I wrote this statement as an application requirement to the various universities in the United States. I still remember those days of hard preparation for the application process for admission.

My interest in Architecture, though initially new found, has now been so immense that I can say that my duration of study for the entire course of Bachelor of Architecture has been completed with utmost sincerity and passion. To describe this passion in words is to say, " desire to learn " -- to gather as much information as possible about the fields that I like. Architecture has been one such field.

After obtaining my first professional degree (B.Arch.), I feel I have had a fair amount of exposure to this field. This exposure has been given a concrete platform through almost a year’s experience in a leading Architect’s office. I have realised how Architectural theory that was taught to me in college varies in many respects to the one that prevails in these practical offices. This difference has been reconciled in many ways as part of my practical training experience. However, I feel that I have not satisfied my urge to learn, especially when there is so much still remaining. After studying the building form in its isolation, I have developed special interest in the study of their groups with respect to their Urban setting, Social and Environmental context, in addition to other needs of economic and political importance. In my first critical exposure to Urban Planning and Design, as a student of the final year of Architecture, I got to read a project report on the design of the satellite Kharghar city node. Designed by the internationally renowned Architect, Mr. B. V. Doshi, this node is about an hour and half’s drive from the heart of the city of Mumbai (formarly Bombay). This report gave a detailed review of the considerations that went into the development of this node, the general planning, the existing Natural and Climatic restrictions, Transportation Network, Health, Education, Entertainment, Future Reservations, Ground Services, etc. In short, I could see in my hand the guiding principles that produced the design of the modern Kharghar city node.

After going through this report, I felt that it was Urban Planning and Design, which I had a latent crave for. Obviously, this experience was bound to reflect in some way in the design of my dissertation topic, Center for World Music Studies, at Kharghar, which is a complex devoted to the study and awareness of music. This experience was the first reason for me to select Masters study in Urban/City Planning and Design, with my immediate preference to Urban Design. Secondly, my Architectural study tours from the college and my own personal tours of the country gave me an opportunity to study the Urban patterns, both in the historical and present context. These have also helped me to realise my interest in travel. Thirdly, I have always wanted to do masters in an area that provides me with an additional qualification to that I already possess. A graduate program emphasizing in Architecture would only, further fine tune my Architectural design skills. This study though interesting, would only narrow down my scope of work, which I have always wanted to avoid from the beginning. Lastly, I found that the courses offered here in India, for the Master’s study are still not as deep rooted as those found abroad, in the US of A. All of these reasons have persuaded me to seek Master’s study, at your university. As India opens its doors to the world economies, the need for new urban patterns of living to accommodate these economies is increasingly being felt. I want to be a part of this urban development and contribute in my own way to the process of achieving the best amicable results.

I want to concentrate my graduate study in analysing the aspects of Urban Planning and more importantly in Urban Design, in the context of its physical setting, available infrastructure and its potential contributions. It would be most encouraging to conduct studies, for example on a prime commercial node of a city and derive relationships between the traffic patterns, the built forms and ultimately, the users. Thus, it would be interesting to determine if the design environment is conducive to human efficiency allowing the user to achieve personal development. I could use my computer proficiency in simulating the graphical conceptualization of such an environment and then studying its variations from a smaller but relevant, human scale. I seek the guidance of your distinguished faculty members in designing such a conducive environment and then studying its merits through the use of modern technology. I also look forward to analysing if the built spaces actually talk to each other or the surroundings or if they tend to stand singularly dominant as landmarks.

Architecture has been a new experience to me, so much that none in my entire family is even closely related to Architecture. I got to know of this field through persons who I, or my family knew of. I have always had special interests in the Arts. Ever since my childhood, I have spent my vacations in craft making. These started off with making simple decorative pieces to replicating complex objects such as transport vehicles and imaginative aircraft by making use of card-board as the principle medium. Making models became my passion.

What Architecture gave to me were the subjects of these models, rising from those monotonous reproductive models to new, self-conceptualised designs. Slowly, as my Architectural courses continued, modeling in both imaginative and concrete forms began to take precedence. The Building Form began to overwhelm me.

Admission to Sir J. J. College of Architecture, a pioneering Architectural institution in India, has been a testing parameter in itself. Five years ago, this College of Architecture conducted its own independent entrance examination and an equally inquisitive interview, with little importance to the Higher Secondary (12’th school year) Examination scores. This was for a meager 80 seats, to which the applications shot up in excess of 1500. I passed this examination in the first attempt and was offered admission in the first merit list.

In the initial year of my Architectural course, I had felt a lack of imaginative skills, as compared to my classmates who were the ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ of practicing Architects. It was only towards the beginning of my second year that I began to realise the importance of planning. I now began to visualise the spaces in their totality, although, at first these spaces were confined to sharp rectangular spaces which were later extruded to their third dimension with lessons from my Basic and Architectural Design classes. These spaces were more often clustered into a larger space to give a magnified appearance. My emphasis remained on the built-form that represented the theme of the subject and the required spaces were closely knit into this form.

It was from my fourth year of Architectural study that I began to adopt an exceptional approach to my design process. My idea in the fourth year design topic was to catch the fancy of the international buyers and at the same time provide the infrastructural facilities for the promotion, display, testing and dispatch of traditional Indian leather and knitwear goods, in confirmity with the country’s new liberalization policy. The site, due to its excessive unevenness was probably the single-most influencing factor. I still recall the words of my professor that a design proposal has to be unique in a way that if the same structure were to be conveniently placed on any other site, it would prove to be just as unsuitable there. This, he said, would be achieved by carefully observing the site in reference and tapping its topographical design features. These features would in turn explore the various design solutions that only add to the process of achieving a concrete and harmonious solution. This was also the time I experimented with free-flowing forms, in their symmetrical and asymmetrical relations to each other. I tried to see them from a smaller human perspective. Suddenly, I found these forms convey a meaning !

The result of this approach was just as exceptional to me. My design was adjudged the best in the University of Bombay examinations and I stood second overall. I received further, a scholarship of merit in honour of Professor J.C. Shroff.

This provided a tremendous boost to my Architectural thinking, which even today, I cherish. However, I have not remained contended on this thinking, but have always welcomed its refinement and additions. It is this attitude that has driven me to seek a chance of further study at your university and which I sincerely desire.

Alok Vyas