Category Archives: Discourse

In Focus: The Architecture of Didi Contractor

Resonating with the mindfulness of architect Didi Contractor’s approach to her work and life, Joginder Singh’s book ‘An Adobe Revival – Didi Contractor’s Architecture’ and the documentary ‘Didi Contractor – Marrying the Earth to the Building’ by Steffi Giaracuni, together encapsulate the unique sensibility with which Didi diligently continues to pursue an architecture that is embedded in a holistic sensorial experience.

The film unassumingly opens with the architect seated at her drawing board, sketching while deep in thought in the comfort of her warm mud abode amidst the stunning views of the Kangra Valley. Born to Expressionist Painters associated with the Bauhaus group of the 1920s, Didi pursued an education in art although keenly drawn towards architecture and design. Having moved to the hills, she set up a practice much later in life with a core ideology rooted in the understanding of local material and construction techniques. Continue reading In Focus: The Architecture of Didi Contractor

[IN]SIDE: Design of the Idea with Ajay Shah Design Studio [ASDS]

Industrial Playground (now a part of Rubberband) – a furniture design initiative by Ajay Shah Design Studio [ASDS] – juxtaposes playful formal and visual qualities of the objects they make with process-driven industrial manufacturing for characteristic precision and uniformity. Their contemporary aesthetic is derived from the intrinsic quality of materials they work with and the nature of this specific process.


Design, in a context like that of India, can mean many things. From improvisations on existing situations to ideas that are points of the genesis of the new and unexplored avenues; the context of a developing nation enables one to deal with a range of unprecedented challenges. In 1990, Ajay Shah, then a young NID graduate, founded the Circus Design Company after a few stints of working as a designer and a furniture producer. This new company was imagined to be a multi-disciplinary design firm that dealt with design as the process of thought rather than a professional service. The conceptual framework of the present-day Ajay Shah Design Studio can be traced back to this office. Continue reading [IN]SIDE: Design of the Idea with Ajay Shah Design Studio [ASDS]

MODERN HERITAGE: In Retrospection: Shivdatt Sharma

CURATED BY SANGEET SHARMA

The Capital Project of Chandigarh is among the most widely discussed and debated projects in the history of Modern Architecture in India. Under the trusteeship of Prime Minister Nehru, several young Indian architects joined hands to contribute to the mammoth task of nation-building, working across diverse sectors such as buildings for Space Research & Technology, Administrative Infrastructure, Cultural & Educational Institutions and Housing. At the forefront alongside his better-known contemporaries, was Architect Shivdatt Sharma [SD Sharma], a silent but powerful contributor to the ‘modernist’ landscape of a young India. In this piece, curated and assimilated by his son and architect Sangeet Sharma, SD Sharma writes about his time working alongside Le Corbusier and as an apprentice under Pierre Jeanneret

In an intimate note that follows, Sangeet Sharma shares instances of growing up in the newly built city of Chandigarh and working under Shivdatt Sharma as an apprentice for almost two decades. He reflects on the many relationships that he has nurtured with his father, over the years – one of a friend, philosopher and guide.


LEARNING FROM LEGENDS
Authored by Shivdatt Sharma

Le Corbusier and his associates, all being the members of CIAM, processed the pure architecture that was to be followed in the making of Chandigarh. They believed that geometry was a timeless factor in the whole universe, and was, therefore, to be followed to create purity. Continue reading MODERN HERITAGE: In Retrospection: Shivdatt Sharma

[IN]SIDE: Sanjay Mohe on Practice of Architecture in India

In a discussion with Sanjay Mohe, Principal, Mindspace Architects, we explore the relationship between architecture and the specific peculiarities of the Indian landscape to try and decipher a unique way of seeing that is at the core of our experience of the built environment in India.


Q: You practise architecture in India – a landscape of great diversity and multiple cultures. What do you think is unique about practising in India? Continue reading [IN]SIDE: Sanjay Mohe on Practice of Architecture in India

Christopher Benninger: Cyrus Jhabvala Memorial Lecture 2018

Architect Christopher Benninger narrates the experiences that moulded his life and shares these learnings from his travels in the Third Edition of the Cyrus Jhabvala Memorial Lecture held in September 2018 at India International Centre, New Delhi


THE STORIES FROM MY JOURNEY
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Prologue
India is the land of storytelling. Since time immemorial oral narratives have been the medium of India’s learning and self-awareness. Oral traditions are kept alive by temple artisans and priests, by wandering minstrels, and dramas in village fairs and tamashas. Continue reading Christopher Benninger: Cyrus Jhabvala Memorial Lecture 2018

[IN]SIDE: SAMIRA RATHOD ON PRACTICE OF INTERIOR DESIGN

Samira Rathod, Principal, Samira Rathod Design Atelier [SRDA] writes about the predicaments and opportunities of practising interior architecture in India – a context where the discipline is disorganised and there is lack of clarity on the role of design consulting in the interior space.

Craftsmanship – learning in the making of the object.

PRACTICE

To write about interior design as a practice is very tough since we do not see Interior design as a formal, organised discipline in India. When we were studying architecture, there was no independent/separate interior design practice in India and no interior designers that were respected or known enough. Continue reading [IN]SIDE: SAMIRA RATHOD ON PRACTICE OF INTERIOR DESIGN

The Structure: Works of Mahendra Raj

‘The Structure: Works of Mahendra Raj‘ is an elaborate account of the significant career of one of the predominant structural designers of India – through an archive of images, drawings and writings on the prolific structures envisioned by Mahendra Raj.

Book Cover: View of the Hidon River Mills roof, Gaziabad.

Continue reading The Structure: Works of Mahendra Raj

LEARNING AND TEACHING ARCHITECTURE IN THE PRESENT SCENARIO

In a curated series on archival texts, views, discussions and comments on the state of architecture and design education in India, Shirish Beri provides observations, on the importance of a student-teacher relationship and challenges students to nurture their inquisitiveness which lies at the core of architectural education.


Continue reading LEARNING AND TEACHING ARCHITECTURE IN THE PRESENT SCENARIO

IMPACT: DESIGN THINKING AND THE VISUAL ARTS IN YOUNG INDIA

CURATED BY CHATTERJEE & LAL

The post-independence period in India witnessed the beginning of a new design culture with the founding of quality institutions and initiatives in arts, crafts and cultural projects across India. In the quest for a unique modern identity, the architecture and design trajectory of an independent India aspired to establish a significant voice in the making of a new kind of society. In this context, the exhibition: IMPACT: Design Thinking and the Visual Arts in Young India attempts to foreground the radical design discourse in India in the 20th century, featuring select works of individuals, groups and organisations at the intersection of art, craft and design.   

Mitter Bedi (1926-1985) | Godrej Chairs c.1970 | Image Courtesy: Mitter Bedi Collection, Godrej Archives

Continue reading IMPACT: DESIGN THINKING AND THE VISUAL ARTS IN YOUNG INDIA

MODERN HERITAGE: Listing

The contribution of the history of modern architecture in India is unparalleled in terms of the many experiments that were embarked upon in search of spatial and social innovations that were responsive to the cultural, social, political and economic landscape of India. At a time when architecture in India needs a critical review, it is this history that serves as a reference and a foundation.

Mapping Modern History


1930 – 1949 

Continue reading MODERN HERITAGE: Listing