It was in the late 1960s and '70s that the author, then a student of architecture, first encountered built environments belonging to the genres of folk or vernacular traditions. The persistent exclusion of these traditions from the modern urban vision compelled Miki Desai to document these styles, culminating in this volume on the wooden architecture of Kerala.
This book explores the socio-cultural and the tectonic aspects of Kerala's wooden architecture, which is deeply rooted in religious and secular customs and shaped by geo-climatic forces. The author's multi-disciplinary approach links the various ethnic groups residing in Kerala, and the mutual adoption and adaptation of construction systems within migrant groups.
Despite being a living tradition serving millions of people, vernacular architecture in India has not received the academic and analytical attention it deserves. This volume attempts to fill this research gap, a need made more urgent by the fact that the built environment is changing and the traditional ways of building may get replaced by the modern much faster than we can imagine.
Miki Desai retired from the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad as Professor and head of the Masters Program in Sustainable Architecture after teaching for 33 years. He has been the recipient of the EARTHWATCH grant, Fulbright Fellowship, the Graham Grant and the Getty Collaborative Grant. Desai has held exhibitions at the Rietberg Museum, Zurich (1990); the Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad, (2012); CEPT University (2015); and the Moratuwa University in Colombo, Sri Lanka (2016). He was the keynote speaker at the seventh International Seminar on Vernacular Settlements (ISVS), Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey (2014) and at the 4th International Conference on Cities, People and Places, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2016). Desai is also the author of Architekture in Gujarat, Indien: Bauemhof, Stadthaus, Palast (translated in German), an exhibition catalogue (Museum Rietberg Zurich, 1990), and the co-author of Architecture and Independence (OUP, 1997); Architectural Heritage of Gujarat (Gujarat Government, 2012); and The Bungalow in Twentieth Century India (Ashgate, 2012). Desai was a visiting scholar in the College of Environmental Design at University of California, Berkeley (2014).
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