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.
Dean D’Cruz, co-Founder and Principal Architect of Mozaic writes about his learnings from a three-decade long tryst with the landscape of Goa, and the way in which its biodiverse terrain became the foreground of a practice in environmentally responsible architecture.
It has been 32 years since I came to Goa. In the beginning, I worked for Gerard D’Cunha and in time entered into a partnership with him which was then called Natural Architecture. This was interesting and a change for me; since my college days, I was intrigued by technology, which I loved. Earlier, as a student of architecture, I was inspired by Mies, and Corbusier for their mastery of forms. But then slowly, I began to appreciate the level of detailing in the work of architects like Gaudi. Gerard had worked closely with Laurie Baker who was always very hands-on, maintained a down-to earth approach to architecture where one actually builds oneself! So, it was a very interesting learning – this integration of technology and the Baker-approach to architecture. As I grew, I was influenced more by the humanistic approach to architecture rather than the final sculptural form.
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 many dimensions of working with heritage – architectural, urban and cultural – with Delhi-based Aishwarya Tipnis and the people at Aishwarya Tipnis Architects. The discussion also focuses on the idea of heritage and conservation in a diverse, rich and complex landscape of India; and the numerous ideological positions that enable them to navigate the challenges of dealing with the past.