Saturday, April 28, 2007

Laurie Baker, the Builder

Laurie Baker. Born in Birmingham, England on March 2, 1917. Died on April 1, 2007 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. He had become a household name in Kerala synonymous to low-cost housing. The Times of India article (that triggered this attribution issue) says he is "relevant for a world that is threatened by global warming".

Apparently after completing his architecture course, he became an ambulance driver in the Second War in Burma and China. On his way back (to England) through (then) Bombay in 1945, he met Gandhi who told him there was much useful work to be done by architects in rural India. Baker lived 13 years in Uttar Pradesh (where he got married to a local doctor) before he moved to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala in 1963.

Some of my friends are now camping at a house built by him, at Vagamon in Kottayam district of Kerala (see Inspiration: For Nature-friendly built Environment) for a Pattu Kalari (Music workshop).

I have memories of a cartoon strip "Malayaliyude Mundu" (Mundu of Malayalees, a piece of cloth that is worn like a wrap-around) by him in one leading Malayalam periodical.

A few links for those who are interested in knowing more about him and his philosphy of life: MUD: An article by Laurie Baker (pdf), Of Architectural Truths and Lies: another article by him in The Hindu, An interview: Architecture for the people, and an article on the builder: The cost of Living, by London-based architect Ayyub Malik (pdf) .

[Image from Inspiration page]


Maddy said...

My uncle has a house designed by him & his sishyas. It is classic, compact,basic, no plastering, built to budget and well, to put it alls imply, a home. not a monstrosity as the gulfies build when they come back...

Anonymous said...

The Other Side of Laurie Baker
by Elizabeth Baker
ISBN 81-264-1462-6
Rs. 90.00

DC Books, Kottayam 686 001
Kerala State, India
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online bookstore :