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‘Warning: people with claustrophobia should not enter this tunnel’ hung overhead ominously in large red letters, a threat I did not feel compelled to face. The wooden stairs creaked under me as I halted in my path, questioning my ability to endure the suffering that entering would entail. My counselor regarded my hesitancy impatiently and gave me three seconds to decide whether or not I would choose to enter Jerusalem’s ancient water tunnels with the group, which had already proceeded to snake down the stairs into the abyss. I’d stayed towards the back of the line in hopes of having room behind me but as I looked back, hundreds of other kids crowded in. My snap judgment told me not to go as my heart thumped in agreement. Entering the tunnel, I concluded, would imminently cause a break down of sorts. I could not go. Yet, as I stood there with my mind nearly made up, my group-mates’ squeals of excitement and laughter wafted up from the depths, taunting my desire to no longer be held back by my ever-persistent phobia. Unwilling to be road-blocked once again, I stepped inside.

Plunged into darkness, I promptly began to regret my bold decision. Icy water rushed over my feet as my throat tightened, constricting my breathing. There were countless people behind and in front of me and I could not escape. The tunnel walls surrounding me dripped with slimy condensation and grew gradually closer together as the path advanced, forcing me in some areas to walk sideways or crouch. At times, the procession would stop for up to five minutes, leaving me helplessly hyperventilating and nauseous while there was no movement up ahead. Closing my eyes during these moments, I attempted to drive myself forward by inhaling large breaths of the dank air and holding it in as I fought to forget about the claustrophobia through focusing on other things. The NSYNC songs being joyfully belted by the other kids in the tunnel echoed through my head and refueled my anger for not being able to join in on the fun. After twenty nearly unendurable minutes of struggling between determination and fear, five words from my counselor rekindled my motivation- I’m proud of you Vanessa. Recognizing that I had thus far made it twenty minutes longer than I originally thought possible, I became proud of myself too. Along with this growing pride came newfound fervor and perseverance to finish my arduous task at hand.

Once ten more minutes of agony had passed, I quite literally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Shoving my way through, I clamored up the stairs to the glaring sun that awaited me. Although it was close to 100 degrees, goose bumps climbed up my back as I stood in the open air, still hyperventilating and shaking. When I was able to pace my breathing better, I sighed; with it came the most intense feeling of relief and fulfillment I’d ever experienced. Although my phobia pressed against me in hopes of discouraging myself, I knew the fight had been determined the second I stepped foot into the tunnel. I’d won.

Charles Correa ‘The blessings of the sky’

Charles Correa ‘The blessings of the sky’.

Text:                      Charles Correa ‘The blessings of the sky’

Building:               Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur


In the essay Correa talks about his approach to developing an Indian architecture. Consider the following questions through comparing the writing with his Jawahar Kala Kendra: should architecture have national traits and reflect political boundaries? Should Indian architecture somehow look Indian, or even South East Asian? Does it help to define identity, or merely reinforce colonial stereotypes?

Your essay plan

Introduction: (give some overall sense of the theory and the building, and get us interested)

Analysis: this is most of your essay, and you are looking to organise it in a way which suits your analytical findings from reading and thinking.

It is very, very important that your essay should not mainly describe either the theory or the building. What is needed is a critical discussion of the relationship between the two. You may assume that the marker knows the outline of both theory and building, and you only need to refer to them where needed for your argument.

You might want to try one of the following outline structures:

Part 1, ways in which the text does usefully apply to the building. Part 2, ways in which the text fails to apply to the building, and the reasons for this


Part 1, the ways in which theory influenced the building. Part 2, other factors which influenced the building. Part 3, how the architect resolved the conflicts or uncertainties between the theory and the design

Or (for those looking at texts critical of their buildings)

Part 1, aspects of the criticism which you think are fair and useful

Part 2, aspects of the criticism which you think miss the point or are unfair in the case of this building


You are not limited to the above structures, but please DO NOT use the following structure which will not encourage critical analysis:

Part 1: the text

Part 2: the building

Part 3/conclusion: some attempt to talk about the two together



Summarise what you have found, and if possible add briefly some interesting extra element: some way in which your analysis casts light on other parts of this semester’s course, or some way in which your reading of the theory and the building might influence your own design work or architectural thinking.

Things to cover in the Essay

·         Illustrate your essay with relevant images which support your argument, and include quotations from the text where relevant.

·         Research the building which goes with your text, look carefully at plans and sections of the building to understand its design and functioning, as well as photographs. Find out as much as you can about how the building serves its specific function, how the clients influenced its design, how the site and surrounding influenced its design and how the architect’s work does or does not conform to the ideas of the text you have been asked to read

·         Where the building does not conform to the text, is this a failing or a deliberate choice, and what are the reasons for it?

·         Nevertheless, you are not looking for (and will not find) a simple correspondence between the theory and the building. Theory is not a recipe which produces a building. Instead what you are looking for in comparing them is similarities, influences and differences. Test the writing against the building as well as the building against the writing. What is not dealt with in the text but is important in shaping the design of the building? Should these other factors have been covered by the text or is the text only aiming to discuss one or two aspects of architecture?

·         Don’t be afraid if you find that the buildings are doing something different from what the text might suggest: this is almost always at least partly the case, and it’s the differences that can be so interesting, so describe them and have a go at working out why they have come about. Or you may find that what the comparison shows up is weaknesses/vagueness in the text. Again, be precise about it. If the answer is that part of the theory does not really make sense in practice in the case of your building, that is interesting – give that answer as clearly and precisely as possible.

·         The thing which this essay will be marked on above all else is good analysis: your own observations and careful thought about what the text and the building tell us about each other.


·         Does the building support the text’s arguments, or undermine them?

·         How helpful is the text in thinking about the building?

·         How helpful might the text and/or the building be in thinking about your own design work?


From the text (always include page number if given on the document)

·         What is the text saying?

·         Are there things it is not addressing that you think it ought to address?


From reading on the building (always include source and page number)

          Why is the building designed the way it is?

          Role of function

          Role of client

          Role of site

          Role of architectural theory

          What echoes of the text do you find in the building?



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