Supported By
INDEXT-C
Government of Gujarat
Collaborative projects form an integral part of the focus areas within the research purview at DICRC. It is one of the objectives of DICRC is to take up or support research projects in various fields related to architecture and craft in collaboration with organisations of various nature. The research undertaken by the centre is collaborative of two or more scholars, or with different university or professional or organisation, for period of 6 months to three years. 

Cross-fertilization is also encouraged between more experienced scholars and junior researchers working together on the same project to generate outstanding research. The research carried out in these collaborative projects has been disseminated through various means. The projects have led to a number of publications, presentations and exhibitions, and also international recognition by way of an award.

Collaborative projects play a strong role in development of research element of DICRC, both at programmatic and institutional level. Projects that we undertake are not bound by geographic borders, rather benefit from a diversity of opinion and cultural influences. DICRC is open for new opportunities to collaborate on research areas of common interest. 

Till now collaborative research projects within DICRC have focused on various distinctive traditional building techniques such as the kath-khuni construction prevalent in Himachal Pradesh, India. These indigenous traditions of construction reflect excellent sustainable and earthquake-resistant building techniques using local materials and human resources. 

The research projects largely try to study the traditional and vernacular building craft traditions that now face gradual erosion due to the increasing loss of local building skills and knowledge, and displacement of local natural building materials with a growing influx of non-indigenous ones that may be cheaper initially but turn out more expensive in the long run.
These projects aim to help preserve and sustain local building techniques and local skills by undertaking collaborative research on existing and emerging building practices. The projects are part of a planned series of research and documentation activities to disseminate knowledge about traditional and vernacular building practices and heritage of India. 

This is a research project on a distinctive traditional building technique called the kath-khuni construction prevalent in Himachal Pradesh, India. This indigenous tradition of construction reflects excellent sustainable and earthquake-resistant building techniques using local materials and human resources.


The indigenous building traditions such as kath-khuni construction now face gradual erosion due to the increasing loss of local building skills and knowledge, and displacement of local natural building materials with a growing influx of non-indigenous ones that may be cheaper initially but turn out more expensive in the long run. This project aims to help preserve and sustain kath-khuni building techniques and local skills by undertaking collaborative research on existing and emerging building practices.


This project is part of a planned series of research and documentation activities to disseminate knowledge about indigenous building practices and heritage of India. The project builds upon the foundational work already carried out by SID Research Cell at Faculty of Design, CEPT University, India by project partner A/Prof. Jay Thakkar, with Dr. Skye Morrison and design students which is published as a book ‘Matra: Ways of Measuring Vernacular Built Forms of Himachal Pradesh’ (2008).

Team Members

Prof. Bharat Dave

Jay Thakkar

Mansi Shah


Collaborations

The research is a collaborative project and was initiated in 2011 between researchers based in DICRC (Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre) in the Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India and in CRIDA (Critical Research in Digital Architecture) in the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning, The University of Melbourne, Australia. The project is supported in part by the Australia India Institute based at the University of Melbourne.


Preparations

To collect data in the field within a limited time, we undertook several preparatory tasks prior to embarking on the actual fieldwork.


Itinerary: Tentative itinerary based on locations of interest were identified in our background research. The itinerary, in turn, helped identify specific information about topography and landscape including distances that were expected to be travelled and sites to be visited.


Maps: We carried several different maps at various scales of Himachal Pradesh sourced from books, travel shops and government agencies. However, detailed and reliable village level maps of many parts of this mountainous landscape are not yet available. Quite often during our fieldwork, the way to reach a destination was identified or sketched out with the help of local people as we travelled on the road.


Fieldwork equipment: A kit of tools was assembled to carry out the documentation process. Key tools and gadgets included different sizes of measure tapes, graph papers, stationary, still and video cameras with accessories, dictaphone, distance laser meter, panoramic tripod, flashlight, and digital media for daily data backup.


Field-work planning Diary: To familiarize and prepare ourselves for fieldwork data collection, the following scrapbook diary was compiled. It contains information drawn from sources at hand. Inevitably, some of the information turned out to be not so accurate. Even our travel route changed closer to the fieldwork.


Fieldwork route

In order to understand and document the multifaceted aspects of indigenous building practices in Himachal Pradesh, the research was carried in a number of sites in an arc from Shimla to Chitkul in Kinnaur district, in the south-east corner of Himachal Pradesh. Fieldwork route and the places visited.


On-site Investigation

During research fieldwork, diverse data were collected which included images, video and audio recordings, sketches, panoramic images, and recorded conversations with master carpenters and craftsmen, temple priests, inhabitants, academic scholars and others.


Dissemination

 

The research carried out in this project has led to a number of publications, presentations and exhibitions, and also international recognition by way of an award. More details are available via individual links below
This is a research project on a distinctive traditional building technique called the koti-banal construction prevalent in Kumaon- Uttarakhand, India. 

This project was intended towards documentation of the indigenous architecture in Kumaon, Champawat region, and to disseminate the treasure of knowledge that lies within. The study was divided in two parts. The first trip to Kumaon was in 2009, to conduct preliminary research and identify houses for documentation. The second visit was done with researchers (interior design and architecture students and sociologist) for the actual documentation of three buildings that were identified. Various methods were adopted from photography, audio-video recordings with the people and complete measure drawing of three selected houses, which were studied in terms of their construction system. 

This research was funded by Ms. Annemarie Pestalozzi aka Ammaji from Zurich, Switzerland and was initiated in 2009. 

Team Members 

First Visit- Uttarakhand 2009

A/Prof. Jay Thakkar
Project Coordinator

Ms. Annemarie Pestalozzi 
aka Ammaji from Zurich, Switzerland 
Project Sponsor

Boharji
Driver, philosopher, guide, entertainer, story teller
Resident of Gallagaon upper, Uttarakhand

Second Visit- Uttarakhand (10-25 May) 2010
Documentation Team 


Jay Thakkar, Preeti Das, Boharji, Chinmay Patel, Smita Agrawal, Farhaz Ahmed Admani, Tarang Sagara, Chandra Prabha Ramkrishnan, Meenal Jain, Aakash Verma

Fieldwork Route

In order to understand and document the multifaceted aspects of indigenous building practices in Kumaon, Champawat region, the research was carried in a number of villages that are

First Visit- Uttarakhand 2009

Almora district 
Dasola
Jageshwar
Champawat district 
Barakot
Devdi Mafi
Devgadha 
Galchada
Gallagaon Middle
Gallagaon Upper
Lohagat
Sheri
Bageshwar District 
Bhanar
Nainital District 
Sui villages

Second Visit- Uttarakhand 2010


Champawat district
Gallagoan Middle
Gallagoan Upper
Sheri 





This research project titled "Wooden Architecture Collection of Gujarat at South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) Trust, United Kingdom” is primarily investigating the South Asian collection of the SADACC Trust. This project is result of the Charles Wallace India Trust (CWIT) / Simon Digby Memorial Charity (SMDC) Research Grant awarded to A/Prof. Jay Thakkar in June 2015. The emphasis of this project is on the interior architecture elements (like doors, windows, columns, etc.) of traditional houses of Gujarat, India. These traditional houses constitute a major part of the cultural repository, but yet they are most often neglected in the academic literature. Typically research has favoured royal collections or religious buildings, hence there is great lacunae in research on the everyday traditional and vernacular buildings. This investigation uses the book Naqsh: The Art of Wood Carving of Traditional Houses of Gujarat: Focus on Ornamentation (2004), by Jay Thakkar and the research of the Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC) at CEPT University, which has a vast  digital catalogue of traditional and vernacular buildings, interior architectural elements, furniture and objects from Gujarat ( http://buildingcraftlab.dicrc.in/).  

Collaborations

The research is a collaborative project and was initiated between Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC), Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India and South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) at Norwich, United Kingdom. SADACC Trust was founded by Philip and Jeannie Millward in 2010 as a registered charity. The mission of SADACC is to record, conserve and promote the arts, crafts and cultures of South Asia. The SADACC Trust has more than 4000 items in their collection that primarily focuses primarily on India and Pakistan and to a lesser extent on neighbouring countries of in Central Asia, as well as Burma, Thailand and Indonesia. The Trust holds a unique collection of the architectural and furniture pieces from India and Pakistan, which is the principal reference material for this project. 


Research Process

A preliminary investigation was done for all the items in the collection (through cataloged files, digital data and looking at actual items) to see the possibility of the investigation, cataloging and researching the relevant information for selected items. After a detailed discussion with SADACC founders Philip and Jeannie Millward and curator Amy Chang as well as researchers from University of East Anglia (Harjeet Kaur and Nadine Zubair), the project was narrowed down to the wooden architectural items focusing mainly on Gujarat. It was collectively decided to work with only architectural pieces from Gujarat for three main reasons. The architectural pieces constitute the earlier set of collections and they have not been documented in detail and also lacked detailed research data. SADACC having the largest public collection of Indian Architectural items in United Kingdom became a second reason to give this set a priority. The third reason being DICRC’s expertise in wooden architecture of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh would help in assimilating and researching necessary information related to these items. The furniture and the objects were not taken into this research primarily due to the time constraints.


Activities at SADACC

Research and Cataloging

The wooden architecture collection of Gujarat at SADACC is spread across the Old Skating Rink and houses at Wramplingham and Blakeney. This collection was investigated and thoroughly photo-documented. Each of the architectural pieces from Gujarat were selected and classified into groups like facade, door, window, column, bracket, ceiling and balcony (and in some cases the sub categories were also developed). Further the task was to understand the indigenous cataloging system developed by Philip and Jeannie Millward over number of years as well as the recently adopted ADLIB archival system. On basis of this a new format was developed which would complement with both these system still operational at SADACC, henceforth the research data can be fed into both these system with ease. Total of 22 items were researched and cataloged out of 34 wooden architectural items from Gujarat at SADACC. Each of the selected items was then researched through secondary sources and primary inspection of the pieces. Detailed information about each piece was written in the prescribed format. This information will be used not only for the online cataloging system but also to generate awareness about the significance of the architectural heritage to the local people, scholars, academicians and students of United Kingdom.


Presentation

A/Prof. Jay Thakkar gave a presentation to faculty members and post-graduate students from the MS in Building History, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, UK. The presentation focused on the Traditional and Vernacular Architecture of Gujarat and research projects of Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC), CEPT University. It was followed by question and answer and discussion session on the position of the heritage in Gujarat and possibility of Cambridge University students doing some research on traditional architecture and crafts of Gujarat, India. 

Interactions

 

During the course of research, there was the opportunity to meet a couple of people from the field of art, architecture and craft related to museums and universities. Philip, Jeannie and SADACC team were instrumental in organising these meetings. A meeting with Prof. John Mack, Professor, School of Art History and World Art Studies, and Chairman, The Sainsbury Institute for Art (UEA), Norwich was arranged to see the possibility of collaboration between SADACC trust, UEA (specifically Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts) and CEPT University. This collaboration would initiate the research in the field of traditional and vernacular architecture as well as furniture of India (with focus on northwest India). Another meeting with Prof. Hilary Carlisle, Dean of Arts and Design at Norwich University of The Arts (NUA) was very fruitful in terms of possible student exchange program between NUA and Faculty of Design and Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC), CEPT University. NUA has Bachelor of architecture course and going to start Interior Architecture course in this year. Further NUA very strongly believes in the vocational oriented course structure which fits very well with the research activities of DICRC and many courses at CEPT University. A detailed discussion with Kerryn Greenberg, Curator (International Art) at TATE Modern gave insight into the various acquisition policies and procedures at TATE gallery for collecting the artwork from across the world. This has been enriching information as it will help in refining some processes of CEPT Archives (for built environment and culture in India) at CEPT University. Additionally there was the opportunity to meet Dame Elizabeth Esteve-Coll, previous director of the V&A, and former Vice Chancellor of the UEA.

Initiated in December 2015, the project aims to identify, map and document vernacular furniture of North West India, with focus on types, usage, material and techniques, crafts and ornamentation, socio-cultural influences, and so on. 

Vernacular furniture, as we term it is predominantly utilitarian furniture, made by the local craftspeople, using indigenous resources, for the people of a particular region. In a country like India, where the vernacular fabric changes every few hundred kilometers, a region’s architecture, interior architecture and furniture are excellent examples that reflect several social and cultural aspects of that particular region. Collectively these elements provide a unique identity to a community or a region as a whole. It is a recognized fact that whilst there exists high quality documentation and research in progress of the wood-carved architecture, there is not much to match it in terms of documentation of vernacular furniture. Academic material regarding the traditional and vernacular furniture of India is scarce, if any, and none that would trace the relationship between traditional furniture and architecture.

The research project aims at studying and documenting vernacular furniture that has traditionally been, and continues to be an inherent part of the day to day life in an Indian household. It will be conducted in various phases. Phase one focuses on Gujarat. This will act as a prototype to develop a framework based on which, subsequent phases will focus on other regions of North West India – like Rajasthan and Punjab. 

This project has escalated from Jay Thakkar’s research project - "Wooden Architecture Collection of Gujarat at South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) Trust, United Kingdom” – at SADACC, funded by the Simon Digby Memorial Charity in June 2015. 
Team Members
Jay Thakkar
Mitraja Vyas
Mansi Sathyanarayan
Samrudh Dixit

Collaborators
Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC), CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.
South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) Trust, Norwich, UK.

‘Study of Vernacular Furniture of North West India’ is a collaborative, yearlong project betweenDesign Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC), CEPT University, Ahmedabad India and South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection (SADACC) Trust, Norwich, UK.The SADACC Trust is a registered charity based at the Old Skating Rink in Norwich. Founded in 2010, the SADACC Trust's mission is to record, conserve and promote the arts, crafts and cultures of South Asia. The Trust looks after a large collection of South Asian decorative art assembled by the founders of the Trust since the 1970s. Founders Philip and Jeannie Millward also own the sister organisation and retail business Country and Eastern, also housed in the Old Skating Rink and a major financial supporter of the Trust's activities.
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