By Andrea Monedero…
Dominic Dubé is a French-Canadian architect and artist who has lived and practiced in India for the last 20 years. Along with Inge Reick, he founded DDIR 10 years ago, an architectural studio interested in staying small and focusing on medium sized residential projects. Dubé modernist aesthetics are acclaimed for a manifestation of pureness, harmony and balance, which stands out as a contrast from India’s saturated landscape. His strong architectural approach is defined as an evolutionary process through art, architecture and humanity. Life brought him to India. Last week, I met Dominic to enjoy a genuine conversation about his journey on becoming an artist, an architect, and how this country has been a source of constant inspiration as a human and as a professional, which has definitely shaped his design process.
Born in Québec, Dominic Dubé spent his youth in Canada, where he studied architecture. As part of his university program, travelling became a part of his life, a pilgrimage that hasn’t stopped ever since. Unsatisfied by the creative process taught in schools and the architectural set-ups he was seeing in the cities, it was through painting that Dominic found his way to generate forms and ideas.
While travelling around the world, he acquired a career as a painter, but he never stopped working on architectural forms. The only way to undertake design projects with the freedom he needed was through international contests, which he did for ten years.
“I was looking at the cities and their architecture. Everything was very banal. So I thought maybe the design process was the problem […] I was a painter to forget that I was an architect and I was an architect not to forget that I was a painter, but to look at my painting in 3d.”
Fascinated by the work of Le Corbusier, Dominic travelled around the world with the purpose to visit each one of his projects. In 1993, this pursuit brought him to India, where he came across famous architect BV Doshi who had worked with Le Corbusier in Paris. He decided to stay and work at his studio. This was Dominic’s first step in falling in love with India and his decision to stay for good.
After 3 years of working at B.V Doshi’s studio, Dominic planed a trip to Pondicherry to visit Golconde, a modernist building he really admires. The South of India brought him a new discovery: Auroville, an experimental city “where people of all countries are able to live in peace and harmony above all creeds, politics and all nationalities. It is also defined as the site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity”. Auroville is constantly visited because of its prominent architectural constructions.
While living and practicing in Auroville, Dominic’s architectural projects started attracting attention. He met Inge Reick, who petitioned him to build her residence. Her interest for Zen Buddhism resonated with Dominic’s philosophy of achieving pureness, simplicity and stillness. Inge’s house is one of Dominic’s most renowned projects, a collaborative art form that expresses their beliefs. After staying 7 years in Auroville Dominic and Inge moved to Bangalore and founded DDIR.
Dominic talks about the importance of travelling, of investing time to embrace different surroundings and then be able to produce. You need to breathe culture, eat culture and this cannot appear overnight, he says.
As a traveller and as a creative professional living in India, I could personally relate to the Dominic’s perspective. When you are wandering in a different culture you are forced to quickly evolve to new situations, so embracing improvisation becomes part of your journey. India, as a place with an overwhelming diversity and strong visuals, constantly puts you in a new situation. As an outsider, there is paradoxically enough space to encourage introspection and a constant search of inner comfort. Through his work, Dominic responds to this chaos:
Bringing yourself back into serenity is even harder in a country like India and to have clarity in your mind. This is what I try to do in my projects, to bring back peace in serenity.
Represented through forms, the projects are somehow the outcome of this stillness, that’s why they must manifest balance and harmony.
Hard work and a good team are essential to execute a good project, but the harmony and joy manifested in the outcome comes from a complete detachment from your own self by permitting yourself to be a the medium of something superior.
Living the process of realizing that you as an architect, as a human being are nothing but a medium. You receive and you let it go…So, you have the job of manifesting something, of putting things together, normally it comes out well. It’s a question of attitude…It’s so great to be this Medium and that I value…