Domus - - CONTENTS -

Kai­wan Me­hta

From our launch in Novem­ber 2011 we are now in Novem­ber 2018, and this is our sev­enth an­niver­sary is­sue. It has been a most ex­cit­ing jour­ney, as we have been liv­ing in in­ter­est­ing times, es­pe­cially in In­dia, no doubt. Do­mus In­dia be­gan its work in In­dia roughly when a new gen­er­a­tion — a third­wave gen­er­a­tion, roughly speak­ing, since In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence in 1947 — was reach­ing it ma­tu­rity and be­gin­ning to ar­tic­u­late a voice. In this gen­er­a­tion of ar­chi­tects, roughly those who set up their of­fices since the early 1990s, one found a strug­gle to shape an id­iom, a voice, a self, and a his­tory that had least to do with a nor­ma­tive past or any ob­vi­ous rhetoric on his­tory, iden­tity, or con­text. In pub­lish­ing some of these ar­chi­tects and their work — at times spo­rad­i­cally, at times in­sis­tently — the mag­a­zine was a kind of ‘cof­fee-house’ or much like the quin­tes­sen­tial Bom­bay/ Mum­bai Irani cafe, where like-minded projects met and chat­ted with each other, ar­gued, not al­ways sure of de­bates or di­rec­tions, but con­tin­ued on dis­cus­sions and di­rec­tions, mak­ing notes, and more. But the mag­a­zine also slowly as­pired to be like a cam­pus, the shared arena of a univer­sity where ideas and his­to­ries would be re­called and ex­per­i­mented with, where in­tel­lec­tual tra­di­tions would be archived, as well as chal­lenged and de­bated. The mag­a­zine, over its 78 is­sues, has built this — a cof­fee house, a nukkad (street cor­ner), a cam­pus, a play­ground... The mag­a­zine has been for the last few years, as­so­ci­ated with the Ur­ban De­sign and Ar­chi­tec­ture sec­tion of the an­nual Kala Ghoda Arts Fes­ti­val in Mum­bai — where the week-long de­lib­er­a­tions are of­ten a phys­i­cal re­al­i­sa­tion of the dis­cus­sions and jour­neys ex­plored within the pages of this mag­a­zine. The ex­plo­rations and jour­neys of younger prac­tices are dis­cussed as much as se­nior prac­tices are in­vited to share and ru­mi­nate over their work and time in ar­chi­tec­ture. Ar­chi­tec­ture’s ex­is­tence and ex­changes with his­tory and pol­i­tics, or the wider bat­tles in the field of de­sign as well art, and plan­ning are brought in prox­im­ity — to lis­ten and hear from each other, to whisper their own ex­pe­ri­ences to friends, and think with shared read­ers and au­di­ences. The mag­a­zine was also closely as­so­ci­ated and in­volved in two na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions — both of which marked his­tor­i­cal mo­ments for the pro­fes­sion — State of Ar­chi­tec­ture: Prac­tices and Pro­cesses in In­dia, and State of Hous­ing: As­pi­ra­tions, Imag­i­nar­ies, and Re­al­i­ties in In­dia. The for­mer marked a his­tor­i­cal shift and be­gin­ning not only in the way In­dia’s ar­chi­tec­ture and its ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory is viewed, but called out for the ‘role of the ar­chi­tect’ which had slipped into for­get­ful­ness and at worst, slum­ber. And in all these pro­cesses, the ar­chives and pages of the mag­a­zine played a vi­tal role and con­tributed as an on­go­ing ve­hi­cle of test­ing the ground of prac­tice on an ev­ery­day ba­sis. The mag­a­zine is an ar­chive,a jury room, a scan­ner, and a kalei­do­scope — all in one, all in one time; and in that sense its per­cep­tion, its logic, its flex­i­bil­ity, its vulnerability, are all prop­er­ties of im­por­tance and value. Con­tin­u­ing this ex­is­tence and process we look at two se­nior and crit­i­cal prac­tices in In­dia, with their works fea­tured in this is­sue — ar­chi­tects Sen Ka­pa­dia and Brinda So­maya; we look at two works of each - a house and a cam­pus from Sen Ka­pa­dia, and an ex­hi­bi­tion de­sign and a cam­pus from SNK Ar­chi­tects. Both these in­di­vid­u­als have shaped some in­ter­est­ing tra­jec­to­ries for con­tem­po­rary In­dia — and their jour­neys have yet not been fully re­alised, re­viewed,

and crit­i­cally eval­u­ated. They are part of a gen­er­a­tion that prob­a­bly grew and nav­i­gated one of the most un­de­fined pe­ri­ods of In­dia’s de­sign his­tory since 1947. It was a pe­riod nei­ther de­fined by the ide­al­ism and spirit of na­tion­al­ism and moder­nity as were the first few decades im­me­di­ately af­ter in­de­pen­dence, nor was it a pe­riod de­fined by the tur­moil of the re­gional pol­i­tics and eco­nomic lib­er­al­i­sa­tion from the 1990s on­wards. But this is a gen­er­a­tion that helped de­sign val­ues tran­si­tion from the logic of mod­ernism to the needs of a post-colo­nial na­tion com­ing to terms with its own re­al­i­ties, main­tain­ing and redefin­ing ei­ther a need for in­tel­lec­tual en­gage­ment with ev­ery­day life as a civil­i­sa­tional process and aes­thet­ics as a way of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion and de­vel­op­ment as in the case of Sen Ka­pa­dia; or as in the case of Brinda So­maya, ar­chi­tec­ture took as its role the deep sense to en­gage with chang­ing states of ur­ban­ity while never los­ing sight of peo­ple and cul­ture as an as­pect of ev­ery­day liv­ing. We hope this very brief dis­cus­sion on these two rich and in­tense ca­reers is only the be­gin­ning, and the mag­a­zine will con­tinue to ex­plore and read fur­ther many crit­i­cal his­to­ries.

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