Architecture in Interesting Times Nirma College of Architecture Foundation Day Keynote Lecture 19th August 2017 Good Afternoon dear students and colleagues. I am told some parents of those who are soon to be young architects or have their wards joining the course are also here. Welcome to our world and greetings to you all too. To the parents I have to say  that if they are worried about what their children will do after they graduate from here, they should not be- architecture and the world of design in general is a wonderful world , and every one touched by it has found a lightness in their steps and a meditative and satisfied smile on their face. Having said this, I must qualify that while my talk may at some…
Where have the gentlemen gone? Text for KV Forum Memorial Lecture ; 11th August 2017. Young students, my fellow architects, my many friends  and peers. Good Evening. This, is the first memorial lecture that I am giving. I am, both, grateful, but also extremely intimidated. I do not ,say this lightly. It is not that I have not spoken at large forums- I have; but usually I have known what to say, and my talks have been prepared well in time. But this time, I have been so taken up by the occasion that I must confess that I have spent days thinking about it, even weeks, without writing a word and finally have done so just a couple of  days back, only because I had to and the gates were closing.…
Not many know , but the first  landscape programme in India was started  in around 1955- 58  in Khargapur in IIT.  It ran for about 5-6 years ,and then Prof. Bhagwat, who had started it ,  relocated to Ahmedabad and with that the programme closed. Then, was the one in Delhi in the early 70s. He went there as its first HOD , but just did not like the city , and came back to Ahmedabad in a few months. But  he was third time lucky and the one at CEPT that he started in 1993 has stayed its course. In those days  few of us were the enthusiastic workers , and rather so often the task of writing the preamble in the admission posters fell on me.  I did…
It started with that Million Garden Project; one day  we were asking " what is an Indian Garden" and the next day we were writing mails and calling friends, colleagues, old students across the country asking them to send us gardens  from their regions. And slowly  over a year ,we got many. So many that , we had to edit the numbers and that led to a lecture, that was received well across the globe. Then a few years later the bug bit us again, and we asked if we really knew enough about the Indian garden. Loaded and leading the question was; and designed to expose our ignorance. But along with that was a long standing impossible to deny lament. The state of the landscape profession in India continued…
In- Laws Home/Shilpa does a Julius I do not  know too many other photographers who shot like that; but Julius Shulman did. He passed away at the amazing age of 99, in 2009. But in the years that he worked he made famous the work of Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig and Eero Saarinen,  in works built between 1945-1966. He shot with an incredible sense of space, a sharp eye and most importantly peppered his pictures with real people using the spaces.During the Second World War  it seems that the offices of Arts & Architecture  in the US, were home to endless discussions about  new ideas in residential design and they launched what was called the "Case Study House Programme'. Ralph Rapson, John…
A recent trip to Stuttgart to talk at the opening series of Creative Days, an initiative that is the brainchild of a firm run by a designer duo- Poonam and Martin, and supported by the city,  other design organizations, Dept. of City Planning and Urban Renewal ( Stuttgart), and the Indian government , also allowed some time to look around, and also meet some wonderful people; the hosts of-course but also Kai Beirich , partner at Wulf Architekten, www.wulfarchitekten. com and that true India lover,Oliver Sorg who had many a story of living in a house that  the late Correa built in Kolkatta,  and Kamar Khan who seemed to know every architect and film maker in the world that there is to know. Of equal -if not greater pleasure was…
The city of Stuttgart beginning this year is starting for at least a period of five years an annual event called Creative Days, which aims to invite Indian and German architects, artists, filmmakers et all. But first the background. Since 2004, the city hosts the largest  Indian Film Festival in Europe; something many don't know. This year the festival begins on 20th of July. It has its genesis  in the fact that Stuttgart and Mumbai are sister cities and have a bond that goes back to 1968. The festival digs deep into Indian cinema and offers a fare that we here often don't get to see or even don't know about. This year while movies like Nil Battey Sannata,  Neerja, Waiting, TE3N, and Masan will be shown; many more including…
  The travails of selling real estate came home to us forcefully in the last few months. We are  rather happily engaged with designing and monitoring the construction of an office building in Baroda that we  in the office called “ The Alchemists Abode” the name referring to the clients metallurgical business interests. The building is  now formally called “ Ark”, in reference to a space where ideas will be safe and nurtured, and the idea of life will live. Parts of the project have been inspired by Paul Klees, 1929  painting “Uncomposed Objects in Space” ( above) The atrium inspired by Klee. The building uses the premise of using the idea of a tense chaos and suspended imbalance and yet denoting  a stillness, as an allegorical reference to life…
It was dry as bone and hot. About a 30 minute drive from town was a 250 acre piece of land near Bavla, which is NW of Ahmedabad. The soil was saline; but what was really worrying was the water. This is the land where ancient sea beds were meant to be; its barely 50 kms from the ancient river linked port of the Indus Valley port city of Lothal. The water is saline; the TDS close to 20000 ppm; which those who know , know how bad that is ( Sea water is around 30000 ppm); and to make matters worse, the water  was close to the  surface which meant that roots of any plants  that came in contact with that salinity would be affected adversely. Add to it; the site…
For too long when it comes to say office spaces, or housing projects , the motivation behind installing a landscape is often the ticking of boxes; Children’s play space- yes; Gathering green; yes; Amphitheater ; yes, Jogging track; yes. Then it  really does not matter how that is expressed, or subsequently even used. Office spaces have it tougher. There usually is very little space. A drive way; maybe a small podium; and the programme often nonexistent. This leads to many a good piece of architecture, ending up with a rather messy and indifferent landscape as a handmaiden. In Upper Worli , the landscape for rather handsome building by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners (PCF), was suffering an inglorious fate. It was a combination of reasons; an indifferent design effort, coupled…
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