Category Archives: Contemporary Practice

In Memoriam: Kamu Iyer; A Tribute by Mary N. Woods

A Tribute by Prof Mary Norman Woods


Mary Norman Woods pens a tribute to Kamu Iyer – one of Mumbai’s most cherished architects and a much respected member of the design community in India. With his passing, we lose one of the last few keepers of the conscience of our profession – a citizen-architect who loved Mumbai and was perpetually engaged with the fate of the city through his work, his writings and his activism.

The tribute is followed by a reproduced dialogue between Kamu Iyer, Brinda Somaya and Mary Woods titled ‘Working from Mumbai‘ originally published in Brinda Somaya’s monograph titled ‘Works & Continuities’. 


Kamu Iyer (1932-2020)
Mourning and Celebrating a Friend and Mentor

Albert Mayer, American architect and planner who worked in post-Independence India, wrote about his excitement at being present at the birth of a nation. Throughout his seven decades of practice, teaching, writing, and mentoring, Kamu Iyer sustained and nurtured the “tingling atmosphere of plans and expectation” envisioned by Indians of “ability, outlook, energy, and devotion” that so impressed and inspired Mayer. Kamu embodied the ideals of the Independence struggle and hopes for a free India in his life and work. He was a mahatma, a great soul who touched so many and whose like we will not see again. Continue reading In Memoriam: Kamu Iyer; A Tribute by Mary N. Woods

In Memoriam: The Objects of Aziz Kachwalla

By Anusha Narayanan

On the 14th of January, 2020, Aziz Kachwalla met with a tragic and fatal accident. Aziz Kachwalla’s work pushed the limits of material understanding through an involved and iterative design process, for objects that he often co-authored with architects and designers his firm worked with. His work demonstrated an intuitive grasp of the nature of materials he worked with, and he was often instrumental in the development of decisive details for complex design issues in products and spaces. A contextual and textural comprehension enabled him to create organic and surreal products, emanating the honesty from which they were conceived. 

To many, Aziz was an enabler, a co-conspirator and a bridge to a good product, a complex spatial assembly or a new way of looking at a material. There are very few individuals of his calibre today, who appreciate the finesse and humility demanded to execute compelling ideas with dexterity.  This editorial was originally authored by Anusha Narayanan in June 2018 for [IN]SIDE Volume 01 and Issue 02. This article is republished in memory and as a tribute to Aziz Kachwalla.


ORIGINAL: Edited from 2018 text.

With over 20 years in the product, industrial and interior design space, Aziz Kachwalla runs a practice around experimentation with materials and forms overlaid with fine craftsmanship. He is also a frequent collaborator for other architects, designers and artists of renown.

The space/studio Aziz works out of now, is a double-heighted, gritty, imperfect yet honest warehouse-turned-workshop tucked away in one of the lanes of Mazgaon, Mumbai. It has nothing to hide, no lies or pretense, similar to the nature of the designs it is home to. Resembling a theatre backstage, pieces are strewn about the space but upon observation, the emphasis on understanding each material is hard to miss. Continue reading In Memoriam: The Objects of Aziz Kachwalla

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

SREE VADAKKUNNATHAN TEMPLE CONSERVATION PROJECT

BY dd ARCHITECTS

Restored through a continuous effort spanning over a decade, Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple Conservation Project was carried out under the supervision of Thrissur-based Vinod Kumar MM of dd Architects. The process focuses on the authentic with an idea of reviving traditional workmanship through an amalgamation of interdisciplinary interventions.

Located in the heart of Thrissur – the cultural capital of Kerala, Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple (incrementally built around 12th century) has played a significant role in the evolution of the temple town. Conceived as the conceptual centre of the temple town, the place continues to be a living institution in the core of the new and aggressive developments around.

Continue reading SREE VADAKKUNNATHAN TEMPLE CONSERVATION PROJECT

Portraiture: ‘Movie Theaters’ and ‘Churches’

By reading into the cultural environment of the sixties and seventies, and the rise of a range of affinities in architecture that emerged in the wake of Independence in India, two pictorial essays by Stefanie Zoche and Sabine Haubitz document a part of a larger cultural zeitgeist. The essays focusing on the essentialised photographs of facades of single screen movie theatres and churches in South India propose a common ground – an enquiry into what they refer to as ‘Hybrid Modernism’. 


In India, architecture evolves in a palimpsestic disposition, especially in the rurban areas. Historical, provincial, aspirational layers exist in this pluralistic built landscape. The development of modern architecture in India succeeding the influences of international style made a gradual headway from 1920s and -30s and pronouncedly was acknowledged with Le Corbusier’s vision for Chandigarh. While post-independence architecture in India is largely attributed to modern architecture, it belongs to perhaps only a fraction of the built landscape. Architecture in the remaining paradigm is countered by a gentler transition, more self-conscious and self-referential, consolidated socially and culturally. Familiar and immediate frames of references are appropriated and contextualised at a local level. Moreover, it is not homogeneous across the country but exists in complex crossovers.

Continue reading Portraiture: ‘Movie Theaters’ and ‘Churches’