Monuments need patronage: Bangalore

By Bijoy Ramachandran in the Bangalore Mirror.

Hassan Fathy, the celebrated Egyptian architect once said, “Every masterpiece requires a patron”. On seeing the large city-scale commissions coming up in Bangalore, I often wonder why our ambitions are so small both as architects and clients, and how the mere replication of facade elements and features serve as valid architectural manoeuvres.

In 1945, John Entenza, the editor of Arts & Architecture magazine in the US proposed the construction of eight houses in California as case studies to address the housing boom post World War II. Nationally recognised architects were chosen, sites were bought and earmarked and these houses were meant to demonstrate the use of new technologies and materials, accommodate a contemporary lifestyle, and be easy to duplicate and construct.

Continue reading here.


Mumbai: Aesthetics Citywide

NDTV writes

The Maharashtra government is taking its plans to transform Mumbai into a Shanghai to another level. So if you are in Mumbai, and you hang your clothes out of your balcony, or have not painted your building in years, you could now be asked to pay a fine.

In a move to make Mumbai into a world-class city, the Maharashtra cabinet passed a controversial proposal, pushed by the municipal corporation, that would give Mumbai a less shabby and a more aesthetic look.

“Mumbai’s skyline should look presentable. If someone doesn’t keep their building clean, the civic body will take appropriate action,” said Jairaj Pathak, commissioner, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Cities Real Estate

Mumbai Urban Overhaul: Sky’s The Limit

The TOI reports

In a ruling that could change the face of Mumbai, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for pulling down more than 16,000 pre-1940 buildings — including chawls — that have become dilapidated, and constructing modern high-rises in their places. The ruling has devised a win-win formula according to which people who occupied the old tenements will be given, free of cost, flats of the same size in brand new buildings. Other flats in the building can be sold by the builder, who has been allowed to make his money by relaxing the floor space index (FSI) to permit the construction of high-rises.


Architecture Cities Infrastructure

Re-use of Olympic Architecture post-event

As New Delhi gears up to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the issue of what cities do with star architecture projects post-event comes up. The article below looks at one such instance in the aftermath of Beijing 2008.

In a July interview with Der Spiegel, celebrated Olympic architect Jacques Herzog defended his decision to accept a signature commission from China, despite the nation’s abysmal record on human rights. The headline said enough: "Only an idiot would have said no." Given the reception that Herzog’s Bird’s Nest has received – it is no longer Herzog & de Meuron’s building, really, but China’s – his answer seems quite obviously correct.

But what happens when the Olympic Games are over? If precedent gives any clue, nothing much – or worse. World record-setting projects in architecture and urban design rarely pay off for host nations. Lack of use, expensive upkeep and bewildering construction costs have plagued cities that have undertaken similarly grand missions for the Olympics. No stadium created for the Olympics has been very profitable, and high design increases the likelihood that costs will balloon. In fact, it might be the host nation who is the idiot for saying yes to the starchitect.

Cities Master Plan

Jama Masjid Masterplan runs into a roadblock

Days before the Jama Masjid redevelopment plan is to come up for hearing at Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC), the caretaker of Delhi’s monuments — Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) — has expressed reservations about the project. It has warned the MCD that Jama Masjid area now comes under the buffer zone of World Heritage Site Red Fort and, therefore, no major changes can take place in the area.

At a meeting held recently to discuss the project, ASI officials feared that the Jama Masjid plan was sounding similar to the controversial Taj Heritage Corridor project where a mall and commercial complexes were due to come up between Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. It is learnt that ASI is not happy with the "commercial" aspect of the Jama Masjid plans, fearing it would affect the heritage value of the zone.

Cities Environment and Climate Infrastructure

Freedom Park in Bangalore Set to Open in November

A vital green space to beat the city centre rush, topped with a slice of history. On offer is a unique experience, as the BBMP gets ready to open the long-in-the-wait Freedom Park to the public in November, this year.

The 20-acre park, coming up in the former central prison premises on Seshadri Road, has had a long drawn record, ever since plans for the park were finalized as early as in 2002. According to the BBMP officials, delays in awarding contracts have been a key reason for the slackened pace of progress. With the run-up to the launch gathering steam, it’s time to look ahead.

It’s business as usual at the construction site. Labourers are busy completing the landscaping works, as work on reviving the prison barracks is also on. The basic structure of the 150-seater amphitheatre is in place, along with the auditorium.

Cities Real Estate

Sabeer Bhatia to build sustainable Nano City in India


From SF Chronicle, written by Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sabeer Bhatia plans a 17.6-square-mile city of world-clas… Nano City, as shown in this architectural rendering

Nano City India

A few days after his 29th birthday, Sabeer Bhatia sold Hotmail, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $400 million. Selling the Web-based e-mail service bought him a swank Pacific Heights condo with a panoramic view, buzz as the next hot Silicon Valley player, boldfaced name recognition in the Indian press – and eventually, one incredibly unchallenging year off playing golf and jet-set partying.

He became haunted by the question common to those who find wild success at a preternaturally young age: Now what?

Granted, over the past decade, Bhatia has had his hand in several technology startups and post-startups both here and in India, some mildly successful, some not. But his latest project is one that comes from the heart: He is trying to develop an Indian version of Silicon Valley, a sustainable city spread over 11,000 acres in northern India that he envisions will be home to 1 million residents employed largely by world-class universities and A-list companies that act as the country’s idea generators. He calls it Nano City.

Cities Infrastructure Real Estate

7 deadly sins of Indian design

Came across a very interesting article in LiveMint.


India is enjoying a design boom, but we seem to be making some odd — and expensive — mistakes

by Melissa A. Bell

Every other week a new design store opens in a major metropolis in the country. In every direction, buildings are coming up, hotels are being refurbished, and homes are being renovated. In the mad rush of design and architecture over the past few years, taste, beauty and urban planning have often fallen by the wayside. Here are the seven worst mistakes we’re making as we rebuild India.


Walk into any recently reopened design store on Delhi’s Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road or stroll through the shops in Mumbai’s Raghuvanshi Mills, and you’ll feel as if you’re trapped in a maze of mirrors: Every display looks the same. Didn’t you just see that gold pillow, decorated with sequins, sitting on a beige couch? Wasn’t that mahogany coffee table, inlaid with mother-of-pearl in a dragonfly design, in the last shop?

Designers say the customers take photos of products they like on their cellphones, and then take them to other stores asking for the same design. But even this does not account for the near-identical furniture displayed in different stores.

Most furniture stores have failed to establish any personality — they all meld into a blur of high-priced, straight-lined, contemporary looks that fail to stand apart, or surprise.


Sustainable Remaking of Mumbai

In a very thorough analysis of the "Remake of Mumbai Federation" plan Daryl D’Monte brings out the issues that will become the stumbling blocks as Mumbai (and all of urban India) try to negotiate the population explosion of the coming years.

Is the remaking of Mumbai sustainable?
A self-styled Remaking of Mumbai Federation (ROMF) has spun out a Rs.60,000 crore plan for redeveloping the city, which includes housing the urban poor in skyscrapers. Experiences show that this does not work for the poor, notwithstanding redevelopment’s own merits.

Continue reading the entire article here.

Architecture Cities

The Architecture of Delhi Today

I just came across an interesting article dissecting the architecture of Delhi over the decades.

But some architects question whether stark, strong-lined Modernism was right for young India’s capital. “We have this complex of not being modern enough,” says Aman Nath, who with Frenchman Francis Wacziarg melded historical restoration and tourism in their Neemrana Hotels, housed in forts and palaces. “So you copy what already happened somewhere else, but it already happened, so it can’t be modern. It’s always passé. Straightlined, geometric Modernism didn’t work here.”

Still, many architects say India’s early Modernists, through a dialogue with forms being developed abroad and vernacular architecture, successfully expressed an Indian interpretation of a particular style. But after the first two decades after Independence, it becomes harder to find architectural works that accomplish that.

Continue reading here.