It has been assumed that the big city is the focus and apex of our development effort. Architecture is seen as an extension of the necessities of urban living. Consequently, architectural expertise is directed towards increasing sophistication in the urban built environment.
It is significant that urban planning paradigms in this century have been coterminous with the paradigms for industrial development; whereas in the past human settlements, both in rural and urban areas have grown in an organic and evolutionary manner. The present forces of industrial development have accelerated the rate of growth of urban settlements, which raises organised effort and education for planning and design of urban areas. Yet, the existing urban planning principles and techniques being applied to the development of human settlements and the built environment have little impact on rural settlements which are, by definition, agricultural in nature.
It is important to remember that rural people enshrine vernacular values. These values are born out of the land – a land which has an extremely varied geography – from high mountains, to big river basins, to deserts, to coastal areas, to rain forests, to the highlands of the Deccan plateau, and to the islands of the Andaman and Nicobar group as well as the Lakshadweep group.
This variety has produced over time a rich and plural vernacular culture, which successively generated an architecture of great diversity while representing a fund of traditional wisdom.
Our cities in contrast present a picture of increasing environmental and cultural degeneration, with shortages of life support requirements like water and power, degradation of air quality, proliferation of slums, and a social fabric coming apart due to rising intolerance and increasing violence.
Our architectural schools and their curricula reflect predominantly urban and industrial preoccupations, which cannot resonate with our people's original value frame and deeper aspirations. This leads to loss of motivation and an absence of inspiration, thereby reducing learning to a superficial exercise.
Therefore it is necessary to take a fresh view of the educational framework and make it responsive to the needs of the majority. A new matrix can be evolved to restore people's faith in their indigenous heritage, and directs them towards learning from their own environment.