Architect & artist Vidur Bharadwaj finds soul in structures

Delhi-based architect Vidur Bharadwaj, Director, the 3C Company, turned artist with his first solo show in New Delhi, titled Soul In Structure. As an architect combining the design ethos of historical monuments with aesthetics of modern art, his canvases become a reminder of how sustainable architecture is both necessary and possible. Vidur Bharadwaj tells The Goodwill Project how the Ghats of Varanasi, remains of Mohenjo Daro, Udaipur’s Jag Mandir and old havelis find an echo in his art and architecture.

Wipro Campus Noida, mixed media on canvas, by Vidur Bharadwaj
Wipro Campus Noida, mixed media on canvas, by Vidur Bharadwaj

What prompted you to integrate photography with painting? Does your art have a lot of realism and how difficult was it to interpret it artistically?

The fact that I was born in a beautiful city like Delhi, with historical monuments all over the city, has inspired me as an architect. These structures have a soul and that’s what is common among all historical edifices. I wanted to bring the history of Indian architecture into my modern buildings so that we could live surrounded by tradition in our daily lives. Art is a very popular medium for young India. It’s also aspirational and easy to connect with for the new generation. I decided to express myself through these paintings for this reason and, if I had chosen sketches, it could have become very technical. The show combines my fascination with both sustainability and traditional architecture. Courtyards, terraces, verandas along with water bodies, wind and sunlight are part of my canvases, and imagery of the sun and a child are visible in almost each work. The sun is the source of all energy and a child represents the future, for whom we have to save this planet. I have combined photographs of my projects with elements that inspire me as an architect, be it nature, monuments or special moments.

There is realism in my art in parts, but since I have used images of buildings designed by me, it was not at all difficult to integrate it with art.

As an architect and artist, what came first? As architecture permeates your art, does it happen the other way around as well?

One cannot be an architect without being an artist, while the reverse is not true. So art will always come first. Creating anything is an artistic process and hence, when I design buildings, I definitely keep in mind the aesthetics of a beautiful whole that comes together, just like on canvas.

Patni NSEZ, mixed media on canvas, by Vidur Bharadwaj
Patni NSEZ, mixed media on canvas, by Vidur Bharadwaj

Tell us a little about your memories of your grandparents’ haveli and how it has shaped you as an architect.

My house in Delhi, where I grew up in Golf Links, and my grandparents’ house in Ludhiana, where I spent a lot of time during childhood, had huge courtyards. It made me mindful of how important the role of natural sunlight is in our lives. As an architect, using this greatest source of energy for natural lighting has been an integral part of my buildings.

What prompted you to choose the Ghats of Benaras, Fatehpur Sikri and havelis as subjects?

When I was studying at School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), I had to travel a lot and these places remained alive in my mind. Their sense of proportion, design and aesthetics inspires me. I wanted to translate their traditional architecture into modern forms because of what they teach us, to respect our environment and leave behind a better future for younger generations.

What are the elements of traditional Indian architecture that we should be seeing more of today, and why?

Most importantly, we should respect the sun’s direction. It is the largest source of natural energy and we have to learn to harness its goodness. We must also know how to utilise the natural wind direction and integrate it with water bodies to maintain ambient temperatures, hence removing the need for excess artificial lighting or cooling.

What architectural lessons can we draw from ancient temples?

Ancient temples used the concept of layering and one could reach the main deity only after crossing many layers. Learning the art of layering in our buildings will keep the heat out. Also, “jaalis” that utilised the wind’s direction are something we can all employ even today.

Home, mixed media on canvas, by Vidur Bharadwaj
Home, mixed media on canvas, by Vidur Bharadwaj

Tell us about some of your green buildings and their ethos, such as the ones for Wipro, Patni Campus & Four Seasons Hotel.

The Wipro, Gurgaon building uses the concept of a courtyard which has been an integral part of our ancient Indian architecture. The courtyard is inspired from a haveli elevation with bigger windows at the bottom to harness natural light on the lower levels and smaller deep windows on the upper levels for controlled daylight and sunlight.

The two buildings of Patni Campus, Noida are the software and BPO blocks. The software block uses the sun-shade technique to enhance daylight inside the rooms. Patni campus is an all blinds-free building with optimum daylight captured throughout the building. The BPO block has been designed with the concept of flowing water being channelised through the stilled area to cool the interior courtyard, creating a micro climate for a comfortable ambience. The concept has been inspired by Jag Mandir at Udaipur.

What are your plans for Soul In Structure? What are you working on next?

Since the works are not for sale, this will be a moving exhibition, which will travel to all my designed buildings, to reach everyone living in and around the city.

The Goodwill Project

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