Category Archives: Design

The Design Aesthetic of Modern Indian Cities

Indian cities have multiple aesthetics. As do all cities, and human settlements of varied sizes all around the world. This has been true right through history.

However Indian cities have a clear demarcation in terms of the urban aesthetics when looked at within the time frame of the last century.

The big four metros, all cities in existence for at least 400 years have an evolved sense of architecture and urban aesthetic that spans from the Mughal times to the British Raj. Each city got its own distinct version of style and look. However this sense of aesthetic took a nosedive post-Independence.

All of a sudden, for every great piece of architecture, there were 100 examples of very banal, characterless buildings. Entire sections of cities, or even entire small cities grew up with no sense of architectural character and style.

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Looking Westward for Design Talent?

Over the last decade, India has undergone change like no other period in its 60+ years of Independence. Besides the lifestyle changes, the transformation of the physical realm is going ahead at a shocking pace. Metros as becoming megalopolii and small mofussil towns are now competing for the title of regional hubs.

Infrastructure has not kept pace with this development in the way we would want it. A two hour commute from Gurgaon to NOIDA or Goregaon to Churchgate are the classic examples. However there seems to be a sense of urgency that is now creeping up….maybe a decade too late, to get things in order. Case in point, the new airport terminals in Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi all opening in the span of 12 months.

Gautam Bhatia, a very well know architect and writer talks about this event in his recent article in the Times of India and touches upon a very “touchy” topic. Why does India invite foreign architects, planners, and designers to conceptualize things for them. Where is the homegrown talent and the pride in the same.

His reasoning for the most part follows a very predictable arguement that has been tossed around for a few years. However from whatever I have gathered, there is a dearth of the technical expertise to somehow figure out the logistical and programming challenges that come with mega projects. And with the need to get them built as of yesterday; there is a very small margin of error for experimentation and a trial  error exercise.

It is only a matter of time, if not already in place; that Indian firms will have the expertise that they have picked up working side by side with these foreign firms to have the confidence to deal with megastructures and projects. Till then there is no shortcut out. Or at least one without risks.

Continue reading Gautam Bhatia’s article

Pride of India ?

By Gautam Bhatia / Times of India

When questioned about the cultural and technological stagnation that came with socialism, a bureaucrat in Nehru’s time once remarked that all the best work had already been done in the West, and we merely had to pick ideas for our own use. At a time when Indian inventiveness and productivity were state-controlled and highly suspect, borrowing made a lot of sense.

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Kings of Xeroxia

infosys_gec2

It is no secret that a lot of contemporary architecture in India is a recycled pastiche of western historical styles. Many feel that its a result of the Western colonization of India that ended only 60+ years ago. And brought about the strong undercurrent of Western influences.

Shruti Ravindran at Outlook India writes a very interesting article of how a lot of architecture today is a photocopy (“Xerox”) of buildings and monuments that are from another civilization in another part of the world and dont even belong in the previous millenium, leave alone century. She poses a very valid question today

“Why are we still emulating colonial structures? Where are our starchitects??”

Contextualism seems to be a “foreign” word to man

y architects who ape Greek and Roman architecture that even the Greeks and Romans of today dont follow. Some places would make Asterix and Obelix feel at home if they landed up in India today.

Kings of Xeroxia

By Shruti Ravindran / Outlook India [ link to article]

Critic’s View

  • Greek architecture is an absurd reference for contemporary India Still, why Greek?
  • This structure belongs in a filmset, not a place of learning
  • Using an ancient kit of parts—a touch of the Parthenon here, a dab of Capitol Hill there—how is this a building for our times?
  • Students will feel dwarfed here This is not sustainable and out of sync with Infosys’s character, based on the ideals of knowledge economy .

Counterpoint

  • Mr Murthy wanted something that looked like the universities abroad
  • Greek classical architecture lasted for centuries as will this institution
  • The plaza, the crescent shape, the musical fountain: everything about the building shows the transformative power of education
  • It’ll inculcate a sense of pride in them We have all the green gizmos. This building saves 60 per cent of energy as compared to others.

This September, two supposed marvels of institutional architecture were unveiled before the public. The first, in honour of the fast-approaching Commonwealth Games, was a Lutyens-style makeover—large white pillars and incongruous purple-black glass—for the Ajmeri Gate side of New Delhi railway station. The second was the spanking-new addition to the Infosys Mysore campus: the classical Greek architecture-inspired Global Education Centre-2 (GEC-2).

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Bobby Mukherjee : Sad State of Indian Architecture

Indian architecture scene is sad, rues Aamby Valley architect

By Shilpa Raina for Thaindian.

He is the man who recreated the luxurious living experience of America’s Beverly Hills with the famous Aamby Valley project in Maharashtra. But Bobby Mukherji believes that post-independence Indian architecture has little to be proud of.

“We have shown people enough monuments and architecture from history, but what have we done after independence? Nothing! If you look around, we lure the West with monuments made in the Moghul era. After that it’s zilch,” Mukherji, who is in his 30s, told IANS.

“I would like to do something for today,” he said.

Perhaps he already has – by designing the master plan of Aamby Valley in Lonavala, Maharashtra, which is spread over 10,000 acres of land and offers all facets of luxury living. It took shape during 1998-2003.

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Bumpy Rides: Redesigning Indian Transport

Darpana Sawant-Athale writes on transportation modes and the lack of ergonomics there in.

I slipped forward along with the seat, when the car braked. Then I adjusted myself, pushed the seat back in place and sat into an upright position, until the brakes were pressed again. By the end of the journey, I had a vague sense of my backbone and lower back becoming a single unit. The pain that followed left me with no sense of either in place.

Continue reading at Designology