International Workshops

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Ahmedabad 2011: Samvad-Dialogue

"Dialogue is shared exploration towards greater understanding, connection, or possibility."

The IMIAD International Workshop held in Ahmedabad in September 2011 promised three weeks packed with intercultural dialogue. The event kicked off with an international conference where renowned architects, designers and academics spoke on the topic of “samvad” (the Hindi word for “dialogue”), which was also the main focus of the following workshop. The wealth of insights gained during the conference went far beyond everyday architecture, and often ventured into the philosophical. This provided a range of stimuli which enriched the subsequent practical phase of the participants’ stay in India.

After the conference, the 50 students from partner universities in Istanbul (ITU), Lugano (SUPSI), Edinburgh (ECA), Lahti (LAMK) and Stuttgart (HFT) set off for a variety of different regions within India. Their aim was to engage in a “dialogue of the senses” which enabled them to analyze and document the places they visited and gain a lasting impression of the many faces of Indian culture. The diversity of the places visited was striking:

  • Mumbai – a pulsating metropolis
  • Udaipur – a romantic lakeside city
  • Jaisalmer – on the desert’s edge
  • Patan – city of palaces
  • Kutchh – a district characterized by traditional crafts

Intensive analysis and discussion of encounters with Indian culture during the excursion formed the basis for the subsequent ten-day workshop. The students’ task was to reinitiate tangible dialogue between land and water at four specific locations on the riverfront in Ahmedabad. It is worth noting that the banks of the Sabarmati – the river that separates the old and new parts of Ahmedabad – are currently being completely redesigned. Despite having almost reached completion, the new riverfront promenades do not establish a connection to either the water or neighbouring buildings.
The objective was therefore to reinitiate dialogue between land and water using buildings which carry special cultural importance within the city. The buildings selected were Gandhi Ashram (the family home of Mahatma Gandhi, also known as Sabarmati Ashram) and two buildings by Le Corbusier (the Mill Owners’ Association Building and the City Museum). The students’ work yielded interesting ideas and food for thought on the topic of urban planning in Ahmedabad.

The International Workshop forms part of the IMIAD programme. It is held at the start of the third semester and takes place at a different location each year. This year’s workshop in Ahmedabad was a special occasion, as it marked the start of the future partnership with the city’s CEPT University – the new member of the IMIAD network.