Global stars to grace IIA National Convention in Bangalore

British celebrity architect Will Alsop, Turkish urban planner Cengish Bektash, Columbia University professor of environmental sciences Dickson Deshpommier and China’s brave new architect Ma Yansong are among some of the galaxy of international architects to grace the three-day national convention of architects in Bangalore from Wednesday.

The convention, hosted by Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) – a national body of architects founded in 1917 comprising nearly 18,000 members now – is to be opened by Infosys cofounder Nandan Nilekani at the Nimhans Convention Centre. Nilekani, a resident of Bangalore and author of his maiden book Imagining India will talk on how architects and architecture can make a difference in the new century, the future and role of architects in imagining India.

“This is for the first time a national convention of architects will feature only internationally known speakers,” conference convenor and renowned Bangalore architect K. Jaisim told India Today. He said more than 900 architects have registered for the convention.

“We are expecting a jam packed hall because several students of architecture are also keen to be at the three day meeting. We live in a globalised world and it would be interesting to know their schools of design and see how it impacts us. As Indian architects it is important to adopt the best practices from international design schools but we must be cautious enough to retain the local ethos in our drawing boards.”

Two other prominent architects in the city, V. Naresh Narasimhan and T.M. Thomas, are the other two convenors for the Bangalore conference. The conference will also provide peer to peer networking opportunities and provide a platform for architects to interact with experts from around the world.

Harvard-trained architect Bijoy Ramachandran, who runs an urban design firm Hundredhands in Bangalore, told India Today that he is hoping that the convention will give a good exposure to local architects to interact with their famous international counterparts. For instance, London-based architect Alsop is responsible for several distinctive and controversial modernist buildings mostly in the United Kingdom.

Fans of avant-garde architecture who adore this 61-year-old’s works would be keen to see what he says at the Bangalore convention. Alsop currently has practices in China, Canada and Singapore although his projects have been beyond the UK including the Hamburg Ferry Terminal in Germany and the one he designed, beating Norman Foster in a competition, the Hôtel du Département des Bouches-du-Rhône (seat of the regional government) in Marseille, France. Because of its shape and colour, the locals have nicknamed it Le Grand Bleu – The Big Blue.

The other speaker at the Bangalore conference, Professor Dickson Despommier, also teaches medical ecology, an emerging science that focuses on direct environmental influences on human health. As part of his ongoing research to new approaches to sustainable urban life, he founded The Vertical Farm Project that looks into how agriculture can be adapted and integrated into city living. The project envisions multi-storey indoor farming facilities that allow for year-round supplies of fresh, organic, and locally grown food.

Young star speaker Ma Yansong, originally from Beijing, received his Master of Architecture from Yale University and in 2006 won Architecture League of New York Young Architect Award. In 2008, his built works, Hongluo Clubhouse was nominated as one of the 100 designs by the London Design Museum. His works have won numerous international design competitions. On-going projects include the Sinosteel International Plaza, a 350m high rise tower in Tianjin Binghai New District, Erdos Museum in Inner Mongolian, China and Tokyo Island, the WORLD in Dubai.

The theme of the conference is “Architecture and Architects: Making a Difference”. The convention will focus on the significant role and the difference that architects have made in humanity’s aspirations for the development of a sustainable built environment and its continuing relevance to the future.

Some of the topics for discussion at the three-day meet include Bioclimatic inspirations–sustaining differently, Utopian and cybertecture: futuristic, experimental, Challenges in urban revolution, Culture: soul of architecture and Expressions: signature on designs.