Hall of Nations. ITPO doesn't want it, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry thinks it holds no currency, and the Delhi Government's Heritage Conservation Ccommittee see no heritage in it. So are there other ways to save it? With this in view, Architexturez sent out a call over social media, we asked anyone, everyone, to 'save' the buildings by placing them everywhere in our imaginary, to see, if the universal values embodied in here can allow it to find new sites in our imagining - if they will endure.

We do not talk about all architects in India. Some are well known, others, we say we ought to know well but we do not speak for the most. We have limited the space in our pantheon which is, of course, determined by our limited idea of what is good, what is desirable and what may be prescribed to our students. So our conversation is ruled by a savage topic - a Doxa1 limiting what may be acceptable and architects tend to look at themselves in good light. 

On the other hand, there is gossip, in nearly-forgotten conceptualisations for South Asia, they even said we could build cities around gossip2 squares. And there are some architects who gossip for no other reason, perhaps, than to dispel myths. So we asked Sinali Ratanlal to have a look at Trombay. We speak about "Nehruvian Ideals" in architecture yet we do not speak about Mussolini's Modernism, and we do not associate Jawaharlal Nehru with Mussolini's Architect or Adolf Hitler's Aviatrix as a matter of fact.

  • 1. Doxa (ancient Greek δόξα; from verb δοκεῖν dokein, "to appear", "to seem", "to think" and "to accept") is a Greek word meaning common belief or popular opinion.
  • 2. Pyla, P. (2013). Gossip on the Doxiadis ‘Gossip Square’: Unpacking the Histories of an Unglamorous Public Space. Architectural Histories, 1(1), Art. 28.
BARC - US spy satellite image of 1966, with Hall of Nations 'complex' inserted on top-left
BARC - US spy satellite image of 1966, with Hall of Nations 'complex' inserted on top-left © Sinali Ratanlal

Le Corbusier built a funicular at the heart of Chandigarh, it looks somewhat like a cooling tower from an electrical power station in nineteen-sixties. Theorists of architectural history, Tafuri and Co, for example, were none too pleased by it, and they spoke about this phase in Le Corbusier's development as characterised by "a broken meta-language floating on the surface of the building".1

Eugenio Montouri had real working nuclear reactors where Le Corbusier had his empty shells. Material for the first Indian nuclear devices came from these reactors, the Americans flew spy satellites over it in days when satellites were in short supply and you had to plan their trajectories very carefully. 

  • 1. Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co, Modern Architecture Translated by Robert Erich Wolf, History of World Architecture, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1979. Pp. 448; 673 ills.