With the advent of Independence and the emergence of a national planning programme of this country, the architectural profession in India is facing new tasks and problems. These tasks are the reorientation of communities for all income groups and also tackling building programmes of national importance for both Government and private sectors. Building boom today in India is unparalleled in the history of the country. New neighbourhoods and towns are being constructed in large numbers to meet new demands. This is a great opportunity and poses a challenge to Indian architects to create and evolve an architecture which should establish the mark of our time. We cannot, therefore, afford to take chances and accept ugliness as our efforts are going to stand for generations to come.
Our historical periods produced magnificent and glorious examples of architecture. This can be seen throughout the Buddhist, medieval as well as Mogul periods. Archaeological remains of these periods reveal the remarkable degree of achievement of that time. The works of Ellora, Ajanta, Belur and Konarak and Khajuraho, as also Agra, Delhi and Bijapur bear witness to the progress of these periods. Against these great examples of the past, we are probably the most backward country so far as our contribution to present-day architecture is concerned. Our architectural expression is in a most confused state as there is neither clear thinking nor a definite ideology. Some of our so-called leading architects are decorating their cement concrete buildings with piaster copies of stone trimmings of temple and mosque architecture in the name of tradition and nationalism. On the other hand, there are also numerous examples where modern buildings of north European countries are being blindly copied, which is equally reprehensible.
Our problems concerning architecture have changed entirely from the past age because of our changing cultural outlook, namely the political institutions, scientific and technological development, our knowledge about human sciences, and our new ideas of aesthetics developed as a result of visual arts. Almost all past periods of architecture came into being as a result of a desire for glorification, as an expression of the vanity of the ruling class and the dominant religious sentiments. Thus the architecture of the past was essentially feudalistic in approach. Contrary to this, the present political institutions are democratic in their approach where the stress is on the economic and social values related to the common man.
The technical development of the past age was primarily limited to stone construction. The entire evolution of architecture of the past was the result of this constructional limitation. The scientific development and the use of cement, steel and other new materials, our ideas about the visual arts, of space and time have opened up new possibilities of expression unknown to past ages.
With the coming of the British and the consequent impact of technological development of the West, the socio-economic structure of old India underwent a great revolutionary change. It had a most dynamic effect on the cultural life of our country. The Indian master builders, architects and craftsmen lost all opportunity and patronage to practise their art. New kinds of buildings were required for which the British rulers commissioned their own engineers to prepare designs. Thus during this period completely new and foreign styles were planted in this country. Broadly speaking, they were the colonial examples which were in turn poor copies of Greek, Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance styles. Some of the architects brought about even a forced kind of synthesis of Hindu, Muslim and classical styles. This was no spontaneous effort and naturally did not succeed. For about two hundred years India did not take part in the process of architectural evolution with the result the art of architecture was completely lost upon Indians. It is only since the last thirty years that we have been getting opportunities of becoming fully trained architects in the modern sense.
Since.Independence, a handful of Indian architects have been called upon to design an enormous number of public buildings—a building boom which o\ir country had never seen before. The architects who are confronted with problems peculiar to modern functional design have to, at the same time, create an architectural expression that would reflect the present-day culture of India, an activity which both the public and the intelligentsia are totally ignorant. The present age can and must find a solution by integrating present-day problems scientifically through the medium and knowledge of grammar of arts as is commonly understood. We have also to accept our place in the world participation in the scientific and technical fields, where architecture also plays an equally important role.
Architecture was called the mother of all arts and it is still true. It is the crystallised physical expression of culture projected into space and form. This art cannot develop and mature without the active interest of society,, The architect today is deeply concerned with creating livable, pleasant environment for the poorest and not palaces or monumental buildings for feudal lords.
In short, as explained above, the present-day problems of architecture are entirely different and in order that the present period can effectively produce expression of time, needs realisation and working on the part of the profession and public. This requires an analysis of the roots supporting the tree of architecture. These are Culture, Technology, Climate and Visual Art. These subjects have, therefore, been selected for discussion first, followed by Civic Design and Landscape Architecture which form part of the second group of discussion. Architectural Education, national policies concerning architectural expressions, which have ultimate bearing on the profession, will be the last group for discussion.
Gentlemen, you represent the best talent amongst the professionals of the nation, and, therefore, I hope that your discussions and conclusions as well as recommendations will enhance the architecture of this country in the coming period.