In late July of 2005, I was invited by Inside Outside magazine to participate in their expo in Bangalore. The idea was to give young architects like me a chance to get noticed. I took the stall, but instead of designing and building the perfect bedroom, I set it up with a TV, two speakers and an amp and screened a film. It was odd, to put it mildly. Many people stopped and wondered what this was about. Many wanted my television, some even offered a good price on my jute rug, and then there were some who would sit on the floor and watch.
The film was 82 minutes of architects talking about design, the profession, public processes, professional frustrations, and personal manifestos. Suddenly architecture was out in the public domain, lay people started commenting on design; they found to their utter disbelief that architects didn’t drive Ferraris, and holiday in Bora Bora; that planning efforts required designers; that architects did more than just elevations; that truth be told vaastu was the enemy; and that though architects loved to talk (as was evident to anyone watching), almost all of us found communicating with our clients the toughest part of our job.
I kept a diary on site and it is filled with random comments by the visitors on issues rarely discussed in the public domain, issues to do with our built environment, its impact, the political and social meanings attached to it, and the place of design in our lives. It is time now for these discussions to find their way into mainstream media - newspapers, television, etc. Without this extensive and critical coverage the debate about what makes for good architecture, and in turn a good city will never find resonance amongst the most important people in the world, our potential clients.
For the film I met with 24 architects, 3 academicians and 5 students of architecture in the city over the course of two weeks. I collected around 15 hours of footage, traveled close to 500 kms, and lost 5 kilos in the process.
01. DOES DESIGN MATTER? Are there tangible benefits?
Anjali: You’re an architect. Make a building, make switches, and make some little lamps. Because everyone will be happy who made this house.
Kiran Venkatesh: Only design matters, if I can put it that way. Design is what gives life to the entire project.
Anil Dube: Oh yeah, I think design matters a lot. It brings about a positive feel in every aspect.
Sathya Prakash Varanashi: Design does not matter. For a happy living, for a comfortable living, where we are with ourselves, design does not matter. What matters is our heart, our mind, the way we think, whether we are able to resolve our contextual crises around.
Hareesh Asnani: Yes it does - there’s no argument about that. Of course it matters.
Ravindra Kumar: Yeah, I think so. Absolutely. I think design brings in that completeness, it qualifies that space to generate wealth.
Soumitro Ghosh: Yeah, it definitely makes money. Anywhere good design, from product design to...good design will make money and people are willing to spend more per square foot for a better designed place than otherwise.
Kavya Thimmaiah: It depends on the target audience, it depends on the market at which you are aiming at because this sort of high-end market, they are willing to pay more for good design. For them it does matter but if you are doing group housing, mass housing, low income housing then I don’t think for them it really matters.
V. Narasimhan: Extraordinarily. I don’t see design as some castle-in-the-air kind of logic - this is the big idea kind of stuff. I see design as intervention. In India you cannot have solutions, you can only intervene because the rest of the problem is too big to crack.
Sanjay Mohe: Yeah it does matter, I am sure it matters. And there are a lot of these developers who are selling it on the basis of design, not just the quantity. Most of them are talking about quality.
Edgar Demello: The only thing that will run the world is design. Its not about making things for an elitist group - the fundamental nature of design.
Ranjit Naik: Definitely, no doubt about it.
Nagaraj Vastarey: I really don’t think so. Okay if you are just talking about design value and its remuneration, I really don’t think so because quite a few times clients have cribbed about it (my immediate neighbour makes so much more money without all this). A well designed building may not sell better.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: Design is essence. Design is core.
Janardhan Reddy: Yes, design has mattered.
K. Jaisim: I would put it in the higher step and say architecture matters.
Prem Chandavarkar: Design does matter. We tend to look at art and design as some kind of luxury, but actually you think about societies whose struggle for survival is most precarious - you look at rural societies, at tribal societies - they are highly embedded in art, in terms of the way they decorate their walls, in terms of the artifacts they make. It is only people whose struggle for survival somehow is not so precarious suddenly say that art is a luxury. So I think we need to connect to the fact that art is actually something very fundamental to survival, that’s the way we are as humans.
02. IDENTITY, STYLE & CONTEXT: the Question of ‘place’ - public/private
Anup Naik: We’re losing our identity. Basically that is where the problem lies. We are not probably getting back to reacting to our own environments. This whole business of globalization has actually made most buildings look similar - you take a building in Dubai, you take a building anywhere in south-east Asia, or look at it in India.
Hareesh Asnani: From a distance but. (laughs)
K. Jaisim: Today we are in a different ethos. Is technology pushing us? Yes. Is tradition and culture pushing us? Yes. But where will the fusion come. I feel it is now time for each of us as an architect or as a creative person to slowly find an identity true to this soil and to this origin.
K.S. Ananthakrishna: In fact one German professor asked me the question, “Why is it that I don’t see anything Indian in some of the modern buildings coming up in Bangalore?”, and I explained that the general culture of Indians is that they try to mimic the west.
Ranjit (S): It’s a clear imitation of the west.
Tony Kunnel George: We find it easier just to mimic the west. Buy the materials from what is happening internationally, apply it to buildings and see if the architecture looks good. We don’t try and script a language that is wholesome.
Sanjay Mohe: There is an excessive obsession towards this transparency which is probably a totally western influence. And then you create these transparent facades and try to close it again with curtains and blinds. In this whole transparent city there is no place for a ray of light.
Nagaraj Vastarey: Being in 21st century, I guess, we need to respect our time. We need to respect the space we are in. So there should not be any deliberate association towards a set trend.
Ravindra Kumar: Making a place has become more an essential process of doing it right rather than reflecting it to the context. I think because there is not much of context here other than the vegetation that we pride around with, there is not much of history.
Anil Dube: I definitely look at the context. I don’t ignore that at all.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: Not enough is being done Even in our projects and that’s the reality. Not enough is being done. I can say to you, and I am on record here, that we will continue to make and improve upon this particular aspect. I think the question is very, very important.
V. Narasimhan: I think it’s futile also to think of imposing any kind of...Bangalore as a city is not a heritage city, in that sense, it doesn’t have any real character. Its an edge city. I call it city without boundaries.
Ravindra Kumar: If an edifice exists on one particular part of a street or a fabric, it is complete only when you almost don’t even look at it when you pass by. If it is so non-visible, non-screening kind of an act, then in some way that urbanity becomes complete because it’s so well networked with the rest of the community.
J. Sandeep: Even analogically speaking, I would say, you could akin this entire approach to something like a game of ‘Sudoku’.
Prem Chandavarkar: Trophy architecture tends to polarize opinions. A minority love it but a large majority tend to hate it. And it doesn’t talk about how you construct a sense of street, how do you construct a sense of square etc., it doesn’t talk about those crucial issues at the city level.
Sudheendhra Yalavigi: City is a collection of buildings over a period of time. As an individual you have to behave as though you are part of a team, you are in a collective realm. When you are designing a building at least take into account what has happened surrounding you. This is completely lacking in the Bangalore community of architects. That may be because as students they were not sensitized to the urban issues, or design issues in an urban context.
Ravindra Kumar: I think most architects, when they begin to work, they have good intentions or great intentions if they can believe, but somewhere they get lost.
Nagaraj Vastarey: The city as you have seen has gone bad. There is no coherent thinking. After all its democracy, let say, but each one of us does what one wants and there is no concern for the overall image.
Prem Chandavarkar: And there is no discourse about how these projects contribute towards the city. The problem we have in India is that there is no theory of the city, any notion of authenticity of our culture is always rooted in the village. So I think we need to learn how to think of our cities as cultural entities and to look [at] how architecture contributes towards that culture.
Tony Kunnel George: That’s where we have lost it. At every convention we talk [about] how we take the city forward. Do we need a style, is it vernacularism or is it cultural? For fifty years, we have been talking [about] this. We’ve never come together and said how do we make this on a platform where the economics of this work. Because, finally, at the end of the day its economics that makes anything happen.
K. Jaisim: The immediate or the ad-hoc seems to rule, rather than the long term. What should really culture into themselves as an experience. I don’t think that is still in the Indian architectural context.
Tony Kunnel George: In today’s world, we all seem to be lost in this romanticism. It cannot be. The world is different. Its eclectic. Races are coming together. You cannot create a strong structured fabric. It is imperative that there is going to be an eclecticism that is going to arrive.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: I think that the work that is happening is resonating with the eclecticism of the city. That cannot be used as a guise to explain away bad design. It cannot be a convenience answer.
V. Narasimhan: In some sense, if you look at the way, say, shopping areas are designed in the west. American architects always come up with, “You know, what we need is some of that messy vitality.” What we have in India is actually extremely messy vitality.
Rajmohan Shetty: The whole notion of the public realm has been put on the back burner or forgotten.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: Are we designing outdated community vehicles? Yeah, absolutely, I think we just need to re look at how society has changed significantly. Not that we buy consumerism, not that we have to accept it in its full form. But there’s a very real change happening. We just need to understand that, I guess.
Soumitro Ghosh: But I seriously feel that there are other options which are not as radical as whether its is having a park or a mall. I think there are possibilities of in betweens which can become very exciting public places.
Kiran Venkatesh: I think for a long time, the generation of public spaces used to be [in] the realm of the city. The cities would define policy, they would have guidelines which say this is how public space is defined. They are no longer able to do that. We have to look to developers, we have to look to a combination of developers with the interest and intelligence and good architects to generate that in the commercial projects.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: Private enterprise driving public domain, as you very rightly put it.
Kiran Venkatesh: Incentivize it to these builders saying, “You do the ground floor a certain way, or you do the site and the parking a certain way and you get the incentive of an extra floor.”
03. THE CLIENT V/S THE ARCHITECT V/S THE CITY: Is there a conflict?
P.K. Venkataramanan: I would not call them conflicts. There are problems in these areas. When you deal with each other there are problems. And all problems have solutions.
Ravindra Kumar: Each of it in isolation has their own agenda. In any part of the world this is a fact. But I think it becomes complete only when its a very harmonious kind of integration of all these three modules.
Sathya Prakash Varanshi: The kind of relationship which was there ten years ago is not happening today. We see that, in many projects the builder dominates, in some projects the owner dominates and in some projects the architect dominates. Ideally, no one should dominate. It should be a scenario where there is a collaborative effort between the three people. Only then the best of the lot really happens.
K. Jaisim: The growth of the space and the growth of the final form is a subtle growth of interaction between the client, the space, the builder, the architect and everybody else.
Tony Kunnel George: There obviously is a dichotomy and most of it has to do with greed. It’s very greed driven. When I use the word greed, its again back to economics. If architects really understood economics he can explain to a client or can walk him through and say that it makes better economic sense to follow the rules than rather to do that.
Sudheendhra Yalavigi: But I think the design begins not with the money. Design begins at a more abstract level. Money comes in a little later. If the design has been developed to certain extent where it can be sold as an idea people will find the money for it.
Arun Balan: Today I think it’s mostly a client driven practice or it is more about numbers and its more about - how much for less.
Hareesh Asnani: Respect for the architect is a little bit on the downside. The ideal situation is you would go to an architect because you have seen his work, you like what he’s done, and you’d go to him. “I want you to do the work.” I think it’s the other way around where the architect is going to the client.
Sudheendhra Yalavigi: Practice is always client driven. Academic work is always conceptually driven. But there has to be a mix between both. We have, as a community of architects not been able to tell the clients or even convince them [of] the idea that design which is conceptually driven can give them a better environment.
Anil Dube: I am a very user-friendly architects. I’d like to give to a client not what I want, but what he wants. So my duty as an architect is always to try and translate his thoughts and his style of living into a building form. Whatever buildings I have done, each one is different from the other because it is related more to the client than to me.
Janardhan Reddy: I think it’s more important to understand, first of all, what a client wants, and then you look into your various parameters which you have set - all these like site context, edge conditions, city, what happens to [the] street, public, society. I think those issues come later. First of all, it is the client.
Anup Naik: Most homes become an interpretation of the end-user. The architect is just realizing the client’s dreams. He’s just a platform for that.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: But I think you have to keep the clients agenda at bay while you’re working on design. Sometimes, because, that can otherwise sound a death knell for the project. Because their agenda is always so pressing, in terms of time. Sometimes you need to fend that away for while. It’s always a struggle, though, in retrospect you, kind of, put it nicely. It’s always an agonizing struggle to resolve these.
Kiran Venkatesh: As an office we have always taken the stand that we are very up front with the client, saying, put all the constraints on the table. We will negotiate and agree on a set of parameters - be it cost, be it area, whatever it is, and then you respect us for what we develop based on those forces.
Ravindra Kumar: There have been so many instances where a client’s communication has helped us to understand what should be right for him or wrong and I always call that being a collaborator.
Rajmohan Shetty: The Case Study Houses. There it is when program begins to provoke the architecture through speculation. So you begin to write and say okay, you are going through a really crucial moment that never existed, which is the post war period, the baby boom, etc., in the US. And John Entenza, the editor of a magazine, Arts and Architecture magazine, takes it upon himself to pose this question to twenty six architects: Speculate on the house of the future. He goes the whole shebang - buys the sites, gives it to each of the architects. Speculate. It does make a difference - it shifts. But John Entenza didn’t go about saying, “I am going to build twenty seven iconic houses.” He said, think, what is it? So it was up to the architects to re frame the program that was given to them according to his or her areas of interest. That, on hindsight, one could say, does come close to some sort of iconic status. A paradigm shift, another way of thinking.
Arun Balan: Today I think people are getting a little more sensitive to this whole issue of expression and so they don’t mind if they lose out a bit of FAR. They are quite happy saying we do stylish buildings. Each one of them, mostly youngsters, all of them say we want something very different. Almost on all the projects people are always asking for something different. They don’t want the regular car porch, regular staircases, they want to do a lot of things today. I think it’s great. It’s also because people are well traveled and they are exposed to several cultures, and there is the TV.
K. Jaisim: These people, absolutely no idea what architecture is, they’ve got a shopping list. You happen to be one more shop. In fact, the way they come and question me saying will you do this, will you do that? I smile and say “You came through a door, there’s a door to go out.”
Sanjay Mohe: As long as there’s a civilization, there’s going to be this conflict between the Classical and the Popular. It’s not necessary that the Classical is going to be liked by everybody. That distinction will always stay.
Ranjit Naik: In our country one of the things which is available abundantly and free of cost is advise.
Satish Naik: There are a few individuals with whom I have enjoyed working because they behave exactly like if you were dealing with a company. Because of the faith.
J. Sandeep: If somebody is sensitive, most of the other factors are taken care of because your agenda is not about catering to a client or to a system but finally being sensitive to the place and making an appropriate kind of structure.
Manoj Ladhadh: There are lots of things that are behind the scene which the client need not know. Its not important that he should know, but it’s your hidden agenda that you cover, as part of your focus. Every time we have met a client, new people, we have said that for us the ultimate is the project, I will overrule myself and you in the interest of the project.
Anup Naik: You are always looking at a different direction. You don’t need to tell the client that, that I am doing this for my professional gratification. I am doing it because he thinks its a good idea and you are continuing, but you are actually developing a different system altogether. It might take one project, two projects, or three projects but we are actually using that base as an R&D facility.
Soumitro Ghosh: Any creative individual has, definitely, a personal agenda which is actually what keeps them going. If it is not there then they are dead. They are just doing what is told to them and then they are not bringing anything more than a service, so to say.
Anil Dube: Not only with builders, with clients also you try to bring in your agenda, but not force it on him.
P.K. Venkataramanan: Persuasive powers are absolutely necessary for an architect and he has to acquire this skill. This is not taught to him in any school. That’s why lots of youngsters who are jumping into the profession, they think they already know everything. You cannot say, “this or nothing else, either you take my design or...” It’s a dialogue.
K. Jaisim: Developers are very important to the growth of a city. They could, in fact, if properly understood and they understand, be the biggest engines of great growth. But they must get away from the grabbing factor.
V. Narasimhan: Architects have to learn to work with developers. Developers are the true planners of the city in the absence of a planning mechanism.
P.K. Venkataramanan: He said, “If you do a builder building it is prostitution.” I was shocked actually. I said, “How you can you say this, because, whether you like it or not the city is going to be full of such buildings. This is the reality, if you want to save the reality, you better get involved in that process.”
Kiran Venkatesh: I think developers are really setting the tone, so one has to see whether you can get them onto a forum and actually address an issue where you say, “Look, you guys are actually helping shape the city, can you do more?” How does the developer give back something to the city, which is just not better amenities for the people who live in that apartment unit or who use that public building. So I think, if that dialogue can be set at some forum between the architects and developers, then you’ve got to go to the government with a proposal saying if there is a commercial building in the CBD, or in these areas, and it does 1, 2 and 3, give up some part of its areas, it could be either parking, it could be public amenities, it could be space, it could be the creation of something as simple as an auditorium. If you do A for the public environment, or the public space, then you get these rewards. You have to incentivize this.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: The developer is also governed by the commercial end of things, they also want to do it quickly. So now you have a number of people who want it faster and faster. They are willing to spend more, they want to de-shutter faster, they want to cast faster. When they are doing these kinds of things, the pressure is coming onto the poor designer who is supposed to put something that meets the requirement of the client, the client’s clients and the speed requirement.
P.K. Venkataramanan: They don’t have time. They say in six months we have to move in and they say, “Either you deliver or we go somewhere else.” There will definitely be a compromise on quality, because of compressed time, it’s possible. I won’t say its possible, it always will be the case actually.
Edgar Demello: The patron is the builder. We are facing this thing day in and day out. We are doing almost no builder work. We used to do it earlier and we gave up because we produced rubbish, I could say myself, because we got caught up in that vortex and we said we can’t go on like this. Now you’re fighting all the time because there is a ‘language’ or a ‘non-language’ that has been established that’s a quick fix. And people love a quick fix.
Soumitro Ghosh: Its like a B-Grade Bollywood film, you know. Its like, yeh daal de, yeh daal de, it’ll work. They don’t want to think more than that. Why should they? They’re making ‘x’ amount of money. He’ll tell you directly, “Dimag nahi kharaab karne ka, you don’t have to do all this. I want it fast. Put these few elements, we’re done.”
04. MONEY: Are we compensated enough?
Anil Dube: I think if we follow the professional fee structure you are paid well.
Tony Kunnel George: Simple things like, ethics of practice. The COA says do not drop your fee below 4%. Its difficult when the rest of the architectural practices are saying, well, we are willing to drop to any level.
Ranjit Naik: Undercutting is there, but I guess undercutting is a part of any industry. Of course, it’s not a professional thing
Prem Chandavarkar: I wouldn’t depend on any institutional protection like some mandatory scale of fees, like what the institute [IIA] or the council [COA] have tried to do. I think each of us needs to think about differentiation, so that we are not just like any another architect.
Manu (S): I have no regrets, absolutely no regrets, about taking up this profession because it has opened my mind so much. Its made me think about so many things. We are so much more sensitive than engineers, doctors and lawyers, even though they are getting paid twenty times the amount we are.
Ranjit (S): You are not doing it purely for money.
Sathya Prakash Varanashi: This profession is not merely a means to earn money. There are other means as well. It’s also a means to look at our own selves.
Bimal (S): The problem is that when you do only good design you don’t make that much money and you have to eat.
Anil Dube: It’s a different profession. Then don’t do architecture. If you do architecture then you do it for it’s cause, and for your personal level of satisfaction, and to educate people around you - this is how you should live, this is how your house should be. You have to lose something to gain something.
Manu (S): I think its a tragedy. Architects right now, are a crippled profession in the city. You actually find them struggling to make ends meet. I am not talking about people you know, I am not talking about Anil Dube, I am not talking about Sandeep, I am not talking about Mr. Bijoy, but I am talking about other architects in the city.
Anil Dube: And they expect money. I would have worked for free in my time, that’s the way we were taught.
Tharunya (S): Its not tangible and lots of people think, so what, I can do this myself - I can figure out what needs to go where, I can figure out how to make my home look the best, or my building look the best.
Prem Chandavarkar: Most architects run their practices very inefficiently. They don’t look at difference between the percentage [of the] completion of the project and the percentage of the fee paid, so they leave large amounts of money untapped, which they don’t even collect. So therefore they are driven to survive at a subsistence level whereas they need not.
05. DEVELOPMENT PLANS: And impact on the city form/involvement of the community
J. Sandeep: I wouldn’t say its a good manual, probably you are relating only to the numbers and the numbers are worked out really well, but as far as city form and the other issues are concerned, it’s direly lacking.
Nagaraj Vastarey: The city planners, I really wonder, how they work. It’s always a two dimensional thing, and byelaws would mean what? Just to satisfy numbers.
Kiran Venkatesh: what you need to really worry about [in] the CDB is that it doesn’t have a comprehensive transport management plan, or a traffic management plan for the entire city, it doesn’t address that issue.
Janardhan Reddy: I don’t think they suit our city and our conditions.
Soumitro Ghosh: At the moment whatever byelaws are active, they do not reflect in any way, where it’s achieving any of the goals that it sets out for itself.
Anil Dube: Let’s just build on FAR and coverage and leave the set backs to the individual, with some sort of thought that he would like to give to his neighbour for light, air and ventilation. I think out of sheer respect for each other, those things will start happening.
Arun Balan: You can’t expect the same FAR that is applicable twenty kilometers from the CBD applying in the CBD. Not happening. I personally feel that you need to segregate zones, you need to allocate commercial, residential, service zones, recreation zones, everything has to be separated out from one another.
Kiran Venkatesh: It’s a very exciting idea of integrating multiple uses. Its rather boring to have only housing tucked away, put a circle there, put another circle and say this is commercial. It is nice to integrate it, but the integration comes at a huge cost of traffic becoming chaotic. And traffic and parking that’s the issue which needs to be balanced with this hybrid or mixed programming that the new CDP is envisioning.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: Somewhere the government has stumbled badly in providing the right vision, beyond its immediate political gain - which is a much wider vision for the people.
Akhtar Nagaria: He’s investing so much in land cost, which is changing everyday, its becoming difficult for him to buy land at the price that he decided yesterday. Apart from buying land and setting up infrastructure, he has to think about running his own business. So is it fair for us to ask the software developers that he has to worry about it at the city level also. Its something that somebody else should be doing for him.
Edgar Demello: Today what do you see? You see somebody dissatisfied with roads, so they come and build a road. Somebody dissatisfied, he can’t get there on time, so they come and build a fly-over. So it’s all I, me, mine, it’s not ours. So now if you really talk about housing, do these stake holders really look at the larger good?
K. Jaisim: I don’t think anybody, even the politicians, the people in the bureaucracy, the decision makers even have a clue what this city direction is. If some influential people say there should be a fly over, there’s a fly over. If some of the big business magnates says we need a big super expressway to us, there is an expressway. These are like children shopping in a chocolate shop.
Anil Dube: I find these people thrown into the papers daily making some remark or the other about - we should do this, we should have that, but they don’t go to the technically sound people. And there is a handful of people in Bangalore who are the authority on everything, whether it comes to roads, whether it comes to building, whether it comes to IT, whether it comes to shit pots, name it and they are the final word.
V. Narasimhan: The government actually has not recruited any planners since the mid-eighties.
Soumitro Ghosh: A lot of governments work with private consultants to prepare specialized reports, which are not their cup of tea. You need experts in a certain field. Now what it means, in addition, is that you cannot sit back and assume that the particular consultant will not make any mistakes or cannot be given more feedback from your own experience on the ground and I think, there should be a separate set of people, important minds of the city, who need to question the CDP before it is activated.
Prem Chandavarkar: We have no tradition of urban design. We have master plans which are two-dimensional, formulaic entities, which just construct like...that’s one thing that even the current master plan has not broken any new ground on. It reduces the city to a mathematical set of formulae which are applied uniformly across the city. Whereas Urban Design would look at each specific geographical location within the city... as how do you construct a sense of neighbourhood, how do you construct a sense of scale. And she [Jane Jacobs] says that the city develops a culture out of an intense network of street-level pedestrian contacts and she says that contemporary town planning schemes tend to devalue that. They look at the city as a machine, they don’t look at that intensity of street-level contacts. So the city has survived culturally in spite of town planning and not because of town planning.
Tony Kunnel George: Remove boundary fabric, so buildings then begin to be part of an urban structure. Here still every building has a compound wall. Remove barriers; create interactive movement, let people move through the buildings
Ravindra Kumar: We are not dilapidated. If Bombay is surviving, we have another thirty years to become Bombay and another fifty years to still fall apart to become Siwan in Bihar. And we’ll never learn. I am sorry, I think I am being very cynical, but this is what the imperialists left with us. Its a huge population of corrupt minds.
Nagaraj Vastarey: I am certainly not optimistic. If I have to think about a solution for this: one thing is the civic authorities should involve people from various walks of life.
H.C. Thimmaiah: They should have involved a bigger forum of professionals, not just architects and planners. It needs a lot of people, different kinds of people, even a person on the street, a vendor, he will contribute a lot of things.
Anup Naik: We have a foreign company who is actually planning for the city, is that necessary at all? How much of Indian input is there in that? In their tenure of one year or two years in the city, is it valid at all that they are giving you directions for your own city?
Nagaraj Vastarey: One generally talks of decentralization. There is a tremendous need today to develop district nodes rather than working on Bangalore alone.
Sanjay Mohe: And the way the whole growth is happening, it’s so chaotic. Ideally it has to be decentralized.
Ranjit Naik: You’ll are talking about increasing density in already dense areas like Chickpet, Avenue Road, you are talking about zero setbacks, FARs of 3 and 4. This is going to lead to, in simple terms, immense pressure on the infrastructure.
Akhtar Nagaria: 60% of the software guys who come into Bangalore get on to Whitefield. If you’re not going to allow for that 60% to be staying there, you’ve lost it. To allow that you need higher FAR, to allow that FAR there are so many things.
Hareesh. Asnani: Infrastructure has to cope with that density.
Manoj Ladhad: Between the past CDP and the new CDP, a large amount of it is a documentation of what the current trend is and they say that the current trend is fine, let’s go ahead with it. And then you are trying to patch up with the infrastructure, services, etc. That’s not the overall picture. It needs to be looked at in a wholistic way.
Sudheendra Yalavigi: Although we may have any grouse against the zoning and the byelaws, in terms of their not being formed properly, our responsibility is that we first follow it.
Anup Naik: Ideally we should look at respecting the law of the land. It doesn’t matter what it is.
H.C. Thimmaiah: There’s no point in going on blaming the byelaws. The byelaws are required. A guideline is required and we are provided with one. If certain items are very strongly objected to, they can be raised, and I am sure the authorities will concede and make amendments.
Prem Chandavarkar: I think you have to stay within the law even if you believe that the law doesn’t make sense sometimes.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: We have taken a stand to basically go by the rules of the profession and not to flout it.
Soumitro Ghosh: But I think you should add that we have not worked with developers so its very easy for us to say it (laughs).
Bimal (S): You’ll go out to the road over there and say, this guy has built on the compound wall. That’s fully because of the architect. It’s your duty, as an architect, to tell the client that this cannot be done.
Akthar Nagaria: The architects need to be quasi-policemen on the project. You need to be able to direct either the project or the client to get him to do the right thing.
J. Sandeep: And finally it doesn’t answer the needs of the city. Maybe you do a one lakh twenty [thousand square feet] in a sixty thousand square feet plot where the FAR is probably one, but at the end of the day you have to answer the other things - the infrastructure needs, etc. So I think at the back of our minds we consciously are saying no, we don’t want to go beyond a certain point We know our limitations and we work within that.
Manu (S): You said you would carry a project out to 95% and even if they tell you to break one byelaw you’re going to quit. I think that’s ridiculous.
Tharunya (S): You shouldn’t stick to your principles to such an extent.
Sushir (S): You shouldn’t?
Bimal (S): I think its highly personal. If he wants to quit he quits. If you want to break the byelaws for some reason, its fine. Its your way of thinking, but it doesn’t mean I have to agree.
Ranjit Naik: On the one hand you have your responsibilities as an architect and as a citizen and on other hand you have to feed your stomach. Ethics come into the picture. Individual ethics.
P K Venkataramanan: Ultimately every architect draws his own line, the line is the lakshman rekha which he will not cross. I will go this far and no further. The individual architect will have to draw his own line. If you say, I am not going to compromise on anything, I will stand on my principles and I will practice architecture, or any other business for that matter, I do not know how far you will go.
Nagaraj Vastarey: In terms of practice I have accepted that violation is there and it has to be accommodated. But how tastefully can you do it.
Hareesh Asnani: We as professionals should not endorse any kind of violation. Full stop. And its not even a question of us saying, I will give you the drawings, you build it, I don’t care, no. We should not be involved in any of that, at all.
K. Jaisim: Okay which means do you want hard regulation? That would be disastrous. No single man can give, on a bureaucratic level, the overall direction and say this is what you do. Its impossible. We are not kings here, we are a democracy. It has to work through a process. But responsibility with that authority must come.
Manu (S): Abroad you have an informed panel of jurors who decide what a building is doing to the city, and they allow the bending of the byelaws for another reason right? That’s what I am talking about.
Sushir (S): But you just said you were talking about the Indian context.
Manu (S): In the Indian context its your responsibility to be sensitive and informed. See by saying this I am not giving license to anyone break the law.
Sushir (S): Excuse me you are.
Manu (S): They already have it.
Kiran Venkatesh: What continues to be lacking is an enforcement idea of the byelaws. Currently the byelaw is a guideline which says you do A, B, C. You get a sanction as per that and you build D, there is no system which says you have not followed A, B, C, hence you cannot occupy or there is this huge damage you incur.
V. Narasimhan: There is really no enforcement culture in terms of byelaws except in a sporadic sort of way. I wouldn’t say all of it is a mess, may be 60%, 70% is still within the law. Most south Indians at least are law-abiding.
Anil Dube: It was also a non-governmental body where an architect would sit and where a town-planner would be there and a corporation guy would be there. These people would go through the drawing, discuss it, not individually but on a table, so it became like an iteration and the attitude was very positive - to help the client to build his structure.
P.K. Venkataramanan: It’s an absolute pity that we are not a part of that thing.
Edgar Demello: The closest that one came to this was when BATF was set up by the previous government and they had people on the panel, they had an architect...They also brought in architects to do some of the work. But I think at some level there wasn’t any vision.
Sudheendhra Yalavigi: Probably create a forum in which we as architects can represent to the people who are forming this development and offer an alternative wherein they can achieve the same goals by different means.
Ranjit Naik: As a part of PAA, when we had these interactions with the BMP, everything had already been decided. This was just a formality, an eyewash. Just to show that, okay we have been interacting with all these architects, town-planners and Institute of Engineers.
Satish Naik: When you call the team of architects to give suggestions on the development of the city, at least minimum 50% should be accepted.
Anup Naik: You need a political voice for this. The reality is that. As architects, as planners, politics is a reality. I think we need a political voice, without that things won’t work. Otherwise its all good - written, documented and that’s the end of the story.
Prem Chandravarkar: I think these things start with small beginnings. It perhaps just could be six architects in the city getting together and saying lets share ideas about our work, lets share preposition about how our work is making the city. And then those architects coming together in a forum and trying to raise a voice in the public domain, perhaps writing articles in the newspaper.
Sanjay Mohe: Attempts have been made by professionals and people who are really serious about this. But probably the commercial pressures are so high, that as an architect or even a group of architects you cannot fight those pressures.
Anil Dube: I think its also partially our fault. We don’t come forward and sound the authorities that, look, we are there.
HC Thimmaiah: The professionals should also get involved. They should not wait for an invitation as such.
Rajmohan Shetty: There’s an absolute apathy from the side of the profession. They are ill interested in what the city means, and for good reason you never find them on any board that contemplates on policies and city making. So we really find ourselves absolutely marginalized because of our own doing.
Edgar Demello: I think it has to do with an architect’s inability to voice dissent. He’s just unable to do it. He is caught up with this, in more ways than one, a rather servile sort of attitude to government.
Ravindra Kumar: The architectural community has got to learn to come together. Half the time its just that nobody has the time to come and do it right. But that consciousness has to come through.
J. Sandeep: The law of averages will catch up with the city. It is not going to be one-sided for any more time. There is an undercurrent that there has to be a more conscious and wholistic approach to the planning, and outlook to the city itself.
Janardhan Reddy: I think the state has a major role to play in this. I think this is a move that should first come from them.
Edgar Demello: But there is really no will. There is no political will.
K. Jaisim: For over thirty years I have been involved with various government authorities. I don’t think the Indian government is serious - I think they are just there.
Ravindra Kumar: I think finally the political system is very important. If in New York, to take an example, if Times Square were to change drastically over a period, whether its the community of people, or a community of non-profit groups, or the architectural community cannot do that, at that urban level. You need the conscious government, you need the conscious coming together of various groups of people to support that possibility. A bunch of sensible people have to get together to do sensible things.
06. THE COA & THE IIA: Do we have a common platform?
Soumitro Ghosh: They have become rather dead, defunct. They are not seen as places, which talk about ideas or as places which are to do things. They have lost their purpose.
Prem Chandravarkar: Our forums on architecture tend to be more legalistic. If you look at what the Institute of Architects or the Council of Architecture is doing - they just look at protecting the title of the architects on laws regarding who can sign on drawings etc. There hasn’t been enough of issue based discussion on architecture even within the profession.
Ravindra Kumar: I think even in some ways bureaucracy has seeped into the organizations in some subtle ways.
K. Jaisim: I am going to get bashed for the answer I am going to give you (laughs). I think they have become very political. They have become very bureaucratic. Everybody is out there for the chair not because they deserve the chair but because they think by sitting on that chair they get something. There is no direction, there are no ideas, I think its just there as one more...its not even a tamasha, they think that by sitting on that chair they’ll get some sort of importance. Since they are regulatory bodies, since they have got the authority to penalise you, they survive. If you take away that penal authority, saying they can’t cancel your license, tomorrow morning both will be buried.
Rajmohan Shetty: They haven’t done much. I mean they go through this charade of reviewing schools right? How is it, I would ask, after they have reviewed these schools, that you still have schools with no furniture, no library, no space, no toilets and they still get accreditation.
Janardhan Reddy: I have got little communication or nothing at all from these two institutions. So I am not really aware of their efforts and what they are doing. I feel there is a lack of communication between us, architects practicing in the city and the institute.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: Architects do not have a common platform to sit and discuss across the table. May be everyone is too busy. There’s a lack of will.
Hareesh Asnani: But it should be a professional collective direction.
Akhtar Nagaria: IIA should be playing a good part of it, COA should be playing a good part of it. We have no forum, we have an institution.
Anup Naik: They are the voice. It can actually be legitimate. They can legitimize what we want to say or to do.
Edgar Demello: Whether it’s the COA or its anybody else, I think there has to be a body that first of all encourages across the board debate.
P.K. Venkataramanan: We are working at cross-purposes. I don’t think that we are a cohesive unit. Somebody needs to pull them together, make them realize that we cannot exist as individuals. We need to collectively address this situation, then only we can find a solution. This is absolutely true, we are fragmented, we are not coming together.
Soumitro Ghosh: I think it’s also, I guess the congregation of architects is not an easy thing. In any creative field the congregation of creative people is the last thing that will ever happen.
Ranjit Naik: From PAA point of view, I can vouch for the fact that the main stumbling block for us was the lack of enthusiasm from our members itself. Involvement in these things was not very spontaneous.
07. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE ARCHITECTS FACE: to Dream, to Convince, to Execute
Sathya Prakash Varanashi: Why don’t you ask me, which are the biggest hundred challenges, don’t ask me just one challenge (Laughs). I would say communication. I use the word communication because I am not doing all buildings for myself, we design for others - we need to understand them. Then there’s a builder, a builder has a supervisor, a supervisor has a mason, and a mason has a… (Trails off).
Janardhan Reddy: I think it would be not finding architects to work for you. (Laughs).
Anil Dube: The staffs that you get to work with. It’s a bad scene, I tell you. I don’t know what they are teaching in colleges. And I think the students also they just look for that degree and come out, and when they work in an office, that’s when they start learning.
Nagraj Vastarey: I guess the intent, the intent from the clients.
Ranjit Naik: Traffic. (Laughs).
Satish Naik: To reach the office.
Ranjit Naik: That’s why leave early and go back home late.
Sanjay Mohe: Your ability to convince the client to do something - something what you believe in. See that’s the basic difference between an artist and an architect, because as an artist you can just do something and forget about it, you just do what you want, but when it comes to architecture, you have to convince a client to do something good.
P.K. Venkataramanan: Sometimes it is a very frustrating thing that some of them wont listen to any of your solutions, they will brush aside, they say, “Either you do like what I say or you are out”, that is when sometimes you think - you are running a large organization, there are certain economics in running a large organization, can I refuse this job on my own principal and say don’t want, get lost? Is it about you or about a lot of other people who are dependent on you?
Anil Dube: And also when people are very adamant about things in design, it becomes frustrating.
Ranjit Naik: From our point of view we would definitely say - over interference from a client.
Satish Naik: You issue the drawing, it goes to the site, and after a week you go there, you don’t see anything as per the drawings, you see something else, what can you do?
Sanjay Mohe: Getting it done right. So in terms of workmanship, that whole perfectionist attitude that really lacks in our society for some reason.
Kiran Venkatesh: The balance between what we think the project should be about and what we think the project should do, and meeting the clients’ requirements. Because many times even though there shouldn’t be there’s this opposition between the two.
Ravindra Kumar: It’s trying to convince. Because of this interface of this communication that we try to go through, that process of convincing the client, that this is what is right for the space, this is what is wrong - that is the biggest threshold.
Edgar Demello: It is how do you make a client understand that you are on his side.
V. Narasimhan: Running the business part of it, because in the other realm you are only limited by the strength of your own ideas. Here it is a physical problem. You‘ve to keep it running, you must have continuity, because your are building big projects which will last for a long time. How to be an architect, and a professional and not to let go of your design idealism and yet run a business. You also have to have honesty and integrity in detailing.
Soumitro Ghosh: I think the most obvious answer is how to run the office, how to keep everybody surviving, so that the office doesn’t close down, how to feed the office. You tend to not look at those questions everyday.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: This is personal, I would like to be a better manager as well. It’s all very well being a designer and enjoying it and getting carried away but I certainly think I would like to be a better manager as well.
Soumitro Ghosh: It’s to see that you are pushing at something, which you would like to, and what you have not been able to do in the past.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: The challenge is quality. Construction quality here is pathetic.
K. Jaisim: The inability to implement the ideas that flow into you, in its totality.
Rajmohan Shetty: They’ve employed you, in a sense that they, sort, of, own you, that you are there to do drawings. When you have the idea that now it’s collaborative, in a sense, that now begins an adventure, it’ll lead to a process of discovery and they don’t realize and in a way they have lost out on this valuable opportunity.
Prem Chandavarkar: I think the biggest issue is learning how to put forward the value that design provides. I think as a profession we’ve not done that. We don’t do that well, that’s why we get pressured on fees, that’s why we get pressured to survive and we are pushed to compromise, because we don’t have a way of articulating those values. There are other challenges also such as the environmental challenge, that’s something we need to think about - how to make our buildings more environment friendly.
Kavya Thimmaiyah: The biggest challenge for me, personally, is the Vaastu thing.
Sanjay Mohe: Instead of people looking just from that Vaastu point of view, they should look at it from all these other energies, which really you have to look at.
Anil Dube: Fees. Definitely fees. People take you for granted. They don’t go by what the stipulated fees are and of course there’s a lot of undercutting and a lot of competition so people work for much lesser fees and percentages.
Tony Kunnel George: The biggest challenge today is to actually be in a position of knowledge - to be able to drive a development.
08. ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION: Theory v/s Practice
Prem Chandavarkar: In India architectural education tends to be highly vocational so the architectural profession by and large is not trained to think in theoretical or philosophical terms, and that’s the other thing we sorely need - to be to talk about architecture in general terms.
Sudheendhra Yalavigi: Our objective need not be to prepare students for the profession. As it is being done. We would like to prepare students to be future leaders. We don’t want them to go straight to an office and create working drawings. It may be a traumatic experience for the initial one year but slowly they will learn, but nobody teaches them conceptual thinking.
V. Narasimhan: In an architectural pedagogy point of view it is very important now for the government, for instance the Council Of Architecture, [to make it mandatory] that once you come out of the college you have to intern for at least three years under a senior architect who has at least about ten years experience and write an exam after you finish the three years and only then can you practice on your own.
Arun Balan: Architectural education in Bangalore should be scrapped and I have seen kids who come and work in our office, all so confused basically because they just don’t know what to do, they just want to finish fifth year architecture and get into a call center.
Kiran Venkatesh: I think it’s in a dismal state. Basic grounding in the idea of good design and the approach to good design is not very rampant across the schools. But what has happened is that practices are good, across the country there are reasonably good practices, so when the students train, when the students get absorbed here, their learning curve is very, very fast, so there’s a sort of fail-safe mechanism, there’s a check that things don’t go really berserk and really wrong.
Sudheendhra Yalavigi: We are sensitizing the students during their course, right from the first project we take up, that context is an important variable in their design.
Ranjit (S): Mine wasn’t a conscious decision at all. I thought it was all about sketching, design and colours and things like that, I really don’t know what architecture was all about. After I joined the course, after two years, I got to know how sensitive an architect should be to the city, to the surroundings, to everything. That sought of appeals to me right now. I can contribute something. That’s what is interesting me right now to continue architecture.
Tony Kunnel George: The education system of architecture since the forties onwards has remained the same. We don’t have the information basis today with us to be actually part of the food chain in terms any development that happens.
P.K. Venkataramanan: At the education level, our present syllabus and method of teaching is absolutely antiquated and it’s not at all relevant to today’s need.
Nagaraj Vastarey: Whenever I walk into R.V. College I keep thinking, you know, in design studio we stress upon spatiality, this, that, we speak of every possible issue. At the back of their mind none of those would be important to them. When they pass out, I don’t know think any of this gets applied in practice.
Ravindra Kumar: See the problem is that it’s back into bureaucracy and academic sequences which have been established some years, years ago and its not been investigated right and they still want to live on that and use that as a weapon. There’s no participation of active architects from the city into these academic realms because the bureaucracy kills it. Frankly if something has to be changed its best to shut all of them down.
Ravindra Kumar: What is happening is people are there together, students are there together, they form a community, they are all headed to a direction so there is investigation and that’s what makes people architects today. Its not the teachers, its not the curriculum, its not the academic support or its not the lectures that they might be involved with. I think its just being together.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: [This is] one thing that our profession has ingrained in it under the guise of creativity, that if I am in an interview situation with someone I ask him, “Did you finish your thesis on time?”
Edgar Demello: The solution, in inverted commas, is really our schools. It has to do with academia, it has to do with faculty I think its at that level that you create a new consciousness about the public good.
09. DIRECTION OF PROFESSION: Is there a new paradigm?
P.K. Venkataramanan: The importance for the profession is definitely loosing ground. This is my feeling. Unless you wake up.
K. Jaisim: I think the profession, if I must answer that, is in a big confusion.
Edgar Demello: There is a very deep crisis in the profession, that’s very clear. You can see it when you open the Times Property thing or you open any sort of paper and you look at Faux Rococo or all these Neoclassical things that are really gaining favour as against the aesthetic or design integrity.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: Where is the profession going, what are we building? Is it worth our while to build what we are building? Architect is no longer God.
P.K. Venkataramanan: [The] Architect was put on an ivory tower and rest of them were all supposed to be services. It’s no longer the thing. There is an equal footing.
Ranjit Naik: The architect was always the main captain of the ship. Now I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that the PMC, the project management consultant, has taken over that role.
Tony Kunnel George: If we sit at today’s meetings you have project managers, you have finance consultants, people doing risk management, they take the center stage. Since architects don’t understand this, they are not able to add value.
Anil Dube: I think first of all, I would like to say that there’s a boom in the industry and its going haywire. I think in all respects. Look at design, look at execution, look at the way development is, its all a mad rush, which is why I feel it’s very haphazard here in Bangalore
Hareesh Asnani: What is going downwards now is the attention to resolving a detail. We are not putting in that much of effort to resolve our buildings.
Ranjit Naik: The time taken for the entire process of design, drawing, tendering, execution - the whole process has been quite compressed.
Sanjay Mohe: The speed of the whole conception of the project to the actual execution - there is a tremendous change in the whole scenario. This whole classical way of working where you take a project, keep working on it, keep changing and again coming back and keep improving - all that is slowly things of the past. Nobody has the time to wait, nobody has time to look at all these kinds of options. You have to get it right the first time.
V. Narasimhan: What has happened in the last two or two half years is that the scale of building has dramatically changed. People talk about boom in IT, boom in Biotech, really speaking the real boom in India is in construction. What has happened is that the architects are still scrambling to get to grips with how to deal with this kind of scale, and in some sense the clients are also grappling because they’ve also not dealt it. We never used to build such big buildings, such giant enterprises and facilities. And that is creating pressures on the architectural profession by what I would call an increasing push towards corporatisation. Companies want to deal with other companies, they don’t want to deal with prima donna individuals.
Ravindra Kumar: When you see large-scale developments, it cannot be driven by individuals, it has to be a team exercise. Not many firms understand that method. So it’s still the individual who dictates and somehow you manage get the process right.
V. Narasimhan: This will also drive smaller firms out of existence.
Rajmohan Shetty: No I don’t think. Good work will always be recognized, at whatever scale and at all levels it will always be a marker, always be an index, however small the scale might be, of what architecture is all about.
Anil Dube: I don’t think the small practice is going to die. It never will. There’s ample work in all levels.
Edgar Demello: I really do see an emergence of practices that are enquiring, that are in their small ways research based.
Sathya Prakash Varanashi: When I started my firm way back about twelve years ago, not many people with thirty-forty sites, salaried, teachers would come to us. But today they are coming to us. It is not linked only to the fact that there is greater money in the market, it is equally linked to the fact that architecture as a profession has become more accessible.
Nagaraj Vastarey: One major change which I see today is the emphasis on materialism. It’s generally the glory of the material which has overtaken and spatial architecture has taken a back seat.
H.C. Thimmaiah: The invasion of mirror architecture - that’s what is happening in Bangalore, and sometimes I really wonder whether we need this mirror architecture at all and if we do should we go to this extent. Then, the role of architects also is, I guess, limited. A seller of these items can have various combinations in his computer and present it to the clients, saying this is what you can do, well, then what’s the role of an architect here?
Rajmohan Shetty: So its also the process, and, I think, most firms just keep talking about product, and about management and these tangible, quantifiable aspects, and there’s nothing, not a squeak on the qualitative, the spatial, the aesthetic.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: People are getting experiential. They are beginning to realize that buildings are not just nice, pretty objects; they are places of experience. There are spaces that need to be created inside, you just don’t keep replicating boxes.
Soumitro Ghosh: Place does play a fairly important role because there is a growing danger of getting very picturesque where the experience of a building becomes very flat. Now that works if you are just trying to sell a space and get out of that as a seller, but as an architect, if you are trying to exploit issues of experience of a space, then I think the game is a little bigger then what it is otherwise.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: I think that somehow because of the media one has access to there is a large amount of self- consciousness on the part the architect, which leads to a lot of contrived work. But now, today especially, there’s so much of nice-looking work which is not deep at all.
Rajmohan Shetty: What they have done is that they have cultivated an audience of clients who think that is the way architecture should be done - these pretty things that are pretty much picked up from all sorts of sources and collaged together.
Prem Chandavarkar: So that eventually creates a direction where architects are just designing for other architects. So I think what we need to do as a profession is sit back and think - what value does design provide and to remember that design is actually a propositional activity, that each project has certain propositions about the way we live.
K. Jaisim: Contemporary architecture is something that has to be timeless, that has to have a continuity, will change, so that your buildings look new even five, ten, twenty years from now. The material may deteriorate, the spaces can’t deteriorate.
K.S. Ananthakrishna: Specifically what I find is, today the most important kind of buildings that are getting a lot of attention are the ones built for the IT companies, and that to my mind is basically an architecture of cladding.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: If I look at Bangalore I feel a little more optimistic. Now what’s the reaction? The reaction is too much glass, too much aluminum is happening. But if one tells oneself that you are here not to force, your role is to be a moderator, your role is to, as an architect, enable the client to make the right decisions. You cannot neglect the fact that its the client’s money, not yours. You are the tailor but you didn’t buy the cloth here.
Nagaraj Vastarey: You lose sense of direction, sense of time and space, so whether its night outside or whether its day outside, you won’t just get to know. So what’s the big deal? All they require is just a shell.
K. Jaisim: Its bright sunlight outside and its closed, its air-conditioned, and plus it has a million Watts glowing inside. Why? Where did we get wrong??
Prem Chandavarkar: A large part of the profession has tended to look at superficial, quick solutions, to look at aluminum composite panels, to look at structural glazing, to look at those as quick fix solutions by which one creates an international image. But if we do that we will just wind up making Bangalore like another Singapore. So I think, we need to get out of our obsession with technology, because technology often provides these quick fix solutions
Edgar Demello: Building services have become rather sophisticated, and they have become that because there is a very strong requirement from, well I’ll start by saying, multi-national agencies who bring all their specs from Texas and Michigan and wherever else so you can’t really fool around with that and so there is a wrapping paper around these building services.
Akthar Nagaria: So many times, I am sure you have gone through it too, guys who have already built their house say, “Sir can you design our elevation, this is what we want.”
Edgar Demello: And I think in the common mind, I think, architecture is really still about front elevation.
Anil Dube: Well we’ve always been known for aping the west, and I think if you see today, Alucobond® and structural glazing has come to play a big role in the aesthetics of buildings, irrespective of the fact that there’s so much of sun, or glare, or heat and the load on air-conditioning.
Kavya Thimmaiah: Where you make a little box, trap in all the heat and then you increase your A/C load, and you try to maintain that ambient temperature. Its ridiculous. You are creating a problem and then trying to solve it.
Edgar Demello: There are people who I know who have taken architects to court because of their inability to address very fundamental notions of climate.
Nagaraj Vastarey: Today you have to profess an architecture of inclusions.
Manoj Ladhad: We have gone beyond that stage where sharing of a knowledge base is going to help you make better decisions.
Ravindra Kumar: I think a very collaborative approach amongst architect is becoming highly important and I think, clients have to drive that sometimes.
K. Jaisim: I always say the three fundamentals [that] can lead to phenomenal architecture- one must have liberty, one must have freedom, and one must have choice.
Arunjot Singh Bhalla: Not in-your-face architecture. Good light. Simplicity. I still like Correa’s Gandhi Ashram more than his subsequent works. Funny as it may sound, lack of dramatism, break off from the cliché of that “WOW” effect. Easy on the nerves, and one more, less building more environment.
Sathya Prakash Varanashi: Design decisions are not linked with how do we construct, it should be linked with how do we want to live.
Ranjit Naik: Whatever you do has to be relevant - to the context .
Satish Naik: And that gives the satisfaction
Ranjit Naik: It should be relevant to the client, it should be relevant to the project, it should be relevant to [the] time also.
Satish Naik: And it also should be comfortable to the fabricator.
Prem Chandavarkar: Architecture is something that is inhabited day after day, so we have to think about how design provides value over time also. So I would like to use the term the aesthetics of absorption. You tend to be obsessed with the aesthetic of expression, the first impact, but we need to think of an aesthetics of absorption, about how the space is inhabited, how memories are created when we inhabit the space and therefore how value accrues over time.
V. Narasimhan: So every project we do, hopefully, will become now a benchmark, worthy of study by other architects as a type study at least, if not as a “ how is it done”; What design intervention have been made to increase the quality, comfort, intangibles, serviceability, long time maintainability, lower energy costs. It can set benchmark right?
Anup Naik: Elements of Sustainability. The electrical cycle is closed, the water cycle is closed, the sewage cycle is closed; so once you are actually harnessing all of this, I think, you can make affordable buildings, high quality affordable buildings. I think that’s not a problem.
Kiran Venkatesh: We have been working for the last few years with this notion of Section, a notion of an interiorized project in which the body reacts to the volumetric quality of the space inside, so there’s very little of partitioning of spaces, there’s very little of interior volumes which are bifurcated, its more a sort of internal connection. Its like a huge cave which has these areas which are functionally demarcated either in section or by some other device of level difference etc.
Sanjay Mohe: We really don’t believe in a wrapper. We actually believe in the contents. So, we start designing from the inside-out rather than from outside-in. So, the moment you start looking at it from inside out, probably the aesthetics of the overall form is resultant of the inner needs.
Nagaraj Vastarey: As an architect I need to celebrate space first. Space making becomes extremely important whether from within or from outside.
Soumitro Ghosh: I just went and saw the Mill Owner’ s building in Ahmedabad. After years it still blows you. There are some buildings which move you immensely - I don’t know whether we are seeing it as architects as good design. There is a certain experience which other buildings don’t give you. Something just is beyond comprehension which is happening - brilliant, and they don’t look as if they are some kind of traditional architecture, they don’t look that they are so much in the future, but there is extreme groundedness in terms of the materials, the feel, the light and everything.
Nisha Mathew-Ghosh: ...And there is something more.
Rajmohan Shetty: and I still believe in Corbusier’s observation that the plan is the generator of space because it allows you to ponder and reflect what it is to occupy space and move through it.
Sanjay Mohe: As an architect, you are looking at it as a totality, you are not looking at a façade or you are not looking at a functional thing. You don’t jut stop at resolving functional aspects. You try to look at how the light comes in, how the air flows through, how do you harvest water, how do you make use of earth, nature, how can the building breath by itself and eventually it has to satisfy the aspirations of the client, it has to look at technology, it has to respond to climate. So there are several things which you look at from several different points of view at the same time and try to create a happy place.
Anjali Kondur Menon, My daughter | K.S. Ananthakrishna, RV School of Architecture | Hareesh Asnani, Space Matrix | Arun Balan, The Bodhi Tree | Arunjot Singh Bhalla, RSP Architects | Prem Chandavarkar, Chandavarkar & Thacker | Edgar Demello, Edgar Demello Associates | Anil Dube, Anil Dube Architect | Tony Kunnel George, Atelier d’Arts & Architecture | Nisha Mathew-Ghosh, Mathew & Ghosh Architects | Soumitro Ghosh, Mathew & Ghosh Architects | K. Jaisim, Jaisim Fountainhead | Ravindra Kumar, Pragrup | Manoj Ladhad, Architecture Paradigm | Sanjay Mohe, Mindspace | Akthar Nagaria, Pro-Design | Anup Naik, In Antis | V Narasimhan, Venkataramanan Associates | Janardhan Reddy, Janardhan Reddy & Associates | J. Sandeep, Architecture Paradigm | Rajmohan Shetty, Rajmohan Shetty Architects | Kavya Thimmaiah, Thimmaiah & Prabhakar | H.C. Thimmaiah, Thimmaiah & Prabhakar | Sathya Prakash Varanashi, Sathya Consultants | Nagaraj Vastarey, Pragrup Amoorthsiti | P.K. Venkataramanan, Venkataramanan Associates | Kiran Venkatesh, In Form Architects | Sudheendra Yalavigi, RV School of Architecture | Tharunya Balan
BATF: Bangalore Agenda Task Force | BMP: Bangalore Mahanagara Palike | CBD: Central Business District | CDP: Comprehensive Development Plan | COA: Council of Architecture | FAR: Floor Area Ratio | FSI: Floor Space Index | IIA: Indian Institute of Architects | PAA: Practicing Architects Association | (S): Student
Transcribed by Meel Panchal & Sucharita Hazra