The second essay to feature in the Architecture + Design (India) magazine, the CAADRIA media partner in South Asia, will evaluate the status and readiness of Indian architecture institutions: the educators, the mentors, and professional practitioners vis-à-vis CAAD imperatives. It will study as to how we might attempt the exacting demands of CAAD Research in India.

This technological change may be coupled with the conditions we encounter in India, Council of Architecture model architecture curriculum is a singular, monolithic document used to teach almost 20,000 students. It was last revised in 1983, it is older than most architecture students in the country today. A closer reading of the curriculum reveals that the vectors of architectural education are chained to legacy institutional formats of a historic extraction which served as a model. The influence of, say arts and crafts ideas is prominent. The vectors of western architectural education, almost to the point of emulation.

One understands the statutory frameworks as a map of the futures of the profession, a place where the sum of possibilities enjoyed by the profession are systematised. Where one cannot help but notice curious gaps in the CoA framework, recently instituted fields of inquiry such as Computer-Aided Architectural Design are conspicuously absent in the CoA nomenclature. One sees a curious ossification at levels that demand continuous transformation.

A stagnating, redundant framework reflects in the Council of Architecture “Registration Statistics”: of the 4,000 architects we graduate in India about 40% continue to practice in India. Most of whom choose to work in Metropolitan areas,1 where an overwhelming supply of professionals with near-identical skills creates intense competitive conditions in the marketplace. Many of our better students choose to migrate abroad, to places where there are markets for their skills.

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CAAD technologies, at a routine production level have been adequated in the profession in India, always raising high expectancies. We have seen them portrayed as a kind of a panacea, the exciting next exciting thing in the marketplace, often seen as sub-sets of specialised Information Technology skills, or multimedia skills. At the same time, we are yet to speculate as to how CAAD research can intervene into our institutions so as to structurally transform them.

CAAD research can address the situation stated above by analogy. It can be argued that CAAD brings about the momentous transformation in architectural design technologies since the early Renaissance adaptation of Cartographic technologies2.

It is a deceptively simple change, the conventional drafting-board techniques are replaced by computer mediated technologies. By doing so, CAAD replaces the conventional mechanisms by which designers interface with their tasks. This is a change in the semantic conditions of the profession, i.e., the languages deployed by designers in the routine tasks entailed by the production of architecture.

This change has the ability to affect the meaning of architecture by transforming our design languages, the mental representations and our ability to process concepts–the change in the interface by itself transforms the logic of discursive aggregates the internalised representations and categories by which we understand architecture.

This transformation is registered at an external level, CAAD mediated architectural representations are package information in a completely different way; and the technologies of creating and manipulating architectural information has given raise to a hitherto unseen divisions of labour within the profession. Entirely new ways of conduct in architectural practice and manufacturing have come about3. Digital technologies have brought about astonishing, new types of building materials, and new ways of producing conventional types. 

The analogy can be exploited with ease, it can be made efficient. Indian architectural educators can exploit the momentum of CAAD research to discover formalisation and divulgation techniques, a basic research may be brought about by which they can learn to concretise their local knowledges and expertise in durable procedures. Coupled with the advantages gained by the Indian Information and Communications technologies industry, the huge availability of manpower and skills, Indian academics an inherent resistivity to global competition.

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“We must incorporate new technologies in our institutional spheres; and, establish procedures by which we progressively transform the technologies so as to obtain Institutional reform; and CAAD research eminently suites this purpose” I have argued so far. I have also assumed a commonplace familiarity with the competencies found in Indian Information and Communication Technologies industry at large. I have also argued so as to qualify CAAD as a topic for Basic Research, a level where computational methodologies may be used by designers to test and train their intuitions; or at Pedagogic and Andragogy level where institutions may focus on intellection and symbolic analyses, and hope to undergo a structural transformation in their spheres.

Thought of in this way, CAAD, posits a yet another technê, it isn't thought in isolation, but organically, in the folds of the profession and education at that place in the continuum where the thinking about architecture, has its origins. A number of external dispositions in the profession's ambit need to be studies in this regards, especially, the transformations at the level of Certification Programmes4, where skills to manage the Information Technology and infrastructures – the routine, administrative competencies are produced. And at the level of at the level of industry and manufacturing, where the Light Engineering industries in India5 already possess unique dispositions, capital flows and know-how for us to quickly build competencies in CAAD related activities such as quality assurance and safety, project-and­ product life cycle management approaches, building information management approaches. At the level of services in a globalised marketplace, where Indian professionals are almost all set to compete.

The next essays in this series will close-inspect the ramnifications of CAAD research in these spheres. Anand Bhatt. (assisted by Gita Dewan Verma)

13th Oct, 2004 New Delhi. 

  • 1.
  • 2. See, Massimo Scolari: "Elements for a History of Axonometry." Architectural Design 55 (1985): 74; and Lemoine, J. G. 1958. "Brunelleschi et Ptolémee: Les origines géographiques de la 'boite d'optique.'" Gazette des Beaux-Arts 51: 281-96.
  • 3. We have already cited speculations concerning this in the previous essay: Routine production or symbolic analysis? India and the globalisation of architectural services. Paolo Tombesi, Bharat Dave (The University of Melbourne, Australia) Peter Scriver (The University of Adelaide, Australia) in The Journal of Architecture Volume 8 Spring 2003.
  • 4. See “No takers for computer courses”
  • 5. The Small Scale Industry (SSI) sectore, which is already predisposed towards localized, high quality manufacturing; and thanks to the state industries finance policies and taxation structures, capable of rapid absorbtion of new ideas.