Seema Kaul, Tribune News Service; New Delhi, February 21

Personal investigation through site visits, understanding the spirit of a building, functionality of design and its adaptability to local climate and tradition are among the many lessons renowned architect Raj Rewal learned from his teacher Cyrus Jhabvala.

Reminiscing about his three-day visit to Fatehpur Sikri with Jhabvala, Rewal said, “the first day was devoted to construction techniques, second day for spaces between buildings and third day for the complex’s functional and expressive concerns”. Rewal was delivering the first Cyrus Jhabvala memorial lecture on the theme “the essence of tradition in modern architecture,” held here on saturday.

Stating that Jhabvala shaped the thinking and attitudes of a generation of architects who studied at the School of Planning and Architecture, Rewal said he taught his students to imagine and visualise the entire building process on site. “He provoked us to consider if the building “spoke” to us...talking about the expression of the building, its functional aspects. He asked us imagine how the stone was carried to site, notches cut in stone and how simple elements like stone brackets to support sun shades were built”.

Traditions like jaalis (lattices) and courtyards are still used to keep out the heat and dust, said Rewal, adding: “We can achieve all the functional requirements of today without losing sense of poetry and underlying rasa (spirit).” The hall of nations in Pragati maidan, Parliament library and the State University of Performing and Visual arts in Rohtak are among the projects executed by Rewal.

Speaking about the lecture series, Professor Ram Sharma, chairman Executive Council School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) said: “Objective of the lecture series is to invite experts to come in and share their experiences with us”. Sharma, a contempora