A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Kazi Khaleed Ashraf discusses the works of two prominent contemporary architects – Muzharul Islam and Louis Kahn as counterpoints to modernism in the Indian subcontinent. He also speaks about understanding modernity, modernism and the positions either took in the way they practised architecture.
In the pursuit of framing and reframing modernism, perhaps we might have to rethink the various ways we described modernism, tropical modernism, we might have to call it – monsoon modernism. Monsoon in the subcontinent is what sank European modernism; that is something to think about. I have been tasked to talk about two architects – Muzharul Islam and Louis Kahn. Muzharul Islam is from Bangladesh. He is what one could describe as the kind of a father figure of modern architecture. That term, ‘father figure’, is how Ranjit Hoskote described Charles Correa. If you replace Charles Correa with Muzharul Islam and other specific details, that is Muzharul Islam in Bangladesh. He was an architect, teacher, activist and most importantly, he was openly engaged in politics. He was a hardcore Marxist, a politically engaged persona. So I think among all the pioneering architects we are discussing here today, this is an interesting moment to think about an architect, who is both – an architect professionally engaged with the larger cultural milieu, and also devotedly engaged in politics. And the other person whom you are more familiar with, especially I am thinking about the younger architects and students. I am not sure how much you are familiar with Muzharul Islam so I will be taking up the task of talking about him in the next fifteen-twenty minutes, but you are surely familiar with the other person, Louis Kahn, who was invited to Bangladesh, and Muzharul Islam was involved in that invitation.
An editorial project by Matter in partnership with Şişecam Flat Glass, PRAXIS investigates the work and positions of diverse contemporary architecture practices in India. In this conversation, Mitul Desai and Priyank Parmar of Surat-based Studio ii reflect on their influences, and reveal the intensive process behind understanding architecture, details and the making of projects that lies at the core of their practice. They provide an insight into the ethos of a collaborative dynamic, and modes of thinking based on values and meaning.
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.
An editorial project by Matter in partnership with Şişecam Flat Glass, PRAXIS investigates the work and positions of diverse contemporary architecture practices in India.Vidhya Mohankumar, founder of Chennai-based Urban Design Collective, elaborates on the collective processes and multi-dimensionality of their urban design practice, publications and fora. The discussion addresses the priorities and learning curves of pursuing such a model, of expanding the discourse on shaping how we live and interact with cities, networks and its systems, participatory planning and research.
An editorial project by Matter in partnership with Şişecam Flat Glass, PRAXIS investigates the work and positions of diverse contemporary architecture practices in India. We discuss the practice, processes and positions of Mumbai-based Case Design; an office deeply invested in the potential of making in the diverse contexts of their work as they share their understanding of architecture and design as a question of culture. Their work touches upon a wide spectrum of concerns – from the fine detail to the large idea – within the ethos of the studio.