Grad School Application Essay

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I have often been asked by architecture students and professionals visiting Chandigarh on how it feels having grown up and educated from this city - a single stroke, paradigm shifting undertaking by the father of modernism himself. I reply with an inherently paradoxical answer. While on one hand it has served as a major source of my exposure towards architecture and urbanism, alongside shaping my perception and critique of urbanity, it has also engendered in me a curiosity towards the ‘other’, the traditional, emergent and incremental forms of urbanism prevalent all over the Indian sub-continent.

On a vocational tour of Kolkata, I observed how the local administration woos immigrants and the poor for votes, by allowing them to vend goods …show more content…

I took advantage of the opportunities provided during my undergraduate career to appraise the present performance of the city against the conceived, modernist planning ideals. In an assignment for the urban design class, I investigated the image of the city as perceived by the largely illiterate rickshaw-pullers, which navigate through it on a daily basis. It helped me to learn how the vocabulary of nodes and landmarks synonymous with traditional towns, still continues to be used by them. I illustrated this by drawing sector maps using Lynch’s taxonomy of urban elements. For a national competition to design a people’s mall, I looked into the supply chains and networks across the city, which transform sliver spaces within its formal fabric, appropriated by informal vendors and hawkers. Each sector, devised as homogeneous, self-sufficient neighborhood units, now specializes in various resources leading to a differential development of the uniform grid layout.

In my final thesis project, I researched on Chandigarh’s gridlocked, urbanized villages which emerged as by-products of the rational planning, juxtaposing contrasting forms of urbanism. A British filmmaker once dubbed them as subaltern subversions of the grid, whereas a nuanced investigation revealed how the existing form and pattern critiques the extended family neighborhoods of the pre-existing agrarian settlement. In my

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