Shailaja Sudhalkar Bhati
In Auroville, where work in every field is a meditative exploration, I found myself in the midst of a rich legacy of experimentation and innovation. Slowly it became clear to me that the answers and inspiration are not to be searched for outside; neither are they to be brought forth from within. The quest, the path and the answers are existent - and reveal themselves to one when one aligns with one’s true nature and with the forces. Thus inspired, my work in Auroville started with a look inward, a search within my soul, for depending on the quality of inner space, was the expression of outer forms.
I took up the study of architecture in M. S. University at Baroda, Gujarat and stepped into this adventure of creative imagination.
I graduated in 1995 and moved to Chandigarh. It was very fortunate for me to start my life as an architect in Chandigarh, as visual impressions have a tendency to get absorbed and formatted in one’s mind and I couldn’t have asked for better inputs! The built and the green forms of Chandigarh constantly revealed to me their beauty of proportion, material and the play of light and shade and thus introduced to me the facet of intuition in architecture, which generally does not come forth in conventional education. Inspired by the Mountain ranges in the background and the visually interactive built environment carved out by Le Corbusier, it became clear to me that harmony has a very high influence on the minds of the observer, and that an architect’s role goes much beyond ‘building’.
After a couple of years there, and with a mind heady with strong architectural imagery and language, I decided to give myself the possibility to take my understanding to a deeper level by taking up teaching. Thus I worked with zest as a lecturer in a college of architecture in Bangalore for a year and then came to Auroville in 1999 to learn anew.
I worked shortly with two senior architects here and then in 2004, Lalit and I started Planning and Architecture Towards Holistic development (PATH), an architecture and planning studio which would have inspiration, creativity and experimentation as its basis and would shape and evolve with a joyful flexibility to mirror our insights in the path of life.
With this ideal since the very foundation, it can be challenging to find ways to give form to the concepts but I firmly believe that if one has the quest, then a teacher and guide is given to one. My path has been guided by interactions with different teachers who have helped develop and deepen my understanding of design, structure and construction.
Here in Auroville, life is a rhythmic progression of reflection and expression.And thus my journey here as an architect continues as I continue to refine myself and explore new ways to mould spaces into holistically designed architecture. I believe that it is the attempt to rise above oneself, go beyond personal limitations and walk with faith into the unknown that the unfolding and creating is all about.
Progress Community, Auroville - 605 101.