There is no doubt that today, for various reasons, our influence on society as architects is diminishing. We have to broaden our role to affect positive change. Today, we architects have a vital role in shaping our environment & should go beyond the design of individual buildings. We have to establish systems & principles for the growth & organization of our cities & our environment.
Architecture must arouse, inspire and feed the human spirit. The need is for professional concern with the environment and an improved quality of human life for all people. Hence the need is to train a new kind of professional who can intervene and be effective both in our poorer villages and our wealthier urban areas. We need designers who can plan, design and implement new developments working interactively with the community at large. If we follow the role of the traditional architect, we cannot meet this need. We have to go beyond buildings and work with programmes that transform society. Design has to be a process. I believe this can be done without compromising on creativity, innovation or quality of design.
That is perhaps true of many of the nations of this region, but the demolition man is busy at work in many of our cities wiping away the past at a frenetic pace. I believe that if we want the future generations to feel a link with their cultural and historic roots, it is imperative that we preserve the physical heritage of the past. If that link is lost, people will loose their sense of identity, their national pride and finally their self-esteem.
The earthquake-January 26th 2001 – It was a Friday. As it was our republic Day it was a holiday. I had moved into a high-rise apartment in Mumbai (Bombay) just a few months earlier. I was sitting at the dining table having a leisurely breakfast when I felt the floor below me shake. I first thought I was having a giddy spell and stood up, but then I notice the ceiling lights were swaying from side to side. It was an earthquake. It was several hours later that we found out that the epicenter of this earthquake was in Kutch in Gujarat. It measure 7.9 on the Richter scale and took place at 8.50 am with its epicenter near Bhuj in Kutch district. I had been to Bhuj many years earlier. The erstwhile Maharaja was a client of mine and I had gone with my family to his ‘Raj Tilak’ or Coronation. We had wined and dined at this place and it had been two full days of celebration. My next trip to Bhuj was going to be very different.