Advanced Design Studio: Jain

Jain: Mumbai

Studio Mumbai at Yale


Design and Visualization



The Architecture of Water throughout India defines a spatial realm that is simultaneously sacred and mundane, private and shared, spectacular and subtle. In a history that extends back thousands of years, spaces for storing water are connected with religious structures in a tradition that seamlessly unites a spiritual consciousness with basic human activity of drinking, bathing, and washing.

Water is the essence of humanity that binds us to one another. Like animals drawn to a watering hole, human civilization is based on an ability to share water.

The Yale Studio will travel to India to study the Architecture of Water. Through guided research, each student will study the atmosphere of specific sites in India and seek to represent the essence of that condition through construction of physical models made in sand, wax, aluminum, plaster, and bronze. Students will
define their own method of making in various mediums as an apparatus that gives form to an experience of reality. A second model in bronze will be made later in the semester that transposes the quality of the site in India to another local site where the student can conduct further research as the semester progresses of a students choosing. All aspects of the studio process
will be documented and presented as hand crafted books. Though the work will take place in New Haven, Studio Mumbai’s members and craftspeople, techniques, and resources of will be made entirely available throughout the semester.

Exercise #1

In a two week project between the lottery and Sept 20, the students will work to generate a series spatial hypothesis working with topography, built form, and water prior to their study in India and the semester thereafter. Given a specific limitations of topography and water table, with minimal surface water and rainfall, each student will manipulate these elements in and effort to locate a visceral core, which may be different from a more commonly perceived experiential core. No element may be added or subtracted from the program brief. Dimensions and scale will be specified, so that perception of the work as an experience is for grounded.

Three Research Sites in India:

Mumbai, Alibag, Varanasi, Agra, Delhi

Site #1 The Banganga Water Reservoir Tank and Temple in Mumbai India presents an intense conflux of conditions, where architectural and cultural traditions collide, coexist, and push apart. Hundreds of water tanks were built throughout the seven island area that first comprised Bombay. When the Imperial British engineers physically united the city by draining and filling the marsh lands between islands, they also destroyed these water tanks, thereby severing communities from their spiritual core.

A mentality of imperialism remains, yet this site inspires a powerful resistance. Rather than intervene and alter what is there, the students will analyze and interpret the area, form a spatial hypothesis of what this body of water does and what it means, and how it regulates and determines the architecture that surrounds it. The challenge will then be transpose these core qualities to
another site altogether later in the semester.

Site #2 Small village temples and water tanks still function in the rural area of Nandgaon, just an hour from Mumbai by boat. These places allow quiet contemplation and give students an opportunity to observe relationships among people, the architecture and water as it has existed for thousands of years.  Students may select one of these sites to be their research project in India.

Site #3 During this intense and carefully executed research seminar, when the class travels to Mumbai, Alibag, Delhi, and Agra (Fatepur Sikri) we will also spend three focused days in Varanasi, India’s holiest city on the waterfront of the Ganges River. The eight mile urban edge where the city meets the river presents a multitude of incredible fixed and mobile relationships where water and architecture operate simultaneously at the scale of the individual while also serving millions during religious festivals. 

The Studio Project

Studio Mumbai makes Architecture to enable and enrich human experience and comprehension of natural phenomena. Architecture can be the instrument and mechanism that connects people to their spiritual core through manipulation of water, wind, sound, light, scent, and temperature. Students will now locate individual sites in the United States with a sibling commonality that connects it to their previously researched site in India. A personal understanding of this site generated by a long term experience and familiarity might drive the selection. This second site should be within a reasonable distance from New Haven to afford continued observation and research during the semester. 

Site Option #1 Salt water marshes off Cape Cod. Here a nine foot tidal surge occurs daily and the seasons of decaying reeds add 12 inches of peat soil every 100 years. This specific site has remained pristine for almost 1000 years cleaning the sea water with each tidal surge as do all coastal marshes around the world. Enabling limited human occupation and experience of this fragile and incredibly spiritual liminal condition could become one of the student’s projects.

Site Option #2 New York City’s East River Waterfront presents incredible possibilities for understanding a history and ecosystem vastly different from anything pristine or natural. Rather than creating a “park” for passive enjoyment of the landscape, a project might intervene in more dynamic and visceral way based on the student’s first research project based in Varanasi or elsewhere in India.

Site Option #3 Existing buildings that span the liminal condition between water and land offer another typology for consideration. The once great shipbuilding drydocks in Providence Rhode Island present potential intervention on both a small and large scale. A student may choose to engage both scales of a building that floods with seawater or be filled with freshwater for a program of their definition.

A second model in wood, wax, cast aluminum, plaster, or bronze will be made to communicate the essential phenomena of the condition, and study the relationship of what exists and what is designed by the student. The model will be both abstract and precise and is the vehicle for the exploration and definition of the project. Research will be done through multiple medium of modeling, drawing and sketching, both digital and by hand, through photography, printmaking or any other medium. The quality of the intent and the quality of the process again is considered to be the project. Studio Mumbai’s ethos of work and process technique will be the precedent demonstrating a passionate commitment to the process of architecture and the need to clarify a core value in ones own work.