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Ganga Maki Textile Studio

hands in making

Studio Mumbai Architects

Ganga Maki Textile Studio
By Michael Webb -

High in the foothills of the Himalayas, near the city of Dehradun, is the Ganga Maki textile studio. It is named for the sacred Ganges river, which has its source in this region of northern India, and Chiaki Maki, a Japanese designer. She joined forces with Rakesh Singh, a chef turned entrepreneur who had been working with her in Tokyo, to harness the traditional skills of Indian weavers and go to the source for dyes and silk. They called on Bijoy Jain, the architect who heads Studio Mumbai, to design a complex of buildings that would grow from the land and be as natural as the fibers and fabrics that are made there. Jain is an idealist, and something of a romantic, who believes in the spiritual value of handcraftsmanship. He is inspired by the writings of William Morris and John Ruskin, who protested against the soullessness of industrial production in 19th-century Britain. Closer to home, Mahatma Gandhi took up spinning to embody his vision of India during the struggle for independence. Like Wang Shu in China, and Glenn Murcutt in Australia, Jain is intensely involved in every project, limiting himself to those he can personally control. “Chiaki and I are both interested in what craft can do to strengthen society”, he explains. “It’s about putting one’s heart, mind and body into a project; how you make something, not what you make. Process more than product”. Ganga Maki represents a cross-cultural exchange and an experiment in the revitalization of a rural community. Studio Mumbai used to work in a similar way, developing each project hands-on in a rural workshop located outside the metropolis. Now they have consolidated their activities in a centrally located studio, but the buildings of Ganga Maki were still modeled by hand, and modified as the program expanded over 18 months of discussion between the clients and their architect. The product of that collaboration is a 1,400-square meter cluster of buildings on a 1.3...

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