LIFE HISTORY:

(March 2, 1917 – April 1, 2007) British-born Indian architect

  • He went to India in 1945 in part as a missionary and since then lived and worked in India for over 50 years
  • He obtained Indian citizenship in 1989 and resided in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala.
  • In 1990, the Government of India awarded him with the Padma Shri in recognition of his meritorious service in the field of architecture.
  • Baker studied architecture in Birmingham and graduated in 1937, aged 20, in a period of political unrest for Europe.
  • During the Second World War, he served in the Friends Ambulance Unit in China and Burma.

CONTRIBUTION TO INDIA

  • Worked as an architect for an international and interdenominational Mission dedicated to the care of those suffering from leprosy.
  • Focused on converting or replacing asylums once used to house the ostracized sufferers of the disease – “lepers”.
  • Used  indigenous architecture and methods of these places as  means to deal with his once daunting problems.

Initial work

  • Baker lived in Kerala with Doctor P.J. Chandy,
  • He received great encouragement and later married his sister
  • while Laurie continued his architectural work and research accommodating the medical needs of the community through his constructions of various hospitals and clinics.
  • Baker sought to enrich the culture in which he participated by promoting simplicity and home-grown quality in his buildings.
  • His emphasis on cost-conscious construction,
  • An ideal that the Mahatma expressed as the only means to revitalize and liberate an impoverished India

Architectural style:

  • Designing and building low cost, high quality, beautiful homes
  • Suited to or built for lower-middle to lower class clients.
  • Irregular, pyramid-like structures on roofs, with one side left open and tilting into the wind.
  • Brick jali walls, a perforated brick screen which utilises natural air movement to cool the home’s interior and create intricate patterns of light and shadow
  • Baker’s designs invariably have traditional Indian sloping roofs and terracotta Mangalore tile shingling with gables and vents allowing rising hot air to escape.
  • Curved walls to enclose more volume at lower material cost than straight walls,
  • Baker was often seen rummaging through salvage heaps looking for suitable building materials, door and window frames.
  • Baker’s architectural method is of improvisation.
  • Initial drawings have only an idealistic link to the final construction, with most of the accommodations and design choices being made on-site by the architect himself
  • His respect for nature led him to let the idiosyncrasies of a site inform his architectural improvisations, rarely is a topography line marred or a tree uprooted.
  • This saves construction cost as well, since working around difficult site conditions is much more cost-effective than clear-cutting
  • Baker created a cooling system by placing a high, latticed, brick wall near a pond that uses air pressure differences to draw cool air through the building
  • His responsiveness to never-identical site conditions quite obviously allowed for the variegation that permeates his work.

LOW COST CONSTRUCTION

  • Filler slab : Advantages:
    • 20-35% Less materials
    • Decorative, Economical & Reduced self-load
    • Almost maintenance free
    • 25-30% Cost Reduction
  • Jack Arch:Advantages :
    • Energy saving & Eco-Friendly compressive roofing.
    • Decorative & Highly Economical
    • Maintenance free
  • Masonry Dome, Advantages:
    • Energy saving eco-friendly compressive roof.
    • Decorative & Highly Economical for larges spans.
    • Maintenance free
  • Funnicular shell, Advantages:
    • Energy saving eco-friendly compressive roof.
    • Decorative & Economical
    • Maintenance free
  • Masonry Arches,Advantages:
    • Traditional spanning sytem.
    • Highly decorative & economical
    • Less energy requirement.

Awards:

  • 1981: D.Litt conferred by the Royal University of Netherlands for outstanding work in the Third World
  • 1983: Order of the British Empire, MBE
  • 1987: Received the first Indian National Habitat Award
  • 1988: Received Indian Citizenship
  • 1989: Indian Institute of Architects Outstanding Architect of the Year
  • 1990: Received the Padma Sri
  • 1990: Great Master Architect of the Year
  • 1992: UNO Habitat Award & UN Roll of Honour
  • 1993: International Union of Architects (IUA) Award
  • 1993: Sir Robert Matthew Prize for Improvement of Human Settlements
  • 1994: People of the Year Award
  • 1995: Awarded Doctorate from the University of Central England
  • 1998: Awarded Doctorate from Sri Venkateshwara University
  • 2001: Coinpar MR Kurup Endowment Award
  • 2003: Basheer Puraskaram
  • 2003: D.Litt from the Kerala University
  • 2005: Kerala Government Certificate of Appreciation
  • 2006: L-Ramp Award of Excellence
  • 2006: Nominated from the Pritzker Prize

The Hamlet

  • This is Baker’s home in Trivandrum.
  • This is remarkable and unique house built on a plot of land along the slope of a rocky hill, with limited access to water:
  • However Baker’s genius has created a wonderful home for his family
  • Material used from unconventional sources
  • Family eats in kitchen
  • Electricity wiring is not concealed

Architectural features:

  • STEPS DIRECTLY CUT IN ROCK
  • ENTRANCE HAS SMALL SITTING AREA FOR GUESTS
  • THE WALL IS DECORATED FROM BROKEN POTTERY, PENS, GLASS
  • A CALLING BELL FOR VISITORS TO ANNOUNCE THEIR PRESENCE
  • USE OF NATURAL LIGHT
  • NEVER CUT TREES INSTEAD ADAPTED HIS DESIGN ACCORDINGLY
  • INNER COURTYARD …CLOSE TO NATURE
  • ARCHES LED INTO A BEAUTIFUL OPEN ROOM
  • COURTYARD HAS MANY GARDENS AND PONDS
  • Pitched roof made of manglore tiles
  • BAKER’S FONDNESS OF ARCHES
  • GABLES FOR PROPER AIR CIRCULATION  AND VENTILATION
  • SIMPLE YET BEAUTIFUL WINDOWS
  • GRILL MADE OF BITS AND PIECES
  • CONICAL STRUCTURE USED.
  • COST EFFECTIVE BAKER’S WINDOW
  • Louvered window typical of baker’s type
  • STAINED GLASS EFFECT
  • WATER TANK FOR STORING RAIN HARVESTED WATER

 


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Comments
  1. sanooj says:

    informative

  2. jenny wellschlager says:

    Helpful. Studying Baker’s works.

  3. Asawari says:

    What did Laurie Baker convey to the world?

  4. […] the ‘sarovaram’ restaurant at Kochi city in Kerala. It is beautiful and elegant. Every Laurie Baker building is a monument to […]

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