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.
Founded by Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis with their shared passion for design, the Mumbai-based practice ‘Material Immaterial Studio’ indulges in the sheer joy of crafting and the process of experimenting with the character of materials. The studio forges unconventional handmade curiosities which appeal to the architectural intellect as reductions of spatial scale by “exploring the bare beauty of materials”.
Every once in a while, one entertains an idea of a peculiar venture; the grounds of which tend to be less pragmatic and more whimsical. While these ideas end before they take off, Nitin and Disney fostered their fascination with materials into a unique endeavour which celebrates craftsmanship. Continue reading Material Immaterial Studio→
Situated in the midst of a vast arid expanse in Kutch, the architecture of Khamir Crafts Resource Centre in Kukma is one of participation in the celebration of the crafts from the region. Designed to facilitate a network with the artisans by responding to their way of life and work, the place builds upon the complex cultural relationships therein.
The post-independence period in India witnessed the beginning of a new design culture with the founding of quality institutions and initiatives in arts, crafts and cultural projects across India. In the quest for a unique modern identity, the architecture and design trajectory of an independent India aspired to establish a significant voice in the making of a new kind of society. In this context, the exhibition: IMPACT: Design Thinking and the Visual Arts in Young India attempts to foreground the radical design discourse in India in the 20th century, featuring select works of individuals, groups and organisations at the intersection of art, craft and design.
Architect Ini Chatterji’s studio and workshop – the ‘Ice Factory’, and the Coconut House coexist in the beautiful landscape of Olaulim, Goa. The images and film attempt to capture the ‘atmosphere’ of the place.