Standardization in Architecture – Discussion 19

“God is in details” proclaims the master builder , Meis Van Der Rohe.  The ancient architects who built our temple complexes and cities would  agree – for our heritage is based on uniqueness. There might not be a door or window that resembles another – each exuding and character of its own that exists harmoniously with the rest of the building.
However , with the advent of industrialization and an architecture that evolved out of a common consensus of efficiency rather than aesthetic , with the advent of the so-called “modern” architecture , the degree of detailing involved with the design process has reduced drastically. Standardization is an accepted norm in architecture today.
Is this sudden loss of uniqueness inducing a drone of boredom into the architecture of our times ?
This was the question that came up at our discussion table this Tuesday.
Arun was of the opinion that detailing comes with an economic price. He insisted that the amount of detailing to be undertaken would depend on the kind of project that one is dealing with.  An architect may choose a greater degree of standardization for an apartment building , while choosing to go in for a higher degree of detailing for a high-end resort. The reason being that , in case of the resort , the equation between his remuneration and time is balanced , even with the time allotted for detailing , while it is not so in the case of an apartment.
Poonam suggested that choosing the right detail from the standardized options available is also an art and requires the eye of a good architect. She added that , with the vast array of standardized products available in the market , the discerning architect needs to be aware of the market trends and choose the products that goes with the spirit of his design.
Rini was of the opinion that – standardization in all aspects , is perhaps not very encouraging. She pointed out that – in harmonious designs , every part is a projection of the whole. As such , the eye of the architect must reach to all elements in the building – be it doors , windows or installations The choosing of any random product from the standardized one available may be a compromise of sorts and may reduce the overall harmony of the building.
Tony added that it is not standardization of products that we must be vary of – it is the standardization in thought process. He pointed out the examples of the commercial complexes mushrooming in our cities – each a tiring repetition of the other. He added that – what makes a building original was the idea – the base concept – from where it springs. He insisted that originality is always refreshing irrespective of whether parts of the building is standardized or not.
Amal agreed with him adding that we were , in fact , far behind the developed countries in the race of standardization , yet , most of the innovative designs seem to coming from them. She pointed out that perhaps – this very
standardization – takes a load off from the shoulders of the architects and gives them more time to innovate , explore and develop.
Our discussion ended with the contradiction of the master architect’s proclamation -
Perhaps , God is not in details after all.

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