POST IN­DE­PEN­DENCE AR­CHI­TEC­TURE OF IN­DIA

ALCHEMY OF TIME, PLACE AND PEO­PLE

Architecture + Design - - Event - Ex­tract from the pre­sen­ta­tion by Yatin Pandya

Ar­chi­tec­ture is alchemy of time and place, peo­ple and pol­i­tics, era and ethos. Ar­chi­tec­ture is not only the res­o­lute re­sponse to the user needs, or re­spon­sive to site and lo­cale con­text, but as such ar­chi­tec­ture re­mains to be the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the col­lec­tive think­ing shaped by the nu­ances of time and place. They be­ing, the crit­i­cal think­ing, po­lit­i­cal vi­sions, emer­gent poli­cies, world views, course of events and etc. There­fore build­ing should not be seen as an ob­ject but rather an in­te­gral syn­the­sis of the cul­tural, cli­matic and con­struc­tional con­text. In such a light the post in­de­pen­dence ar­chi­tec­tural re­sponses can be clas­si­fied in sev­eral phases of their ap­proaches and think­ing.

1947 – 1957 Eu­pho­ria of Po­lit­i­cal Free­dom: Post in­de­pen­dence there was eu­pho­ria of the po­lit­i­cal free­dom and the sen­ti­ment to con­sciously re­fute its past and leapfrog into mod­ern world and cre­ate utopia. To be in the league of other de­vel­oped na­tions. It is in such a light na­tion sought out for the best of the world to help cre­ate sky­line that sig­nals the world that In­dia has ar­rived and is no less than the rest. Le Cor­bus­ier – not only the cre­ator but the thinker of the time to en­vi­sion the Mod­ern world­in­vited to de­sign new cap­i­tal was the about pro­claim­ing to the world about emer­gence of a young demo­cratic na­tion. 1958 – 1971 Fol­low­ing the Mas­ters Path: What world mas­ters en­deav­oured to cre­ate con­tin­ued in In­dia with its as­pir­ing pro­fes­sion­als get­ting trained as well as ap­pren­ticed over­seas. Groomed into sim­i­lar think­ing their ar­chi­tec­ture sub con­sciously- or shall we say con­sciously echoed the gram­mar of the Mas­ters.

1972 – 1985 The Age of In­tro­spec­tion: Two and a half year’s jour­ney of

“AR­CHI­TEC­TURE IS NOT ONLY THE RES­O­LUTE RE­SPONSE TO THE USER NEEDS, OR RE­SPON­SIVE TO SITE

AND LO­CALE CON­TEXT, BUT AS SUCH AR­CHI­TEC­TURE RE­MAINS TO BE THE MAN­I­FES­TA­TION OF THE COL­LEC­TIVE THINK­ING SHAPED BY THE NU­ANCES

OF TIME AND PLACE”

in­de­pen­dent na­tion had tri prong con­di­tions con­verg­ing. One it re­alised that look­ing for so­lu­tions from out­side had not solved the fun­da­men­tal prob­lems of poverty, econ­omy and qual­ity of life as en­vi­sioned in eu­pho­ria of free­dom. It re­alised that it had to look within for its an­swers. Also com­bined with it was the fact that the in­sti­tu­tions and in­fra­struc­tures cre­ated soon af­ter in­de­pen­dence had ma­tured and had started pay­ing div­i­dend. Twenty five year hence In­dia could also no longer latch on to its slav­ery phase for an ex­cuse. It had to have its own iden­tity and ide­ol­ogy. This led to in­tro­spec­tion. It chose to have closed econ­omy, so­cial­ist out­look for de­vel­op­ment and in­dige­nous so­lu­tions and style.

1986 – 1991 Search for Al­ter­na­tive In­dian Id­iom: This phase of search for an al­ter­na­tive In­dian id­iom in many ways proved to be re­nais­sance for In­dian art as well as ar­chi­tec­ture with its plu­ral­ism and idea of mul­ti­ple truths. Hero wor­ship­ping and mas­ter’s dis­ci­ple­ship gave way to many dif­fer­ent paths.

Even though low key they be­came ac­cept­able and ad­mirable. This was true of cin­ema, mu­sic as well as art. Folk art got its dig­ni­fied sta­tus. In ar­chi­tec­ture rein­ter­pret­ing tra­di­tional In­dian be­came the new slo­gan. Even In­dian mas­ters, leav­ing be­hind their mod­ernist hang­over, cre­ated spa­tial syn­tax in­ter­preted from tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture. Some in spirit, some el­e­men­tally and some fig­u­ra­tively.

1992 – 2006 Prob­ing Iden­tity in the World Mar­ket: This phase marks the open­ing of In­dian econ­omy to­wards mar­ket econ­omy re­sult­ing into glob­al­i­sa­tion and pri­va­ti­za­tion. With open­ing of flood­gates to In­dian mar­ket plethora of prod­ucts, in­dus­tries and con­sul­tan­cies en­tered In­dia. Glam­ourised by the over­seas prod­ucts and sus­tained ex­po­sure to mar­keted prod­ucts, lured In­dian con­sumers. Devel­op­ers and de­vel­op­ment pa­trons moved to mar­ketabil­ity and pack­ag­ing rather than im­age and ide­ol­ogy. This in many ways re­versed the swing of the pen­du­lum again in favour of ex­ter­nal / world in­flu­ences. How­ever, it did not have the vi­sion of in­de­pen­dence phase of utopia and moder­nity and hence only re­mained

fo­cused to pack­ag­ing and mar­ket­ing.

2006 – 2015 Resur­gence within Global Vil­lage: With mar­ket get­ting sat­u­rated and eu­pho­ria of im­ported wear­ing out mar­kets started get­ting ma­ture and con­sumer de­mand­ing for the per­for­mance and af­fec­tiv­ity. In­creased aware­ness for en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity glob­ally, as well as the new pa­tron and ar­chi­tects trained in the prior gen­er­a­tion of In­di­an­ism raised the bar for schol­ar­ship and also with mod­ern tools and dig­i­ti­za­tion in­creased the skill base. In­dian com­pa­nies started be­com­ing world play­ers and In­dian came to place it­self as im­por­tant and in­te­gral player in the global vil­lage.

In this cli­mate of true free­dom, to­day’s ar­chi­tects have re­sorted to var­ied di­rec­tions for de­sign and ar­chi­tec­tural re­sponses. How­ever their re­sponses and ap­proaches can broadly be clas­si­fied into about six mean­ing­fully di­verse strands.

Ar­chi­tec­ture as a con­tinum of ver­nac­u­lar

Ar­chi­tec­ture rein­ter­pret­ing past as in­dian iden­tity

Ar­chi­tec­ture in pur­suit of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and re­source man­age­ment. Ar­chi­tec­ture that re­poses faith in ad­vanced con­struc­tion and ma­te­ri­als Ar­chi­tec­ture with a univer­sal vo­cab­u­lary

Ar­chi­tec­ture as com­mod­ity in the glob­alised mar­ket econ­omy.

Ar Yatin Pandya, while de­liv­er­ing his in­spir­ing pre­sen­ta­tion

Suneet Paul ad­dress­ing the au­di­ence

Ar Cha­ran­jeet Shah fe­lic­i­tat­ing Ar Pradeep Sachdeva and Ar Lalita Tha­rani

Suneet Paul fe­lic­i­tat­ing Ar Yatin Pandya

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