As things stand today, I am hoping to be on my way to North East India pretty soon after we
play out CeC 2013, up here in Sattal, through February 22-23-24. That hopefully means a
2,000km motorcycle ride for me once again, through Nepal, also once again, about mid-March.
This story rides the simple fact that I inherited a lovely little 360 square yard plot of
land upon the passing of my mother in 2011, in a sort of posh residential-colony of the capital
city of Assam, Guwahati, and, actually took possession last November (2012),.. after which I
was first travelling, then locked into Delhi for awhile, and am now up in Sattal, preparing for
The plot is what we are now hoping to start evolving into Research & Innovation Ashram
#002,.. ahead of RIA #001 for the moment.
Here's what it looks like presently, from the eastern side:
In this image, the plot fronts onto the private shared driveway seen in the foreground,
extending from the shared main-gate on the right, up to the white pillar marked with a yellow 'x'
near the centre of the image (about 48ft.). The northern wall of the plot
(on the right; about 70ft.), and the shared main-gate, both face the widest road
within the colony, with a 5-storey set of apartment blocks--seen on the right side of this
image--directly on the other side. The Dispur capital-complex is just a few hundred yards beyond
The reasons for prioritizing RIA #002 over RIA #001 right now
are multifold, most particularly including the potentials of this location for, (a) variegated
year-round public programming, (b) growing an engaged local 'community', (c) drawing other
organizations into association, and, (d) leveraging the fact that I am personally native to the
It should be added here that Assam, and North-East India as a whole, represent an entirely
unique and very robust bouquet of rich living-cultures, and the region is also already beginning
to present India it's only really open land-border to the rest of the world, via Burma. This is,
of course, about roads for now, but rail linkages too are already on the anvil, with international
negotiations and planning in full swing.
At the same time, it should equally be noted here that the region has been little known to outsiders
thus far, and was consequently of little general 'interest', primarily because, (a) travel to North-East
India was hitherto restricted quite diligently by the Government of India, and, (b) the region was also
geo-politically rendered into a geographical cul de sac, connected to the rest of the world by
only just a 32km. wide chickens-neck that linked it to the rest of India,.. to which it historically
actually did not belong.
And so, with all of that said and done, here's the broad plan we are hoping to begin with,.. given
the seminal starting point that we actually have little to no funds to really do anything very
much at all~;o).
1. we begin with a cheap 'temporary' structure/s
Accordingly, in line with local traditions, local skills, and local materials, together with a quest
for immediacy in getting it all going, we are 'hoping' to first make an unique Bamboo
main-structure to serve for RIA #002, with an open sided ground-floor meant for small exhibitions,
performances, presentations, workshops, screenings, classes, collaborations, and the like, and a relatively
discrete first-floor dedicated to residency, and private deskspace/s. Meanwhile, kitchen, bathrooms, toilets,
and staff, can have a small separate block.
2. we make of this a merit, by casting it as first product of an extended public project of RIA #002,
whereby we intend to cyclically create, use, demolish and replace experimental functional structure/s
(say every 5 years or so) so as to almost continually, and also quite publicly,
manifest useful experimental creativity and innovation by these means
3. we invite institutions, architects, designers, materials-manufacturers, builders, and so on,
from all over India and the world, to engage themselves variously with this aspect of RIA #002,.. though
this will probably be only in the further future~:o(
Here's an approximate idea of the main-structure we would probably like to make along such lines,
within given circumstances today. It is seen from what would be the northern perspective
(i.e. from the road, with the shared main-gate and driveway to the left):
(note: this is composited from an image of a different structure, and is therefore unique)
Here's a mock-up of the basic structural logic.
In case the design above proves to be not doable presently, for whatsoever reason
(discordant legalese, for example), we might instead begin with an even simpler structure/s,
possibly along the lines of bamboo bivouacs, of which the following is just a random houseboat example
And of course, if we do indeed go along these lines, such a structure/s would be substantially just about
becoming basically habitable, so as to provide for at least the residency and private-deskspaces aspect of
RIA #002, leaving the rest to be addressed as and how circumstances permit ~ possibly meaning just
plain open space, at least to begin with.
And finally, up until we actually do whatever we do with this, there also always remains the possibility
that we might just go with a pallet-rack structure, which we could then continually reinvent,
on an ongoing basis over several years, without significantly re-investing along the way to