Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 14

Biography Summary

1917: Born in Birmingham, England. Educated at King Edwards Grammar School & The Birmingham School of Architecture 1938: Associate of the Royal Institute of Architects (ARIBA) 1945: Came to India as the Chief Architect of the Mission to Lepers 1970: Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects 1981: D.Litt conferred by the Royal University of Netherlands for outstanding work in the Third World 1983: Order of the British Empire, MBE 1987: Received the first Indian National Habitat Award 1988: Received Indian Citizenship 1989: Indian Institute of Architects Outstanding Architect of the Year 1990: Received the Padma Sri 1990: Great Master Architect of the Year 1992: UNO Habitat Award & UN Roll of Honour 1993: International Union of Architects (IUA) Award 1993: Sir Robert Matthew Prize for Improvement of Human Settlements 1994: People of the Year Award 1995: Awarded Doctorate from the University of Central England 1998: Awarded Doctorate from Sri Venkateshwara University 2001: Coinpar MR Kurup Endowment Award 2003: Basheer Puraskaram 2003: D.Litt from the Kerala University 2005: Kerala Government Certificate of Appreciation 2006: L-Ramp Award of Excellence 2006: Nominated from the Pritzker Award (considered the Nobel Prize in Architecture)

Early Years
Laurie Baker was born on March 2, 1917 into a very staunch Christian Methodist family. The family was deeply involved in church activities. Lauries father Charles was the chief accountant at the Birmingham Gas Corporation and everyone expected Laurie to follow in his fathers footsteps. Laurie though, didnt like mathematics much and was interested in design. In his childhood he would accompany his father every weekend to visit cathedrals and other old buildings and then he would build models and draw pictures of what he had seen. After his matriculation, he joined the Birminghams School of Architecture and became an Associate Member of the Royal Institute of Architects (ARIBA) in 1938. Hardly had he got the opportunity to start working in England when World War II broke out just a year later in 1939. In his youth Laurie had participated quite devotedly in all church activities along with his family. However now in his teens, the traditional teachings of the church were starting to seem less appealing to him. He came into contact with some Quakers or members of the Society of Friends who believed in the power of non-violence and to live in respect of every person small or big, rich or poor. The Quakers' interpretation of Jesus' teachings attracted Laurie. Later, he would similarly be drawn to the similar beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi who would be a major influence on his work in India. Due to his Quaker beliefs Laurie was against fighting. However recognizing the pressing need for medical help he and other Quakers provided medical help through the Friends Ambulance Unit, which went into war zones to pick up the wounded and then treat them. It was during this period that he was trained as a nurse, midwife and anesthetist.

Laurie designed several schools during his professional life. He was always astounded by the uninteresting rectangular sheds that made up the government schools in Kerala. His ideas about schools and education were different

Baker always insisted on going to the site himself to understand the conditions and the lie of the land. He was actively involved in his work

even in his later years. Here are some shots discreetly captured by a client of Baker during one of his site visits when in his 80s!

Buildings Centre for Development Studies (Trivandrum), Literacy Village (Lucknow), Slim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History(SACON) (Coimbatore), Chitralekha Film Studio (Aakulam), The Indian Coffee House (Trivandrum), Attapadi Hill Area Development Society (Attapadi), Dakshina Chitra (Chennai), Chengalchoola Slum dwelling units (Trivandrum), Nirmithi Kendra (Aakulam), Tourist Centre (Ponmudi), Mitraniketan (Vellanad)

Throughout his practice, Baker became well known for designing and building low cost, high quality, beautiful homes, with a great portion of his work suited to or built for lower-middle to lower class clients. His buildings tend to emphasize prolific - at times virtuosic masonry construction, instilling privacy and evoking history with brick jaliwalls, a perforated brick screen which invites a natural air flow to cool the buildings' interior, in addition to creating intricate patterns of light and shadow. Another significant Baker feature is irregular, pyramid-like structures on roofs, with one side left open and tilting into the wind. Baker's designs invariably have traditional Indian sloping roofs and terracotta Mangalore tile shingling with gables and vents allowing rising hot air to escape. Curved walls enter Baker's architectural vocabulary as a means to enclose more volume at lower material cost than straight walls, and for Laurie, "building [became] more fun with the circle." A testament to his frugality, Baker was often seen rummaging through salvage heaps looking for suitable building materials, door and window frames, sometimes hitting a stroke of luck as evidenced by the intricately carved entry to the Chitralekha Film Studio (Aakulam, Trivandrum, 197476): a capricious architectural element found in a junk heap.

Baker's works, such as this house, blend seamlessly into the natural settings.

Baker's architectural method is one of improvisation, in which initial drawings have only an idealistic link to the final construction, with most of the accommodations and design choices being made on-site by the architect himself. Compartments for milk bottles near the doorstep, windowsills that double as bench surfaces, and a heavy emphasis on taking cues from the natural condition of the site are just some examples. His Quaker-instilled respect for nature lead him to let the idiosyncrasies of a site inform his architectural improvisations, rarely is a topography line marred or a tree uprooted. This saves construction cost as well, since working around difficult site conditions is much more cost-effective than clear-cutting. ("I think it's a waste of money to level a well-moulded site") Resistant to "hightechnology" that addresses building environment issues by ignoring natural environment, at the Centre for Development Studies (Trivandrum, 1971) Baker created a cooling system by placing a high, latticed, brick wall near a pond that uses air pressure differences to draw cool air through the building. Various features of his work such as using recycled material, natural environment control and frugality of design may be seen as sustainable architecture or green building with its emphasis onsustainability. His responsiveness to never-identical site conditions quite obviously allowed for the variegation that permeates his work.

Architectural style: Designing and building low cost, high quality, beautiful homes Suited to or built for lower-middle to lower class clients. Irregular, pyramid-like structures on roofs, with one side left open and tilting into the wind. Brick jali walls, a perforated brick screen which utilises natural air movement to cool the homes interior and create intricate patterns of light and shadow Bakers designs invariably have traditional Indian sloping roofs and terracotta Mangalore tile shingling with gables and vents allowing rising hot air to escape. Curved walls to enclose more volume at lower material cost than straight walls, Baker was often seen rummaging through salvage heaps looking for suitable building materials, door and window frames. Bakers architectural method is of improvisation. Initial drawings have only an idealistic link to the final construction, with most of the accommodations and design choices being made on-site by the architect himself His respect for nature led him to let the idiosyncrasies of a site inform his architectural improvisations, rarely is a topography line marred or a tree uprooted. This saves construction cost as well, since working around difficult site conditions is much more cost-effective than clear-cutting

Baker created a cooling system by placing a high, latticed, brick wall near a pond that uses air pressure differences to draw cool air through the building His responsiveness to never-identical site conditions quite obviously allowed for the variegation that permeates his work.

The Hamlet

This is Bakers home in Trivandrum. This is remarkable and unique house built on a plot of land along the slope of a rocky hill, with limited access to water: However Bakers genius has created a wonderful home for his family Material used from unconventional sources Family eats in kitchen Electricity wiring is not concealed Architectural features:


Prominent Baker's Buildings in Kerala:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Centre for Development Studies, Ulloor, Trivandrum, 1971. Aniruddhin's residence, Pattom, Trivandrum, 1969. Houses at Archbishop Compound, Pattom, Trivandrum, 1970. E. Namboodripads House, Ulloor, Trivandrum, 1973. K.N.Raj's residence, Kumarapuram, Trivandrum, 1970. Chapel for Sacred Heart Centre, Monroe Island, Quilon, Kerala House for R. Narayanan, an I.A.S officer, Golf Links, Trivandrum, 1972-73. 8. Chitralekha Studio Complex, Aakulam, Trivandrum, 1974-76. 9. Mitraniketan, Vellanad, Trivandrum - 1970 10. T. N. Krishnan's residence, Kumarapuram, Trivandrum, 1971 11. Dr. P. K.Panikar's (then Director of CDS) residence, Kumarapuram, Trivandrum, 1974. 12. House for Dr A.Vaidyanathan, Kumarapuram, Trivandrum, 1972. 13. House for T.C.Alexander (a retired audit executive), Vikramapuram Hill, Trivandrum, 1982. 14. House for Nalini Nayak (a social worker), Anayara, Trivandrum, 1989. 15. Lt.Gen.S.Pillai's Residence, Jawahar Nagar, Trivandrum, 1971. 16. House for Leela Menon, Golf Links, Trivandrum, 1973-74. 17. Ravindranath's residence, Gourishapattom, Trivandrum, 1975. 18. Vasant Gawarekar's residence, Manvila, Trivandrum, 1982. 19. House for Abu Abraham (cartoonist & columnist), Kowdiar, Trivandrum, 1989. 20. House for Beena Sarasan (an Income Tax officer), Kowdiar, Trivandrum, 1989 21. Children's Village, near Nagercoil, Tamilnadu, 1965. 22. Fishermen's Village, Poonthura, Trivandrum, 1974-75. 23. Tourist Centre, Ponmudi, Trivandrum, 1980. 24. Nirmithi Kendra, Aakulam, Trivandrum, 1987. 25. Loyola Chapel and Auditorium, Sreekaryam, 1971 26. Loyola Graduate and Women's Hostel, Sreekaryam, Trivandrum, 1970

Institutions and Buildings Leprosy homes for Mission to Lepers across India Pithoragarh house, school and hospital complex Nepal Hospital Allahabad Agricultural University Lucknow Psychiatric Centre, Noor Manzil Literacy Village, Lucknow Centre for Social Studies, Surat Ahmedbad & Baroda factories Jyothi Pumps, Baroda Childrens Village, 1965, Kulashekaram, Tamil Nadu Mitraniketan, Vagamon Horst Kowski orphanages and homes across India (other than Childrens

Village Nagercoil) Houses for the Archbishop of Trivandrum Tourist Resort near Muttam Loyola Womens Hostel, 1970, Sreekaryam Loyola Chapel and Auditorium, 1971, Sreekaryam Centre for Development Studies (CDS), 1971, Ulloor St Johns Cathedral, 1973, Thiruvella Nalanda State Institute of Languages, 1973, Nandankode Chitralekha Film Studio, 1975, Aakulam Pallikoodam (Corpus Christi), 1972, Kottayam Fishermens Village, 1974, Poonthura Mitraniketan, Vellanad Tourist Centre, 1980, Ponmudi The Indian Coffee House, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India Chapel for Sacred Hearts Centre, at Monroe Island, Quilon Navjeevodayam, Thiruvalla Nirmithi Kendra, 1987, Aakulam CSI Church expansion wing Paruthipara Church Salim Ali Centre, Anakatti, Coimbatore The Hall near Jawahar Nagar AHADS (Attapadi Hill Area Development Society) Latur Eathquake buildings Jilla Panchayat Office, Thevally, Kollam Kanyakumari Boat-building Yard Nrityagram, Bangalore Dakshina Chitra, Chennai, 1996 Building Centre at Anna University, Madras Some buildings in Kishkinta, Madras Sewa, Villapilshaala International Blind Childrens School Chengalchoola Slum Dwelling Units, Trivandrum Nava Yatra, Villapilshaala, Trivandrum Karimadom Colony, Trivandrum Residences Jayan and Asha, Kakkanad Neetas House HUDCO Suresh IAS Colony Abu Abraham, 1989 Major Jacob, 1988, Kulasekharam Leela Menon, 1973 Mr Narayans Mango house

Vellayani A M Jacob Anirudhin 1969 first house in Trivandrum to have a preponderance of jalis Nambudiripaad, 1973, KEsavadasapuram Nalini, 1989, Anayar KN Raj, 1970, Kumarapuram TN Krishnan, 1971, Kumarapuram PK Panikar, 1974, Kumarapuram Vaidyanathan, 1972, Kumarapuram T C Alexander, 1982, Vikramapuram Hill P J Thomas, 1972, Kuravankonam Lt Gen Pillai, 1971, Jawahar Nagar P Ramachandran, 1975, Pottakuzhy Ravindranath, 1975, Gourishapattom Varghese Jacob, 976, Kottayam K V George, 1987, Karakullam Vasanth Gawerekar, 1982, Manvila Beena Sarasan, 1989, Kowdiar Valiathan, 1985, Pulliyankotta K J Mathew, 1984, Vattiyurkavu C T Sukumaran, 1984, Vattiyurkavu P Sivanandan, 1984, Vattiyurkavu Sukhman, 1984, Vattiyurkavu Uma Devi, 1989, Ulloor House Modifications Anna Mathew, 1986, Kuravankonam K Peter, 1988, Nalanchira Vinay Kumar, 1990, Kunjavuzni

Welcome This is the official website of Laurence Wilfred Baker (Laurie Baker), renowned British-born Indian architect and humanitarian. The site provides information about his life, his beliefs, his work and his architectural principles of cost-effectiveness, use of locally available materials, respect for nature, avoidance of energy-intensive materials and wastage minimization to create low-cost, beautiful, high quality buildings which long pre-empted modern concepts such as eco-friendliness and sustainable architecture. Baker's body of work is significant both in terms of the volume and sheer diversity as well as in terms of the innovative and practical concepts he introduced. He has designed and built a dance village, computer institutes, fishermens huts, chapels and churches, factories, schools, film studios, orphanages, tourist resorts, residences, technical institutes, earthquake and tsunami resistant houses,

leprosy homes, a Literacy Village, hostels, slum dwellings improvement, an ornithology centre, government buildings, a blind childrens international school and a museum. In Kerala alone, he has built over 2000 buildings. He has also done pioneering work into earthquake and tsunami proof housing. Laurie Baker was also an accomplished cartoonist, artist and innovative designer. He has been at various times of his life an anesthetist, a nurse, a missionary and an architect. He served in the Second World War in the Friends Ambulance Unit and lived for four years in isolation in remote China taking care of lepers. After a meeting with Gandhiji he was convinced to come to India, initially as the chief architect of the Mission to Lepers building leper homes throughout India. He has since lived in Pithoragarh in the foothills of the Himalayas building hospitals and schools and in the tribal areas of Vagamon in Kerala before finally settling down in the city of Trivandrum. o On Being an Architect Written by Laurie Baker Down to Earth: Baker on what Architecture means to him Most people have very differing ideas about what an architect is. The dictionaries say that an architect is one who practises architecture and architecture is the art and science of building! After I qualified as an architect I worked in two or three well known architects' offices but it was deadly dull work. I was relieved when World War II broke out and I was posted, after a time, to China, of all places. After a few years there in medical work I tried to return to England via India but I had to wait for a boat for three months. Everyone was telling me to quit India, which was very foolish because if anyone tells me to quit, I stay. Looking back I realise that my architectural education was very different from that which is given to the architectural students here. My school of architecture was allied to the school of art and shared the same building. We rubbed shoulders with painters, sculptors, potters, fabric designers, stained glass window makers. Not only did we rub shoulders but in the evenings we budding architects had to take art courses. I did pottery, ceramics, stone carving and so on. Our engineering professors came to us from time to time and did what they had to and went away again. But here in Trivandrum the college of architecture is a branch of the engineering college, and as far as I know they have no connection with the college of art. I preferred my way and I have never run a proper architect's office. I have close to my bed a small, old drawing board the same one I had in school. I broke my tee square quite a long time ago and never bought another. I have an old brass pair of compasses which belonged to my older brother and it was passed on to me when I first went to school. So I don't look the part at all! To me probably the most interesting part of designing a building is dealing with the clients getting to know them, how they live and work and finding out what sort of a building they dream of. It is exciting to put on to paper what you think is in their heads, and then to go on altering or adding or deleting until you think you have put down what they want. We were taught very firmly and consistently that the client should always be our prime consideration and, indeed, our inspiration. 'You will be putting up their building not yours,' we were often told. An equally interesting and absorbing part of practising architecture is translating your two-dimension drawings into threedimension buildings. I have to be on the site to enjoy this transition from drawings to buildings. Not to be involved in building would be, to me, as foolish as buying a camera and film, viewing and clicking the trigger, getting a negative done, but not getting the print. From a practical point of view also, while I clamber about on the scaffolding, I suddenly realise that I will get a much better view, or more breeze, if I move the window or make it bigger. And so on. I like to make the most of the colour and texture of materials, rather than to plaster everything over and then paint on colours. To do this I have to work with the masons and other workers to show them how I want them to use materials not necessarily the same way in each building. So, to me,

involvement in the construction work is a must and far more important than desk work. Another aspect was drummed into us as students: we were told we were the only ones who had a complete overall view and understanding of our building a unified product. 'You are not just doing a plan or an elevation, you even know how you hope to see your clients in their building after it is up and finished.' Our professor likened us to the conductor of an orchestra. He has the full score and he knows the musical item being performed. Each instrument player only has the music he is to play and the conductor controls his playing. Most famous conductors can even take over almost any instrument and show how they want it to sound at a particular time and place in the performance. Likewise the engineer may have perfect knowledge of his bit of the design his specialised knowledge may be essential but he knows nothing of the client's needs and desires, or of the total effect the whole completed building will have on its surroundings and on all who pass by. Similarly, with the plumber and sanitary man, the electrician, the paving expert, but overall, and' controlling and using to good effect all these, is the architect the conductor. Finally, in my day it was rubbed into us that the architect should have and show good manners and his architecture should be similarly good mannered! Very occasionally we are invited to design an isolated monumental building, all on its own in the middle of a park or campus with its own special surroundings. But 99 out of every 100 buildings we do will be in a row, or a block, or a nagar. The other buildings may be new, or indifferent, or good, or commonplace but we have to take our place among them and we must not show bad manners by competing or showing off, or by being defiant. Again we were told, and how true it is, that a painter or sculptor will produce his masterpiece and it will be bought by someone and put in a room or a gallery but only those who desire to will go and see it. But our artistry is there before all who pass along that road and they have little option but to look at what we have done. So we architects have to ask ourselves is the building we have created going to stick out like a sore thumb? Or will it give joy and pleasure? Will it add to our culture? There's an old saying: manners maketh the man. I think they also make good architecture. Written by Laurie Baker Distinctive architectural styles were not designed by some famous ancient architect who decreed that a certain style will be used in Japan and a certain other style will be used in Peru and yet another style in Punjab. The upturned, horned roofs of buildings as found in Kerala, China and Japan arc the direct result of the people of those places making use of the most common, plentiful, useful material: bambooto house and protect them from natural enemies such as sun, rain, hurricanes and wind. A completely different set of styles has evolved in hot, dry, treeless, desert areas, as in parts of Egypt, Iran and India; in almost every district in the world these natural styles have grown to the patterns that could be seen in the first half of this century. Our 'backward' ancestors had learned how to live with and cope with the problems of climate. They had teamed that a pitched or a sloping roof lessened the effects of all these hazards. They knew the movements of air currents and placed their wall openings almost at ground level. They knew that hot air rises and allowed it to travel upwards from the low eaves to the openings at the ends of the high ridge. They understood and applied principles of insulation; their roofing materials formed hollow cellular protective layers and their storage spaces provided insulation from the midday sun. They had understood that wall surfaces can absorb and retain just as much heat as a roof surface, so they kept these walls as small in area as possible and never left them unprotected. They knew that eye-strain from working out in the sun could be alleviated by rest in an area where glare was eliminated and they used smooth, hard, light-coloured surfaces sparingly and left the natural materialswood, laterite, brick, stoneexposed. Their practical knowledge of the properties of these differing building materials was amazing. They knew, for instance, how to design their timber and wood work to avoid warping, twisting and cracking. Village planning and site utilization were equally functional and delightfully simple. Usually there were

rows (terraces) of houses all joined together with common dividing partition walls; sometimes when anywhere from three to ten or twelve brothers lived in such a row of houses, the front veranda was common to all. These multi-housed rows of dwellings were usually under one big long common roof. The row followed the contours wherever possible, and as a consequence was sometimes curved. The row of houses was usually sited to overlook the terraced fields below, to catch the sunshine, and to get protection from rain, snow and cold winds from the forest or steep hillside behind. The foundations were almost invariably built on stone straight off solid rocka foundation of Mother Earth herself. Very rarely did the people use earth that could be terraced or cultivated, but they chose their building sites along rocks, ridges or spurs of the mountains where cultivation would be impossible. Their foundation problems were therefore nil, and the rock they quarried for building the foundation and basement walls was split or blasted out from the same bed rock on which they would build. I never saw any rubble being carried more than a hundred yards and, of course, it was all carried on someone's head. The superstructure walls were also built of the same quarried-on-the spot stone. Sometimes it was big and square and chunky, in other places it was more like thick slate in large sheets or slabs only a few inches thick. And of course it was all built in mud mortar. The walls were heaped on the inside with mud, or mud and cow-dung, or lime mortar or plaster. Sometimes the outside-Was left as it was, or, sometimes, it too was treated with some sort of lime plaster. Doors and windows were often of delightfully shaped and simply carved woodwork using chir-pine or deodar, or occasionally some other local country wood such as tuni. But this timber was always found within a few hundred yards, or at most a mile or two, of the house being constructed. The wood for the roofs was extravagantly lavish in size. Whole tree trunks were used for the ridgepole and purlins and trusses. Again, all these roofing materials were close at hand. Occasionally a wealthier person would send a few miles for a thinner quality of slate which could be shaped and squared, but this was their form of showing off and was not a necessity and fortunately not often indulged in. This whole roof construction over the wall construction, was completely adequate to cope with the climatic extremes of heat and dryness in summer, with the violent rain storms, and with the (heavy snow in the winter. The use of local materials is an example of economy because there are no transport costs. These styles show that people have discovered that there is a right way and a wrong way of putting materials together so that they are strong and durable. A wall, for example, is not necessarily stronger because it is thicker. The bonding together of a few stones is much stronger than the heaping together of a lot of stones.

o o

Laurence Wilfred Baker

Drawing of Laurie Baker


March 2, 1917 Birmingham, England


April 1, 2007 (aged 90) Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India




Padma Shri, MBE



Centre for Development Studies (Trivandrum), Literacy Village (Lucknow), Slim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History(SACON) (Coimbatore), Chitralekha Film Studio (Aakulam), The Indian Coffee House (Trivandrum), Attapadi Hill Area Development Society (Attapadi), Dakshina Chitra (Chennai), Chengalchoola Slum dwelling units (Trivandrum), Nirmithi Kendra (Aakulam), Tourist Centre (Ponmudi), Mitraniketan (Vellanad)

Laurie Baker is a world renowned architect for his methods of cost-effective and energy efficient construction. His building techniques normally use the materials which are found natively around the region where construction is going to take place.

Mr. Baker says: Consider each and every component of your building and ask yourself, is it necessary? if the answer is no then you dont need to do it. If the answer is yes then ask whether the current way of doing it is still the best and most economical. This simple ideology of Mr. Baker made him the person who successfully evolved new ways of construction which were costeffective and energy-efficient. Some elements of Bakers Construction Technique:

Use of Rat-trap Bond for masonry The hollow nature of such walls improves its thermal properties. Electrical conduits can be accommodated in the hollows, which avoid chasing of walls as is normally practiced. Can be used for load bearing structures up to 2 storeys high. Proves to be very economical. Use of nets (perforations in a wall) Created for allowing light and ventilation (the most common being a wall with its header blocks removed). Modifying the proportions of perforations, according to solar angle can help control the influx of radiations to quite an extent.

Brick nets sealed with pieces of glass can economically provide pleasing, diffused light. Foundation Lime concrete can effectively substitute the cement concrete in the conventional method of laying foundation where brick and cement mortar are adopted over a bed of cement concrete.

For soils with normal load bearing capacity, foundation masonry can be started directly over a bed of rammed and leveled brick-bats.

Economy can be achieved by doing foundations in random stone masonry without mortar. Roofs Use of filler slabs It implies, filling up pf unnecessary parts of concrete slab with light weight material. It improves its insulating properties. The resulting light-weight slab reduces the requirement of steel reinforcement. Bricks, Mangalore pattern tiles, coconut shells, inverted earthen pots, etc. can be used as filler materials. Masonry Domes Can be built on any room, irrespective of its shape. Though for maximum economy, room shape should conform to that of the kimes. Domes are specifically economical for large spans as this helps in cutting down substantially on the steel, concrete and shuttering used otherwise.

Finishes Finishing takes up a major chunk of the overall building cost. This may be saved by minimizing applied finishes like plastering, painting, polishing, etc. These are not only initial expenses, but also recurring.

Most of the building blocks, viz. country burnt bricks, stone, and concrete blocks, etc. have pleasing color and texture and are quite capable of resisting adverse weather.

Therefore, plaster can be completely avoided without affecting the strength of the structure. In case brighter surfaces are required, a few coast of lime wash can be applied directly on the masonry surface.

Centres d'intérêt liés