This thesis looks at the conflicted area of Kashmir. The thesis analyses various cultural ‘practices’ and the positions taken by them in this conflicted region to then find the position best suited for an architectural ‘practice’. This knowledge would then inform the choice of programme, site and the architecture itself that the programme requires. The intent is such that it takes a ground-up approach to look at ideas of the social, of gathering and expression as tools to trigger this dialogue between the Kashmiris and the power (be it the state or individuals who identify with the state) to not only deconstruct the idea of the state as the only power but also to question the perceived instrumental nature of architecture to explore possibilities of what architecture and architectural practice can do.
The Garden of Reconciliation is a design intervention that explores possibilities architecture possesses to bring about a change in social realities like that of Kashmir. Deriving its structure from a traditional Charbagh, the garden houses various programmes that facilitate interaction between the various uncoordinated actors in Kashmir, such as the People, Government (Seat of Power), Security Forces and the Liberation Fronts. With the provision of basic amenities like education and healthcare, which are critical during conflict, this project tries to achieve a lot more than just solve problems through building. Through interaction, the attempt is to start a dialogue leading to reconciliation. The project tries to bring back associations that people in the city have with Eidgah ground while also making newer relationships within the space. The programme and architecture are derived from closely studying the lives of people in this incredible city.