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Part 2 Project 1999
Jude Fernando
Anna University Madras | India
Is architecture's worth, measured by its affiliations to a history, style or school of thought? Can a building exclude itself from external influences and stylistic references? If so, does this exclusion culminate in a new style? These contradictions formed the basis of our proposal.

The French (in 1674) acquired a pocket of land in Pondicherry, an Indian coastal city. They faced away from the Indian quarter and constructed a canal between the disparate halves. This canal is today, an open drain, flanked by 1-km long roads on each side. This anonymous stretch, was a boundary between contrasting cultures separated by the visual interpretation of lifestyle, fuelled by social necessity.
Today, 47 years, since the secession of power to India, these differences remain.

How should design in this stretch, react to this context of neutrality and conflict?

The monuments of Rome's past greatness are, predominantly, within the
Aurelian Wall

The Wailing Wall, is an original part of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem.

Pyramus and Thisbe, two lovers in Babylonia, held conversations through a
crack in the wall separating their houses.

Romulus built a wall, over which Remus, scornfully leaped- to his own

Walls have been the settings for history, myth and a canvas for man's

The wall recognises the…
.. Place and importance of each typology in its historical context.
..Present age of blurred boundaries and cultural dilution.
It achieves this by creating a contradiction in scale, form and
Aesthetics, justifying its right to individuality. Our design solution is
A wall between the two sides. It transforms itself and adapts
continuously, incorporating varied activity within its confines.

Jude Fernando

Architecture is deeply embedded in culture and many a times it is a political act. It sits on a landmine when it is located in a context that makes contesting political and cultural claims. Debates around identity and political affiliation sometime flare up and brings in sharp focus the frivolous and benign attitude to visual appropriateness of architecture. This was one of the important objectives of the design project attempted by Jude Fernando. The site is located in between the affluent and erstwhile French quarter and the poor native Tamil quarter. The French have gone, but the architecture, class and culture of the inhabitants is still elitist and exclusive. The tourism and identity of Pondicherry continues to be woven around the white quarter. While the Tamil quarter remains neglected. The social divide is reiterated by a physical division - a water canal. There is now a proposal by the town authorities to develop this canal either by filling it or by retaining it. Jude and his class worked on this site and came with different proposals.
Jude is a sensitive person and he found that class divide cannot be obliterated by benign looking architecture. He found issues of visual appropriateness is only a passive gesture that spoke for status quo. The design sates that the real estate is well entrenched and it would be only a utopian wish to erase the differences. The Design primarily worked around the intention to make the division recognisable and exhibitive . While the divide insists on separation, the activities try and bring both sides together. May the design was being politically correct and at the same time subversive.
What I appreciate the most in this design is the unambiguous nature of the statement it makes. At the same time, it is also sees the design act as an opportunity to make a public space. The design enmeshes the physical, activity and the contextual to produce a place that is on its own and does not lean on crutches of false historicity

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