Rupali Khanna

Rupali Khanna

Chicago, IL, US


Preserving Crafts through Architecture - a case of Sujani Quilt

It is through the practice of craft that one connects to the history of the people, place, and their culture. Every civilization throughout history has had a textile tradition through which people learn and sustain their social, civic, and religious practices. Semper argued that architecture’s origin was not in nature but in fact in ‘textiles’…and saw the wall as a woven enclosure with carpets and tapestries being the first spatial demarcations describing wickerwork as the “essence of wall.”(Semper, 1989)The craftsman involved in making such crafts that are passed on through generations are extremely knowledgeable, culturally rich and yet their livelihoods and skills are in danger today. It is observed that as the main stream society continues to progress, the  craftsmen sees de-appreciation for their skills and lowered value of their workmanship which eventually results in the loss of the craft and with that, an entire legacy of knowledge.

A textile craft of a 200-year-old pocketed quilt named ‘Sujani’ calls for preservation today. The reasons for its decline are the lack of awareness and disinterest among normal public for the craft. A renewed experience of an existing ‘heritage walk’ is perceived as a giant exhibition ground for Sujani, to pull the craft out from its remote setting onto the streets, giving it the space to breathe a new contemporary life for its survival. The aim of this research is to study this local craft and bring awareness for the craft among wider public by articulating the existing architectural sites of historical significance. This thesis tests the potential of crafts through its ‘Integration’, ‘translation’ and/or ‘supplementation’ using current techniques and argues that a local craft can be preserved through architecture for the interpretation of a cultural condition within the fabric of its belonging. Please see the link here for this textile craft.

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Status: School Project