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Laurie Baker

45 newspapers world-wide are reporting that Laurie Baker has died. One out-take from the Guardian:
Laurie Baker, a British-born architect who spent more than 60 years in India building homes that were ecologically sound and affordable for the poor, has died. He was 90.

Baker, who died April 1, used local, mostly inexpensive materials to construct quality buildings all over India in what became known as the Laurie Baker style. His technique allowed natural movement of air to cool interiors in the sweltering southern state of Kerala, Baker's home for decades.

Baker and several other architects founded the Center Of Science and Technology For Rural Development, which continues to provide quality housing for poor families...
GUARDIAN 08.04.07
"Cost-effective houses are not just for the poor, they are for everyone. The equation that a cost-effective house is a house for the poor, implying a bad looking house, can definitely be proved wrong. Isn't it the responsibility of the upper and middle classes to stop indulging in extravagance and make better looking houses instead? This entire classification is wrong."
FRONTLINE 2003 "Laurie Baker's Creative Journey"

Comments

  • edited January 1970
    I saw Laurie Baker around 14 years ago (?) when he delivered a talk in Melbourne. I will never forget his words and the photographs of his/community projects. They were subtly in their style, affordable and exquisite (in a non pompous way).
    The picture that stuck in my mind is that of a window, with a windowsill acting also as a desk, from which you could work, but also contemplate the happenings of the street. There were no glass panes, but a grill made of bicycle wheels of different sizes forming an intriguing pattern.
    Touch the earth slightly I think was the title of his talk - it certainly touched me.
  • edited January 1970
    The picture that stuck in my mind is that of a window, with a windowsill acting also as a desk, from which you could work, but also contemplate the happenings of the street. There were no glass panes, but a grill made of bicycle wheels of different sizes forming an intriguing pattern.

    masterylight%20(09).jpg

    I think you mean this grill ?

    In case you haven't seen it
    http://lauriebaker.net

    Check out Mr Baker's official website which may be of interest to you.

    This page has some beautiful photos of some of his buildings

    http://lauriebaker.net/work/work/pictures-of-buildings.html

    Christina
  • edited January 1970
    Thanks Christine, that is beautiful and thanks for the link, I have added it to our links page.
    Beatriz
  • edited January 1970
    No problem Beatriz :D
  • edited January 1970
    On behalf of Sundar Ramanathaiyer, I have taken the liberty to publish his message to arch-peace.

    Greetings.
    As you would know, Laurie Baker, the British/Indian architect, who passed away recently, at the age of 90, in Trivandrum, Kerala, was a Green Quaker architect, who was anti-war in its right earnest sense. The following couple of paragraphs are from the memoirs of his wife Dr.Elizabeth Baker, from one of Laurie's letters reproduced in the book

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

    Publishers
    DC Books, Kottayam 686 001
    Kerala State, India
    website : www.dcbooks.com
    e-mail : info@dcbooks.com
    online bookstore : www.dcbookstore.com
    As I started off, by saying that I only have a few clear pictures in my mind now – sixty years later – names of places were hardly ever known – let alone remembered. I have a clear mind picture of various special little episodes – like being bombed, while swimming in the river, but absolutely no memory of the sequence of towns and villages where we had opened up hospitals for two or three days and then moved on – it seemed endless – we also seemed to have to get across many streams and big rivers but I never knew the names of these rivers or places nor have I ever been back to Burma to see if I could retrace our epic journey. In fact I think of the whole episode as In the Burmese Jungle

    a dream; much of it being in the nightmare section. Of course we learned a few lessons; if there was a river with small towns on both sides of the river, we'd always find some way of crossing the river first, and then 'setting up our shop' – another lasting generalised memory I have is that invariably, victims whom we patched up, whether civilian or army personnel, were always grateful and often I recall that, it was they, who urged us to move on before it was too late. I also learned in that trip, that it is not always soldiers and army people who are exposed to the terrors of war – in fact, they have organised leaders, and recognised ways of retreating, but for civilians it is a different picture. There is no organisation to move them and there is panic among their neighbours, and members of the family, they know they must leave and run – but where to? And what next? I had always felt that war was one of mankind's worst evils. The Burma episode convinced me as never before that war couldn't be anything but wicked and evil.
    Having a quick glance at your website, I thought this book would be of interest to you. Hence this message. Hope you would acknowledge

    With sincere regards,

    Sundar Ramanathaiyer,
    North Sydney
  • edited January 1970
    I knew that Laurie Baker visited the architecture department of a University in Melbourne and gave a talk. Beatrice, I think that was when you heard him. I also remember that couple of students from [the University of Melbourne] that came over to the Hamlet, Laurie Baker's beautiful home in Trivandrum, Kerala. Is there any means of contacting those who organized the Laurie Baker talk in Melbourne?
    regards,
    Sundar Ramanathaiyer

    Here is what the Frontline magazine published. The complete version is still with me, unpublished. http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2407/stories/20070420005013000.htm
    Laurie was an anti-nuclear activist who has drawn several anti-nuclear cartoons [yes, cartoons]. Here is what he wrote 8 years ago.

    Pokharan II and After

    I believe it is wrong to kill people. It is wrong to steal - but you can give back or repay. It is wrong to tell a lie - but you can confess and tell the truth. You can kill - but you cannot bring that life back.

    As far as I am concerned these thoughts cover most of my feelings about the Pokharan Tests. These tests and all the wonderful scientific work that preceded them, were not done to produce a fireworks displays nor just to make a big bang to frighten those whom we think are our enemies. They were made to test a Bomb that can be used - either if over-provoked, or to use as an imagined defences or retaliation.

    I don't think I need to bring my religion, or any other religion, into it. Non-violence is my way of life, and at 82 I am not persuaded or tempted to change my beliefs.

    I was born during the first `Great' World War and I `went through' the Second `Great' World War. I refused to join the armed forces but within a week of the declaration of the War II `joined up' ....

    Continue reading: "Laurie Baker: Pokharan II and After"

    [Pokhran is the test site for India's nuclear program. The Atomic Energy Commission of India detonated its first underground nuclear weapon there on May 18, 1974. The Indian government, however, declared that it was not going to make nuclear weapons even though it had acquired the capacity to do so. It claimed that the Pokhran explosion was an effort to harness atomic energy for peaceful purposes and to make India self-reliant in nuclear technology, but subsequently, India conducted five nuclear tests on May 11 and May 13, 1998. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokhran ]
  • edited January 1970
    If you would like to know more about Laurie Baker's commitment to peace, Sundar has sent us an unpublished article that we have now published in arch-peace.
    Find this article here: http://archpeace.blogspot.com/2007/07/laurie-baker-pokharan-ii-and-after.html

    Thanks Sundar for your very generous contribution.

    Beatriz
  • edited January 1970
    Hi,

    This is probably too late. I know that Laurie Baker passed away some months ago, but I have just found this discussion forum. Just to inform you that I wrote an article about him, published on an Indonesian national newspaper called KOMPAS in June 2004 (the newspaper similar to The AGE in Australia or India Times in India), but unfortunately it's in Indonesian language (the link is: http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0406/27/desain/1096186.htm).

    The article was based on my discussion with him in 2002, in his bedroom (he was ill at that time but still willing to accept my visit to his house at Trivandrum, Kerala), mrs. Elizabeth Baker was there too.

    His work and his energy in promoting the "pro-poor" development has inspired me so much. I even applied the Baker's "rat-trap-bond" in my house construction (in Indonesia).

    Wing Raharjo


    Anonymous wrote:
    If you would like to know more about Laurie Baker's commitment to peace, Sundar has sent us an unpublished article that we have now published in arch-peace.
    Find this article here: http://archpeace.blogspot.com/2007/07/laurie-baker-pokharan-ii-and-after.html

    Thanks Sundar for your very generous contribution.

    Beatriz
  • edited January 1970
    Thanks for mentioning your article Wing and for sharing the link with us. Some of our Indonesian members will be please to read it. We are also happy to publish original articles in languages other than English, so if you ever want to publish here you are welcome.
    Beatriz
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