Urban Design

  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…
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…
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…
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.…
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…
The other day a student who I do not know wrote me a mail, which is reproduced below. Upon reading it and reflecting upon it, I decided that I needed to write a well thought out response- which I did, and then marked it to a few friends, and the response was immediate and all of the mails in complete agreement with my line of thought; ( my mails to them often are ignored and they only talk about it when we perhaps meet many weeks later -if at all). I wondered why this happened; and  concluded that this was a topic many had thought about , and were uneasy about; but had not gathered their thoughts and this mail allowed them to. Since it was concerned with work in…
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