Category Archives: Profession

Architectural Licensing in India: Time to upgrade ?

Architects are licensed professionals. They pass out from accredited schools and colleges and after due paperwork are licensed to practise by the Council of Architecture, India. This is a government agency set up by an Act of Parliament.

In that respect, the new move by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority raises a few issues.

Architects, engineers and developers have strongly opposed the decision of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) making it compulsory to renew their registration and licences every year for projects within its limit.

According to them, the fiat issued this week is highly unwarranted and would not serve any purpose other than causing harassment and inconvenience to over 4,000 engineers and hundreds of builders, real estate developers.

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The Enigma of Hafeez Contractor

Amongst all professionals, no one gets his peers as riled up as does Architect Hafeez Contractor. And the reasons are many. Be it is “chutzpah” early in his career to go where no architect wanted to go in terms of fees. Be it his complete mastery and hence exploitation of the archaic Building Bye-Laws. And surely his dated designs that have sadly given Bombay much of its current image.

Rahul Bhatia at Open Magazine tries to bring the persona of Hafeez to life. This is a perspective of a non-architect looking at what an architect is doing to the urban fabric of the city we stay in and we all love.

Bhatia creates a fine balance in trying to bring out the issues without getting into any of the bias that clouds most architectural arguements concering Hafeez. And daresay I even agree with Hafeez on this one point

Hafeez believes the only reason people object to taller buildings is that builders lobby for permissions to build them, which means someone, somewhere, is making a lot of money. “Can you believe that?” he exclaims. He wants Mumbai to be taller so that there’s room for its inhabitants.

Hafeez Contractor is India’s starchitect, whether architects like it or not. It. At this stage in his professional career Hafeez could do a lot more to improve the overall urban quality of the cities he practises in. His clout with the developer, politician and his understanding of architecture and design should allow him to push a better agenda for our cities. Exploiting loopholes in the law is not one of them.

Rahul Bhatia / Open Magazine.

Deconstructing Hafeez Contractor

In Hafeez Contractor’s factory, hundreds of architects and draftsmen sit elbow to elbow to churn out buildings. From morning to night, their sole purpose is to draft and design the innumerable rough sketches that originate from Hafeez, who has a good view of the office exit. As a result, employees do not attempt to leave before dinner. When a project is over they immediately begin work on the next. There are no milestones, only more buildings to make. People here do not linger. They have been taught to respect time. The act of endless production has stripped them of most ideologies, bar one: the client’s happiness comes above all else. Here, the architect is as the dictionary defines him: a person who designs buildings. This is not about form follows function, or less is more, or envisioning habitats. The factory’s patrons know the worth of a buck, and they do not care much for architecture as art. Which is why they come here. They like their costs minimised, and design amplified.

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Notes from the Emerging Architecture of India Conference in New York City

The Emerging Exchanges: New Architectute of India conference was held last Thursday and Friday at the New School Campus here in NYC. Jointly hosted by the New School, India China Institute, and The Architecture League it brought together a great mix of practitioners from India.

Thursday’s first session was an introduction to the theme. Kazi Ashraf gave an overview of the current state of Indian architecture which was basically paraphrasing his article for the “Made In India” AD Issue of 2007. In showing a lot of proposals for projects he tried to cover ground about the typologies of emergent Indian architecture. However as Rahul Mehrotra pointed out later in the conference, most of them were just proposals and never ever left the drawing board. And sadly this would be a constant criticism of the conference over the next two days. More of that later in the article.

Some of the outstanding presentations were:

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Foreign Architects Rush into India

The profession and practise of architecture in India has undergone a complete transformation in this decade. The last eight years have been a boom time, not seen since the heady days of Post Indipendance India.

The booming economy and the burgeoning middle class has prompted developers to bring in foreign architects with foreign fees to design everything from airports to residential and office towers and bungalows and resorts.

Foreign architects bring in the tried and tested processes and function precision to bring about a complete turnaround in the way projects are designed and built. They pair up with Indian firms who have the expertise on the ground to get things done and built.

Foreign architects for the most part are bringing in foreign solutions and design principles which may not all work in India, but the public does not think a second before lapping it all up. We are literally bringing New York, Chicago, Tokyo or Shanghai to Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Madras and countless other towns and cities.

Only time will tell if this is successful in the long term. India is not the only place in the world where this is happening. China is way ahead of us in transplanting urban fabric from the West into their cities.

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Architecturally Lagging: India

A little while ago, I had posted a series of images of some of the latest architecture in China. Beijing and Shanghai have seen a sort of architectural renaissance, only seen once in a century. Every world class architect is present in China and producing great work. Of course this does not mean that the average level of Chinese architecture and urban scape heads for the better.

However, comparing India’s so called building activity on par with China, is by far a long shot. Business Week does exactly that in this article. Reena Jana, the author of the article is based in New York and remote-writing is very evident in the article.

I also don’t understand why Business Week would not get an architectural critic to write an article on architecture. I don’t think Reena Jana is an architect, and if she is, it does not show in her writing.

She says

While its glassy, futuristic design might evoke corporate buildings in Silicon Valley, the campus also features an Indian touch: a cricket pitch.

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Lack Of Professional Architects Causes Dismay And Concern

The article below speaks about the state of the profession of architecture in India. Some of the statistics are very startling and portray a very sad state of the profession. However a glimmer of hope for me personally is the mention of my alma mater Rizvi College of Architecture.

RCA has been mentioned as one of the three institutions in the country that are imparting a quality of education that is way higher that the generally dropping conditions nationwide.

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