The changing culture of architecture in modern India, both as a lifestyle and as a profession, has been eye-opening. In terms of lifestyle, we never predicted the extent to which architecture and design could affect us as well as the society and culture we live in, nor did we predict how deeply symbolic of our beliefs and attitudes they’d become. As a profession, the huge wave of development and technology that caused us to try and ape everything that didn’t belong to us, has made us question and search for our own identity and provoked us to revisit the solid traditional roots and foundation of Indian architecture.
The 'Architect' in Architecture
The ‘architect’ has evidently lost the authorship and exclusivity s/he once possessed—an observation that might be visible not only in India but in the profession worldwide. Today, the collaborative role of architecture instead rests on developers, clients, various consultants, and foreign firms, somewhere subduing the voice of the architect.
Speaking for the profession in India, it is imperative that the role of the architect be acknowledged more strongly, especially in the planning of cities. The Indian government’s massive Smart Cities Mission, which aims to develop 100 sustainable and citizen-friendly cities all over the country, has done very little to include architectural voices into the conversation. Same goes for our heritage structures that are being replaced by modern structures despite resistance shown by architects.
As a result, architects are making efforts and are regularly creating platforms that can give way to solutions to better architecture. Practitioners such as Karan Grover, Rahul Mehrotra and Naresh Narasimhan have begun to assume the role of activist. In addition to certain professional bodies like the Council of Architecture, Indian Institute of Architects and Indian Institute of Interior Designers, a lot of cities have very active architects’ groups who meet, interact, disseminate, and share their views on the profession and issues surrounding it. Numerous international architecture conventions are also creating opportunities of increased visibility. Here, major discussions on burning topics such as sustainability and the green movement, integration of urban planning and architecture, and the role of architects in the planning of cities, are being explored. These conversations about how architecture professionals can better society are also beginning to include conversations with planners, governmental bodies, environmentalists, citizens and psychologists.