School of Architecture

Monday 4 March 2019

Master of Architecture students visit Agra-Fatehpur Sikri

In January 2019, 13 Master of Architecture students analysed the urbanising world with an immersive trip to India. 

Partially funded by the Australian Government’s Endeavour Mobility Grants (2019), this 18-day study program led by Senior Lecturer Dr Manu P. Sobti allowed students to broaden their knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region and the urbanising world.

Sketchbooks in hand, students analysed the ever-changing urbanscapes of Agra, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, and Delhi, alongside Le Corbusier’s signature creation at Chandigarh (seen below). Visits to well-known historical exemplars such as Taj Mahal, the Sun Temple at Modhera, the Queen’s Step Well at Patan, were balanced with experiences of contemporary architectural masterpieces such as the High Court, Secretariat and Assembly Buildings in Chandigarh.

Master of Architecture students visit Le Corbusier's signature creation in Chandigarh

Image: A visit to Le Corbusier’s signature creation at Chandigarh.

Students observed the changing facets of Indian urbanity through their own individual research themes to gain insights on where Indian architecture and urbanity is heading. As UQ Architecture student Abbey Summerville summed up: “Through documenting and sketching historical monuments, streetscape and edge conditions, I learnt to analyse the urban fabric from a contextual and landscape perspective. As a common theme, strong sectional qualities from thresholds and layering of spaces are grounded within the streets of India.”

These observations combined multidisciplinary methods from urban studies, archaeology and architecture. In Dr Sobti’s framework: “Within the unravelling Indian tabula rasa, the best ‘research frameworks’ are truly combinatorial – ones that incorporate your own reactions, alongside more-deliberate logbook observations, and the visible ‘certainties and uncertainties’ that relentlessly pervade the Indian laboratory of sights, places and choreographies. So, leave no question unanswered, prevent no germ of idea from becoming a possible way to think (anew).”

While on the trip, the students also had the chance to engage with local students and experts to discuss Indian architecture and urbanity. They reviewed two Architecture offices including those of Pritzker Award Winner B.V. Doshi and upcoming urban activist Arpan Johari - both located in Ahmedabad. They also participated in two workshops and a design charrette, collaborating with 33 Indian architecture students from CCA and GNDU universities.

Master of Architecture students visit B.V. Doshi Architect office

Image: Master of Architecture students visit the office of Pritzker Award Winner B.V. Doshi in Ahmedabad.  

“The opportunity to meet and collaborate with local architects, universities and students was an incredible learning experience. Combining architectural methods and approaches from Amritsar, Brisbane and Chandigarh was invaluable for understanding Indian culture, style, heritage and design process. It was a really hands-on trip which was challenging but extremely fulfilling” as UQ Architecture student Ryan Browne said.

This trip provided the opportunity for the students to expand their knowledge on making and unmaking of architecture and urbanity within the complex context of India, a knowledge which opens their eyes for future design projects and practices. As Patricia Bozyk, a UQ architecture student said: “The India studio was a wonderful experience and it changed the way I think about urbanism.”