Kai­wan Mehta

Domus - - CONTENTS -

With this is­sue, Do­mus in In­dia com­pletes a good seven years. This may be an im­por­tant mo­ment to eval­u­ate what these pages, over the last 77 is­sues, have aimed to do — and that has been to cal­i­brate the con­tem­po­rary. With ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign at the cen­tre, the mag­a­zine has at­tempted to map the larger world of cul­tural ideas and pro­duc­tions and the mea­sure of pol­i­tics that sits within de­sign and art, our cities and the en­vi­ron­ment. Con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture was slowly lost (to the limit of be­ing for­got­ten) in the de­bates on ur­ban­ism and de­vel­op­ment, real es­tate and his­tory; con­ser­va­tion, took sus­tain­abil­ity on the man­tle and of Do­mus In­dia bring­ing ar­chi­tec­ture back to the cen­tre of all con­ver­sa­tions. Clearly one was not look­ing at ar­chi­tec­ture as a float­ing ob­ject — ready and cut for a kind of ‘ob­ject- study’ — but it was an ob­ject-sub­ject that sat at many cross­roads, and the cross­roads had to be ac­counted for but only through the ob­ject-sub­ject they were all cross­ing — that of ar­chi­tec­ture.

There has in­deed been a change of at­mos­phere to­wards a re­cov­ery of ar­chi­tec­ture as the sub­ject of dis­course and sub­se­quent ar­chi­tec­ture-ori­ented

bi­ogra­phies. Rahul Mehro­tra’s Ar­chi­tec­ture in In­dia since 1990 (Pic­tor Pub­lish­ing Pvt Ltd, 2011) also marked this im­por­tant mo­ment of propos­ing lenses to look at the con­tem­po­rary prac­tice of ar­chi­tec­ture, the crafted ob­ject, and the his­to­ries of the sub­ject that have a bear­ing on the con­tem­po­rary. There­after, State of Ar­chi­tec­ture: Prac­tices and Pro­cesses in In­dia, cu­rated by Rahul Mehro­tra, Ran­jit Hoskote and Kai­wan Mehta (un­der the aegis of UDRI) in 2016 brought ar­chi­tec­ture at the cen­trestage within the pro­fes­sion as well as amongst other pro­fes­sion­als, thinkers and cit­i­zens. This was cou­pled with a range of publi­ca­tions that emerged in the span of the last 2-3 years — mono­graphs such as those on the works of Mum­bai-based I M Kadri, Ahmed­ababd-based Has­mukh Pa­tel, or the mas­ter A P Kan­vinde, or Punebased Christo­pher Ben­ninger, and re­cently Mum­bai-based Brinda So­maya. Two other publi­ca­tions that came about this pe­riod — two books ac­count­ing the story of women and ar­chi­tec­ture, as well as women in ar­chi­tec­ture — were books by Uni­ver­sity of Cor­nell pro­fes­sor Mary Woods and Ahmed­abad-based Mad­havi De­sai. The ar­chives of Do­mus In­dia were, in fact, pre­sented as a map of con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice in In­dia at a con­fer­ence on the same theme at the Fac­ulty of Ar­chi­tec­ture, Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, about two years ago. And Do­mus In­dia is happy and proud to be part of this process and change; the team and ar­chives played a key role in two land­mark ex­hi­bi­tions – State of Ar­chi­tec­ture: Prac­tices and Pro­cesses in In­dia as well as State of Hous­ing: As­pi­ra­tions, Imag­i­nar­ies, and Re­al­i­ties in In­dia (2018). To map the con­tem­po­rary has been a method­ol­ogy be­yond the ob­vi­ous doc­u­ment­ing, crit­i­cally, the works and build­ings pro­duced in In­dia. It has been a larger project of map­ping the cul­tural sce­nario of the present time as much as of the time-past, so draw­ing out ar­chives or con­ver­sa­tions, books and ex­hi­bi­tions from the past has been cru­cial. These pages have ob­served closely and in­vited reflections and dis­cus­sions on mu­sic, po­etry, art, lit­er­a­ture, cinema, and other forms of cul­tural pro­duc­tion and prac­tice. In fact with this is­sue, we com­plete a year — a cy­cle of 12 episodes — of the po­etry sec­tion, with poet, critic and cul­tural the­o­rist Ran­jit Hoskote as the con­sult­ing cu­ra­tor for the sec­tion.

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