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Reflections on an Arch

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

By Sharanya Iyer (Founder Principal Architect Dated April 2021)

As third-year architecture students 17 years ago, when our architecture careers hadn’t even started, my friend (now work partner) and I chose to build stone arches! A series of bold 20’ Span stone arches that were purposeful, creating an open transparent frontage to a public building so people felt ok to peep in, to know what’s happening and walk in to participate. A series of stone arches that were playful, overlaying of 4 semicircular forms to create a play of space light and movement through the relatively small built form with a modest serious purpose.

Our clients, empowered rural women leaders of a self-help group movement in dry arid rural Andhra, discussing imagining and entering our space through a cardboard model, chatting, laughing feeding us jowar rotis! We were at site every weekend, following the stone from quarry to site, wedging blocks for the arches, based on a 1 to 1 CAD drawing!

The past few weeks, brick arches have been crowding my imagination. My clients for a home seem willing to give us the freedom to explore the possibilities of an arch … it’s an encounter with my own unexplored relationship with an arch! I look up majestic bold Louis Khan, the playful unexpected organic forms of Gaudi, Gothic arches, parabolic arches … the famous quote by Louis khan regarding a brick asking to be an arch brings up a giggle! I then get back to quick scribbles and sketches, vigorously looking at possibilities, an arch that’s purposeful, meaningful and yet playful, entering the process with an intent to explore this deeper calling and talk to something that has remained with me over the years, An arch!

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