Ahmedabad’s architects discuss the big questions for the future at ‘Death of Architecture’

This travelling exhibition designed by 13 Indian architects critiques contemporary architectural practice. Here is what Ahmedabad’s reputed architects, including BV Doshi, had to discuss about the future of the profession before the show travelled to Pondicherry.

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It’s always a profound experience when one leaves the bustling Ashram Road and enters the serene premises of Ahmedabad Textile Mills’ Association (ATMA). Designed in 1954 by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, a pioneer of modern architecture, the poetic structure is usually visited by architecture students and enthusiasts who want to see its marvellous structure. But on February 3, a crowd had excitedly gathered at ATMA’s exceptionally designed auditorium, under its arched ceiling, to hear what a host of architects gathered had to say about the Question for the Future. The occasion was the concluding day of Death of Architecture, a travelling exhibition designed by 13 reputed Indian architects, including Ahmedabad-based architects Aniket Bhagwat, Meghal and Vijay Arya, and Riyaz Tayyibji, to critique contemporary architectural practice.

The exhibition travelled to 10 major cities across India before arriving in ATMA on January 26. It remained open for all till February 3. The exhibit comprised a host of panels with evocative posters and drawings questioning various aspects of architectural practice–from what ‘local’ means, to the state of Indian urbanisation. The symposium Question for the Future had gathered architect and activist PK Das, SHiFt’s principal architect Sanjay Prakash, Former Dean of CEPT University Prof Neelkanth Chhaya, and Director of IIT-Gandhinagar Dr Sudhir Jain. Pritzker Prize laureate Dr BV Doshi was also invited.

Dr BV Doshi spoke about his experience of working with Corbusier on the design of the ATMA, which is known for its famed sun-breakers, and his other Ahmedabad-based projects. Advocating for hand-drawn work, he said, “The whole design of ATMA was handmade by Corbusier right in front of my eyes; the trees, Sabarmati rivers, roads and even the gushing winds.”He described architecture as an artistic practice that should be inspired by nature, the seasons and the natural surroundings. In his early years, Doshi closely worked with Corbusier in Paris and later, after shifting to Ahmedabad, supervised his projects.

At the symposium, the group of architects gathered also discussed crucial points about how one can create better designs and respond to nature. Prof Chhaya explained three things that should be eradicated from the life of an architect–the pride that he/she should attain a particular set of knowledge, the focus on a pay scale, and any tendency to have a monopolistic control on the work.

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PKDas addressed issues of sensitive urbanisation, optimistically explaining how he thinks that “planning and designing are tools that can be effectively utilised to bring the social and economic changes that we aspire towards.” He added, “The cities’ fragmentation into separate blocks and gated communities have to be stopped.”

Sanjay Prakash and Dr Sudhir Jain both had messages for the new generation of architects entering the field. Citing the present upsurge in the number of architects graduating every year, Prakash urged young people to be more adaptive about taking on other jobs in parallel to architectural practice, which can help sustain them in the field. Dr Sudhir Jain suggested that there are many gaps in the field that new architects have to be mindful about attending to. He gave the example of an issue he faced while designing of student hostel corridors at an institute, which could have been avoided had the architects been a little more attentive on the job.

The Death of Architecture exhibition will reach Pondicherry soon. Check out the show’s schedule on: DeathOfArchitecture.Com

 

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