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Interior Scholarship | Blog 01/2017 | Nina Kaul


Five months of practical experience in an architecture office in western India

At the start of November, I travelled by plane to western India. Ahmedabad is the fifth-largest city in India and is located in the state of Gujarat. It is hot, colourful and noisy. Horn honking is common on the roads and staring does not appear to be considered impolite. In the early days in my accommodation, I still unsuccessfully attempted to supply myself with food and get from A to B- During the day I sit in a strongly air-conditioned office on the 11th floor of Blocher Partners India, learn new CAD programmes, calculate the square metres of the living area for a private residence with 14 bathrooms or visit a construction site in the desert city of Bhuj.

The contrasts in India's society are just as pronounced. In the mornings, when I travel by rickshaw on the overcrowded highway past shopping centres, hospitals and hotels to my office, I see families on the roadside that will be having an entirely different day. Men sleep with their heads resting on the kerbside, while women make fires and the children wash themselves. There are people providing any service you could conceivably imagine, and most of the time these jobs are double-staffed. A man pushes the button in a lift, women sweep sand from one side of the street to another, four security guards give friendly nods and chai tea is served at the desk. There is also plenty of hustle and bustle in my accommodation with people coming in and going out to do various activities, or to catch a glimpse of the new German tenant under her mosquito net. Many citizens have never seen a person from the West and are very curious as a result; they ask about my origins and name. A selfie is also a must! In India, a mobile phone is absolutely essential - almost nothing gets done without one.

As expected, I encounter cows every day in traffic – and every now and again a camel pulling a wooden cart or a brightly coloured temple elephant. From the window to my accommodation's garden, I can hear peacocks and monkeys screeching - as well as men spitting loudly. And let's not forget the music: This time of year is the "wedding season", and no night goes by without traditional music and fireworks. I have already had the privilege of attending a wedding celebration, and I hope to see several more. People dance exuberantly and joyfully here, and always without alcohol, since Gujarat is a "dry state".

Ahmedabad seems to attract many architects. Only recently, the 600-year-old historic city with its carved wooden houses, mosques and temples was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The modern architectural history was shaped by Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and Doshi. While working in the office, it becomes clear that the country and climate demand that things are done differently here than in the West. Large, open buildings are designed that play with atriums and the shade. Cool, smooth surfaces made of marble or sandstone are preferred.

Nina Kaul

Nina Kaul is the winner of the Interior Scholarship of AIT and the Sto Foundation. Photo: Sto Foundation / AIT
Nina Kaul is the winner of the Interior Scholarship of AIT and the Sto Foundation. Photo: Sto Foundation / AIT

About Nina Kaul

Nina Kaul was born and raised in Braunschweig, Germany. While she was at school, her artistic appetite was whetted by her participation in the "art for students" talent promotion. After graduating from high school in 2011, she embarked upon her interior design studies at the Burg Giebichenstein art university, Halle (Saale). Thanks to her university course as well as various internships before and during her studies in a carpentry workshop, an interior design office, at Volkswagen Immobilien Marketing, as an artist and as a production design assistant, Nina was able to improve her skills in numerous different areas. In 2016, she designed a stand for the Premium Fashion Week Berlin and then implemented it. In 2017, she provided a logo design for a small Hamburg-based company.

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