The love of Indians for all things foreign is well known – and most real estate developers know it and take advantage of this fact. That is why many of them have been advertising their residential projects as being designed by architects of international repute, giving buyers the impression, thereby, that foreign collaborations mean apartments of international standards and better value.
However, by doing so, real estate developers could be violating a legal provision, ie, Section 37 of The Architects Act, 1972, which prohibits a foreign architect from working in India without the permission of the Central government.
That’s not all, in some cases, architects from abroad are emailing their designs to builders which are endorsed and signed off by their Indian counterparts who are then represented as actual designers of the project to get approvals from development authorities. In other cases, while Indian architects finalise project designs for a builder, foreign architects allow use of their brand (for a hefty payment) for advertising the project as one of international standards.
Witnessing many cases, the Council of Architecture (CoA), the regulatory body for architects in India, recently published a pubic notice in leading newspapers, which said “The CoA is receiving complaints regarding the violation of the (architects) Act by foreign architects/consulting firms/Indian architects/real estate developers and others by hiring foreign architects to render architectural services without following due procedure prescribed under proviso (b) section 37 (1) of the Architects Act, 1972.” It adds: “It is also noticed that Indian Architects (as defined under the Act) have been working as local /signing/ liaison architects for projects which have been or are being designed by foreign architects without ensuring compliance of the provisions of the Act.”
Tata Housing, campaigning for its residential project Myst, claims it has been “designed by renowned architect Llewelyn Yeang.” When asked if the company had sought the Central government’s permission to get the professional services a foreign architect, a spokesperson said: “Llewelyn Yeang has only provided guidelines for the master plan; whereas we work with CPK, a reputed Indian architectural firm and all architectural services as defined in the 1972 Architects Act by Council of Architecture India were undertaken by them.”
Delhi-based veteran architect Ashok Goel says he finds it “strange that Tata Housing is not using the name of CPK in its advertisements because it’s an Indian firm. On the other hand, a Western company which has just done the master planning, as claimed by the company, has been given a lot of importance.”