A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Riyaz Tayyibji speaks about a fictional conversation between M K Gandhi and Le Corbusier. Through the dialogue, he discusses their relationship with work and lifestyle, and their intimate connection with the inside and the outside.
Before I get to the two gentlemen that I would like to talk about today, a short note about the method I have used of juxtaposing two seemingly unrelated people together; this was a method that was first introduced to us as students of Prof. A.D. Raje, who would give students an exercise to imagine a conversation between, say Louis Kahn and Mimar Sinan at a coffee shop in Istanbul. This is certainly not a historian’s method; it is an architect’s method. An approach that would not only require the rigours of research to imagine the content of the conversation but would allow you to play with these ‘facts’ and their interpretations. In Raje’s exercise, the hypothetical context, the coffee shop was important. You had to define the hypothetical time in which the conversation was taking place. Somewhere in the process, it would emerge that this ‘hypothetical time’ was really a mirror of our own time.
Often the narrative of the present in which our history is written remains covert. One of the things that I enjoy about this method is that it ensures that the preoccupations of our own time are integrated into the narrative while always remaining explicit. Given the formality of our gathering today, I have chosen the form of a dialogue between one, Mr. M.K. Gandhi and another, Le Corbusier rather than a causal chat in a Byzantine café.
Through a visual journey, acclaimed photographer Ram Rahman talks about a critical time for architecture in India – from Independence to Economic Liberalization – as we observe the anxiety of architectural positions in times of uncertainty and struggle for identity.
In India, masters are revered and apprentices forgotten. But it is the apprentices who religiously took the message, the art and the knowledge across India from the first generation of experimenters till the generation of architects and designers who work in an economically liberal India.
This video [with Ram in the background narrative] takes one through an incredibly rich history of the architecture of post-independence India when the socialist ideology worked through democracy creating a fertile ground for experiments in housing and civic architecture. This time stands in stark contrast to the present as the patterns of patronage change and the state becomes increasingly impervious to the core issues.
Ram Rahman is a photographer, designer, curator and activist based in Delhi. He has been an observer of modern movement in architecture in post-colonial India. Using photography as a window to history and the present, he observes the changing landscape of architecture, design and art in India.
He is one of the founding members of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust. Ram Rahman has studied Physics from MIT followed by Graphic Design from Yale.
This presentation is excerpted from a closed-door session with MoMA‘s C-MAP Asia Group in June 2015.
David Robson pens an empathetic memoir outlining the life and works of Sri Lanka’s two pioneering architects – a man by the name of Andrew Boyd and a lady by the name Minnette de Silva – in an attempt to restore their well-deserved place in the history of Modern Architecture from Sri Lanka and to bring into light their exceptional merit.
Born in Cornwall in 1905, Andrew Boyd was the son of an Indian Circuit Judge and experienced a typically dislocated Raj childhood, spending part of his childhood in India and part of it at school in England. His father encouraged him to join the tea business, and in 1927 arranged for him to become a tea taster with Liptons in Ceylon. There he was befriended by the photographer, Lionel Wendt, and moved in a circle which included the painter George Keyt and the poet/diplomat Pablo Neruda. Wendt kindled Boyd’s interest in photography and this in turn led him to architecture. Continue reading Andrew Boyd and Minnette de Silva→
I have grown up with modern architecture. As a child in Ahmedabad, my father used to take me to climb trees in CEPT campus and play cricket in IIM (which then had no compound wall) while vultures lined the water tank with the fake arch. I have known the Sanskar Kendra to host some nice exhibitions although as a child I never used to like the space. I was taught in architecture to consider it sacred. I am not a fan. Continue reading No Museum for Architecture→
UI You are known around the world as a historian and critic of architecture who defends quality against mediocrity, and who maintains a long view of events. In a recent article, ‘Nothing is Sacred: Threats to Modern Masterpieces in India’, (Architectural Review, April 2014)*, you have sounded the alert about the vulnerability of major works in India such as those by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in Ahmedabad, and of course those by Le Corbusier in Chandigarh. Subsequently in the Times of India you have argued in favour of the legal definition and defence of modern architectural heritage. What are these threats and what can be done to protect these universal masterpieces of modern architecture? Continue reading Protecting Modern Masterpieces in India→