In a one-of-its-kind gathering of architects, engineers, artists, planners, and academics on Saturday, the idea of setting up India’s first National Museum of Architecture in the Capital was mooted.

A brainchild of Greha, a Delhi-based non-profit knowledge-based society working in the field of environment development, habitat design and architecture, the idea immediately found three prominent hands of support.

It was backed by the Council of Architecture (COA), a statutory body under the Architects Act, 1972, which regulates the architectural professional and education; Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), a 97-year-old Mumbai-based national body of architects in the country; and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The deliberations held at National Gallery of Modern Art under M.N. Ashish Ganju, renowned architect and president of Greha, delved into how this museum should come up and where. They also discussed its role in public life, its purpose, and knowledge base of architecture. The meeting stated that there would be primarily three types of visitors - professionals, lay-but-educated people, and common people - who will come out of curiosity.

Mr. Ganju, who has taught in various colleges of architecture across India and Europe, said, “One of my students in India asked me in 1968, ‘what is the difference between an architect and an engineer?’ I was stumped by his inquiry. After a lot of thinking I told him that engineers construct the building and architects lead people to inhabit it. The problem is that Indians are still unaware of the role of architects. They largely can’t differentiate between an engineer and architect. ”

Unfortunately, he said, the architects are still seen as draughtsmen, who work for engineers and don’t have a creative on-the-ground role. “We make drawings for them which they execute. It certainly doesn’t mean that we are underestimating engineers, but our role is underestimated.” After suggestions from at least 45 people, who participated in the deliberations, a report would be prepared in three months and a model, on which the museum would come up, would be innovated. “We will approach both government and private bodies to join hands with us to build such a structure. ,” said Nirmal Kulkarni, a council member of Greha.