When India's 'STARicons', Charles Correa, Raj Rewal and Mahendra Raj descended on the stage for the climactic session of the Z-Axis Conference, there was roaring applause from the ecstatic 1K audience who had sprung to their feet at the Kala Academy in Goa. The coming together of these stalwarts who have shaped modern Indian architecture, needless to say, was a sight and moment to behold! (B V Doshi, who couldn't make it, was missed).
This session of this annual conference that was organised and curated by the Charles Correa Foundation brought an exceptionally fantastic culmination to the many ideas that had been conceived, seeded, disseminated, exchanged, and argued on for two days in March 2015. Themed 'Great City, Terrible Place'; this international platform, a no-holds-barred, honest and at times controversial medium, discussed 'cities' and the very role of an architect to define, through their interventions on the earth's canvas, the purpose of urban development.
Titled Z-Axis, the conference probed further in depth, into the third dimension of the discipline, which was reflected by its fascinating spectrum of speakers, representing consummate practices from diverse geographies and probing into various architectural theories, concepts and contexts. The conscientious audience of architects and students, bestowing the conference their complete dedication, didn't hold back from articulating themselves, either through astounding applauses on stunning concepts and rib-tickling anecdotes, or through challenging questions.
Cities the world-over are facing challenges (similar and some unique) in their planning and execution. The speakers, with their intense commitment to their subject and engaged with cities in different capacities, primarily spoke about their projects that reflected on their diverse approach on 'bettering' the cities. Prof Rafael Moneo, the key-note speaker echoed the relevance of 'context' and 'identity' of architecture and highlighted 'continuity' and 'maintenance' as the key words essential for the 'future of cities'. Ton Venhoeven rephrased cities as 'urban networks', and elaborated on the need of a 'circular economy' and a 'model-shift policy'. Christopher Benninger's projects were steered towards architecture that worked in cognisance of the urban environment.