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.

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Book: Himalayan Cities; Settlement Patterns, Public Places and Architecture

Book by Pratyush Shankar.

Following years of travel, documentation and engagement, Pratyush Shankar authors a rich, intimate monograph: an insight into the unique, diverse, versatile and complex human habitats of the Himalayas illustrated with Photographs, Sketches and Drawings.

A Spread from the Book. The book is beautifully laid out and richly illustrated.
A Spread from the Book. The book is beautifully laid out and richly illustrated.

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Palmyra House in Monochrome Photographs

Monochrome images reveal the many dimensions of Bijoy Jain’s architecture as light interacts with surfaces of changing quality.

Monsoon has a very peculiar mood at the Palmyra House. Set in a landscape of a palm plantation, the house has a very tactile quality.  The unique atmosphere that the landscape and the structures of the site compose is elevated by the strong monsoon breeze that blows from the Arabian Sea. Continue reading Palmyra House in Monochrome Photographs

Book: 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.

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In Gratitude

Retirement Address by Prof. Neelkanth Chhaya

After more than 25 years of service to the school of architecture at C.E.P.T, Prof. Neelkanth Chhaya formally retired in 2013. This address was presented by him on November 19, 2013 at Piraji Sagara Basement at C.E.P.T.