In India, the brickwork of Laurie Baker

It was the advent of nuclear families, who suddenly needed houses smaller than the large ones where they had until then lived with uncles and aunts, cousins ​​and ancestors. The demand for housing exploded and Baker responded with the simplicity of his plans and the ease of building them. Protected by his two good fairies, the Church and the Communist power, the architect made many enemies. “Realize, he wrote textbooks on low cost buildings, which got him big orders in social housing. Obviously, his colleagues resented him and, moreover, never recognized him as one of their own, ”recalls architect Liza Raju Subhadra, who knew him when she was a student.

Director Marie Kalt photos Harry Gruyaert

Double-skinned buildings. In 1973 the Center for Development Studies (CDS) was inaugurated, a research establishment founded by a friend of Laurie Baker and considered the masterpiece of her career. Located in the district of Ulloor, in the middle of a lush garden, it is characterized by double-skinned buildings, offices, classrooms, dwellings, in which tree-lined skylights and water surfaces refresh the atmosphere. through breeze, obsession with their designer. Private commission or public commission, the Gandhian architect went to the essential, rejecting any flamboyance. He wanted to be the anti-Le Corbusier. Intelligence is not immediately obvious but it is very real, at CDS as well as at the clever Indian Coffee House, an emblematic café in Trivandrum where the hard tables are arranged along an ascending cylindrical spiral. Guaranteed natural ventilation.

In India, the brickwork of Laurie Baker
Director Marie Kalt photos Harry Gruyaert

In the remote hamlet of Vilappilsala, the Laurie Baker Center for Habitat Studies perpetuates the precepts of an architecture concerned with global warming ahead of its time. Workshops in the purest Baker style, the last project carried out by “Laurieji” before her death, now receive students who want to learn how to build without cement. The manager of the place, KP Kannan, is categorical: “The production of this material consumes a lot of energy and its use is superfluous. One day, the concrete will disappear, it will remain like a short parenthesis in history. “

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