When architects walked hand in hand!

Architect Gita Balakrishnan, who has been promoting the necessity of specialised architects at the grassroots level with her newest campaign, Walk for ArCause, organised a walk from the Rumi to the Faculty of Architecture premises on Friday. ArCause is a Gita social movement that emphasises the importance of architecture at the grassroots level. Gita, who is in her fifties, walked almost 1700 kilometres from Kolkata to New Delhi indending to spread the word about the necessity for specialised architects (Vastukaars) in today’s world.

Members of Lucknow Architects Association such as Preside Prashant Pal Singh, Vice President Ripunjay Kumar Patel, Secretary Devesh Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary Awanish Kumar Gangwar and others were also present.

Dr Vandana Sehgal, Dean and Principal of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning also graced the event and said that such unique initiatives will play a prominent role in connecting architects to the grassroots levels.

How did the idea of covering such a long distance come to your mind?

I started running when I was 45 in 2014, secondyear came second in the category and first in the third year. Then 21K and 42 K. So I realised that I was fit enough for such a stunt.

How do your designs connect with people?

I think this was a shifting goalpost. Nobody had understood the value of an architectural designer at the grassroot level. I would go and ask. Naksha Kaun banata hai and I would get answers such as the contractor or the mistri, and then I used to explain the role of an architect in building houses to the people. We also realised that as architects, we have not done a good job of getting down to the ground level.

Did the architects support your initiative?

Yes, They supported me all along the route and off the route too. See Lucknow was not in the route yet architects here are supporting the initiative. We built a great social media campaign that was very much effective.

Did you follow the golden triangle route?

No. That did not happen. The shortest route from Kolkata to New Delhi was that from UP and was around 1468 kilometres. But by that time elections had been announced in UP, but not the dates. We made the plan. We could have very well covered UP, and then we took the MP route. I did touch UP and went through Sonbhadra and Renukoot. Mentioning UP, I would say that there are people here who were very welcoming.

How did you conduct your talks on architecture?

I carried flashcards, I carried books. I also went to schools, We would go to NGOs. Now would you ask me have I achieved the objectives? Not yet, I did 2 million five hundred and fifty thousand steps, but it’s one step towards making a change.

What next?

I am planning to do all-district. Every year one large state and one small state every year. One thing more, we concluded the walk on April 24 in New Delhi, And we would like to institute Architectural Social Responsibility Day.

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