13 Questions

“A good question is better than the most brilliant answer”
Louis Kahn
“My single rule for writing is the same as my rule for science. You cannot know the answer if you don’t know the question. Before I write anything, I ask myself: what is the question that I am trying to answer? When I read a novel, or encounter a poem, or a painting, I will ask myself: what question is the painting, or the novel, trying to answer? This drives my wife and children mad – there are days when the kids refuse to go to museums with me – but it works as a guide to my writing practice. Orwell? He’s trying to answer whether we can build a moral world out of fundamentally immoral people. Sacks: can you inhabit the minds of others who are extraordinarily different from you?”
Siddhartha Mukherjee – My Writing Day/ TheGuardian

In an interview with Rajan Gurukkal, Romila Thapar had said “….an enquiry should begin with a question. Questioning is important. I remember a conversation that I had with Sundar Sarrukkai, who said that before you can postulate a question you have a doubt, which is of course a phiosophical way of approaching it. I agree that you may begin with a doubt and that doubt can be tied into a question. The question may be something quite simple, the answer to which will further qualify what you are saying. Or it may be a question that gives you the possibility of looking at the event or the person in history from different points of view. Ant that one question then leads to other questions that reflect these different points of view. So I would say that  that the fundamental approach to any piece of research to what one is working in grows out of a question”
Romila Thapar, Quoted in the Preface to Questioning Paradigms, Constructing Histories

In the recent architecture conferences i have attended, i came across some absurd questions asked at the speakers. Most of questions asked have judgements masked inside them.  Some of us who are shy, overwhelmed or overthink the
question (which goes unasked most of the times) are to be blamed on equal note. I just wish they could be little more sensible.
I was reading this amazing interview between Juhani Pallasmaa and Glenn Murcutt (from the book “Local Architecture: Building Place, Craft, and Community”) which is a wonderful way to get into a conversation.These were the questions asked:
  1. What made you to become an architect?
  2. You are not known for rushing through your work. How to decide that a design is finished?
  3. The problem of architecture is the problem of the of the house. Do you agree?
  4. Can you speak about moments in your work where craft springs from culture?
  5. You describe the kind of relationship of mutual respect and friendship between an architect and a builder that is becoming rare today.
  6. If you could make one change in the education of an architect, what would it be?
  7. What is the greatest hope for the future of architecture?
  8. What advice or guidance would you offer for young architects?
  9. When does a building become architecture?
  10. Which building in history would you have been most proud to have designed?
  11. Can you explain the origins and evolution of your architectural language?
  12. Do you think the desire to be closer to nature is expressed through the construction of highly detailed primitive huts?
  13. Can you talk about your approach to the designs set with in the city?
Even though the question are generic, it is interesting to see how probing they are. Interviewers usually quarry intutive maneuvers in design porcess like : Why did you choose  a circular form, why the material is exposed concrete, why the roof is that shape, etc. Questions like this usually get defensive answers.
I also like these questions, because they are elementary.