anupama</strong>: “I am going to rebuild my house—full scale—in <strong>the</strong> Corderie<br />

37


of <strong>the</strong> Arsenale. Can you organize: Achakal, 70,000. Guna tiles, 5,000. Jack-arch<br />

bricks, 500. Filler slab pots, 120 ... etc, etc? Need it by July 1. Exhibition opens<br />

August 27.“ None of this stuff is off-<strong>the</strong>-shelf. Everything had to be made. I<br />

identified <strong>the</strong> makers. Sekar, who would lead <strong>the</strong> team of masons in <strong>Venice</strong>, took<br />

over collecting, packing and shipping. All was ready to go by end May. I think <strong>the</strong><br />

container actually docked in <strong>Venice</strong> on July 27th, one month before <strong>the</strong> opening.<br />

Undaunted. <strong>Anupama</strong> has always been fearless. I mean she manages fear.<br />

No one could take on a project of this scale, in this time frame, without serious<br />

doubt. But she takes aim and lets go. After 18 years as an architect in Auroville<br />

she went to Germany and earned a PhD at <strong>the</strong> University of Technology Berlin<br />

(TU). She held <strong>the</strong> Chair for Environmental Technology and Material Sciences at<br />

Parsons, <strong>the</strong> New School for Design in New York. Today she is Senior Lecturer<br />

at <strong>the</strong> University of Queensland School of Architecture in Australia, and has<br />

now come on a dizzying flight to <strong>the</strong> <strong>Biennale</strong> in <strong>Venice</strong>, widely considered <strong>the</strong><br />

world’s most important architectural exhibition.<br />

<strong>Anupama</strong>: „By transplanting my Wall House, a contemporary project located<br />

in rural India inside <strong>the</strong> walls of <strong>the</strong> Corderie in <strong>the</strong> Arsenale in <strong>Venice</strong>, I want<br />

people to ‘feel’ <strong>the</strong> common ground. The ancient brick pillars of <strong>the</strong> Corderie, set<br />

in lime mortar, sit side-by-side, shadow and embrace <strong>the</strong> south Indian brickwork,<br />

also set in lime mortar. Two apparently divergent cultures, structures, materials<br />

disappear into each o<strong>the</strong>r. It is non-confrontational play, a dialogue with no need<br />

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of an interpreter. It is mutual admiration, almost flirting. Instead of imposing<br />

an autonomous object within <strong>the</strong> Corderie, I intend to reveal to <strong>the</strong> senses<br />

<strong>the</strong> genius loci of <strong>the</strong> original space.“<br />

Nothing to read. No photos. Nothing to look at really. Only <strong>the</strong> house. We<br />

are standing quietly inside <strong>the</strong> art, no longer outsiders.<br />

<strong>Anupama</strong> builds community. She delegates. She trusts. Her positivity propels.<br />

She built a strong, loyal team of craftsmen in Auroville, and again, with<br />

<strong>the</strong> students in Australia. In <strong>Venice</strong> she gave Sekar and his team from Tamil<br />

Nadu <strong>the</strong> best accommodation. They felt perfectly at home, eating sambar<br />

rice and pizza. They never got lost (I did) in <strong>the</strong> labyrinthine streets of <strong>Venice</strong>.<br />

Sekar says, “We just moved from one temple (church) to <strong>the</strong> next.”<br />

Collaborators. Harun Farocki spooled his brilliant film In Comparison,<br />

layering and contrasting community and technology through <strong>the</strong> production<br />

of bricks, from handmade in Burkina Faso in West Africa to mass produced<br />

in highly sophisticated German super-machines, tracing <strong>the</strong> path of building<br />

culture as community based, sometimes even as a social event, to an intellectual<br />

construct centered far from <strong>the</strong> building site. Andreas Deffner’s documentation<br />

of Wall House, as it evolved from <strong>the</strong> mid-1990’s to <strong>the</strong> present,<br />

was ingeniously displayed in a compact set of photos <strong>the</strong> size of an achakal.<br />

And my own film, Agni Jata (fire born) spooled, documenting my first test in<br />

Auroville of a mud house stabilized in situ by fire.<br />

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Auroville. 1996. The Wall House. Fired clay. In bewildering array. Textured and<br />

tactile. Inviting intimacy. Red orange, <strong>the</strong> color of Auroville soil, complement of<br />

<strong>the</strong> forest green. We see <strong>the</strong> village pot as filler in a concrete slab, guna tiles for<br />

vaulted roofs and jack-arches in extruded hollow clay segments. Bricks. Handmade.<br />

Not <strong>the</strong> standard European size, but achakal, 18 × 10 × 2.5 cm used in vaults,<br />

sprung low, and in walls where <strong>Anupama</strong> plays with scale, at once emphasizing<br />

and subordinating <strong>the</strong> brick size in a massive fayade rendered delicate by <strong>the</strong><br />

rhythm of broad, deeply raked joints, off-white, <strong>the</strong> color of <strong>the</strong> lime mortar. Making<br />

a bold and quite literal statement by coming to a point in an acute angle at<br />

<strong>the</strong> nor<strong>the</strong>ast corner, <strong>the</strong> wall is introduced as <strong>the</strong> pivotal conceptual element of<br />

this house.<br />

Living between <strong>the</strong> lines. Wall House is a redefinition of borders and transitional<br />

spaces in response to local climate and culture. The first-floor living corridor;<br />

verging on <strong>the</strong> vaulted atrium, opens into nothing. This is a cliff house, a<br />

sort of shallow cave dwelling on <strong>the</strong> edge of a cavern of cool interior air. Through<br />

carefully orchestrated overlays of brickwork, punctuated by openings to <strong>the</strong><br />

forest and <strong>the</strong> sky beyond, outside and inside reverberate—unite—transparent<br />

yet texturally rich, a spirited dialogue of density and depth, like a Zen painting,<br />

where a few strokes of <strong>the</strong> brush offer space between <strong>the</strong> lines which I can enter<br />

into—become a part of.<br />

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David Chipperfield’s brief encouraged architects to move beyond <strong>the</strong><br />

“individual, <strong>the</strong> privileged, <strong>the</strong> spectacular and <strong>the</strong> special.” Wall House is a<br />

heady blend—a complex weave where spatial sophistication and material<br />

elegance converge in an innovative, evolving architectural language that<br />

recognizes “continuity, context and memory.”<br />

10 pm. <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong>, exhausted, yet still radiant, is ready for <strong>the</strong><br />

Vernissage.<br />

Ray Meeker<br />

Pondicherry<br />

November <strong>2012</strong><br />

Ray Meeker studied architecture and ceramics at <strong>the</strong> University of<br />

Sou<strong>the</strong>rn California. With his wife, Deborah Smith, he founded <strong>the</strong><br />

Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry, South India, in 1971. Through<br />

his experiments in ‘fired building’ he has gained recognition from<br />

<strong>the</strong> architectural community in India.<br />

41


<strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong><br />

Wall House One to One<br />

Participating project to <strong>the</strong> 13 th International<br />

Architecture Exhibition – la <strong>Biennale</strong> di Venezia<br />

Common Ground<br />

29 th August –25 th November <strong>2012</strong><br />

<strong>Venice</strong>, Italy<br />

Architecture in full scale.<br />

Celebrating <strong>the</strong> ‘hand’.<br />

Emphasizing material, technology,<br />

and sustainability.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> support of<br />

The University of Queensland<br />

Think Brick<br />

Sharad Hegde<br />

© <strong>2012</strong> <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong>, for <strong>the</strong> images by<br />

Andreas Deffner (10) ,Kaylene Biggs (2)<br />

Floor plan and cross section: Jessica Spresser<br />

<strong>Concept</strong>, design and production:<br />

Büro Fleischmann · Prof. Gerd Fleischmann,<br />

Ulrichshusen, Germany<br />

Printing: druckhaus koe<strong>the</strong>n GmbH ·<br />

www.koe<strong>the</strong>n.de<br />

Created and presented to accompany <strong>the</strong> work<br />

of <strong>Anupama</strong> <strong>Kundoo</strong> at <strong>the</strong> 13th International<br />

Architecture Exhibition with <strong>the</strong> contribution of<br />

la <strong>Biennale</strong> di Venezia <strong>2012</strong><br />

Printed in Germany 08/<strong>2012</strong><br />

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