Sterile Neighbourhoods

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By VISHVESH KANDOLKAR

 

While walking around with some friends in Dona Paula, our discussion veered to its architecture. We started comparing buildings, appreciating some but more often bemoaned the fact that for the most part they were loud, gaudy, and, at times, completely out of scale. Most of the buildings in Dona Paula are large single-family bungalows, with high compound walls and even bigger gates, intended to symbolize the wealth of the patron within. While one bungalow was trying to impress with over sized column and pediment, the other went overboard with decorative railings and ugly pergolas. As we moved along, we came across a series of contemporary row-houses marked by sleek lines of horizontal and vertical planes. For a change, my companions approved of the work. I remained skeptical,also evasive about the reason for my continued criticism. Nevertheless, I had a feeling that,given the context, my own work as an architect would not have been very different. Why then was I critical of the wealthy neighborhood of Dona Paula?  Why did I find it sanitized, even sterile?

 

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