In conversation with Prem Nath of Mumbai-based Architect Prem Nath and Associates, we discuss the numerous obstacles traversed in his architectural journey, as well as some of the landmark projects that brought him to the forefront of contemporary architecture in India.
The following text is the edited transcript of the interview conducted with Prem Nath at his Mumbai office, on the 14th of October, 2021
Everybody always asks me this question – “Mister Prem Nath, how did you become an architect?” It seems almost like a miracle, that I became an architect.
Back in my time, in the 1950s, pre-independence – people did not know what an ‘architect’ was. Engineers, overseers and mistris (labourers), were common terms known to people, but they had never heard of the term, ‘architect’. I myself had no idea what architecture was. I became an architect by fluke, you may call it. Maybe fate had determined I was to become an architect through a series of random events, and I had no idea at the time.
In conversation with Niveditaa Gupta, we discuss the various narratives that drive a contemporary photograph, along with the values and potential of architecture photography in India.
The following text is the edited transcript from the conversation with Niveditaa Gupta, conducted on December 13th, 2021
CHAPTER 01: ORIGINS [00:25]
Part I – The Theory of Photography [00:39]
I never anticipated that I would get into photography. I was not interested in photography as an amateur passion that you pick up while you are in architecture or design school, because we had a lot of photography exercises, but I never felt that I could use the camera to photograph things which I might be architecturally interested in. As part of my dissertation, I wrote a paper on architecture photography. In the fourth year of architecture school, everybody had to write a research paper, and so I went through the archives of architecture photography all over the world, to study just how the evolution of photography happened over the years.
Bengaluru-based firm M9 Design Studio led by Nischal Abhaykumar and Jesal Pathak, explored the concepts of modularity, temporality and versatility of steel in the Admin and Academic block of the renowned CMR University’s new campus. Adapting to the challenges of time, efficiency and extensibility, M9 outline a possible precedent for the future blocks in the campus with a comprehensive design approach.
Nischal Abhaykumar discusses the processes, interests and ethos of the practice. The conversation dwells on the design and making of the project – CMR University Admin & Academic Block.
Within the hilly context of peri-urban Bengaluru, is located CMR University‘s newly developed 60-acre campus. In 2015, M9 Design Studio was approached to design the first building, initially to be purposed as an administration and academic block. The proposed block was programmed to be an ever-evolving space, and to be completed within a short timeline without compromising the quality of construction. This challenge prompted the architects to employ a design partly focusing on efficiency and flexibility to delineate the various learning spaces. A modular system derived from prefabricated steel emerged which follows a grid to achieve an idea of dismantling or expansion and speed of construction that was essential.
In a dialogue with Nashik-based architects, CAUSE – an initiative, author Rama Raghavan poses questions and explores themes on practice, conservation, publicness, ambition of a programme, perceptions of constraints and challenges through the lens of their project – Shanti-Krishna Museum of Money & History.
A conversation with the architects on the nuances of their practice and the project.
The Coin Museum and Numismatic Centre in Anjaneri is a building that has been an integral part of the city of Nashik. The institute founded in 1980 by the Indian Numismatic, Historical and Cultural Research Foundation has been a landmark of the city. Earlier constituting a research centre and a library relating to numismatic studies, it was also home to an impressive privately owned collection of coins and artefacts. The museum known locally as ‘Nane Sangrahalaya’ (Coin Museum) flourished for a while but gradually began losing ties with the community over a period of time.
Recognising this fading dialogue, the trustees, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, the Government of India, decided to establish a renewed identity for the museum. The new extension spanning nearly 9000sqft was thus conceived and rechristened the ‘Shanti-Krishna Museum of Money & History’. A product of thoughtful, responsive processes emerging from context, the extension to the coin museum was conceptualised and completed in 2018 by a Nashik-based architectural firm, ‘CAUSE – an initiative’ co-founded by architects, Ali Kaderi, Purva Shah, Nandan Malani and Amol Suryawanshi.
‘NUDE MODELS’ by Nuru Karim explores the structure within natural systems using technology and processes.
Evolutionary tools in model-making have enabled the translation of concepts of abstraction and coexistence from nature to built environments. NUDES, a Mumbai-based contemporary practice thrives on this process of model-making, while acknowledging the extent of design articulation that is possible with the implementation of these tools.
Architectural models, historically, are approached as tools that guide design thinking. Apart from their role in the essential act of communicating design, they have evolved over time to represent conceptual underlays in the design process. The fascination of Nuru Karim, Founder and Principal, NUDES, with model-making processes goes back to his undergraduate years. The practice of creating three-dimensional objects at NUDES is intrinsically connected to the design processes that generate buildings and ideas. The studio, that spans their practice across diverse spectrum of architecture, urbanism and public art, employs the idea of evaluating design through perceptions and imaginations at the human scale through these models.