Tennis Great Ivan Lendl is known to have once said – If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way that I know I can.
Gita Balakrishnan has often been asked if she is a practising architect. What she has chosen to do is certainly unconventional. She practises the way she does only because she believes she is doing what she is best at.
A graduate from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, Gita Balakrishnan completed practical training at the Centre for Building Performance and Diagnostics at the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. She underwent a training programme on Stabilized Mud Blocks and other alternative methods of construction at Indian Institute of Science Bangalore. She has designed and constructed buildings using alternative methods of construction in Bangalore. She worked with an NGO, AVAS – as a shelter coordinator in the slums of Bangalore. She is now a trustee of AVAS. She moved to Kolkata in 2001 and started Ethos with the intention of making the architectural and civil engineering community alive to the changes happening globally and in our country in the field of architecture and construction. Ethos reaches out to around 25000 students of architecture and civil engineering from around 600 colleges across India through interesting events. The flagship events of Ethos are Archumen, a quiz on architecture and Bending Moment, a quiz on civil engineering. Ethos also organizes design competitions such as Transparence, SAVE AS YOU BUILD and IGBC Green Design Competition. Archumen was conducted in Sri Lanka in 2006 and an episode was hosted at Lahore during the students’ jamboree at the Asian Congress of Architect in 2010. Archumen has recently acquired and entry into the 2013 edition of the Limca Book of Records.
Why did she choose to do all these varied things that were really not the norm for an architect? She says she had to be comfortable with herself and would be so only if she did things that she believed in. As Mark Twain once said, “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
Gita is currently the Chairperson of the West Bengal Chapter of Indian Institute of Architects.