Tower of Babbel ……….

I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.1

Tamil Tiffany, Chandnichowk Chippendale, Akali Folly, Marwari Mannerism, Bania Gothic, Sindhi Revivalism, Punjabi Baroque. Where the hell will it end, Architectural canvas on public display on the Tower of Babble, the Urban building gallery unfolding, spiraling to a top with no end, a bottom without beginning, dark hollow inside, pretty faces all puckered outside, shouting see me, Kiss Me, Love Me, Just don’t ignore me. The tower shares no connection to land or cherished value, no connection to sun and rain, to the past or the future, it devours land, unconcerned with the earth and environment, spreading upwards across expanding suburbs, lending a self-consciousness and charm – a flair for the embarrassed gesture. A living memorial to itself, too much skill, too much labour, too many materials have already gone into creating all its styles. The Indian enthusiasm for free expression can convert a home into an Italian villa, an American Ranch house, an English Manor, A French Chateaux without the slightest twinge of remorse, After all, the good life can be had with the simple expenditure of wealth, And as long as it encourages self expression and not cooperation, no architectural desire is unreasonable. No Urban life can go hang I have my life, my innovation, my novelty, my wealth and my history. Leave it to me. Time wont ravage my rich heritage, No. It will only imbue the surface of the tower with the rich patina of history. Till the tower crumbles and becomes part of the earth – part of archaeology itself.

Pillared porches from an American Plantation Major, window moldings from an Italian church, Mansard roofs from a French Chateau, Unsure of his heritage the home maker uses these borrowed elements to make a picture of his new home, Innovation or novelty, The tower is an example of the apolitically applied art, varying elements assembled into a singular idea – serious intent without spirit or irony. A new Indian architecture, without theory and tradition, and with too many theories and too many traditions, Vitally alive at the moment of conception, inherently lifeless the rest of its days. An expression of domestic desires that says nothing of the quality of life that may be generated through design, nothing of the enormous possibilities that architecture made in consonance with the climate, terrain and materials of the place, held for bringing The occupants of The tower in tune with Their surroundings, Hah, That’s a bloody archaic view of architecture. The world has moved on, into a new future, buttressed by the hopes of a more consumptive life Luxury seems to play a role that no longer has its modest moments A savage wealth and culture of false mannerisms – an affluence without history, desperately plundering cultures and defining the unattainable dream for the masses, Maybe one day in The distant future, an archaeologist will unearth in his excavations the worm infested remains of the tower, He will withdraw from The rubble finely preserved replicas of Neo Tamil, Semi Palladian, Proto Gujarati Greco Roman facades with window Jambs and ornamentation of an unknown and untraceable ancestry, And he will draw from the rich architectural evidence, The conclusion that there was little difference in the life patterns of 21st century India, Colonial United States, Medieval Europe, ancient Greece and medal Japan. And he will need to dig no more,...

  • 1. Claes Oldenburg
  • Bhatia, Gautam. "Tower of Babbel." In Looking through Walls: Architecture in the age of McDonalds. New Delhi, India: Architexturez Imprints, 2001.