Indians in the news - 2

on April 1, 2007 with 1 comments » | ,

Laurence "Laurie" Baker died today in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, where he resided for many years.

Sadly, I never heard of him before today. Seems, he was an English architect, who went to India in 1945 in part as a missionary and since then lived and worked in India for over 50 years. He was awarded Indian citizenship in 1989.

Laurie is famous for having "redefined the concept of housing for the masses and earned him the name of 'architect of the poor'."

The Indian Express obit tells an interesting tale of how he met Mahatma Gandhi and in part stayed on in India because of him.

Baker came to India accidentally during the height of the Second World War, on board a British warship that he served on. The ship happened to get stuck in Mumbai while returning from China. Baker loved recounting how he used those three months in Mumbai to go around and study the city’s architecture, and then called on the man who changed his life forever — Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi took an amused look at the young Briton, more particularly at his homemade shoes that Baker had cleverly sewn together from discarded cloth bits and a thrown-away sole. Gandhi smiled and asked him to return to India once out of the Royal Navy, and if he could use that kind of ingenuity in architecture to help build homes for India’s poor. “That changed everything. I may have been overawed by him but he made tremendous sense,” Baker told this reporter a few years ago.
He came back to India in 1945 with a British missionary team working among leprosy patients in Faizabad, helping build cheap but sturdy, functional homes, the first of the internationally acclaimed Baker homes. He made friends with a Keralite doctor involved in rehabilitation efforts for leprosy patients in north Indian villages — and then his sister Dr Elizabeth, a missionary doctor working in Hyderabad. He married Elizabeth and moved to Thiruvanantapuram.

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1 comments

  1. Blogger // April 2, 2007 at 12:48 PM  

    Hi Sanjeev,

    This and many more instances of ignorance to intellect and talent on the part of the grass root governing body, forces citizens to leave this land of wealth (maybe, a thing of the past).

    Lucky is the man, he atleast was remembered.