an experience full of pinch-me moments

Having been on multiple dtours, i would like to divide this note into general learning from the dtours and specific learnings from the far east – particularly Japan and Seoul.

#learning from the dtour experience:-

  • How to absorb, how to understand, how to imbibe, how to be curious
  • Information is not learning, to see is to believe
  • The power of the collective, what can one do in a group can never be done alone – not in the same intensity not with the same intent
  • Beg, borrow, steal – go the distance – don’t give up
  • It is important to be an enthusiast
  • Energy, mental and physical – is 80% of the job
  • Outside one’s comfort zone –  that’s where the learning takes place
  • Eureka moments are real

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the best 5 best buildings of the japan tour

  1. Chichu Museum-Tadao Ando- subterranean to keep the sanctity of the island’s natural scape intact. Presence of two courtyards with dry and green landscape again reiterating that nature is part of art. Building was itself a work of art-the empty spaces to introspect, the quality of natural light, the mass and void relationship, the minimalistic vocabulary; it also participated in the representation of other art pieces. Complete experience design.
  2. Tama art University Library-Toyo Ito-extremely poetic in spatiality, mind boggling concept of structure and modularity, as dynamic as can be with each arch different and yet the same. Paradise for voracious readers.
  3. 21_21 Design Sight-Tadao Ando-scale and space-making felt extremely ‘correct’
  4. Archidepot-the very concept of displaying and storing models, very unusual concept but extremely relevant.
  5. Teshima Art Gallery-SANAA- it simply cannot get more fundamental than this. Essence of Japanese reverence towards nature exemplified best here.

Lena Gupta


the 5 most coveted buildings of seoul

  1. Dongdaemun Design Plaza– huge stunt in terms of a massive multi-layered program celebrating culture, history, performing and visual arts, design, commerce, recreation and leisure and even the simple and conventionally mundane act of commuting-civic architecture pulled off. An unusual form that has been criticised for not fitting into the context actually ends up tying the chaos. Night illumination that keeps changing and can be viewed from every multi-storeyed building surrounding it adds to its dynamism.
  2. Lee Samsung Museum– firstly the very act of three world famous architects collaborating on a single project, merging their vocabulary fairly well. But Nouvel’s museum concept of making the introvert box fitting the purpose of showcasing installations and then at appropriate distances, opening up to the exterior, giving a breather and pause space.
  3. Kunsthall– very simple, modular, easy and fast to assemble, proportions guaranteed due to the fixed size of containers, neat, clean, clear form.
  4. L platform– relevant neighbourhood hang-out zone- scale was perfect; the concept of the auditorium below the open plaza makes a lot of sense structurally. Nice finishes, sleek detailing.
  5. 0914– the sheer way in which subterranean space had been carved out with small courts and light wells.


Lena Gupta


a once in a lifetime experience for me

It was a beautiful experience to travel all the way to South Korea and Japan with colleagues and acquaintances and most importantly your own self. The best part was that people from different walks of life had joined and we stayed together day and night. Design discussions, last moment plans, workshops, cycling and much more was something priceless. Japan has influenced me a lot. I’m keen to study Tadao Ando and other Japanese Architects. The trip was a lifetime experience for me in all respect. I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity.


The biggest learning from the tour was that optimum is the key towards sustainable design. Be it the space, the materials, the construction technique, or human resource, they excel in getting the best out of everything. Team work is most important. Punctuality is indispensable and one must be self sufficient.

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the preparations were the biggest learning

For me, the learning started right from the beginning of preparations. Getting the visas of 28 people seemed impossible. I had never applied for any visa before and doing it for so many people was challenging and scary. Collecting all the documents and going to visa office, facing the glitches during the up was not an option. Learnt a lot throughout the process and exceeding my limits started from there only for me. Would like to thank all for the support and guidance throughout the process.

Since I went on the previous dtour to Europe,  I knew that it is going to be an amazing experience full of learning not only architecturally but personally also. The perspective was different this time. The more we saw, the more I realized that there is so much more to design and details. From a railing fixing detail to the massive structure, everything broadened the way of thinking. Just love the way natural light plays such an important role. Totally changes the essence of a space.
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