Us and them: Brick & mortar versus click & cursor

Several weeks ago, churumuri contributor ASHWINI A. alerted us about the tale of two airports.

The Cochin international airport (left) at Nedumbassery, she said, seemed to embody the essence of Kerala architecture at every corner and in every cornice. Red-tiles, slanting roofs, towering spires, traditional windows… Cochin’s airport is decidedly traditional —and local—at least from outside.

The facade of the new Bangalore international airport (right) at Devanahalli, on the other hand, is another cup of by-two coffee. Lean, functional and futuristic, it looked no different from IT city’s impersonal and characterless glass castles, hurriedly and cheaply assembled to execute the next order.

Turns out that Ashwini is not alone in her observation.

Mohammed Shariff writes in today’s New Indian Express in an article titled “This airport simply hasn’t taken off”:

“The entire [BIAL] airport looks like a block of hollow concrete bricks. Add to it flawed design and bad colour combination and it looks positively aesthetically challenged. There are no exciting forms—it is just a block-shaped building with lots of glass glued on to it….

“The graphic inside gives you the feel of an old government office built without any architectural sense. The signage and other info graphics are very badly done, with no thought, apparently, to aesthetic value….

“You could easily mistake the first floor of the airport for the Forum Mall. I did not see anything that reflects Indian architecture, anything that represents our core values; or which tells the world that we are no longer a developing nation.”

Is there anything that Siemens, the builders of BIAL, could have adopted that suggests Kannada or Karnataka? Does Karnataka or Bangalore have architecture, like Kerala’s, that could be called uniquely its own? Do airline passengers, even if they are international tourists, bother with design? Would a better design have left BIAL visitors with a better impression?

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