The power and magic of imagination

This past saturday I was given the opportunity to share my love and passion for architecture with the Responsible Champions. This third grade class of the Dharavi Transit Camp Municipal School are being nurtured by Srini Swaminathan, a Teach for India fellow. To know more about his journey visit his blog here.

Mahek, is enamoured by the stained glass windows of the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai. Image courtesy Srini Swaminathan

Srini has an interesting program in place called the Different Careers and Dreams Workshop. Through these workshops the champions are introduced to different fields and career options to help them broaden their horizons.

I reached the school about thirty minutes earlier and as I approached the building entrance I recognized a familiar face. Kajal, one of Srini’s brilliant students greeted me with her precious smile. She often waits for Srini by the entrance but made an exception this time and sweetly offered to walk me up to her classroom.

Settling down and getting organized was a task but Srini handled it elegantly. The kids were disciplined and passionate. The children were introduced to the concept of architecture and design by the idea that while paintings are two-dimensional(sided), architecture is four-dimensional.

The first exercise titled ‘Where am I?’ required the children to guess some of the iconic buildings such as the Taj Mahal, VT station and the Gateway of India. Through this exercise they also learned about arches, towers and distinctive features on buildings that help us identify or recognize these iconic structures.

'My Classroom' wall map, Image courtesy Srini Swaminathan

Drawings are an essential part of the process of design and construction. In this next exercise, ‘My Classroom’ using a tape measure the children helped measure a wall and then plotted the elevation(wall map) onto gridded sheets provided. In a previous exercise Srini had asked the children to draw a map(plan) of their house and so this exercise helped build on that and introduced the kids to measurements.

(A) Calatrava's L’Hemisfèric at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain and (B) Sahba's Lotus Temple in Delhi. Image courtesy Srini Swaminathan

Lastly I shared with the children images of works by Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid and Fariborz Sahba. The children were able to identify the imagery attached with Calatrava’s L’Hemisfèric (Planetarium) located at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain and Sahba’s Lotus Temple located in Delhi. Hadid’s digital paintings that she then translates/ animates into massive sculptures/ buildings helped establish that architecture is not about just measuring walls and gridded paper.

Exercise 'My Creation,' Image courtesy Srini Swaminathan

The kids in the last exercise ‘My Creation,’ were each given an inspirational image that either had a pattern or an object and were required to use their power of imagination and draw/ paint their responses/ reaction. Some of the results amazed me and I think we may just have discovered our next Frank Lloyd Wright in Sahban.

Sahban's Creation, Image courtesy Srini Swaminathan

I gained a lot from the children as well and their cheerful smiles made my weekend truly delightful. Also Srini was very supportive and helped me reach out to the kids – they are truly the Responsible Champions!

Srini and Teach for India are raising funds for their classroom resources. If you would like to help Srini’s class and TFI then please do so by visiting Srini’s page at Give India here: Pledge Page. Give India will match your donation. Thanks!


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