Summer Internship with COSTFORD – Sindhura from JNAFAU

And now we have the final winner, the ultimate champion! Sindhura’s internship story received a whopping 2,700+ likes on facebook and won The Grand Prize (flipkart gift voucher worth Rs. 5,000/-). Many congratulations Sindhura – you deserved it!

Also Daily Winner for: -  21st August 2011

Name of the intern: -  Sindhura

Institute: -  School of Planning and Architecture, JNAFAU, Hyderabad

Organization interned with: -  Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD), Trivandrum, Kerela

Experience in my 10th sem @ Kerala, Trivandum — “The Greatest of the Greats – Mr. Baker”

COSTFORD, Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development, is a non-profit organization that tries to reduce building costs so that through scientific approaches to common materials and techniques housing comes within the reach of the poorest people but are equally acceptable to all. It was formed on March 15th, 1985,under the leadership and guidance of Shri. C. Achutha Menon, the former CM of Kerala and Padmashree Late Dr. Laurie Baker was the Chief Architect and Chairman.

Mr. Baker popularly known as DADDY was a great fan of Mahatma Gandhiji whose ideologies greatly influenced him in all his works. The words of Gandhiji that impressed him the most were – ‘the ideal houses in the ideal village shall be built of materials which are all found within a five-mile radius of the house.’

“Cost-effective houses are not just for the poor, they are for everyone”, Baker said. He makes use of simple local materials, to create a perfect blend between the elements of Indian vernacular architecture and Western technology, creating buildings close to its environs. One of the main components of Baker’s style was his use of ‘JAALIS’, which let in abundant light and air thus eliminating the additional costs which may incur. Baker was truly branded for his low cost style as he is known to make use of everything from brick to glass bottles as building materials. His work demonstrated his strengths and his perception of the existing tradition, technology and lifestyle.

My experience in COSTFORD:

My interest of working in COSTFORD popped up when I had documented the works and methodologies of Ar. Laurie Baker, as part of my academic work. Fascinated by his works, I decided to undergo my training in his firm at any cost. After spending 3-4 days with my family touring places in and around Kerela, I stepped into my hostel only to slay 3 cockroaches before dozing off on the floor. The first day in my office started off with a Malayalam meeting that left me bizarre. I slowly picked up small little words that helped me communicate with inmates because English wasn’t known to many. I landed myself in humiliation many a times when people stared at me continuously each time I held out my pink umbrella (theirs was black :P) to protect myself from heat and rains. Life in Trivandrum wasn’t easy as expected, as I spent my life amidst countless number of lizards, cockroaches, a guard dog, white dhotis and black umbrellas.

I happened to learn a lot from people associated with the firm and have had my hands laid on some of the important ongoing projects,  had been to a lot of slum surveys as part of Slum Redevelopment projects to find myself amidst inhabitants suffering from chikun guinea. I very often visited ongoing projects that helped me learn all the techniques from head to toe. I truly cherish each moment spent with the COSTFORD team.

My joy knew no bounds when I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Baker twice, once on his birthday and another on Christmas Eve. We presented him with handmade greeting cards and a cake that brought a wide smile on his face. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and stared at him till we finally had to leave his hamlet. His demise on April 1, 2008, came as a horrifying shock to each of us. I salute his passion, dedication, simplicity, hard work, fun loving nature, and above all his contribution to the society. He is beyond doubt ‘the Greatest of the Greats.’


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