FUSION OF A DIFFERENT KIND
by Sunita Thapar
The Pioneer, January 11, 1995
Fusion takes its name from the fusion of
handicraft and technology that the new World Bank building in the Capital
prides itself in; Commissioned by the World Bank, the film was made for
prospective employees who may never have visited India. And consequently.
It examines the architecture of the building and studies the entire process
right from the design stage to its completion.
Directed by filmmaker Manu Rewal, this is his second
film on architect-father Raj Rewals work. Resonance, his first film
made in 91, discussed six of Rewals projects. Fusion on the
other hand, deals only with one building.
It begins by Introducing the Capital city, and giving
its architectural context. Delhis Suraj Kund, Lal Kila, Qutub Minar
and Lutyens New Delhi are discussed briefly to illustrated how red
sandstone has been used extensively in all these buildings.
Then the film moves us to the architectural site located
in Lodi Estate, just adjacent to the Lodi Gardens. The film discusses
how the building is sensitive to its location. All offices areas have
a view of the gardens and workstations look into a central court within
the building which also encloses a sunken garden. Old trees on the site
were carefully preserved during construction.
Symmetrical on its central axis, the building is crafted
with beige sandstone. In discussing the materials used, it also justified
the choices. For instance, the utilisation of sandstone. While it is cheap
and locally available, craftsmen are familiar with it. A good insulator,
it reduces air conditioning costs and also protects the underlying concrete.
Architect Raj Rewal explains his concept for the building
using models. Says he Conceptually, my designs are inspired by traditional
Indian architecture, but built in a modern idiom. Natural materials like
sandstone, bronze and wood form the basis of my design, but I also use
concrete and modern technology . As in traditional Rajasthani havelis,
there are jharokhas, but they are modern in form, and a big fountain carved
out of a single piece of sandstone adorns the central court, as is the
traditional convention but it has a more contemporary design. In the same
spirit, a lot of art work - modern Indian paintings but also traditional
textiles were specially commissioned for the building to decorate it in
the inside. According to Manu Rewal
some people romanticize the past and say that everything modern
is bad and others pretend that the past is irrelevant. This building rejects
both positions as extreme and shows how an intelligent and sensetive fusion
of the two is possible.
He adds that Architectural documentaries are
interesting because they touch on so many other issues. Architecture is
a junction between a pure art like poetry, and science, for it is largely
dependent on technology. The most difficult thing in making a film on
architecture is to make it interesting. It is about a building - and you
can not treat architecture just visually
Indian classical music
as well as electronic music provide an apt backdrop to the film. The director
almost makes you walk through the building. The film closes with interviews
of people who use the building.
Very few films have been made documenting contemporary
architecture. Fewer still leave an indelible impact on the mind. In bridging
the hiatus that exists between the builder and user this film seeks to
make a point. Perhaps it will be well taken.