STUDIO: Nataraj and Venkat Architects

Studio culture – as with all manifestations of the human intellect – is the embodiment of a pattern of work that nurtures the craft of building. Architecture workspaces are especially readable in this context as architects are, in this case, designing for themselves. With every workplace as distinct and specific as the work it produces, the people who design and work in these environments reveal their ideas in the space.

In this edition of the STUDIO series, we enquire about the early beginnings and work ethics of a long standing studio-culture of the Chennai-based practice Nataraj and Venkat Architects, founded by V S Nataraj and A Venkat in 1984.

Entryway: Studio NVA

A quiet pathway trails into the studio space, where dappled sunlight gently wraps its facade forming an interplay of shadows, materials and textures. Chennai-based  Nataraj & Venkat Architects [NVA] is a 30-year-old design practice, and is among the city’s pioneering firms renowned for their contemporary vernacular architecture. In a brief conversation with ThinkMatter, Principal Architect A Venkat discusses the making of a successful practice with a philosophy rooted in collaboration, competition and consciousness. Continue reading STUDIO: Nataraj and Venkat Architects

Doshi: The Master of Elastic Time

Lecture and Text: Bijoy Ramachandran
Film: Cinematographed, Edited and Directed by Premjit Ramachandran; Conceived and Researched by Bijoy Ramachandran (© Hinterland Films)

In this lecture, Bijoy Ramachandran articulates his reading of the works and thoughts of Pritzker Laureate Dr Balkrishna Doshi through the multiple encounters with his buildings that include the seminal IIM Bangalore, NIFT Delhi Campus and the Diamond Bourse. The talk also outlines the influence of the numerous interactions Bijoy has had with Doshi over the years.

 

In 2009, Bijoy collaborated with his brother and filmmaker Premjit Ramachandran to author and produce Doshi – a film on the celebrated indian architect. In 2019, and with a gap of ten years, they collaborated again to script and produce the second film ‘Doshi: Return to Formlessness‘ – an intimate portrait of the architect with immersive and enduring glimpses of some of his celebrated buildings.

Images and Film: Courtesy Bijoy Ramachandran and Premjit Ramachandran. The talk and the film were presented at the FRAME 2019 conclave ‘Modern Heritage’. 

Continue reading Doshi: The Master of Elastic Time

National War Memorial, Delhi: WeBe Design Lab

The National War Memorial in Delhi by Chennai-based Webe Design Lab is a built landscape that emerges from an unprecedented participatory process, programme, ambition, and typology. In its comprehension, the project creates a space of sanctitude in memory of Jawans, and of pride, and honour for their families and citizens of India, which is respectful to the context.


BACKGROUND & TIMEFRAMES


One of the most enduring images from Delhi since 1931 is the axis of India Gate, forming one of the pinnacles of the ceremonial Vijaypath (the erstwhile Rajpath or the Kings Way) – the currently debated Central Vista. The ceremonial boulevard was designated by Edwin Lutyens as the centre of what he contrived as a ‘modern imperial city’, tethering an enclave of buildings of political eminences such as Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly the Viceroy’s Residence), Secretariat Building, Vijay Chowk, designed by Lutyens himself and Herbert Baker. Renowned as one of the foremost European designers of war memorials and graves, Edwin Lutyens designed the All India War Memorial, popular as India Gate in tribute to the soldiers martyred in the First World War from 1921-31. Beyond it, since 1972 stands the Amar Jawan Jyoti, an inverted bayonet with a soldier’s helmet – an insignia in homage to India’s victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan and to the brave soldiers who died while serving India’s armed forces. The area surrounding this is marked as the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone (LBZ) which is also enlisted on 2002 World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. Needless to iterate, it is a site of cynosure – an avenue in focus with the ongoing debates around the Central Vista project. It is a landscape of immense cultural, historical and political significance. Continue reading National War Memorial, Delhi: WeBe Design Lab

‘India: Modern Architectures in History’

Peter Scriver

A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage


In this lecture, Prof Peter Scriver articulates a historical perspective on the changes and challenges of Modern Architecture in India since Independence. The talk also dwells on the Nation-building efforts, the nation-builders and the significance of this body of work in contemporary India.


Edited Transcript

Welcome, everybody. Just before I proceed, I just want to show due credit to my colleague, Prem Chandavarkar for a profoundly significant opening thought-piece for us to all think about in the days ahead.

I think FRAME Conclave’s expectation of what I might do was to also help set up some ideas, but they will be far more humble, and they are more prosaically engaged with the stuff of the architecture around us and the careers of many of the people in the room, and some of the backgrounds that I have had the opportunity to observe over a number of years. This talk will open up some of that perspective for you and hopefully also be of some use.

But I guess I just wanted to note particularly how a term that Prem, someone among many in the room that I have known for some years, this architecture, the background, your final point, which you published about and talked about in the past. I think I have a much deeper understanding now of what you really mean by that. So thank you for putting those thoughts together. Continue reading ‘India: Modern Architectures in History’

‘I am Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t’

Architecture, Academia, and Gendered Homelessness


In a curated series on archival texts, views, discussions and comments on the state of architecture and design education in India, Prof Dr Anuradha Chatterjee discusses the specious, generalised view of academic practice in India. She writes critically of the prevalent discriminatory and discursive structures or biases that this space and contemporary professional discourse have grown to embody.



THE (PROFESSIONAL) ACADEMIC

Academia in India has evolved a lot, from the times when we were labeled as teachers to now being called faculty members. In fact, Pearl Academy in Delhi has started offering postgraduate Continue reading ‘I am Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t’