Architecture in India

  A few days back we had hosted an eminent group of realtors at Baroda from across the country. Design and real estate seems an unending discourse that is rarely settled satisfactorily. In a country where real estate more than any public or government architecture makes the recognizable fabric of our cities this  discordant note has led to the tardy manner in which our urbanity presents itself. Hard, inhumane, joyless, heavy handed, and with very little civic responsibility and societal ethics. A small monograph was made for the occasion and it had an essay that outlined some of the procedural ills; but having said that, architects and designers are even more responsible for the mess- and its a situation where blame has to be appropriated to all. The monograph had…
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 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…
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…
The Retreat began with the simple premise; to enable conversations amongst designers which could be frank, honest and without the pressure of an  audience. It also has  at its kernel, the desire to move on; to imagine a better future- to change things, and to keep it real, and to stop lamenting and complaining. And it wanted to collect these thoughts on a range of topics  from across  a cross section of professionals  at different stages in their lives. The first one was the Architects’ Retreat, which is now a book " Behind Closed Doors" and a film. And now this December there are two more - one for interior designers and the other for landscape architects- both which will be recorded in print. So what can a group of…
Mazar of Mirza Ghalib ; Delhi. “And do it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut might say” To which I asked , “ Ever liked Puckoon? Spike Milligan? 1960s; I think you will” And to which he said “ Yes” That was a few days back. I am staring at about 35 mails from him in the last three months. Its the most  he has talked to me- ever. And now he wont. After an indifferent  five years in an architecture college I joined the programme in Delhi in the late 1980s. It was a musical chairs, with Heads coming and going. Insanity and instability was  what it was. I decided to put my head down and really work and blanked the world out for the two years there. The only time…
Baring Our Soul- “  Forest for the trees;Trees for the Forest” – The Monograph. The office likes to publish; we do this with some reticence while distributing what we publish, but we publish with a fervor that is rare. All presentations become booklets, all studies become booklets, lectures find themselves in a printed form, and then of course there are a few books that we have lent energies on. Over time this has led many people to suggest that we do a book on the office. It started with a few friends egging us, and then we found the suggestions coming in from good publishing houses. “ Do a book on the Million Garden initiative” “ Do a book on landscape design” “ Do a book on just the idea…
On 27th Feb. last year , we at Spade, conducted an Architects Retreat in Mumbai, where with months of preceding work, we spoke about and discussed animatedly about issues of Practice and Academics. There were about 20 of us, and it was a day of learning and hope. We had all resolved that we would come to the table and only debate possibilities for the future, not lament the past or the present. It was a good day. For the last year, sometimes with a lot of fervor and at others with less, we have worked on putting together the book. Its finally done. And when I read it, what is clear is that this is honest conversation that is very valuable in navigating our profession. I think it will be…
C.A.R.E. at Trichy , hosts an annual architects series. The first time around they had invited  Mohammad Rafiq Azam from Bangladesh. This year its us. This is on 14th December 2014. What is really interesting about this event, is that its perhaps the first time that an architects office is doing an exhibition of works along with the lecture. The office will show  24 projects, hence the name of the exhibition "24 Intercessions" Accompanying the event is a catalogue that has an interview of Aniket Bhagwat conducted by Samira Rathod, an abstract commentary on the firms work by Kaiwan Mehta , and an essay about works by Meghal Arya. The 70 page ; 9"x 9" catalogue also has sketches, examples of drawings, models and pictures of details from various projects.…
On 27th March, Mr. Aniket Bhagwat will give a small talk followed by a discussion with Kaiwan Mehta. Do see details:              
Any one who has come to our studios, which are split over two spaces, will always remember music wafting, or blaring depending on the time of the day and the person choosing music, through-out the day. The music mostly starts by 10.00 AM in the morning and ends only at around 8.30/9.00 PM when people go home. Both spaces play different sets of music. Its a mix of jazz, rock, sometimes but rarely classical music, Latin music, and popular Hindi music every-time a new movie has sounds that everyone likes. This music is piped through not your hotel variety insipid speakers, but small powerful speakers that pack a punch and play in each space. We love music- at least most of us do and the others tolerate or suffer. Many…
The Architects Retreat , was held at the Yacht's  Club, in Mumbai on 22nd February 2014. The people who were invited and attended were, Meghal Arya , from Ahmedabad who is a senior faculty at CEPT University, and a partner at Arya Associates, Vijay Arya an architect  who has engaged with large-scale public work, Kiran Kapadia from Mumbai who runs a large design firm in Mumbai and has to his credit extremely large commercial and housing developments in the country, Rajeev Kathpalia of Vastu Shilp Foundation who has recently had a dream run, winning some of the most significant competitions in the country, Ashish Bhalla an Architect and a Urban Designer, who heads Vrindian , an India focused real estate and infrastructure fund, Suparna Bhalla , who leads a small but extremely lively…
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