Through his latest exhibition, Delhi-based architect Gautam Bhatia questions the premise of architectural practice in India.

"Wuthering Heights", W.C. City
"Wuthering Heights", W.C. City © Gautam Bhatia - 1. I have a modern open plan hovel with cross-ventilation available for rent under radioactive waste dump centrally located with flowing municipal drain nearby. Low rent ideal for executive on the move ...2. I have a guest room for rent at Ladoo Sarai fish market, near market urinal. Ground floor access is near Truck repair shop, opp. Baloo Sweet House. Bathroom shared with basement brothel and government printing press. Ideal for writer or artist.3. I am a Government of India diplomat currently posted as Ambassador to Bogota, Columbia. Am interested in doing drug business on the side, drug barons kindly contact Prakash, Embassy of India4. I am a UP burgler and MP with established history of petty crimes, recently settled in Delhi. I am seeking a joint venture collaboration with local thieves working in Parliament. Self-owned torch, pliers and rubber gloves...5. I am head of an iportant NGO doing charitable work in the tribal areas, also currently expanding gold smuggling operation to Dubai and other near-Eastern outlets, I need young boys and girls with distended stomachs and intestines to travel frequently to the Middle East. Send stomach lining sample. Box 113


The exhibition is about the non-arrival of architecture, because nothing is as it seems. There’s a town in a WC, which Bhatia calls WC City, or World Class City, while Bisleri Stepwell is a section drawing of a traditional stepwell fitted with a giant mineral water bottle. “It was ironic that during our travels to Gujarat and Rajasthan, we found stepwells empty, and people travelling to these traditional water sources with bottled water,” he says. The Courtyard City, he shows subterranean houses on a grid, almost like a chess board, each locked within their own cube. “Drawings give you an advantage of sketching things you can’t build. One way to question the premise of practice today is through such a medium,” says Bhatia, backed by nearly four decades of practice.

Those in the business of building cities too feature in Bhatia’s work. Emerging Power shows a potbelly emerging from a fibreglass block and sequentially the entire frame of a politician appears, the quintessential portrayal of one with a Gandhi cap and khadi kurta. Bhatia’s bronze sculptures are a nod to the living and working conditions of labourers in cities, living in cheek by jowl homes, pushing paper to get work done and forming queues for their daily wages.