It was just a day after B V Doshi—an alma mater of JJ College of Architecture, was named as 2018 recipient of Pritzker Prize, there was a masterclass in JJ College conducted by Consulate General of Italy. This class was part of the three-day event— Italian Design Day and was delivered by Architect Gennaro Cassiani. Stefania Costanza, Consul General of Italy in Mumbai introduced the session by remembering Doshi’s work and contribution of the college in architecture.
Cassiani, who was talking on ‘The design of continuity—Stratified Architectures’ at the masterclass, suggested getting a policy in place is the first step to preserve monuments. “In order to protect the monuments, there is a need to have a very well-done list of intervention that you can have for every protected building.” He added, “It is a first step and it is a political step supported by architects and technicians. It is important to survey all the monuments that have to be protected completely.” In Italy, if an architect destroys a historic building, they could even serve a prison term.
Meanwhile in India, there are no strong policies that would protect the structures.
Cassiani, who teaches architecture in the China, said, “There are a lot of historical building in India which shows that the country respects its culture and identity, which is critical. But in China, they destroyed nearly everything to build high-rise buildings. Thus, making it difficult to differentiate between beautiful and ugly. And know their history.” Sounding cautious, Cassiani feels knowing history is critical for any country or region.
Echoing the need to preserve monuments along with making them accessible, Rajiv Mishra, Principal of Sir JJ College of Architecture stated the country has many monuments that have to be preserved but the authorities are not hiring enough architects as per the demand. “The students of JJ School are efficient enough to restore/design projects that have historical significance. It is just a matter of providing them the right opportunity,” added Mishra.
Talking about opportunities, Mishra said his students have submitted their design of the ambitious textile museum at Kalachowkie to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The report highlights the design and technicality of the museum which will be part of the first phase of the construction of the museum. Apart from this, Mishra also pointed out that students along with BMC can work together in other projects like fire audits in public places and so on.
Mishra stressed that the students just need the right opportunity. He further revealed that there has been a long pending exchange programme between both countries—India and Italy. “We are hoping this exchange programme takes place again. This will allow students of both countries to understand and learn more.” This programme is pending at government level for few years now.
Along with Consul General of Italy, Mishra is also trying to chalk out various activities like contests, which will help students to learn more on Italian styles and influences.
Beyond student exchanges, Costanza revealed that Italy and India will look at other activities. She also ensured that both the countries are planning to have high-level meeting on design. “This meeting would look at improving production excellence of Indian artisans as well.” Costanza stressed that there is a need to improve quality and for that the Indian talents would need the right platform and that is where Italy can come in.