Showing posts with label Dérive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dérive. Show all posts




This moment when wandering the city becomes synonymous with adventure. To be carried away by opportunities without a specific goal or objective. Guy Debord's theory, as I see it, was detailed in the introduction to the post "Derive in Delhi."

For this second derive organized in Sector 13 of Chandigarh, the effect of this theory was much more pronounced due to the urban density. We decided to follow our senses and disguise the one that would be most drawn to. It was first sound, then smell, and finally sight, touch, and taste.

The exercise required 6 hours of derive, half during the day and the other at night. The prescribed time served only as a guide to let go. Unlike my daily habits, which I considered somewhat similar to the theory of the derive, I realized that true deriving forbids having a goal; the objective is precisely to let the city create it for us.

4:30 pm

The derive had just begun when the vibrant music from a Sikh temple called us to it. Barefoot and draped in fabric covering our heads, we entered this place of worship located on the first floor of a makeshift, richly decorated concrete building. In the center, an officiant person reciting the prayer invited us to bow before the stage, and then a woman offered us a sweet dish known in Sikh culture.

While listening to the prayer, our attention was drawn to a small backyard whose contours were barely visible, but out of respect, we decided to restrain our curiosity. The woman saw our interest and invited us to follow her. She was the wife of the religious person, and the courtyard was her home. 

It was a single room where the bedroom, kitchen, and living room shared the space. In the center of the courtyard, there was a ladder leading to the temple. We realized that the temple called us back, again and again, and that if we allowed ourselves to be carried away by the repetition of the music, we might never leave this place.

Once we forced ourselves to leave, the bustling street regained our attention. A man appeared with a magnificent turban, and in the spirit of the derive and the hope of finding the same for our professor, we called out to him. Welcoming and helpful as Indians usually are, he offered to take us to a fabric shop, but he stopped to greet friends, and we were drawn by the muffled sound of drums on the first floor of the same building.

We gently pushed open the door and behind it, a music group was set up in a makeshift studio with walls covered in acoustic foam and artificial grass on the floor, commanding artistic respect. We were automatically invited to participate in an improvisation and singing session, and later, a composer joined us and shared his latest creations.

Once the decibels had reached the migraine threshold, we decided to continue our journey…

The city's acoustics would soon draw us to another temple, like typhoons juxtaposing the city and drawing us into their hearts over and over. This one was larger, more majestic, and more ornate, inviting us to enter from the street. Once again, we removed our shoes to join the prayer.

This time, a worshiper sitting in a corner pointed the way with a fluid index finger movement, asking us, in the beginning, to pass through the central path to greet the officiant. Then we sat for a while on a carpet adorned with a thousand motifs. When we decided to leave this place, the same old man signaled us firmly not to leave the temple. We obeyed.

We understood from the tone and rhythm of the prayer that the moment was important, and we needed to be attentive to the intensity of the chant and its silence. Then the congregation rose and followed the officiant to a back room where they placed the prayer book in a sacred bed. It was a magnificent moment of communion and belief to which we had been invited to participate. The prayer was nearing its end, and while the temple would remain open, the service was interrupted.

We thanked the old man with a wave of the hand - admittedly much less delicate than his gestures - and continued our derive. We discovered a micro-neighborhood of winding streets, buildings separated by only a few centimeters, and residents living right on the street. The street was an integral part of their homes, blurring all well-known architectural boundaries between inside/outside, private/public, open/closed. Since the street was not open-air but nestled between two buildings, the living room could extend into the street, the bedroom could accommodate scooters, and the bed could have a view of the living room.

At the exit of this area, a magnificent brick wall caught my eye. Climbing it, we discovered that we were facing the Manimajra Fort, which was founded in 1515 by Mani Ram under the dynasty of Delhi Sultanate to protect  the 84 villages newly funded and considered as the Encyclopedia of Sikhism. (Due to a large amount of misinformation on internet, the data concerning this fort needs to be verified)

This fort was originally supposed to be our starting point, so it was a surprise to stumble upon it this way. We decided to keep one of its bricks to tell the story of our derive. What a surprise when we presented it to our professor. Two Indians joined us, and with great fascination, they told us about the historical significance of this brick called Lakhori, which must have been at least 200 years old. An archaeological construction element made of lime, surki, jaggery, bael fruit pulp and 23 more ingredients incuding urad ki daal ( past of Vigny mungo pulse).

I must admit to having deep remorse about taking an element of its history from its place, but the fascination of these two Indians was such that one of them, an architect, decided to keep it, slightly easing my regret.

With our find in hand, we resumed our journey. The sounds of a lively and noisy market intrigued our ears. Merchants selling pigments, spices, art supplies, and fabric lined the streets. It was time to find a turban for our professor. We found a shop displaying brightly colored fabrics in a perfectly organized gradient, leaving us somewhat bewildered after becoming accustomed to the chaos of this country. Choosing the color was not easy, but I had recently been drawn to olive green, so we opted for it as a contrast to the cultural saffron orange.

The derive was soon coming to an end, but hunger called us to find a new sign. Unfortunately, this sign created a clear break from this human-scale, artisanal world filled with jugaad; we looked up and saw the McDonald's logo.

Capitalism reminded us with the same fervor as the Sikh temples. We were intrigued by the idea of following this sign at the border of Sector 13 and discovering the culinary adaptation of this multinational corporation to each welcoming country. It was less inspiring upon exiting the building, and we decided that this cultural and economic shock would mark the end of our adventures.

As we waited for the taxi to take us back to our controlled and programmed comfort zone, we saw two young men trying to repair an engine in the darkness of the night. I then became a light-bearing guide to assist them as we waited for our taxi.

Watching them, I realized that Sector 13 was the first area of Chandigarh where I found this human scale and artisanal soul born of great economic poverty and accompanied by great cultural richness. 

With our belly full of that addictive, monotonous taste from McDonald’s, I regretted following that capitalist sign guided by the straight roads of this thoroughly planned city.

I decided then that my next text would focus on the contrasts of this police-state city based on control with "modernity" as its tool.


Capturing Architectural Progress: Sharing My Indian Journey Through Drawings


Capturing Architectural Progress: Sharing My Indian Journey Through Drawings

I m publishing my architectural drawings' photos for several reasons, the foremost being to chronicle the progression of my artistic journey. Each drawing is the product of effort, creativity, and personal exploration. By sharing them, I create a visual record of my path, my advancements, and the challenges I have encountered. I've never really drawn before, and this studio is a perfect opportunity to practice this essential skill for an architect.

In exposing my drawings to the scrutiny of others, I also hope to gather constructive feedback and guidance that will aid in my improvement. Architecture is a vast and intricate field, and every drawing represents an opportunity for learning.

Furthermore, sharing creations enables me to connect with a community that shares similar interests. I can exchange ideas, techniques, and inspirations with other artists and architects, fostering an environment conducive to mutual growth.

I will develop later the context and the choice of each draw.

Grandi Bhawan, Punjab university, Chandigarh.

Capitol complex, Le Corbusier

Capitol complex, Le Corbusier

Gufa, Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi

Jama Masjid Mosque, New Delhi.

Pierre Jeanneret Museum, Chandigarh

Pierre Jeanneret Museum, Chandigarh

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

Stepwell Baoli, Red Fort, New Delhi


Alexandra Warshawski

 One of the dérive, Delhi 

This fabulous architectural concept by Guy Debord aims to navigate space at the whim of time, without prejudice.

It allows one to be carried by the wind, sharpening the senses of the one who follows it, compelling them to embrace life's opportunities.

This was an exercise given to us in the city of New Delhi. A 4-hour dérive during the day and 4 hours at night.

An exercise familiar to me as I tend to apply it in my daily life. A guiding thread directs it, but the dérive is a way to bypass the rigidity of a predefined path in society.

It is interesting to disconnect from it for a moment in order to better appreciate it. Often, it offers countless opportunities and encounters.

This day will probably be the only dérive of my life that I will describe in detail.

But it will neither be the first nor, most likely, the last!

Delhi, August 31, 2023.

Our starting point was the Sikh temple Gurudwara Bangla Sahib.

This place, discovered five years ago, had deeply marked me.

It may go against Guy Debord's theory, but being accompanied by two Indians unfamiliar with their own country's other religions, I invited them to meet me there.

10:00 am.

After removing our shoes, a melody called us to climb the marble steps leading to the temple.

Devotees kissed them one by one.

Then a solemn procession followed around a stage where the sung prayer was accompanied by the sharp rhythm of percussion and the resonance of bells.

Around us were carpets with a thousand patterns on which the faithful prayed and meditated.

Then a breeze called us outside, where a sacred pool surrounded by colonnades drew us into their shadows. A narrow strip of 3m/300m provided shelter from the sun and rain for anyone who sought refuge at any hour.

A hidden space for sharing and communion in this chaotic city.

A sanctuary of serenity for those who seek respite, slumber, introspection, or reflection...

A place of communal sharing where one can receive a daily meal without charge.

And even prepare sustenance to offer to the community in the name of God.

We were beckoned by the music and fragrance to proceed at a leisurely pace toward the kitchen, where other women and men, volunteers themselves, extended their warm welcome to us.

Three hundred chapatis were prepared by these souls, accompanied by the temple's music streaming live into the space.

Then came the time for farewells, and also a mild tendinitis...

It was too early to taste our chapatis.

The queue grew in front of the dining hall, and we decided to continue following the melody.

The temple's music called us back to it.

After being drawn in twice by the meanders of this place, repeatedly passing through the same areas, a scent beckoned us toward a dark opening beneath the colonnades' path. It was then that behind this unwelcoming entrance, a small courtyard offered meals at any hour. A simpler fare than that of the main kitchen, yet of quality.

Out of modesty and respect, no photos were taken without the consent of those who might appear in them.

After sharing this meal with strangers, we wondered what adventures were still to come. The scorching heat led us to opt for the northwest direction, where the city's shadow would provide us protection.

We were captivated by an ultra-brutalist, even futuristic building and the precision of its concrete formwork.

Once we resumed our walk, a bus came to a halt before us, its doors wide open, inviting us into its embrace. As we stepped on board, we were greeted by new souls, their faces filled with warmth, who directed us toward a local market that was a vivid tapestry of colors and life. We meandered through the market's labyrinthine alleyways, drawn into shops adorned with saris of a thousand hues, each one telling a story of its own.

That marked the end of the first four hours, but my dérive continued, weaving through a tapestry of experiences and encounters that would remain unrecorded in this narrative, yet they constituted the essence of my day.

19:30 pm.

My dear Indian friends were familiar with Delhi at night as I was, which is to say, quite unfamiliar indeed. In a moment of inspiration, a technique from my Paris life crossed my mind. Forty minutes later, we found ourselves standing inside a theater, its ornate façade illuminated by the soft glow of evening, without ever having to reach for our wallets.

Inside, a captivating performance awaited us—a showcase of traditional dances from various Indian states. For two hours, we wandered within the theater's dimly lit expanse, searching for the perfect vantage point, one that would offer us an unobstructed view of the stage and the vibrant costumes adorning the dancers.

When the curtain fell, we waited with bated breath. As it rose again, it unveiled all the dancers, a riot of color and movement, each figure telling a story through their intricate motions and their thousands colours.

A man two seats away from us extended his phone towards us, inviting us to capture the gratitude. After 30 minutes of video recording, he invited us to explore the theater's backstage and handed us his business card. He turned out to be the director of the Visual and Musical Culture Foundation of Odissi State.

Compelled to venture out, we found ourselves in an art gallery. We had the fortune of catching the final moments of an exhibition blending tradition and poetry. The works on display were explained to us by their creator, Subrata Ghosh, unveiling their essence and depth.

It was then that we realized we were within the confines of Joseph Allen Stein's India Habitat Centre.

The India Habitat Centre stands as one of India's most comprehensive conference venues. Its mission is to bring together individuals and institutions engaged in various fields related to habitat and the environment. Comprised of five blocks interconnected by elevated walkways, we strolled through its spaces, bringing our dérive to a graceful conclusion.

These carefully orchestrated experiences have allowed us to realize that the dérive can be influenced by architecture, and that a space can compel us to never leave its embrace. The drift unfolds through space, climate, the people we encounter, and their culture.

These beautiful and enriching experiences are ones I always delight in repeating. 

This experience serves as a reminder that every space, every encounter, and every culture can offer us fresh and enriching perspectives. It teaches us that the dérive, when guided by curiosity and an open mind, can become an extraordinary means of understanding the world that surrounds us.