Kochi, February 19: While the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is influencing a generation of Indians, it has also inspired a group of architecture students to come up with a plan to help artists.
'Housing for Artists' is a project initiated by students of Rashtriya Vidyalaya College of Architecture in Bangalore to build a facility for artists to live and work in suburban Fort Kochi, which is the hub of the ongoing 108-day festival. Forty-two students of the college, who arrived at the biennale for a three-day visit, went to several sites in Fort Kochi looking for possibilities to build a group of houses for artists in the heritage town.
"The aim is to create a viable design for a group of houses for the artists coming to Kochi," said Ceejo Jacob, a faculty member at Rashtriya Vidyalaya of Architecture, who is part of the student-faculty delegation in Fort Kochi.
"We also have to look at the question of what happens between two biennales when the event inspires artists from across the world to come and work here," said Jacob, who visited the biennale last month with a 100-strong group of students from the college, a trip that led to the idea of the project. Each student will prepare a separate plan for the housing project, culminating in 42 different blueprints.
The project is part of the students' academic and documentation work required for the second year of study. The project envisages studios for the artists besides the dwellings. There will be 42 proposals and one project, said Yamini Kumar, another teacher guiding the students in their study of the influence of different architectural styles of Fort Kochi.
"The students need to absorb what they see around and not ignore the various styles of architecture", adds Kumar. Fort Kochi is distinct for its architectural styles, ranging from the traditional to Portuguese to Dutch to British and even a mix of the local and the foreign. "The biennale has given a new life to Fort Kochi after much of the spice trade here shifted to the mainland," said Jacob. Many artists and galleries have identified the potential of the place, leading to several collateral projects around the biennale.