by Sunena V MajuSep 30, 2022
The grand scale of architectural festivals, conferences, and seminars tend to focus more on the tastes and sensibilities of industry figureheads. The IIA Calicut Centre, on the other hand, had a slightly different approach for their signature event at Crossroads, the Young Architects Festival 2022. A balanced mix of cultural events, exhibitions, workshops, and design competitions, the festival is conceptualised keeping students and younger architects in mind. Held from October 27 to 29, the three-day event in Calicut, India was attended by over a thousand architects, from all over the country. The importance of engaging the younger community of architects was evident in the nature and tone of the seminars. While the panel discussions took place in a large central hall, Sabha, the two auxiliary spaces Vedha and Bodhi hosted—live presentations by the Best Young Practice shortlist, movie screenings, forums, and rapid-fire sessions.
Many of the panel discussions brought to the foreground pertinent questions about our contemporary discipline. Architecture–Knowledge of Form or A Form of knowledge saw panellist Habeeb Khan (president, Council of Architecture, India), Neelkanth Chhaya (former dean, Faculty of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad), Rupali Gupte (co-founder of and professor at the School of Environment and Architecture), Shrutie Shah (former director - professor, SAL School of Architecture) moderated by Soumini Raja (associate professor at College of Architecture Trivandrum) engage in an interesting discourse about pedagogy and methodology in architectural education. The panel discussion expanded on the role of institutions—both academic and governing—in better understanding how to look at architectural knowledge.
Running simultaneously was a workshop, mentored by Bijoy Ramachandran, Biju Kuriakose, Palinda Kannangara, Shimul Javeri Kadri, and Madhav Raman. Over two days, the mentors engaged with the young minds in a workshop that addressed the design possibility of a public space in the city of Calicut: Lions Club Children’s park. Working with the primary stakeholders and engaging with their untapped sources of creativity, was an interesting exercise that was then presented to the audience at the main hall. The workshop resulted in a number of interesting outcomes including AI games, place-making, bird-watching, storytelling, and much more.
From the Language of Art and Architectureto discussing the Cultural Vanguard with an Ecological Conscience the symposiums and panel discussions featured some of the most important names from the Indian architectural scene. Some of the panellists include— Peter Rich, Dean D’Cruz, Abha Narain Lambha, Sanjay Puri, Rahul Gore, and Vinu Daniel. The festival was topped off with an award ceremony celebrating young practices. The eight categories stepped away from the usual titles, for alternate grouping, namely—Spaces for Living, Socially Responsible Architecture, Sustainable Architecture, Spaces for Collectivity and Collaboration, Architectural Detailing, Ideas for Future, Architectural Representation/ Visualization, and Spaces for Working. Prior to the awards, the shortlisted entries were displayed across the outer wall of the central space for all visitors to see.
Brijesh Shaijal, convenor of The Indian Institute of Architect’s YAF 2022, in an official statement elaborated on the awards saying, “The IIA Young Architects Festival 2022 aims to encourage and celebrate the contribution of young architects to the profession. This year the IIA Kerala Chapter has the privilege of hosting this magnanimous event at Calicut. We take pleasure in reintroducing the YAF Awards in an all-new format by awarding the entire practice and not just an individual project. This shall be a benchmark created to bring the nation’s most talented practices to the national podium thereby setting the future design trends for the country.” The winners of each of these categories are listed below.