Description - Spaces Inspired by Nature by Shirish Beri

Book & CD. Husain Lehri, the director of Super Book House, approached Yashwant Pitkar, teaching at the Sir J J College of Architecture in Mumbai, to bring out a book on a contemporary Indian architect whose approach is different from the run of the mill. Pitkar had no hesitation in choosing Shirish Beri who in a career spanning almost forty years has built works ranging from private residences to educational complexes and large public projects across India. As it turned out, this book is the result of an extensive collaboration between Lehri, Piktar and Beri -- Pitkar describes the process of making the book as one of slow and deep unfolding. What is most interesting about this book is its structure. Interspersed with the projects are Beri's written and sketched expressions. Each set of two projects is bookended by his illustrated essays and poetry. The essays are more like collections of rambling thoughts, posers and anecdotes -- seeking connections between nature, art, architecture, and life. There is a seamless rhythm set up in the book that constantly keeps the reader acquainted with the architect's outer manifestations in form of his buildings and his inner thought processes, integral to that creation. The opening essay, "Working with Wature ... Towards Sustainability" sets a tone towards not just architecture but life in general. Beri asks whether man's relationship with nature could become a universal archetype for a sustainable future. He advocates an approach towards architecture that grows out from the place and its spirit rather than imposed technocratic solutions. The book features about a dozen projects in greater detail, well illustrated with clear drawings, evocative sketches and excellent photographs accompanied by the architect's own analysis of the design process and governing concerns in each project. The opening section of the book contains a note by B V Doshi and a foreword by Christopher Charles Benninger who was Beri's mentor when he was a student at the CEPT in Ahmedabad. The Hirwai Farmhouse in Nathawade for himself, one of his earliest projects, is perhaps the best example of his avowed philosophy: spaces inspired by nature. The Sanjeevan Primary School and the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species at Hyderabad display Beri's playful and unconventional approach towards space organisation which is at once in harmony with the site's topography and natural features. Projects such as the Dharwad Engineering College or the Computational Mathematics Laboratory in Pune display a nuanced sense of structure, construction and meticulousness towards detail. In the closing section of the book there is an exhaustive list of projects with thumbnails giving a good idea of the full range of the architect's work. Accompanying the book is a CD titled "The Unfolding White: Shirish Beri's search for wholeness.

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