Oral histories of Bimanagar

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference

Description

Bimanagar (also known as Life Insurance Corporation Housing) in Ahmedabad is one of the most significant yet overlooked projects of Indian architect BV Doshi. Designed in the early 70s but not completed till the late 80s, the project reflected the architectural interest of the time around the social aspects of architecture and typological innovation to accommodate growth. Since then, it has evolved at the rhythm of the political, social, and cultural changes of the city and the country, with the liberalization of the economy, the growth of the middle classes, and political and religious tensions.

All 56 housing blocks with 336 apartments built in 1987 have not only survived but have been re-imagined and extended by inhabitants through a complex and iterative process of spatial negotiation between neighbours. Over the last four decades, this process has radically transformed both the street-facing facades and the courtyards shared between adjacent blocks.

Bimanagar offers a unique opportunity for detailed study of an architecture that promotes appropriation, negotiation, adaptation and growth. Its initial configuration established a social and spatial laboratory in which divergent narratives of incremental metamorphosis played out over time. In its current, transformed state, Bimanagar constitutes an extensive archive of time-based architectures that offers fresh insights into understanding architecture as a process and housing as a verb.

The film brings together the perspectives and narratives of the architect of the project and its current inhabitants, some original homeowners while other recent newcomers. Through a series of interviews and conversations, it presents their views, recollections, ambitions, hopes, and fears around the estate's past, present, and future. While Doshi presents his goal of integrating physical and social structures, creating a township with a sense of community, by integrating various user income groups and allowing and fostering change over time; various inhabitants describe their experiences growing in the estate, the negotiations with neighbours to extend their homes and the growing pressure to redevelop the site in response of new urban regulations.
Period20 Apr 2022
Event title AHRA Research Student Symposium 2022 "Voices in Architecture": AHRA Research Student Symposium 2022
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Keywords

  • oral history
  • Housing
  • India
  • Doshi
  • Ahmedabad
  • LIC
  • Time-based architecture
  • agency
  • Incremental housing
  • participation
  • Co-production