As the inheritors of traditional skills and knowledge, artisans are a huge asset for India’s cultural identity. They are active links into the past, and they act as a means to preserve cultural meaning into the future. With the pressures of globalisation, these artisans are finding themselves increasingly powerless, unable to keep up and adapt to the needs of a modern world. This thesis investigates the decline in the numbers of traditional artisans in India, and how architecture can be used as a tool to revalidate and promote their skills, recognising their heritage value, cultural identity, and the economic livelihood they generate within the context of contemporary India.
A significant factor behind this decline is the disconnect between artisan and buyer, the inability of artisans to connect to, understand, and adapt to the needs of a contemporary society. This alludes to the disconnect between tradition and modernity. Architecture acts as the mediator between the artisan and the buyer, and interrogates how tradition and modernity can come together in such a way that one does not devalue the other.
The Vastu Purush Mandala, an ancient diagram traditionally used as a basis for design, is interpreted and adapted for the city of Jaipur. Jaipur is analysed in terms of the Old City and New City, and the chosen site exists at the threshold between these two worlds, symbolising a transition or exchange between traditional and modern. The Vastu Purush Mandala overlaid on the Old City provides the basis for shaping and forming a Craft Centre on this site, rooting the design in tradition and context. The Craft Centre aims to insert itself into everyday life, engaging the public through shops, exhibitions, and workshops. Through this public engagement, artisans can pass down their knowledge and evolve their traditional skills to adapt and better survive in the modern world. The architectural outcome reflects and functions as a synergy of traditional knowledge with contemporary needs.