Text and Video: Minaz Ansari
Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai
Last month, a bunch of faculty at Rizvi College of Architecture planned a teaching experiment to instil within the students a sense of community spirit, bonding and love which form the basis of meaningful architecture. This program was spearheaded by Prof Mukund Iyer and a bunch of co-faculty members namely Fatema Master, Soumya Kannan, Parzan Daruwalla, Swapnil V Raka and Minaz Ansari.
An important start was to step out of the monotony and distractions of city life. Art Village, an artists’ commune located at Karjat (Maharashtra), thus formed the perfect setting to carry out the activities planned for the day. Designed by Ar Kiran Vaghela of Hunnarshala, and his team of artists, artisans and architects, the campus has a warm and tranquil vibe to it. This quaint hideaway tucked into the farmlands of Karjat is a symphony of rammed earth, recycled wood, thatch and other natural materials.
The unsuspecting students came armed with sketching material and equipment all set for a routine study trip. However this time, the faculty team had a more adventurous agenda on hand. The intent for the day was multi-fold – To break mental barriers, face ones fears, intermingle, communicate and most importantly develop a sense of trust and bonding with each other.
The program was completely interactive, informal and fun, carefully balanced by a set of rules that led the students to follow certain parameters and work as a group. A vigorous outdoor group bonding activities carried out in drizzling rain to peals of laughter and cheers served as the perfect ice breaker for the day. An intense trust building game was then carried out in teams of three. It aimed purely at building confidence and trust within the group members. At every point, we strategically planned to keep acquaintances apart and created situations for others to interact.
All this was a build up to the final task of the day – a mission wherein the students were made to deal with one challenge (blindfolds, tied feet or mute) to help rescue their comrades whilst abiding by the set of rules laid out by the game. This intense exercise carried out over a few hours put to test the patience, tenacity, presence of mind, team spirit and trust levels of every participant in the group.
All this culminated into a session of introspection, observation and learning of human behaviour in trying situations. It gave an opportunity to the students to express their fears and apprehensions as well as their perception of others around them. The faculty participated wholeheartedly through the day, letting the students find their expression, prodding them only where required and bonding with the group at large.
In a nutshell, we all went out to have some fun and came back a little wiser, a lot happier and undeniably with more friends than we started out with!
This initiative ties in with the philosophy of Rizvi College of Architecture strongly professed by Prof Akhtar Chauhan, (Director, Rizvi College of Architecture) over the last 25 years since the inception of the institute, which strives to instil in their students the values of architecture in the service of humanity and the belief in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family).
As Austrian architect Hans Hollien very aptly put it – ‘Everything is Architecture!’