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Architecture is a true reflection of culture of any given society at any time. Since the industrial revolution, architecture underwent a revolutionary transformation. While architecture of feudal time reflected the grandeur and decadence of the ruling elite, architecture of democratic society required a new expression. In order to reinvent architecture, educationists experimented with new approaches to design. William Morris in England, Henry Van de Velde in Belgium, Hans Poelzig and Peter Behrens in Germany inspired a fresh role for the arts and crafts in architecture. It was young architect-educationist Walter Gropius in Germany who cirtically looked at the most fundamental aspects of design education at Bauhaus, Weimar in Germany. His radical programme focused on the workshops and had linkages with the industry. The basic course initiated by the Swiss painter and teacher Johannes Itten was further developed under the Bauhaus masters such as Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Their inquiry and experiments resulted in the evolution of the basic design as a foundation course for architecture and allied arts, which has influenced schools of architecture and design world over ever since.
In India, some British architects and their Indian associates set up a course in architectural draughtmanship which soon became a diploma course in architecture at Sir J. J. School of Architecture, Mumbai. The orthodox Anglo-Saxon pattern of architectural education continued even after the departure of colonial masters. In post-independence era, the starting of School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi marked the new experiments in architectural education in India. Prof. Balkrishna Doshi started a new school of architecture in Ahmedabad with a more radical programme, in the light of works of Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in India. The subject of basic design was given its due importance at the new schools, which resulted in opening up of the minds of young designers. Through the activities of National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA) the new impulses found its way to all the colleges of architecture in India.
In 1971 Sir J. J. College of Architecture revised its curriculum and introduced the subject of Basic Design Prof. Dilip Purohit of Academy of Architecture brought a new critical look at the course of basic design for architectural students. Prof. Shirish Sukhatme's contribution to development of the basic design course at Sir J. J. College of Architecture, spanning more than 15 years is immense. With his educational background in IIT Kharagpur, Prof. Sukhatme brought a scientific approach to the study of basic design. He developed the course content into a rigorous exercise over the decade. The course was not restricted to mere visual study but incorporated spatial dimension in its exploration. The students responded creatively to these early initiatives by Prof. Sukhatme and results were refreshing, stunning and stimulating. Over the years, Prof. Sukhatme has documented these experiments and exercises conducted not only at Sir J. J. College of architecture but also at Rizvi College of Architecture and other new colleges of architecture in Mumbai. Under his critical eye for these exercises, a systematic exploration of the subject from the elementary elements such as dots, lines, surfaces and volumes to the creative compositions using complex forms, structures, in a variety of colour and textural schemes have been catalogued and examined. The critical analysis of classical and modern buildings and the transformation from basic design to architectural design provide a guided path to evolution of design ideas. The study of Basic Design has been Prof. Sukhatme's passion over the years. The result of his sustained endeavour is a mind-bogging collection of creative exercises in Basic Design supported with a clear and precise text to enable students of architecture to explore the wonderful world of basic design. Perhaps, the most critical need is to stimulate creative minds in the architectural profession. One hopes that the contemporary architects who are facing a difficult period in real estate market would find inspiration from the Prof. Sukhatme's Basic Design CD to create a more innovative architecture appropriate to our people, time and place. The Basic Design CD is a creative resource which can be used as a fountainhead of creativity.