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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…
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…
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…
It started as a set of posters waiting on my table this morning and then this mail. Hi. See attached. What lovely friends you have! They organize contacts for your firang friends, make posters of your works, send mails, keep calling you, go to your place to meet you!! I am jealous!! Geeta So what started all this ? A recent feature in a book  by Phaidon , and blogged earlier http://www.landscapeindia.net/gardeners-garden-we-in-esteemed-company-250-projects-600-years/, was cause for some celebration and part embarrassment. While kind words were sent; this took the cake ! Geeta who ofcourse runs the only  landscape magazine in the country, and by  B. V. Doshis generous observation " the only design magazine in India that's really doing good work" is generally a serious person; but clearly with a wicked…
The Dublin Report. Tim Richardson, that prolific writer, at some point had literally dug out a lot of design firms across the globe to find place in his book "Futurescape – Designers for tomorrow’s outdoor spaces" (Thames & Hudson-2011) He then in 2013, recommended to the organizers that they invite us to speak at the Australian Landscape Conference; and that's where we saw the country, the magnificent Cranbourne Botanical Garden (http://www.landscapeindia.net/a-taj-mahal-of-a-landscape/); met the temperamental but extremely knowledgeable Warwick Forge who organizes the conference, his family, made friends with the brilliant Juan Grimm from Chile  (http://www.landscapeindia.net/the-magic-of-juan-grimm/), and the greatest gain;  meeting the tough, blunt, and wonderful writer Louisa Jones,(http://www.louisajones.fr/)from Provence who since has almost become family; an emotion I imagine she will permit us  even if grudgingly, and also whose divine…
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.
In December 2014 , we had mounted an exhibition at the College at Trichy.  It was an accompaniment to the annual lecture. With the exhibition we attempted to try and establish a new tradition- of practices going to educational institutions , and demonstrating their work and beliefs through many mediums- drawings, models,  words and a visual presentation. It was meant to allow the student the choice of mediums through which to absorb and evaluate the work being presented; not just words , or pictures alone. Domus in one of their recent issues covered this well. Kaiwan in his introduction wrote what we found  was a startlingly  incisive piece, that seemed to suggest a new beginning; an abandoning of ways that we are used to; of asking questions differently. It was…
Professor Prabhakar B. Bhagwat or Bade Sir as he was affectionately called by all, passed away peacefully amidst his immediate family on 14th August 2015. A few months back he spoke to Aniket Bhagwat about his life; an interview that is the high point of a book " Forest for the Trees ; Trees for the Forest" which is about his design firm. The interview: In conversation : Part I Professor P. B. Bhagwat talks to Aniket Bhagwat. Tell me a bit about my grandfather, Bhalchandra V. Bhagwat; How did he learn about gardens; what was his life like? Above: Bhalchandra V. Bhagwat. & Letter of recommendation for B. V. Bhagwat circa 1920 You know him - he was a tall, regal and fair man who always turned out immaculately.…
Shiny at Indian Express reviewed the office book, and did an interview. Do see the article.. The green mile Be it an exaggerated dinosaur bridge in an apartment block, a brick cone that opens itself to the skies in Drum House or undulating brick walls in Devi Art Foundation. Their self-published book, Forest for the Trees; Trees for the Forest, documents projects by the firm. Written by Shiny Varghese | New Delhi | Updated: July 2, 2015 12:17 pm Prabhakar B Bhagwat turned a basalt quarry in Timba, Gujarat, into a self-sustaining forest. His father Bhalchandra V Bhagwat developed the Empress Botanical Gardens, Pune, as its Superintendent. His son, Aniket Bhagwat carries forward the legacy, plating up landscapes with fractals and contrasting geometries. With projects spread across the country, Aniket’s…
On a Rainy Day. In 2007, almost now nearing 8 years- the BATA factory land  in Kolkata started transforming into a new living community. Over time many cultural practices had got entrenched- people traversed the lands, it was full of shops; the local community used its grounds for festivals, or sports; many accessed the river through this land- and of course the many employees of BATA stayed here. For those who know Kolkata , this was the wrong end of the town- a location no one went to. Sumit however was determined to make this an example of what good living could be in the country. He invited good minds; Dulalda ( Mukherjee), Pramod Balakrishnan, Rajeev Kathpalia, Kiran Kapadia and Bimal Patel, to help with designing the various buildings. Great…
Professor P. B. Bhagwat, or Bade Sir to many students and folks in the office, celebrated his 85th birthday on 20th June 2015. It was a Saturday and we spent the afternoon home, talking to him, laughing a lot and      cutting large cakes . Some pictures. And through this post a big thank you to the many many people who called, mailed and sent messages greeting him.      
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.…
Louisa Jones the wonderfully humane and generous French landscape thinker and writer  (blog : www.louisajones.fr , Facebook : Louisa Jones Gardens ) mentioned our name to the editor Sarah Gills of the magazine Garden Design Journal from UK.  This is a good thinking magazine , that carries work well and selectively.  The editor approached Darryl Moore a freelance Garden and Landscape Design writer ( http://dmooredesign.blogspot.co.uk/ , Senior Partner Moore Harrison Land Design  www.mooreharrison.com , Cityscapes Director  www.cityscapes.org.uk  )  and a very good writer at that ;  who spent many hours talking to us and did what we believe is a balanced  incisive piece; we are happy to share this with you.      
Riddhi a young interior design student had two months before she left for her internship in Germany and found herself amongst us. Not knowing what excatly what she would do in that limited time, but clear that she must spend it appreciating design and enjoying it ,we gave her a loose mandate and asked her to sit in on discussions, read office documents, see drawings , pictures and talk to any one she felt like in the office and form her own version of what design means in this space and how she relates to it. After a few weeks of doing this she started developing a poster. This was preceeded by some reading on the history of poster art; and then a week back she made a presentation to…
The long Holi weekend, allowed some folks from the office to take a two day trip to the magical lands of Kutch. Vinay Kushwah, Shalini P., Sreedevi Mohan, Palak Shah, Bahaar Abhiyankar and  Dhrumil Kantharia, made the trip. Some selected pictures from Vinays camera.                                              
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…
The idea of identity in emerging urbanity is a difficult one. With clone like relentless growth , the new urbanity of India has no soul, no character, and no sense of personality. Arguably , to deal with both, the idea of this scale and pace in any other way seems difficult. Either we should build slowly, or we should build less- or perhaps there is another way- one that has not been developed till now. Till we find a better way to build, how does one find the expression of the human spirit, build an idea of identity, and more simply bring a smile to  people's faces, in the new supplanted urbanity, they call homes. The studio was recently confronted with a small space, measuring 3700 sq.mts, in the middle on 500 middle income housing flats.…
Near Haji Ali in Mumbai is a new office building. As are many in big cities, at least from the distance, there is little to distinguish it from the sea of the many similar looking buildings. Should it look different? Should it not? This whole discussion about what are "back ground buildings : meaning, those that sort of vanish in a blur, and "foreground " buildings, meaning those that stand out and have an identity is often an incorrectly represented discussion. True, all buildings don't need to be flamboyant, or stand out strongly- but they at least must have an identity, a certain presence, a distinct character. In olden days, often this was, despite buildings being produced by a guild or following certain building traditions, provided by the great craft…
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:  
Tushar Desai  for years has done an admirable job of holding together and conducting a very fair and inclusive design competition for the Indian Institute of Interior Designers (IIID), that just gets bigger and better each day. With Bimal Mistry now joining the effort its got even better. This year they published for the first time a year book, that compiled all the winning entries for 2012. Its a valuable publication. When putting it together they  requested an essay and gave me no time lines, and so I dashed it off to him in a day . It did not make the cut; and I understand what rejection is . :-). Do read it. The essay is a tongue in cheek comment on Interior Design in India today. The last…
We are back from Diwali; was a long sleepy ten days. Most restful. The city is wonderful with just the right amount of people in it- most having left town to holiday somewhere. It would be wonderful if we could work out a mechanism where the same percentage of people were always sent out of the city year round; empty streets, a sense of quietude; crisp winter air, - it was lovely. This is the real sense of our city. On the day that we did puja  in the office, there were only a few of us, and I walked around the empty office peering into rooms, and my eye caught a two page note pinned up on one of the boards. It was a letter that I had written…
A group of Academicians in town are working hard to put together this conference; and from all accounts it promises to a great fare with Indian and International speakers who will share their thoughts. The idea of Cultural Landscapes,its understanding, mapping and management is without doubt a very important aspect of our environment and over and above the traditional meanings, new meanings are being explored each day. Over time this will be an important area that will define the profession and its meanings. The conference is on 14th and 15th of December 2013- do block the dates and do come. Please find details . 4TH INCULS Fourth IFLA-APR International Cultural Landscapes Symposium (INCULS) Ahmedabad, India                                                                   14th-15th December 2013 Introduction About INCULS The International Symposium on Cultural and Historical Landscapes (INCULS) is…
Australian Landscape Conference 2013 20th – 23rd September 2013 in Melbourne, Australia DESIGN FOR THE FUTURE: Models from the Old World, Challenges for the New SPEAKERS • ANIKET BHAGWAT from India • JUAN GRIMM from Chile • LOUISA JONES from France • RAYMOND JUNGLES from USA Florida • KEN SMITH from USA New York • TOSHIO WATANABE from Japan and Britain • PAUL BANGAY & SIMON GRIFFITHS from Australia • ANNE LATREILLE from Australia • PETER WATTS from Australia Lectures By Aniket Bhagwat 21st Sept, 2013, Saturday - Million Gardens from an old country 22nd Sept, 2013, Sunday - For 1.20 billion people - Garden tales from India To see more: www.landscapeconference.com
The local chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects in Ahmedabad started a new lecture series that  invited design practices that were two generations or older, to talk about what does design lineage mean, and to ask how such firms evolve. M/s.Prabhakar B. Bhagwat, was the first in the series. It was an hour long presentation that talked about the genesis of the firm, showed some representative work, and also saw many members of the design team taking the stage and sharing their experience of working in the firm. Ms. Samira Rathod of SRDA: Mumbai, conducted the proceedings. Prof. P. B. Bhagwat and Aniket Bhagwat took the stage together and talked to each other, interrupted each other, corrected each other  in what many felt  was a moment  in design  history. Some…
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