Category Archives: Papers

Cities: Between Metaphor & Reality

How the empirical and the scientific can sustain together. – By Narendra Dengle.

Narendra Dengle talks about the inherent contradictions in the much discussed ‘Smart-City’ idea that has captured political imagination by inclining the argument in favour of a city which has a place for all and not just the economy which builds it.

Once a client of mine discussed at length the requirements of an institutional project and stressed the importance of being rational, functional, economic, and energy conscious in approach. We agreed. The next day he called up to say, “Please make it Eco-friendly.” We said, ‘Oh yes’. Then he dropped by to insist that the Continue reading Cities: Between Metaphor & Reality

Andrew Boyd and Minnette de Silva

Two Pioneers of Modernism in Ceylon

By David Robson

David Robson pens an empathetic memoir outlining the life and works of Sri Lanka’s two pioneering architects – a man by the name of Andrew Boyd and a lady by the name Minnette de Silva – in an attempt to restore their well-deserved place in the history of Modern Architecture from Sri Lanka and to bring into light their exceptional merit. 


Andrew Boyd

40.81-Portrait-of-Andrew-Boyd,-c.-1960
Portrait of Andrew Boyd, 1960

Born in Cornwall in 1905, Andrew Boyd was the son of an Indian Circuit Judge and experienced a typically dislocated Raj childhood, spending part of his childhood in India and part of it at school in England. His father encouraged him to join the tea business, and in 1927 arranged for him to become a tea taster with Liptons in Ceylon. There he was befriended by the photographer, Lionel Wendt, and moved in a circle which included the painter George Keyt and the poet/diplomat Pablo Neruda. Wendt kindled Boyd’s interest in photography and this in turn led him to architecture. Continue reading Andrew Boyd and Minnette de Silva

Hundredhands: Bijoy Ramachandran

Drawing to Find Out [01]

In an attempt to decipher and understand the relationship between the culture of drawing and production of architecture at Hundredhands, we look into their drawings to search for synapses where they represent ideas that eventually translate into architecture.

Sketch for Centre for Hope, Tiruchchirapalli, India.
Sketch for Centre for Hope, Tiruchchirapalli, India.

Continue reading Hundredhands: Bijoy Ramachandran

No Museum for Architecture

by Ruturaj Parikh

A reaction to William JR Curtis‘s piece on India’s Modern Heritage titled ‘Nothing is Sacred.

I have grown up with modern architecture. As a child in Ahmedabad, my father used to take me to climb trees in CEPT campus and play cricket in IIM (which then had no compound wall) while vultures lined the water tank with the fake arch. I have known the Sanskar Kendra to host some nice exhibitions although as a child I never used to like the space. I was taught in architecture to consider it sacred. I am not a fan. Continue reading No Museum for Architecture

ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION IN INDIA: WOMEN STUDENTS, CULTURE AND PEDAGOGY

By Madhavi Desai

Education is the cornerstone of any discipline, including architecture, where it primarily combines intellectual rigour and practical skills. It is also a place where the students learn to think deeply about the interconnectedness of the culture, the built environment, technology and the world of ideas. The most significant and unique aspect of architectural education is that it is potentially infinite in its scope and subject matter. The discipline of architecture is deeply embedded in the cultural world and the culture of an institute is closely connected to its teaching ideology and pedagogy. “Architectural education, although obviously intended as vocational training, is also intended as a form of socialisation aimed at producing a very specific type of person. All forms of education transmit knowledge and skills. All forms of education also socialise students into some sort of ethos or culture. These two functions are inseparable.”[ii] Institutional practices such as organisation of curriculum, the relationship between theory and practice and administrative set-up enable or constrain particular forms of knowledge. Continue reading ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION IN INDIA: WOMEN STUDENTS, CULTURE AND PEDAGOGY

From a Labyrinth into a Maze: Narendra Dengle

Of Intuitions & Ideas on Architecture

(For the Collegium, New Delhi, August 10, 2013)

From their name it is never clear if it represents one person or two or a group or even a tendency or preference, an ideology or political convenience, or, whether it continues to exist or it existed sometime in the 16-17 century BCE, because the title of the firm – I have come to believe – it is that – is Shodh-Pratishodh Ass, Continue reading From a Labyrinth into a Maze: Narendra Dengle

Remembering Bawa . . .

By David Robson

Architect, writer and critic David Robson, pens an empathetic personal memoir of Geoffrey Bawa as he tries to decipher the legacy of Bawa through his works, his persona and his understanding of the rich tropical landscape of Sri Lanka and his pastiche to find many images of the master architect who continues to influence architecture in Sri Lanka and the Indian Subcontinent.

Bawa at Lunuganga (1990s - Unknown Photographer)
Bawa at Lunuganga (1990s – Unknown Photographer)

Continue reading Remembering Bawa . . .

The Forgotten Case of Low-cost Housing: G Shankar Narayan

A decade or more back, I had clients walking into my studio in Hyderabad wanting a ‘Laurie Baker’ house. Given that Baker was considered an architect for the poor, my clients were not in any way economically challenged – in fact they were quite well off. For them a ‘Laurie Baker’ house was one that had exposed rat trap bond walls, filler slabs and brick arches. Forgetting the extra cost and inappropriateness of these in Hyderabad, given the poor quality of local brick and masonry skills, it was the distinctive look that enticed them. The sensual trumped the practical and poor LB (pun intended) was reduced to a brand like Louise Phillipe or Van Huesen! Despite the superficiality of it, there was a visual appeal of the ‘Low-cost’ aesthetic. The material ascetism had a powerful pull and seemed to say to the not so well off, albeit notionally, that ‘we are with you’. But now, even that fig leaf is gone. Houses today of the well-to-do i.e. those that can still afford to buy a plot and build an independent house, are a collage of glass, white walls and floors, atrociously expensive toilets and gypsum false ceilings.

Continue reading The Forgotten Case of Low-cost Housing: G Shankar Narayan

Vistara – The Architecture of India

The re-mastered book and film from the iconic travelling exhibition on Indian Architecture curated by Charles Correa.

The document was a part of the seminal ‘Vistara: The Architecture of India’ exhibition, 1986 that travelled the world. This is an attempt to resurrect and preserve one of the most crucial and complex comments on the Architecture of India. The exhibition was accompanied by this book and the Vistara film – a projection system – chronicling powerful ideas, elements and epochs that represented our architecture and the practice of habitat-making.

Continue reading Vistara – The Architecture of India

Protecting Modern Masterpieces in India

A Conversation between William J.R. Curtis and an Unknown Indian.

UI  You are known around the world as a historian and critic of architecture who defends quality against mediocrity, and who maintains a long view of events. In a recent article, ‘Nothing is Sacred: Threats to Modern Masterpieces in India’, (Architectural Review, April 2014)*, you have sounded the alert about the vulnerability of major works in India such as those by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in Ahmedabad, and of course those by Le Corbusier in Chandigarh. Subsequently in the Times of India you have argued in favour of the legal definition and defence of modern architectural heritage. What are these threats and what can be done to protect these universal masterpieces of modern architecture? Continue reading Protecting Modern Masterpieces in India