Architecture BRIO, one of the most versatile amongst emerging practices in India, has been able to create projects with a refreshing sense of newness and surprise. This piece is an attempt to understand the key ingredients of their design process with an emphasis on the act of drawing as a negotiator of ideas.
In 2006, Shefali Balwani and Robert Verrijt established their practice – Architecture BRIO after returning from Sri Lanka where they worked with Channa Daswatte. Their initial projects were designed for Magic Bus – a non-profit organisation and entailed very efficiently resolved simple structures that enable ideas of play and interaction to manifest. Since then, their practice has engaged with works of various scales and typologies with sites in the peri-urban region of Mumbai, across India and South-East Asia. The portfolio is significantly diverse with the common themes that concern tectonics of site, formal and spatial explorations of architecture, critical reading of the programme, systems thinking, and clarity of material and detail that have characterised their work.
Afflicted with bureaucratic hurdles and unsettling realities, the condition of living heritage in the country is grave. At a time when the practice of urban heritage conservation has seen a paradigm shift to ‘beautification’, the meticulous restoration of St John the Baptist Church by Mumbai-based Vikas Dilawari Architects resurfaces the need for patronage in conservation.
Blueprint is a narrative of Gautam Bhatia’s work juxtaposed on his larger cultural projects, and his experiments with complexity and context.
The Building as a Metaphor
A chronicle of work can be many things – a catalogue, a celebration and a critique. This one is an uncanny montage of ideas and images: a personal retrospective into the architectural journey of one of the sharpest spatial thinkers in India.
The architecture of Gautam Bhatia is difficult to reconcile for a casual observer. What are his concerns? What is he trying to achieve? The work itself – as evidenced by the book – is eclectic, diverse and seemingly inconsistent. The projects themselves deal with an array of scales, programmes and situations moving from historic preservation and rejuvenation projects to urban design; From the ‘Palace’ to the ‘Mountain House’.
This three-point discussion sought perspectives and viewpoints on the perceivable aspects of interior design and the emerging tangential domains of the discipline – interior decoration / visual décor and styling.
INTERIOR DESIGN PRACTICE IN THE CONTEXT OF INDIA
An interior design practice when placed in the Indian context gets tied to not just our culture and aesthetics but more importantly, to how it is practised. In India, interior design has not been separated from architecture as a result of poor or no legislative or licensing control. It has, therefore, become a profession that architects adopt to create liquidity more often than not – an intermediary ball to keep rolling between architecture projects.
A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Rohit and Vandini talk about Mahendra Raj’s journey as a Structural Designer. They also provide an in-depth insight into the structural expressiveness, innovations and elements that allowed for new spatial possibilities in his illustrious body of work.
To talk about the works of Mahendra Raj, we have titled the work, “Structural narrative of Indian Modernity as an oeuvre of Mahendra Raj” as you will see, inflects and contributes, and helped create many artefacts that pioneer the narrative of Indian Architectural Modernism post-independence.
In this presentation, we will discuss only a few of Raj’s most important projects from over 250 projects that he has realised in the last six decades. Each project that we have chosen shows a visionary and pioneering engineering solution, exemplifying the bold and adventurous innovations his practice engaged in. As we discuss these works, the underlying story that emerges is of transnational exposures and exchanges of brilliant architectural and engineering minds, Le Corbusier and Louis Khan experimenting in India, Indian architects and engineers travelling West and coming back to engage with each other and local systems, we feel, created a fertile environment and incubator of sorts for new ideas that defined Indian Modernism.
Raj’s interest in structure started in 1951 when he was appointed as the Assistant Design Engineer for the construction of Chandigarh’s High Court. The geometric parasol roof consisting of shells presented the engineers with bold structural and functional hurdles. Working with other engineers, he, with his senior Gulzar Singh proposed modifications, that of a balanced cantilever, that supported on two columns, the fins that we now see which made the construction possible. This is what Corbusier wanted, and this is what finally came about from there.