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.
Dean D’Cruz, co-Founder and Principal Architect of Mozaic writes about his learnings from a three-decade long tryst with the landscape of Goa, and the way in which its biodiverse terrain became the foreground of a practice in environmentally responsible architecture.
It has been 32 years since I came to Goa. In the beginning, I worked for Gerard D’Cunha and in time entered into a partnership with him which was then called Natural Architecture. This was interesting and a change for me; since my college days, I was intrigued by technology, which I loved. Earlier, as a student of architecture, I was inspired by Mies, and Corbusier for their mastery of forms. But then slowly, I began to appreciate the level of detailing in the work of architects like Gaudi. Gerard had worked closely with Laurie Baker who was always very hands-on, maintained a down-to earth approach to architecture where one actually builds oneself! So, it was a very interesting learning – this integration of technology and the Baker-approach to architecture. As I grew, I was influenced more by the humanistic approach to architecture rather than the final sculptural form.
Hiren Patel, Principal and Director, Hiren Patel Architects writes about an approach to architecture where the question of thinking in detail is central to the idea of a project and the work reaffirms this belief when it endures inhabitation over a large span of time.
The semi-covered veranda: pavilion in the middle of the site for a Village house project: structures that promote outdoor living and bear a better relationship with the natural context.
For me, designing a building is like creating a painting on a canvas. Growing up, I always had an inclination for the arts. As a student, architecture opened up a whole new way of looking at art and design. This, I think, in some way influenced my approach towards architecture. Continue reading HIREN PATEL ON ‘MAKING’→
A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Mary Norman Woods talks about women architects in post-independent India, and their role in Indian society. She also speaks at length about two prominent women architects from two different generations, and their illustrated body of work.
Exploring the different forms that architectural practice might take beyond the usual metrics of originality and innovation can complicate our understanding of modern heritage and its implications for contemporary practice.
Peggy Deamer, US architect, educator, and activist has argued that how architects practice is as important as what they design and build. Writing in 2018, Deamer put forth the proposition that “architecture cannot produce spaces of freedom — public spaces, healthy spaces, accessible spaces, affordable spaces, sensually liberating spaces — for the society architects presume to serve if they are produced in unfree circumstances such as unpaid labour, gender inequality, generational hegemony, unsustainable work hours, non-existence work-life balance, lack of collegiality or discipline, [and] crippling competition.” Her words remind me of a question that Ellen Perry Berkeley, another American architectural critic, writer, and educator, posed exactly four decades ago. Then, Berkeley wrote: “the real problem for a thoughtful woman is not whether she is accepted into the profession, but whether she wants to be accepted into the profession as it is now.”
The Takshila Lecture on Architecture and Society is delivered by an eminent professional / academician that addresses growing disparity between the practice and pedagogy of Architecture in India, and the realities of our social, cultural and economic contexts. The lecture and the following dialogue aim to challenge the status-quo with a conviction that an open and honest conversation on the state of practice will instigate positive change.