Monday, June 7, 2010

Design Inspiration at Lalbaug gardens

We had heard from some of our friends that the 'Green Heritage walk' organised by the group 'Bangalore Walks' was an extremely good one and something we must do. We took the walk this weekend. It is a walk conducted by Mr.Vijay Thiruvady every Sunday from 7am to 10am at the Lalbaug gardens in Bangalore. Mr.Vijay Thiruvady has immense knowledge about trees, is a great storyteller and you are bound to have a wonderful experience!

While at the walk, I realised that being there amidst nature was inspiring and generated some thoughts about design. I thought it would be nice to share this.

You come across these framed pictures of deities and you wonder who put them there? Does that person or group come back here to worship? Whose place of worship is this now? There's a fresh flower on the top of the frame. Is it from a passer-by? The frames themselves are partially covered with termites. There is not much it takes to create a place of worship. Life is sometimes both simple and beautiful at the same time.

This leaf we learnt is from the tree called Ficus Krishane. The tree gets its name from the shape of its leaves which form two cups or sometimes one cup. The Legend says that Lord Krishna is supposed to have collected butter in this leaf cup. Many of us have picked up a dried leaf. Others go closer to the branches of the tree to observe the green leaves that are cupped. Apart from being a cup leaf, I find the form of the leaf very interesting. If one were to make a paper lantern using this form and use an LED light within it, could it be interesting enough?

We then came across a tree commonly known as the 'Elephant apple'. Its botanical name is Dillenia Indica. For a description of the tree, I am linking here to Mr.Vijay's notes on this tree, which is a part of Vijay's musings about trees at Lalbaug. What was also interesting to know is that the leaves of this tree have been used traditionally to polish ivory. Here is a picture of the dried leaves of the tree. There's something nice about the dried leaf. It seems to have another aesthetic quality after it is dried up. If one were to study this leaf in detail for the design of a tensile structure, it may have some lessons for us. There is an increasing transparency to the leaf material as it ages.

We are almost at the end of our walk, the three hours have just flown by! The tree we are now looking at is a Silk Cotton tree many, many years old. It has these buttress-like parts of its trunk that spread out at the base. What is amazing here is that there are quite a few branches that go out almost horizontally for a distance of almost forty to forty-five feet! How does this happen? How can there be a cantilever this long? Would we have achieved this in steel? At what cost?

As you now look back again at the buttresses, you notice that there are thick roots also above the ground at some places that go out for long distances towards each of the long branches. Could it be then that the branch is able to cantilever itself because the root goes out in a similar fashion, more horizontally than the roots of other trees, that the vertical distance between the branch and the root are lesser than usual, creating a C-shaped homogenous form, of branch and root working together and giving it the stability to make possible this cantilever?

As we walk along a bit more, you can't help thinking that what you see on the ground is as inspiring as what you see in front of you everywhere at the gardens. Every step of the way, you see a beautiful composition. Sometimes, its the grass, flowers and the natural stone. Sometimes, its the patterns from the leaves of the tree just above and at some places, its the silk cotton that has travelled with the breeze to now rest with the dried leaves of a Juniper or a Candle Tree.

I link here to another blogpost that came about after this lovely nature walk. This is Mangoes for sale and is at my other blog : Indian Bazaars


Kunal Bhatia said...

Interesting thoughts there.
- Mindless Mumbai

Meena Venkataraman said...

Wow!... loved all the intresting nuggets and description of the trees... Pity I didnt know about the walks while I lived in Blore ... :(

Indian Bazaars said...

The walk was really interesting. They put so much effort into making it so.