On 5 July 2002 a group of architects met in SPA Delhi to react to remarks made by Mr Roy of Barefoot College at Tilonia in The Hindu and also on STAR News later. Some of us decided afterwards to place our views on record in the form of a Joint Statement, with a view to opening up a dialogue on the issue especially in various professional forums. We would like to emphasise that it is not our intention to comment or take positions on the controversy surrounding the Aga Khan Award that Barefoot College was given and wishes to return.

The Joint Statement of a few Delhi architects in reaction to remarks made by the NGO that decided to return its Aga Khan Award for Architecture after the name of the architect was included in the citation is part of a rare ‘controversy’. It is also part of a by no means uncommon type of conflict. The NGO’s defense of the role of ‘barefoot’ architects and the architects’ protest against the attempt to ‘un-define’ the architect seem valid stances in their own right. Why, then, a conflict? A month after it was issued, the Joint Statement seems not to have ruffled many feathers in the architectural profession and certainly not rocked any of the boats in which its trustees cruise. Who and when, then, will understand and deal with such conflicts that are becoming prominent features on contemporary professional terrain? A wider, deeper dialogue around the Joint Statement seems desirable, even necessary.

The Joint Statement

This is merely a statement of certain facts about the architectural profession and practice in India.

  1. In India an architect is defined by the Architect’s Act which specifies the education-training-certification-registration process for becoming an architect and it is not for anyone to ‘un-define’ an architect, calling him or her ‘not the architect, just the designer’ or anything else. Such obfuscation of specializations can only be to the detriment of quality in development.
  2. The precise professional role of the architect is governed by agreements between the client and the architect that spell out the scope of architectural services and it is not for anyone to dismiss these as mere ‘paper architecture’ or anything else. By logical extension of such illogic, all services and systems can be dismissed as mere ‘paper’.
  3. Professional education is institutionalised when folk wisdom, apprenticeship, etc, are considered inadequate and it is not for anyone to dismiss a duly qualified architect commissioned to work on a project as one just ‘learning from wise village men’, etc. Such dismissal of the worth of professional education in rural settings will only discourage professionals from working in villages.
  4. Architects provide specialised services directly to individual clients or through institutional (including NGO) clients for groups of users. The architect-user association is symbiotic, albeit limited in scope and duration, but it is not for an NGO, with longer association with users, to refuse to acknowledge the architect’s contribution or portray the architect-user relation as being anything in the nature of adversarial. This sort of thing will only abet societal conflict.
  5. The architectural product comes into being after inputs of several co-producers in design, construction, fabrication, crafting, finishing, etc – all skills supplementing rather than supplanting one another – and it is not for any one to posit that ‘credit’ can be given either to the trained architect or only to certain other co-producers. This undermines the ethos of synergy amongst co-producers.
  6. The Council of Architecture, as a statutory body constituted to regulate the quality of the architectural profession to protect the interest of society, provides a platform for redress of any grievance relating to the architectural profession. To by pass the Council and dramatically air ill-informed and unfounded grievances about the architectural profession publicly on national media is hardly civil behaviour.

The signatories, [petition] Professional Space.

  1. Shalinee Dutt. Architect. New Delhi.; -- 15/08/2002 17:25 GMT
  2. Nikhil Segel. Architect. New Delhi.; nikhil (at) segeldesign.com, -- 15/08/2002 04:47 GMT
  3. poonam prakash. town planner. delhi.; mindware, -- 13/08/2002 15:45 GMT
  4. Rajeev Maini. Architect. Delhi.; mainirajeev (at) hotmail.com, -- 07/08/2002 17:18 GMT
  5. ANIL NANGLA. DESIGN ARCHITECT. DUBAI, U.A.E..; nangla (at) emirates.net.ae, -- 07/08/2002 17:17 GMT
  6. Manjari Sharma . Architect. New Delhi.; -- 06/08/2002 15:29 GMT
  7. Arun Anand. Architect. New Delhi.; arunz (at) vsnl.com, -- 06/08/2002 15:24 GMT
  8. Pavan Mehra. Registered Architect. USA.; ppmehra (at) yahoo.com, -- 06/08/2002 13:31 GMT
  9. Ashok Mehta. Advtg & Media Consultant. New Delhi.; ashok (at) tvadindx.com, -- 06/08/2002 13:07 GMT
  10. Harsh Gupta. Architect. D-2/16, Darya Ganj, New Delhi.; -- 06/08/2002 11:59 GMT
  11. Tirtharaj Paul. Conservation Architect. INTACH, 71, Lodi Estate, New Delhi 3.; tirtharaj_p (at) hotmail.com, -- 06/08/2002 11:14 GMT
  12. Neeraj Manchanda. Architect. New Delhi.; nma (at) ndb.vsnl.net.in, -- 06/08/2002 11:06 GMT
  13. manoj mathur. architect. new delhi.; mmath (at) bol.net.in, -- 06/08/2002 04:54 GMT
  14. Preeti Goel Sanghi. Architect. Bombay.; sanghi (at) bom5.vsnl.net.in, -- 06/08/2002 03:47 GMT
  15. anil laul. architect. faridabad.; anillaul (at) vsnl.com, -- 06/08/2002 03:42 GMT
  16. Mihir Misra. Designer. New Delhi.; mihir1 (at) vsnl.com, -- 06/08/2002 03:38 GMT
  17. Nalini Thakur. conservation architect. Delhi.; rak1993 (at) ndf.vsnl.net.in, -- 06/08/2002 03:23 GMT
  18. shabnam patel. architect. visakhapatnam.; shabnam2 (at) sancharnet.in, -- 06/08/2002 02:31 GMT
  19. Minoo Verma . Architect. New Delhi.; vvarma (at) vsnl.com, -- 05/08/2002 18:36 GMT
  20. Sudhir Vohra . Architect. New Delhi.; svohra (at) vsnl.com, -- 05/08/2002 16:46 GMT
  21. Poonam Prakash . Architect, Planner. Delhi.; mindware (at) bol.net.in, -- 05/08/2002 16:44 GMT
  22. Anil Laul. Architect. Delhi.; anillaul (at) del2.vsnl.net.in, -- 05/08/2002 16:33 GMT
  23. Kanchana Ganesan. Architect. Delhi.; kan_urite (at) hotmail.com, -- 05/08/2002 16:23 GMT
  24. Rajat Ray. Educator, Conservationist, Architect. New Delhi.; -- 05/08/2002 14:51 GMT
  25. Gita Dewan Verma. Planner. Delhi.; -- 05/08/2002 04:14 GMT
  26. Anand Bhatt. Engineer, Architect. Ahmedabad.; interface.public (at) ab-a.net, -- 04/08/2002 19:18 GMT

The Endorsement process is now Closed.