The Razor’s Edge

For the first time, a book on origami architecture showcases heritage buildings in India

Written by Shiny Varghese | Published:November 27, 2015 12:17 am
origami books, architecture books, new books, craft books, advanced craft books, in the fold, in the fold book, architecture origami, indian express, talk Ananthanarayanan discussing his origami models (left) and his creation.

What can a single piece of paper do? It can twist, turn, fold, twirl, bend, expand and contract. Can a building do that? Goa-based Shivaram Ananthanarayanan proves it can, and his book In The Fold shows you how. It brings together models of 10 heritage buildings from across India through the medium of origami architecture.

From the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai and the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata to the Lakshmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara and the Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur, Ananthanarayanan has created 3D perspectives of these building, testing their depth and economy of space with the edge of his razor and corded textured white paper.

While numerous books on Indian architecture are perched on the shelves, this limited edition, handmade book is one-of-a-kind. It’s a unique primer to architectural styles from across the country, during different periods in time.

“The evolution of architectural design over the years, cultural influences, and the immense variety of structures in our country are what caught my attention,” says the 27-year-old. That he has been holding solo shows in origami since the age of five reflects in the finesse with which he has detailed every arch, every column and every window in his paper structures.

The idea for the book was first discussed with Goa-based architect Dean D’Cruz, who built his house nearly eight years ago. D’Cruz’s firm Mozaic put together a list of heritage buildings, which became the ground for selection. Ananthanarayanan finally made 30 models, from which those in the book were chosen. His focus was on complexity, design and form. “I visited some of these buildings. It helped me comprehend the depth of these buildings better and replicate their geometries more accurately. I also used images and videos to study the various intricacies of the structures,” he says.

From a traditional church in Goa and an Indo-Saracenic palace to a Gothic Victoria Terminus and the modern Parliament, Ananthanarayanan has chosen structures from every direction in India. While the Howrah Bridge took all of one hour, fine tuning details for the Lakshmi Vilas Palace took a month.

Ananthanarayanan’s skills as a Carnatic music flautist and a guitarist reflects in his origami as well, where intricacies of scale are controlled and tamed. His experiments with manipulating paper led him to allied fields of paper engineering, from Japanese kirigami to pop-ups and paper toys.

Compact, in a 40cm x 180cm format and priced at Rs 4,000, In The Fold combines the skills of an artist with that of an architect and a sculptor. A short note on the architectural details of the buildings accompanies each creation. On the drawing board are thematic books on India through origami architecture. “For those who are interested in the buildings of India, books like these will help appreciate their beauty,” says Ananthanarayanan.

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