Bring back Indian-ness in architectural design: FoAiD forum


Participating in a discussion on ‘Nature: Our Inspiration for Built Environment’, at the recently concluded Festival of Architecture & Interior Designing (FoAiD), a conference and exhibition for architectural design, in Delhi, eminent architects and designers has called for architecture designs which are native to India and doesn’t harm the nature and environment surrounding it.

Moderating the session, Babu Cherian, BCA Architecture, Calicut said that Indian-ness of architecture has been eroded by Western influence and it is high time architects brought back the Indian-ness in order to make projects contextual and sustainable. Most of the great architects of the world were all inspired by nature and celebrated nature in their works. However, modern architectural-style has made the world a dumping ground of alien materials, he said. While ideally today’s architectural designs should become pieces of heritage tomorrow, with the current trends most of current days’ designs are destined to become a burden for future generations, he added.


Participating in the discussion, eminent architect, Parul Zaveri of Abhikram & Panika, said that nature is a great teacher as far as architects are concerned and they should have respect to the nature. She urged architects to find time to visit the villages of the country, but not as “masters” rather as “learners”. By blindly following the modern architecture styles, architects are actually fostering “toxicity” to the nature. While our heritage structures survived for centuries without repair and maintenance, modern buildings would demand restoration in 30 years, she added.

Putting forth her observations, Swanzal Kapoor of Saka said it is time architects and designers become “activists” to fight against the damage that is happening to the nature and environment due to mining, deforestation, etc. Any construction activity would have an element of destruction, therefore the effort should be to reduce and minimize that damage.

Jayant Dharap, Studio Forethought, Pune suggested proper education about conservation from the school level to bring the awareness. He said that the connect with the nature of architects is multi-layered, and it therefore depends on which layer each architect associate himself.

Taking part in the panel discussion, Sonali Purewal of Sonali Purewal Design informed that a good design need not be a “perfect one” to be admired. Little imperfections in design is always appreciated.

Later, taking part in a panel discussion on ‘What has Changed: How we live now, how will we live tomorrow?’ eminent architects in the country observed that while the architectural designs have evolved over time with the life changes, aspirations of the people, etc., it would be difficult to go back to early days, in stead what is required is timely integration of accrued wisdom with modern technological advancements to create an alternative sustainable design model.

The session moderated by Gurpreet Shah of Creative Group, had eminent architects likie Siraj Hassan of Siraj & Renu Architects and Interior Designers; Raman Sikka, Sikka Associates; Hemanti Sutaria, PSA, Mumbai; Vivek Bhole, Neo Modern Architects, Mumbai; and Puneet Narang of KPMG.

Taking part in the discussion, Bhole observed that for initiatives like housing for urban poor to become successful country has to look for modern technology-oriented designs to deliver projects fast. The panelists also urged the construction industry stakeholders to “go back to drawing board” and integrate future technologies into design and construction. Design devoid of conventional building materials are required, the panel observed.

There were interesting presentations by Manit Rastogi of Morphogenesis, New Delhi; Abha Narain Lambah of Abha Narain Lambah Associates, Mumbai; Nandini Sampat, Somaya& Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai. In his presentation on ‘Sustainability: The Indian Perspective, the Global Context’, Rastogi said that 99% of the architects in this world addresses demands of hardly 1% of the population. He asked the question when animals and insects build their dwelling units in a sustainable fashion, why human beings follow the unsustainable models? He refused to accept the view that it’s the population pressure, energy demands, etc. are the prime reasons for unsustainable building practices. India require hardly 5% of its land to inhabit its population, each person getting 200sqm plot, he said. A proponent of passive design, Rastogi said that by following passive design model, energy demand can be reduced by 75%. He cited few projects he designed including Infosys building in Nagpur, a Technical institute in Kuka Industrial area in Jaipur, etc. to convey the benefits of passive design.

Abha Lamba spoke on ’10 things an architectural student is not taught in Arc schools’. She explained the 10 things by taking her audience through different conservation projects she was associated with during her career. Starting from her association with a Rs 15 lakh conservation project of a 15th century Buddhist temple in Ladakh, which she worked for three years and completed with the support of local people, Abha tried to explain challenging projects of conservation, urban infrastructure, etc. where she had to work with government departments, private people, business houses, etc., which otherwise are not taught in architecture schools.

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