Architecture

  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…
As I was telling some colleagues , this sudden spate of being called to do keynotes means that I am not so young that I am not taken seriously and not so old that I am seen as being senile. Its that age I suppose ! So after the Kurla Varkey Memorial Talk and the NIRMA Foundation Day Talk ( Both blogged earlier); here is the one I did for the SPA Bhopal Convocation. The time is now. Convocation Address. School of Planning and Architecture; Bhopal 14th October 2017. I have not really attended convocation ceremonies such as this. In the 80s when we graduated, it was fairly normal that we would be found at the canteen by someone who would come over from the administrative office , and be told  casually…
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 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…
Tim Richardson is the rather brilliant and knowledgeable landscape writer from England; and has to his credit some of the most respected titles in Landscape Architecture. Many years back he did a book called Futurescapes ( Thames and Hudson) where he showcased 50  practices from across the globe that he had researched for a long time and believed  were valuable to the definition of the profession. We were one of them. And now is the delightful book again by Thames and Hudson, where he picks  37  practices across the globe and examines how these firms think and draw. The introduction by Tim.            Its delightful to be amongst some names that we have heard or known about; like Gustafson Porter and Taylor-Cullity Lethlean, and also see…
The Garden and Landscape Designers Association of Ireland celebrate their 20th year, with an International Conference at  Dublin on20th February 2016. The theme is  to explore the influences and connections  between landscapes of the East and West. Speakers are from China, Netherlands , UK and us from India.
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.…
Rather so often in design offices, the principal designer gets his name splashed in all glory on every magazine cover and every presentation. I have seen firms started by some one ,changing their names , the moment it changes hands. When a son takes over it becomes  " & Sons" even  when there is only one, or of-course the name is abbreviated so that it becomes an acronym. Rarely do firms actively strive to ensure that the act of taking  credit , is a collective act , and not a singular one. Even when they do,the designers do take all the accolades and a huge amount of other folks often don't get talked about. I know about us; we as a firm would not survive without many people who are…
Two books by the Future Institute will be available in the next few days.(www.futureinstitute.in) The first is called 201 Acts. This book compiles the entries for the international design competition for Spire Tec in Delhi. It is also accompanied by essays on the issues of growth, design and identity in the Indian context.I believe its a valuable book to see many design thoughts on how can India's urbanity be imagined,along with some food for thought provided by authors like Michael Sorkin, Peter Bossleman etc all. It also has details of an exhibition that was curated by Geeta Wahi Dua , on the Hope Stories of India 201 Acts. ed. Suparna Bhalla & Aniket Bhagwat Price Rs.799.00 Future Institute. . The second book is Destination 100. A little over a year…
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…
As part of their annual festival. Mr. Aniket Bhagwat will deliver a talk on 14th March 2014 at the SCET; College of Architecture in Surat. The talk is scheduled at 7.30 PM.  
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…
361 Degrees, an Architectural Conference, is scheduled on 19th-20-21st February 2014 at Mumbai. There are two keynote lectures; one by Prof. B.V. Doshi and the other by Steven Holl, along with a  a host of other speakers . Do find the posters and details of the conference:  
A recent trade fair organised by Index/IFJ in Mumbai allowed a few architects to imagine about open spaces in Mumbai. Large panels were put up - almost 6.mts long, and 2.4  mts wide. There were schemes of just making parts of Mumbai pedestrian friendly, or using the railway corridors and covering them to make them linear green strips or of  developing the water fronts. We had put up a panel of a park that got away. In Wadala,  along a  strip of land, we had imagined a park that comprised on many hybrid realities, much like the local trains of Mumbai that contain many lives. In many segments, the park allowed completely different  experiences that connected ecology and the life in Mumbai. So it had garden boxes, much like compartments…
SPADE, the design magazine completed this year, four issues that discuss design through a series of constructed lenses. For the fifth issue, and hopefully for many initiatives leading from it, it plans to turn the spotlight on us, and what we do- on architects and the profession in India. As a percusor to this an Architects Retreat is being scheduled in Mumbai on 22nd Feb 2014. The first poster announcing it, is here below.   To kick off the process we had written a mail that we tried and sent to as large a body of architects as possible in the country and also followed this up with many many phone calls. The response has been extremely positive and sincere. The process is well on the way. Do see the mail below.…
Domus- October 2013. On the stands...... Features studio work- Devi Arts Foundation/Sirpur Paper Mills - Gurgaon.
Invested as it is, to surround the human body, a bit lesser than clothes and a lot more than architecture - interior design is often occupied with marking and occupying spaces for the daily enactment of life - and whilst doing so, it presents a certain aesthetic. In presenting this aesthetic it sometimes clones, at other times is original or evolved - and in the best cases explores a craft or a material. In doing all this, depending on the skill of the maker, it makes the space, rational, poetic, dense, sparse, cluttered, efficient, and other such things. Unfortunately this is what it does - and rarely any more. It rarely communicates the memory of an association, it rarely allows contemplation of a past, and it rarely allows an imagination…
 The office building as a typology in India is not adequately explored for various possibilities of space making. Very few buildings in India break away from being a standard commercial office building. Try an image search on Google for ‘office buildings in India’ and the results are buildings clad with glass and Aluco bond with large floor plates of work spaces. Most of them are form oriented buildings with meaningless and unpleasant architecture. Some of the important office buildings in Ahmedabad, ATMA, Sangath and ATIRA are buildings we look up to, for the sense of space and work environment created by its architecture. These modern buildings, built for specific kind of work spaces, have a great sense of entrance, in-between spaces and plan organization. The Devi Art foundation in Gurgaon…
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