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Ghosts: Collage of Memories of a Site

Part 2 Project 2008
Deepti Talpade
Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute Mumbai India
The thesis began with an exploration of the idea of GHOSTS. I began to look at ghosts as wraiths made of both memory and desire, and laid this idea on the city to read “sites”.
Sites get their meaning and identity from the memories that people have had of them. A new forced built intervention on a site deprives it of its desire to hold back certain collective memories and eventually the historical identity that used to unite the community of the place, gets erased from the city.
The intention of the thesis is to integrate the memories of the inhabitants of a site as an ingredient to build.
I revisited the site of my ancestral home on a hilltop in Borivli in Mumbai, India and observed how present-day urban growth in the area identified with this site. Fragmented memories of all inhabitants from the past to the present were superimposed to form a collage which would build an image revealing the identity of the site. Certain palimpsests formed memory containers around which operations were performed to accommodate the new programmatic needs of the community as well as represent architecturally spaces that refer to their collective memories. The collage allowed me to refresh and integrate certain old programs into the new one to build a programmatically sustainable model for the site.

Deepti Talpade

Deepti’s project explored the gap between memory, desire and experience in the city. Through an exploration of her own history and memories of her ancestral home she was able to explore how we re-imagine the city through metaphor.

The history of the site was a difficult tumultuous one as every generation left traces of itself upon it. From being the home of a rich landowner through land acquisitions by the colonial rule and then by the State, it had due to the neglect of the State become a site for migrant labour to find a home in the city. Underneath the vibrant chaos of the slum, even today one can still find fragments from all of these times. Today the site is preparing for reconstruction and a school is to be built displacing the current inhabitants. This erasure was what Deepti wanted to address. The ‘genius loci’ of the site was thus made up of not merely the physical phenomenon but also the layers of time as existent in the memories that the site contained.

Deepti’s ability to look unflinchingly at both – her own past and her relationship to the site was exemplary. The design process was almost purgatory in the way that her own presumptions were challenged regarding the role of the architect, private desire and public need.

Prof Rohan Shivkumar
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