A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Mary Norman Woods talks about women architects in post-independent India, and their role in Indian society. She also speaks at length about two prominent women architects from two different generations, and their illustrated body of work.
Exploring the different forms that architectural practice might take beyond the usual metrics of originality and innovation can complicate our understanding of modern heritage and its implications for contemporary practice.
Peggy Deamer, US architect, educator, and activist has argued that how architects practice is as important as what they design and build. Writing in 2018, Deamer put forth the proposition that “architecture cannot produce spaces of freedom — public spaces, healthy spaces, accessible spaces, affordable spaces, sensually liberating spaces — for the society architects presume to serve if they are produced in unfree circumstances such as unpaid labour, gender inequality, generational hegemony, unsustainable work hours, non-existence work-life balance, lack of collegiality or discipline, [and] crippling competition.” Her words remind me of a question that Ellen Perry Berkeley, another American architectural critic, writer, and educator, posed exactly four decades ago. Then, Berkeley wrote: “the real problem for a thoughtful woman is not whether she is accepted into the profession, but whether she wants to be accepted into the profession as it is now.”
‘The Structure: Works of Mahendra Raj‘ is an elaborate account of the significant career of one of the predominant structural designers of India – through an archive of images, drawings and writings on the prolific structures envisioned by Mahendra Raj.
In context of the recent demolition of the Hall Of Nations, Prem Chandavarkar observes that the lacuna in understanding the definition and the meaning of heritage will lead to the loss of many valuable buildings that belong to our recent past.
A couple of weeks ago, the Hall of Nations, an exhibition hall in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, was demolished to make way for a new convention and exhibition centre. The building was a rare example in the world, and the only one in India, of a space frame built in reinforced concrete. Completed in 1972 and designed by architect Raj Rewal and structural engineer Mahendra Raj, it was widely recognised as one of the icons of a period of modern Indian architecture that started in the 1950s and continued till the 1980s. This was an era that centred on India’s desire that the potential of her newly won freedom should offer the country a new modernity, and the cutting-edge architecture of that time, produced by the first generation of post-independence architects, was a significant and powerful representation of this quest. Continue reading What is Heritage? – Prem Chandavarkar→
Brinda Somaya explains a critical period of architecture practice in India that connects the ‘masters’ to the contemporary practices outlining the nature of work in an era that helped India come to terms with its modernity by minting the term ‘The Bridge Generation’.
I believe I belong to the first generation of practising Architects to be born after India got her freedom. For ease of reference and to give us a sense of identity I have coined the term “Architecture in India – The Bridge Generation” after a great deal of reflection and thought. The term evolved in my mind as I believe we ‘bridged’ the architectural space between the Great Masters and the current generation that continues to enter the global architectural space. Continue reading Architecture in India – The Bridge Generation→
An engaging reprint of the seminal book by Curtis takes us through the experiments of the defining years of Doshi‘s practice – a practice that has presented us with some of the most challenging axioms and paradoxes of modern architecture in India and eventually – ‘an Architecture for India‘.