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IN CONVERSATION J端rgen Mayer, J MAYER H ARCHITECTURE GMS Grande Palladium, Mumbai: MALIK Architecture Murugan House, Chennai: KSM Consultants SUSTAINABILITY (?) MANIFESTOES Jaigopal Rao & Latha Raman Jaigopal: INSPIRATION, Kochi CAMPAIGN: ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION Reforming Architectural Education: A G Krishna Menon SPACE FRAMES The Uncanny Presence of Development: Dinesh Abiram ETHOS Order

VOL 27 (1) | SEPTEMBER 2013 | ` 200 | MUMBAI RNI Registration No. 46976/87, ISSN 0971-5509 INDIAN ARCHITECT AND BUILDER


30 CURRENT Chairman: Jasu Shah Printer, Publisher & Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah Chief Executive Officer: Hemant Shetty EDITORIAL Assistant Editors: Maanasi Hattangadi, Ruturaj Parikh Writers: Rashmi Naicker (Online), Shalmali Wagle Design Team: Mansi Chikani, Prasenjit Bhowmick, Kenneth Menezes Event Management Team: Abhijeet Mirashi Subscription: Dilip Parab Production Team: V Raj Misquitta (Head), Prakash Nerkar, Arun Madye Head Office: JMPL, 210, Taj Building, 3rd Floor, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001, Tel: +91 22 4213 6400,+ 91 22 4037 3636, Fax: +91 22 4037 3635

Au courant updates on events, exhibitions, competitions and news.



Showcasing the possibilities and potential of virtual technology, HP

HP World Tour, Beijing unveiled their new collection of products and services that enables higher mobility, accessibility and flexibility on June 24 th and 25 th 2013 at Beijing.


Objects and details designed for architectural settings from across the globe.

SALES Brand Manager: Sudhanshu Nagar E-mail:



MARKETING TEAM & OFFICES Sales Co-ordinator: Christina D’sa Email:

Bengaluru-based Play Architecture designed a complex housing scheme of

Mumbai Parvez Memon 210, Taj Building, 3rd Floor, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001, Tel: +91 22 4213 6400,+ 91 22 4037 3636, Fax: +91 22 4037 3635 Email: Delhi: Preeti Singh / Manu Raj Singhal 803, Chiranjeev Tower, No 43, Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110 019 Tel: +9111 2623 5332, Fax: 011 2642 7404, Email:, Gujarat: Parvez Memon Mobile: +91 9769758712, Email: Bengaluru/ Hyderabad: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: +91 9833104834, Email:

new age serviced apartments that derive from the structural capacity of the

materials to inform the design.



Experimenting with Convention

Jürgen Mayer gives us insight into his early inspirations that shaped his drive to continually challenge conventions and experiment with contemporary expressions.



Renegotiating a Paradigm

Redefining the precedent for the design of commercial spaces, the GMS

Chennai / Coimbatore: Princebel M Mobile: +91 9444728035, +91 9823410712, Email:

Grande Palladium in Mumbai by MALIK Architecture encourages a more

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt. Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 Printed at M.B.Graphics, B-28 Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG.D.Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.

inclusive work culture through it parameters of design.

Kolkata: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: +91 9833104834, Email: Pune: Parvez Memon Mobile: +91 9769758712, Email:

Afallon – Serviced Apartment at Whitefield, Bengaluru


Juxtaposing Identities

KSM Consultants designs Murugan House in Chennai giving due importance

to quality space while addressing the challenges of space constraints.



With a practice focussed on being relevant and insightful in the present

context, Latha Raman Jaigopal and Jaigopal Rao of INSPIRATION, Kochi share

their unique take on sustainability.

Latha Raman Jaigopal & Jaigopal Rao

68 CAMPAIGN Reforming Architectural Education

A G Krishna Menon elucidates on the need for a progressive approach to

architectural education that challenges existing conventions in order to

explore and develop its new positioning.



Gert Jan Scholt, Pelle Poiesz and Sanne Vanderkaaij Gandhi recreate the

essence of Mumbai by analysing its historicity and current architectural

paradigms to give a wholesome overview of the architectural scenario in

the city.



The Uncanny Presence of Development

Learning from Mumbai, Practising Architecture in Urban India

In this edition of Space Frames, Dinesh Abiram analyses the conflict of

identity in the urbanising town of Siddhpur, through a series of unsettling

images showcasing its development.




Elements of space-making in indian architecture are integral to the notions of circulation, proportion, movement, interaction, vision, comfort and delight. The fifth edition of Ethos discusses the models of order employed in making powerful compositions.

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt. Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Printed at M.B.Graphics, B-28, Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG.D.Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.



Designed by Min Chen, the Hangzhou Stool is as much a depiction of the culture of Hangzhou as the design acumen of present-day Chinese designers.

THE HANGZHOU STOOL Text: Anusha Narayanan Images: courtesy Atelier Chen Min


esigned to encapsulate the leisurely lifestyle of Hangzhou city, the Stool is a simple composition of arched bamboo veneers. Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty in the 12 th Century AD, still remains a significant metropolitan of today’s China. Celebrated in history, literature and art, its picturesque landscapes, and water that has been centrifugal to its fame with the West Lake, are the main tourist attractions. The Hangzhou Stool is a namesake of the city. The Stool is composed of 16 layers of bamboo veneers, all of varying lengths and 0.9mm thickness. These veneers are bent into an arch and glued together at the two ends till a length of about 25cm. They are further pinned at the bottom by a singular raw bamboo stick piercing through all 16 surfaces. The flexed veneers are a physical manifestation of the two elements identifiable with Hangzhou; water and ‘flexibility’ or ‘adaptability’. The layers of bamboo, seen in profile, resemble ripples on the surface of water. When one sits on the Stool, the surfaces bend as a response to the pressure exerted. This elasticity renders the Stool adaptable to varying weights. Designed by Min Chen, it embodies the sensibilities of its creator, who believes in exploring ‘design as a language’ seeded in the history of its birthplace. An industrial designer by training, Min Chen’s journey treads on evolving an indigenous philosophy poised between the tradition, convention and logic of language and the amorphous fluidity of design.

Designer: Min Chen Contact: Atelier Chen Min Huajiadi Nanjie 8, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China Tel: Web: Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013




The winning entry at the Shitsurai Art International Competition, Kobe Biennale 2011 – the Crater Lake installation by 24° Studio is a versatile model that induces activity by design and not by imposition.

Images & Drawings: courtesy 24° Studio

Disasters have a relentless impact on human life. Irrefutably, they make us rethink our principles of habitation. The Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995 in Japan, left an indelible impact on the city of Kobe sparing only the natural landscapes. Inherently a persistent society, the city overcame these losses due to the resilience of their closely knit community. Once normalcy was restored, however this quintessential bond was felt to be waning. The Kobe Biennale 2011 organised by the city of Kobe provided 24° Studio an ideal platform to mull over this concern; thus, Crater Lake - a wooden installation which won the Shitsurai Art International Competition - was conceptualised. The Crater Lake is intended to capitalise on the scenic location of Shiosai Park - a man-made Port Island overlooking the Kobe urban centre, with mountains and sea in the backdrop. It can be used in its entirety by children to play, people to sit, lie down leisurely, stretch out in the sun or in shade, face the breeze or be shielded from it, or gather in groups with the additional seating stools, providing options to move around.

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The design is hypothesised with an intricacy that could only be achieved in wood. It is fragmented into 20 buildable parts, based on the overall surface expression. Each fragment is a radial section made of cross-braced freeform ribs and horizontal supports. Each section is made of 64 wooden planks laid on three structural ribs wherein the spacing is based on the anticipated traffic and usage of the section. For instance, in areas where the activities anticipated are of high agility and footfall, the planks are tied much closer together. The installation employs studs as structural members and 30mm x 60mm treated cedar wood for the surface.

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Designer: 24° Studio Contact: 5-2-21 Sakaguchi Dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe 651-0062 Japan Tel: +81 78 242 6611 Email: Web: Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013



A 3D rendition of the finished building.

Afallon - Serviced A par tment Whitef ield, Bengaluru

Afallon, a complex housing composed of new age serviced apartments in Whitefield, Bengaluru, designed by Play Architecture manages to create a distinct vocabulary in the context of contemporary Indian architecture, by harnessing the structural capacity of the materials to configure the design. Text: Archa Desai Images & Drawings: courtesy Play Architecture


ituated in a constantly evolving IT suburb of Whitefield, Afallon was missioned originally as a collection of studio apartments. Addressing the insistence on easily accessible furnished living spaces in Bengaluru, it was transformed to deliver as premium serviced apartments. Referential to the burgeoning context, the programme demanded an aesthetic which would reflect its cosmopolitan demeanour. Elaborating on the conception of the project, the designers explained,�Multiple schemes were worked in order to achieve the best possible configuration of units and the project was assigned to Play Architecture on the basis of having satisfied both qualitative and quantitative demands of the client. The design had accommodated three residential blocks with Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

120 single bedroom units, a reception block dedicated for some commercial activities and three presidential suites also serving as a reception cum entry block for the entire complex.� The four floors, housing the 120 units, constitute a total built-up of 6967.7sqm (75,000sqft) of which the 480sqm earmarked for the reception blocks was distributed equally among four floors and120sqm was allotted for the main reception on stilt level. It accomodates the lift, staircase and toilet blocks continuing throughout all the levels. The planning is conventionally refined with the entrance leading one to a reception block, and unto the 120 units retrofitted above. The stilt floor is devised as a lotus

construction brief


The façade, part of the initial design process transcended into actuality - the Ferro-concrete balconies under construction.

pond that mesmerises and counterbalances an embodied sense of visual aesthetics. The floor plates are divided into two by a corridor which is enhanced by slits on the sides, to keep the interiors well illuminated and ventilated through the day. The overall articulation of the spaces is approached with simplicity to counter the introduced complexity of the form. With the programmatic possibilities evolving with each phase in design, there were numerous variations in the initial form of the design which was improvised upon for the final conceptual framework. The architects deliberated on various iterations before actualising the final structural system. The basic structure was to be a Cartesian grid in RCC and the semi-structural balconies in Ferro concrete clung on to it with a web like structure, breaking the rigidity of a formal grid. These webs are detailed out to hold the aluminium mesh, which would help keep the interiors cool. Explaining the feature, the architects said, “The mesh in isolation creates a visual treat through its shimmer as the morning and evening sun falls on the southern surface making the fluid screen vibrant.” Zeroing on a novel concept, the architects repurposed the monotonic functionality, and initiated their design process with the decision to redefine the character of a façade. Instead of an exclusive element that solely wraps around the building, it is composed to be a part of the structural system. The balconies penetrate into various parts of the building as a semi-structural

The edge of the balcony holds the aluminium mesh, which contributes to the elevation.





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element, extending the façade indoors and interweaving it with the structure.








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A stable structure, governed solely by the requirements of the programme, is now raised above the ground to allow uninterrupted movement of people and automobiles. The reception block reflects this exploration into the structural possibilities. Its influence on concurrent levels of spatial organisation was recognised, and it was constituted as a space to reinforce the relationship between the structure and the forces that prevail across all elements of building. A curved concrete wall to sustain partial load of the first two floors is introduced. The wall converges seamlessly into the second floor slab, creating a dynamic double height entry at the stilt level. The second slab culminates into a network of steel sections, grounding the building.





The execution of the waffle slab on site.



Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


The services are well concealed in the circular shear walls that also assist structurally in the load transfer. After appropriate analysis, certain parts of the cores are carved out to give entry points. The space around these cores houses restaurants and bars at the lower level and the presidential suites above. The first floor is the spine that connects the entire serviced apartment complex. Sketches by the architects, defining the forces that pertain to the structural system, inspired the structural team to design the structure on the similar lines, and it was decided that the slab system would be a ‘voronoi’ waffle. It strengthens the architects’ initial concept of integrating the structure with the building elements and aesthetics so as to develop a distinct language. A cost verification at this point resulted in letting go of the partial external skin, which braced the cantilevered structure. This wronged all the previous structural calculations. The architects added, “This skin was developed in coherence with the voronoi-like slab and losing it was a very sad moment of the complete process. The eccentrically rested cantilever of six meters seemed to develop more bending than expected. The hogging resulted in unrealistic beam depths hindering the process of other services.” The idea had to be resolved and reworked to attain essential structural strength of the building. The designers along with the structural engineer took upon the challenge of designing a safe and stable support member that would work in accordance with their concept. Describing this process, they mentioned, “Sketches were attempted to ground the point as we interpreted series of arches in steel converging at a single point to counter the tension. This evolved slowly to form a branching tree-like structure resting on the doubly curved concrete wall creating an interlock and behaving


The form work in mud and brick, to get the shear walls with desired cut outs for the entry points.

The cut outs in the shear walls.


as one system. This support in combination with some steel hangers at cardinal intersections at the upper level solved the structural requirements.” Though there was a certain degree of compromise, the intention of evolving the design without veering from the original concept was preserved. The intuitive patterns and decisions headed the design process. Placed amidst a plethora of formal architecture, the building associates the façade to the internal spaces and the structure and illustrates the ongoing transformation in contemporary architecture.

3D view from the entry point, exhibiting the working of the structure in totality.

FACT FILE: Project : Location : Architect : Design Team : Client : Structural Engineer : Civil Contractors : Carpentary Contractors : Project Estimate : Initiation of Project : Completion of project :

Afallon Serviced Apartments Whitefield, Bengaluru Play Architecture Senthil Kumar Doss, Deepak Ramadasan, Poonam Sachdev, Pandian SM, Sanal Suresh, Sarfraz, Balashanmugam, Ayeesha Patel Mr Vijay Jadhav and Nikhil Jadhav Akruti Developers, Bengaluru Manjunath and Co, Bengaluru Gunashekar and Co, Akruti Developers Rahul Associates `15 Cr 2009 2013

Study model detailing out the curved wall that converges into the second floor slab. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


Experimenting with Convention

Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

in conversation


Jürgen Mayer gives an overview of inspirations that shaped his career out of challenging stereotypes and, a continued experimentation with material applications. His commissions, though diverse in scale, always push boundaries of wonted norms and delight the contemporary eye. Images: courtesy J Mayer H Architects

Jürgen Mayer H is the founder and owner of J MAYER H Architects, a cross-disciplinary studio based in Berlin, focusing on architecture and spatial practices. He has studied at Stuttgart University, The Cooper Union and Princeton University. His work has been published and exhibited worldwide and is part of numerous collections including MoMA, New York and SFMoMA. J Mayer H has won numerous national and international awards, some of which include the Mies van der Rohe Award as an Emerging Architect, Special Mention in 2003, winner of Holcim Award Bronze in 2005 and winner of Audi Urban Future Award in 2010. IA&B: You have studied at the Stuttgart University, Princeton and The Cooper Union. How, would you say, have these different schools shaped your architecture and the processes involved in practice? JM: I was impressed by the pedagogical concept of The Cooper Union and wanted to extend my studies at Stuttgart Universities in that academic context. Later on, I went to Princeton University to add a critical discourse to my educational experience. Since then teaching is an extremely important element in my discourse on architecture. I am mainly interested in how cultural phenomena condensate on architecture, frame new challenges in how we produce and look at architecture and how we can speculate about the future role of architecture. Columbia University, where I was teaching last, has recently developed into a breeding ground of intense enquiries toward that uncertainty of what architecture is. Students become scouts and specialists, or even better ‘speculationists’. What can be tested in a semester as a theoretical thesis is what, in parallel, concerns us in our practice.

IA&B: How does your work address a particular site or context? Can you describe your process of conceiving a form and developing it to realisation? JM: We try to establish parameters as a skeleton or framework for the project. These are conceptual conditions rather than design driven compositions, based on a client’s brief, contextual references and programmatic logistics. Houses and larger buildings focus on an overall atmosphere, including light, sound, noise, colour and texture. The way we detail and select material is based on the specific requirements for each part of the building, a complex patchwork of material selection with a homogeneous appearance. IA&B: Town Hall Ostfildern was one of the initial projects where you explored interactive technology. What is its scope and relevance in our present context? JM: Winning the Stadthaus Scharnhauser Park competition was an inspiring success and building this special town hall as our first project was an important step to test earlier speculations

Akhalkalaki Railway Station, Georgia. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


and concepts in real space. In the last few years we have had about 20 projects in the office, besides competitions, art work and exhibitions. Some projects go on full speed, others need some patience. Every project is unique and in different locations. Sometimes we do collaborate with the same companies, but most of the times we prefer the fresh input of different partners in terms of what can be done and what should be done. IA&B: Your practice uses cutting edge technology to shape low-tech old materials. Can you comment on how the relationship between the two works? JM: Part of the research that we do is with companies at the forefront of material development. New programmes, new requirements like sustainability, atmospheric demands and even duration and lifetimes, ask for new construction methods and a more complex performance of materials. For me it is interesting to see what happens if you use new materials and traditional ones to challenge conventional understanding of space. IA&B: The Metropol Parasol in Seville, renegotiates the belief that urban centres need to blend in with the cityscape to generate activity. Do you believe that iconic architecture can act as a catalyst for cultural and economic revitalisation of an urban space? JM: Metropol Parasol is a magic project. Based on an archaeological window into the history of Seville, the parasols Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

cover the very heart of the city for a new urban place for the 21 st century. Metropol Parasol covers history, hosts the everyday life in the food market or in commercial spaces, offers open public space for events and contemplation, and it refers to a ‘visionary’ culture with rising structures to elevate visitors onto a panoramic Seville city view on the roof-scape. All these different programmes are open and active at various times of day and night. Actually Seville, as with most Spanish cities, is very close to a 24 hour urban space. Whenever you walk around in the city, there is a lively, energetic atmosphere. As much as the parasols provide shadow during the day, night-time becomes even more important when Metropol Parasol creates an atmospheric cover for various forms of public activities still to be invented. IA&B: In Joseph Cory’s article, ‘Realising the Endless’, many parallels have been drawn between you and Kiesler. Do you relate to the avant-garde tag? JM: Looking back, we can see how society’s idea of how we should live and with whom we should live has constantly changed. Family structures have evolved, new forms of cohabitation have emerged and increasing numbers of singles are settling in cities. I am mainly interested in how cultural phenomena condensate on architecture, frame new challenges in how we produce and look at architecture, and how we can speculate about the future role of architecture. But when I get asked to speculate what the


passive mode of expectation to an involved level of participation and attention. The book ‘Arium’, realised in co-operation with Neeraj Bhatia, is a guidebook to Weather and Architecture. Examining the relationship between the atmosphere, built environment, culture, and politics, this comprehensive research project offers an in-depth look at our contemporary understanding of weather through critical examinations of design and architecture.

Metropol Parasol – Redevelopment of Plaza de la Encarnacion, Seville, Spain.

future of architecture would be, I have to tell that I am not able to do that, because I am still trying to figure out what it means today. When we try to make assumptions of the future, it is mostly our projections of what we see today. IA&B: You work on product design, graphic and art as well. How do they work in tandem with one another and how do they supplement your architecture? JM: I do not see much of a difference between art, product design and architecture. Architecture tends to be more complex because it involves so many layers of creation and getting things done, which can be equally painful and joyful. There are rules, clients, a political dimension, even, such as when projects fall within election schedules, which often occurs with the public projects that we are involved in. They make it the art of negotiation more so than the art of creation.

IA&B: Among your contemporaries, whose work or process of design do you admire? What aspects of their work do you find intriguing? JM: One designer, artist, theoretician and architect that I admire is Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965). Kiesler sought to dissolve the visual, the built reality, image and environment into an interconnected multidisciplinary space. He stands out as a role model for a spatial practice that puts programmatic and material innovation in the centre of design research. Since the advent of digitalisation and a broader international education these aspects explored by Kiesler support a more complex design and production process with many young international architects today.

IA&B: You have described your project Cumulus, in Danfoss Universe, as a ‘communication between ground and sky’. You have always been interested in the relationship between nature and building. Do we see an extension of this in your book ‘Arium’? JM: Danfoss Universe is a science park dedicated to opening eyes and raising curiosity to explore the world. With our buildings, architecture becomes a major component in the educational and pedagogical landscape of Danfoss Universe. Architecture should work as an activator to move people from a

IA&B: What types of projects is your firm currently working on? What other novel innovations can we look forward to in them? JM: I am very happy with the way we generate work, the way the J Mayer H team creates a lively discourse. The satisfaction is first about the team spirit that is the basis of these projects; the result of our process then becomes the basis of our designs. At this point, we have projects all over Germany and abroad, international projects like a court-house in Belgium, some infrastructural projects in Georgia like a train station and rest stops, two high-rise projects and a new building for a private university in Duesseldorf, Germany, just to name some here. Many more projects are under development right now. Additionally we work on exhibitions in Germany or abroad presenting our art and architecture works to the public. I am very curious to see how our speculations about communications and public space might transform once they are handed over and begin their own life.

FOM University, Dusseldorf, Germany.

Danfoss Universe - Extension (Phase II) Food Factory and Curiosity Center, Nordborg, Denmark. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013



GMS Grande Palladium: Setting a new paradigm for commercial design.

Renegotiating a Paradigm Redefining the parameters of commercial spaces by challenging their usually efficient yet rigid functionality, the GMS Grande Palladium in Mumbai by MALIK Architecture bridges both commercial and social considerations in the recreation of a new paradigm of design. Text: Chandrima Padmanabhan Images & Drawings: courtesy MALIK Architecture Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013





he growing commercialisation in Mumbai is apparent in the skyline of the city which is crowded with towers of varying heights. The planning of these offices, however, does not reflect the evolution of work culture over the years. By designing a way of life that disallows any room for flexibility or development of programmes, these only serve as sterile landmarks in a disconnected world. In contention to this, the GMS Grande Palladium, by MALIK Architecture, which houses the client’s office and four levels of commercial space for sale, sets a precedent for iconic yet responsible design. Located in Kalina, a newly developing business district, the resultant six-storeyed office building built over 180,000sqft, does not provide all the answers to the complex issues of the day, but it raises valid questions on the prevalent generic process of design. In refutation of the soulless glass box, which has proliferated through much of the city including the neighbouring Bandra Kurla Complex, the Palladium makes a deliberate attempt to visually illustrate its design considerations. The design of the building was influenced largely by external factors and as a gated corporate space it can only be experienced by the public through its imposing visual mass. This volume, shaped by the diurnal cycles of the sun that is evident in the placement and angle of the fenestrations, and by the desire to visually lengthen the proportion of the structure, is contiguous to the façade which was conceptually derived by the architects from their perception of the context. According to them, the road-facing edge of Dharavi which consists of a mélange of recycled metal, patched together, formed the motivation behind the similarly stitched aluminium

Raising the building by 8 meters frees up space for a landscaped court, activating the intermediary space as a social one, rather than just a transitory one. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


Juxtaposing Identities

A dense row of houses eases out into an independent, compact & introvert dwelling at the corner. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013



The staircase concealed under corrugated metal sheet is a formative component of the identity of the house.



The southern face of the house is shielded with teak wood louvers, to mitigate the heat but allow the southern breeze into the built.

Murugan House in Chennai by KSM Consultants imbibes architectural elements to formulate identity into a habitat, addressing the conventional dilemma of space constraints without compromising on the quality of spaces. Text: Archa Desai Images & Drawings: courtesy KSM Consultants


n one of the quiet suburban bylanes of Chennai, a modest little house layered with wooden louvers on one side and a staircase extrusion concealed in corrugated metal on the other, punctuates the well-knit fabric of row houses. Rising aloft in a 12m X 9m cornered site, the Murugan House designed by Chennai-based KSM Consultants, intrigues one with its individualistic charisma. Bound on the west and the north by three-storied structures, the site opens out to 6m wide roads on the southern and the eastern sides. Looking easterly towards a children’s park across the road, the house liberates itself from the typology of row houses. Essaying the client`s aspiration for a domestic haven that would echo with their spirit and singularity, the architects programmed a 110sqm house with a living room, kitchen, dining space, utility and two bedrooms in an inset of 5.5m x 9m - a remainder after deducting 1.5m on the southern, eastern and northern sides as required by the zonal regulations. The eastern and the southern

road-facing edges lead to a small gated entrance and a parking entrance respectively, serving as a walkthrough to a striking red door levelled above the raised plinth. The planning in the interiors spans out in a fragmented approach wherein the functionality is derived from an interplay of levels. The minimalistic white interiors stand in complete contrast to the dynamic exterior. A shaft of light streaming through the linear triad of windows greets one at the narrow stretch of the foyer. Unrestricted overlooking spaces confine the functions without segregating the territories. Descending two steps below, on the right one enters the kitchen, which accompanied by an L- shaped dining space and utility, further extends out into the family seating. A powder room juts out in the adjacent parking space. To the left, a staircase in its warm wooden hue confronts the door. The staircase has an intermittence presence which divides as well as connects the staggered levels of the house. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


Extracted from a rigorous understanding of need for design, from the complexities appertaining to the Indian subcontinent, Jaigopal Rao and Latha Raman Jaigopal`s practice focuses on being insightful and relevant.

Jaigopal Rao & Latha Raman Jaigopal INSPIRATION, Kochi Architects Latha Raman Jaigopal & Jaigopal Rao, Principals at INSPIRATION - a team that constitutes of architects, interior and product designers, landscape designers, planners, trained artisans and technicians, horticulturists, project managers, infrastructure engineers and structural engineers - incorporate ecologically, socially, culturally and economically sustainable design concepts into their projects. The well rounded team at INSPIRATION has pioneered in programming the highly viable and cost effective concept models such as Total Water Management and Bamboo Prefabricated Structures. Their proposal for Vision Kochi 2030 to Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and the Sustainable Development Zone (SDZ) model at the Global Investors’ Meet (GIM), Karnataka has received international recognition for their perceptive and pragmatic solutions. Images & Text: courtesy INSPIRATION Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

sustainability (?) manifestoes A ‘Sensitive’ approach to built environment The present ‘Green Building’ movement in India has been taken off from the ‘Green Building’ movements in US and Europe. Most such countries have extreme climate conditions, ranging from -40°C to +40°C, which result in buildings that consume huge amount of energy to keep the temperature comfortable. India is predominantly a tropical zone, where outside temperature hardly ever drops below +5°C. So its energy requirement for temperature control is considerably lesser. Further, if new buildings are designed and existing buildings are improved to be sensitive to energy use, together with sufficient sensitising to the public, it can be easily reduced to insignificant levels. In most Western countries, over 75 to 80 per cent of the population live in urban areas, where they have become over-dependent on a lifestyle which takes a very heavy toll on use of non-renewable, finite material resources; often sourced from different parts of the world, whereas, less than 30 per cent of Indian population, stay in large cities. A gradual shift towards urbanisation is happening in India too. However, this can be taken as an opportunity to drastically redesign and simplify our settlement patterns such that, regionally, each such settlement is self-sufficient in water, energy, food it grows, and more or less self-sufficient in all bulk raw materials that it uses for its constructions and industries. Thus regional self-sufficiency in water, energy, waste assimilation, food and bulk raw materials in constructions and industry (as far as possible) should become the new and perhaps the only ‘mantra’ for green. A simple analysis will show us that for achieving this self-sufficiency, the most important factor is proper land use planning, as self-sufficiency in water, food, raw material, waste


assimilation capability within a region, and even energy are all factors of proper land use planning. This will perhaps mean a complete overhauling of our present ‘green rating’ systems, as its very fundamental assumptions and over emphasis on energy consumption seem misplaced, especially in Indian context. The present rating system is dangerous as it misleads people that by installing some gadgets and gizmos, the environmental problems are resolved, and then they can afford to be complacent in the belief that they have done their share. The first big challenge will be in addressing squarely the problem of speculation in land prices and holding of ‘land banks’ by the big and powerful - so that sufficient land is available to public good at the required places. However, indiscriminate land grab or ‘land freeze’ by the government can become counterproductive too. A sensitive, participatory and democratic land use planning is perhaps the only way forward. INSPIRATION and a network of associates are in the process of initiating WISH (World Institute for Sustainable Habitats), with this comprehensive clear vision on land use planning - both at the regional level and in an urban context. In the regional level, it means comprehensive zoning regulations, defining relevant regional modules for self-sufficiency in water, energy, resources, food and assimilation of wastes; and well designed rural villages, and self-sufficient rural institutional buildings and campuses. All our buildings here make optimum use of locally available bulk materials, are bio-climatically designed, is attempting a fusion of vernacular and contemporarily crafted ambience; and will try and make optimum use of renewable sources of energy. ‘Total Water Management‘, and decentralised waste management too becomes very important. Buildings making use of renewable material like bamboo, mud and even thatch and local grass become relevant.

The four hundred year old summer palace of the Maharaja of Kochi was restored by INSPIRATION as an experience hotel. The project was nominated for the Aga Khan Architecture Award in the year 2010.

Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


Excavation and profile contouring for lake.

Total Water Management

Laying of lake liner.

Water is a resource that is getting scarcer by the day. Total Water Management for a region or a project area involves: a) Guidance in conserved use of water for varied applications such as for drinking and cooking, for washing and bathing, for irrigation, for flushing wastes, etc. b) Waste water treatment, disposal or recycling c) Rain water Harvesting and d) Recharge/ Drainage of storm water.

Pitching with natural local stones.

We have pioneered in construction of several medium and large scale rain water harvesting reservoirs. Carefully channelising rain water falling on every part of land, conveying it through well designed network of subsurface filter drains or open drains into recharge pits or catchment lakes, have become part of many of INSPIRATION`s landscape projects.

Subsurface filter drain.

For sewage and domestic waste water treatment, INSPIRATION, with our associates has come to conclude that, in a number of tropical countries, decentralisation in situ, predominantly an aerobic treatment systems have definite advantages over traditional centralised aerobic systems. INSPIRATION has an in-house expertise in designing of small, medium and large scale DEWATS (Decentralised Waste Water Treatment System) for domestic sewage and waste water treatment. ↑

Planted gravel filter for waste water treatment.

Polishing pond.


In urban contexts too, it means defining networks of small self-sufficient neighbourhood regions. Each such region can have small dense township centres, absorbing migration into city cores, well connected by efficient mass transit systems. We have termed this concept region ‘Sustainable Development Zones’ (SDZs). A comfortable coexistence and participative land, water and other resource sharing of urban areas and its rural hinterland has to be defined in a participatory manner from time to time. Research, activism, advocacy all has to happen together, all at the same time, while designs, meeting budgets, project timelines, and all needs of the clients too have to atleast be satisfactory, if not excellent. Often, INSPIRATION takes fairly large projects on a ‘turnkey’ basis so that we can actually demonstrate that integration of these concepts is possible, as far as the present rules and circumstances allow us to. In other words, in our professional practice, we try to ‘walk the talk‘.

SwaSwara, a resort in Gokarna, adopts the sustainable concept of Total Water Management system along with the simple and local building materials and techniques.

Sustainable Development Zone (SDZ) Concept for Global Investor`s Meet (GIM) - Karnataka Cities across the world are grappling with negative consequences of the urban sprawl, long commutes and high dependence on the private car. Cities in the developing world are also struggling to balance the equally important imperatives of economic development, social equity and environmental sustainability. In our own country, projects that are important for promoting economic development are becoming unviable in the face of increasing resistance to land acquisition and other forms of inequity. The SDZ is an innovative land use cum financial model which attempts to create a balanced solution for urban growth. SDZs can be configured based on expected investment opportunity, present land use, population density, and carrying capacity of the land. A typical SDZ of 1,000 acres can be optimally designed to cater to the population of about 30,000 and a 40 to 50 per cent growth over the years.


-44.5 ACRES (4%) -778 ACRES (70%) -233.5 ACRES (21%)


In a project prioritised by the Government of Karnataka, INSPIRATION along with project partners Mirah group - Mumbai, has offered to set up a pilot SDZ in the outskirts of Bengaluru Municipal region, provided the Government of Karnataka fulfills their part of commitments.

Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


Network of SDZ (Sustainable Development Zone) – Vision Kochi 2030 • • • • •

red - high density zone yellow - low density zone green - no development zone blue - service areas white - social infrastructure zone

Presented as a consensus choice of environmentalists and concerned citizens of Kochi, INSPIRATION’s concept presented to GCDA (Greater Cochin Development Authority) for Vision Kochi 2030 involves developing network of small self-sufficient townships, interconnected by mass transit systems, such as metro roads, water transport systems, efficient bus networks and suburban rail systems wherever appropriate, along the periphery outside the CBD (Central Business District) area. Once the peripheries are properly designed, they will attract excess population from the inner city`s unplanned areas too. The role of GCDA in developing such self-sufficient townships / SDZs can be that of a facilitator on behalf of state government and local bodies. GCDA also needs to develop trunk roads, mass transit systems, water transport systems, water supply mains, electric supply mains and other vital infrastructural facilities. In the next 18 to 20 years, there will be a lot of scope to develop around 50 such SDZs, as each SDZ is expected to absorb migration of around 20,000 people. This can have a revenue stream of over `1.6 lac crores (at 2012 prices) and will boost investment in the manufacturing sectors and in core infrastructure areas. And all this is possible, causing least damage to the environment, at the same time ensuring social equity.

Sky Rocca in Yercaud is an exploration, where the locally available stone is used to shape contemporary spaces and construction. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013



Emphasising on the relevance of progressive notions required in architectural profession, its pedagogical approaches and in challenging established conventions, A G Krishna Menon’s essay explores reasons beyond and within the discipline itself and aims to benchmark a new positioning in the idea of architectural education.


I have structured the essay in two parts: first, to explain the meaning and significance of inducting a new pedagogy to teach architecture, and second, briefly, the structure of a new syllabus for our times.

Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

nyone who has studied the story of architectural education in India would inevitably conclude that the protagonists were not serious about its role or relevance in contributing to the welfare of the society. That is a sad commentary on the state of the professional imagination. Education has invariably been treated as a routine activity by its regulators, merely to produce architects to join the ranks of the profession. The indifference towards developing an appropriate educational agenda for the country becomes clearer when one realises that the educational system has hardly changed since colonial times, when the imperatives to educate Indian architects were different to what they are today. Tremendous social and economic changes have taken place in the society but its narrative appears to be silent about responding and adapting to those momentous events or showing concern for the degraded condition of the habitat which have resulted as a consequence. What the story, in fact, is highlighting is the systemic stasis that prevails in matters related to architectural education, which has contributed in no small measure to the continued irrelevance of the profession in matters related to the habitat. While the systemic stasis is a source of some obvious problems faced by the academic community, there are other problems, of a more complex social, cultural and economic nature, which are of more serious consequence to the profession, which also remain unaddressed; for example, Schools are still geared to largely produce ‘design architects’ who aspire to serve the needs of the elite in the society. Such morally insidious characteristics of the profession are rooted in the kind of education that is imparted to students. Thus, the issues related to architectural education are critical to the profession as a whole. Nevertheless, there have been some changes in the education

scene that must be acknowledged, but these may only have exacerbated the problems; for example, the dramatic increase in the number of Schools, or the sporadic, knee-jerk attempts at reform which has left intact the original objectives of the educational enterprise. Each new generation of ‘dramatis personae’ in the story has merely replicated what it inherited, both by way of pedagogy and course content. Seen in this light, one could conclude from the narrative that architectural education in India is ripe for reform. Most critics would agree with that diagnosis even if they differed on the prescriptions to resuscitate it: indeed there are many ways to view this complex subject. The campaign initiated by the Indian Architect & Builder, in which they have invited different experts to critically examine the issues relating to architectural education is therefore appropriate and to be welcomed. My essay is the third in the series and many of the issues I may have drawn upon have already been competently analysed and explicated by the earlier interlocutors, so there is little more that I want to add in that vein. In this essay, therefore, I will attempt to present another perspective, one based on our experience of trying to actually undertake reform by establishing an alternate School of Architecture, which I hope may yield deeper insights into the issues we are discussing. The School, we started, was the TVB School of Habitat Studies in New Delhi (TVBSHS). It was set up in 1990, but was prematurely shut down due to the strenuous efforts of the Council of Architecture, in 2007. This too, is part of the narrative of architectural education in India that should be evaluated. To begin with, here is an adumbrated story of that experiment. In the 1970s, some of us who had studied in the US and the UK in the late 1960s, returned to India to



architectural education teach and practice, and hopefully make a difference. The late 1960s were interesting times to study in the West. Campuses were in ferment and at Columbia University, New York, where I studied, the spring semester of 1968 saw the campus transformed into a battleground. The issues being contested had to do with defining the larger role of the University, on the social and political concerns of society: the US was engaged in an unpopular war in Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement had brought to the forefront the inequities that existed in the country. The Architecture Department was at the forefront of these radical engagements that took place, focussing on issues of a more local nature. One of the precursors to the events that took place at Columbia, was the plan of the University to expand its physical infrastructure into the degraded neighbourhood of Harlem where it was located; without any concern for the welfare of the local community, students protested the self-serving elitism inherent in this proposal. The point to be noted is that greater inequities in our society have not provoked our Schools to respond with a similar twinge of conscience. Education, nevertheless, did take place during that semester at Columbia, but what I imbibed outside the classroom was of greater significance to what I did inside, which was to understand the absolute necessity and efficacy of disciplinary self-reflexivity to interrogate the status quo. On my return, some of us who had experienced similar epiphanies during the course of our studies, gravitated together to interrogate the Indian architectural scene. In 1974, we edited an issue on The Indian Architect for the Seminar magazine (August 1974; log on to Thereafter, we formed a group, GREHA, to undertake several research projects for various institutions, including HUDCO and INTACH, which enabled us to explore a diverse range of habitat related issues. These projects inevitably led us to confront the problems of architectural education. In 1988, we prepared a paper for HUDCO to set up new habitat focussed Schools to tackle the enormous problems of our burgeoning cities and deteriorating rural habitats. A national seminar was held in Delhi to flesh out the ideas we had explored, which laid the foundations for establishing a privately sponsored school of architecture, the TVBSHS in 1990. In this venture the reformist ideals we had imbibed

while studying abroad in the late 1960s and the almost two decades of teaching and research we had undertaken in India after our return, conflated to create the new pedagogy and curriculum we formulated for TVBSHS, which I will discuss in this essay. I have structured the essay in two parts: first, to explain the meaning and significance of inducting a new pedagogy to teach architecture, and second, briefly, the structure of a new syllabus for our times. A new pedagogy A recent newspaper report stated that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) intended to seek foreign help for constructing lowcost housing in Delhi (The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, July 25, 2013). The decision was taken after the usual ‘study visit’ to USA and UK and highlighted, yet again, the inability of our administrators, architects and engineers to formulate appropriate habitat policies and designs relying on local expertise. Perhaps, it is the persistence of our colonial legacy (or the lure of a foreign trip) that encourages them to invariably seek external advice and validation to solve local habitat problems. Nevertheless, one needs to protest these processes not only because the exercise is dispiriting to the local professional, but also because such quick fix solutions fail to take into account the complex social, economic and cultural realities of the local contexts. Whatever its merits are, such strategies do not get integrated into the local building culture. Let me explain. There are many ways to deconstruct such complex narratives of continued professional dependencies on foreign advice, but in the context of the imperatives of architectural education, it highlights the need to critically examine the relationship between architectural pedagogy and architectural practice. A desirable objective of architectural education must be that it should be able to influence how we imagine and plan our habitats and its architecture. But as the DDA example illustrates, our education system has failed in this regard and it is the reverse that is the norm in India, where it is the market – the market of goods and of ideas – that determines the nature of our habitat and architecture and the educational strategies in turn, flow from it. The foundational ideology of architectural education in India is that it must follow

the dictates of architectural practice: otherwise how will the graduate find employment? This rationale is followed unquestioningly by the teacher in the classroom and the professional on the field has come to demand it. Not surprisingly, architectural education has become a debased activity generating such commonly voiced pejorative statements like, ‘actual learning takes place outside the School’, and ‘those who cannot practice, teach’. Such perceptions translate into professional dependencies both in the classroom and on the field, and explain DDA’s reliance on foreign expertise to build low cost housing in Delhi. Architecture and architectural education are not value-neutral activities; both are deeply embedded in local cultures. Thus, there is something intrinsically wrong when we solve our local problems by importing solutions from other cultures. Its repercussions manifest themselves beyond the immediate sphere of the decision taken. For example, many of us have been concerned about the open-door policy of the government, which enables foreign architects to practice in India without imposing conditions of reciprocity. This policy is the result of the negotiations conducted by our government under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), where they found it necessary to concede such professional concessions as a trade-off to obtain protection for our agricultural economy and its products. However, its unintended consequences are being felt beyond the negotiating table, because it has profoundly distorted local architectural culture and values. For example, it has had a strong impact on the vulnerable imagination of students in the classroom – aided and abetted by the communications revolution that makes what they access on the Web more alluring than local realities, an attitude that is, of course, spilling over into the field. Many would argue, however, that such external influences are necessary to modernise architecture and the building profession in India, but the fact is that in the process the objectives of professional practice are being subverted and decisively reoriented to serve the needs of the elite. Surely, such morally insidious consequences could not have been the objective of the Indian team at the WTO negotiations, or any sensible reformist’s preferred vision for modernising the profession. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


A G Krishna Menon is an architect, urban planner and conservation consultant practicing in Delhi since 1972. He has been simultaneously teaching in Delhi and co-founded the TVB School of Habitat Studies in 1990 in New Delhi. He is actively engaged in research and his contributions have been extensively published in professional journals and several academic books. He also has been actively involved in urban conservation and in 2004, drafted the INTACH Charter for the Conservation of Unprotected Architectural Heritage and Sites in India. In the past, he has been associated with the formulation of The Delhi Master Plan–2021, The National Capital Region Master Plan–2021 and continues to be a Member of several statutory Committees set up by the Government of India to manage the city. Currently, in addition to his professional consultancy work, as the Convenor of INTACH’s Delhi Chapter, he is advocating the case for inscribing Delhi as a World Heritage City. The focus on serving the needs of the elite has been intrinsic to the values of the profession for a long time, but it has accelerated with the liberalisation of the Indian economy. One can almost make a case for a pre-1990s ideology and a post-1990s ideology at work in the architecture of the country. It has also influenced educational strategies because, as I have pointed out, the profession dictates educational objectives. Even in its incipient stages, at the cusp of the process of economic liberalisation, it had become a matter of grave concern to us while we were crafting the educational ideology for the TVBSHS. We sought to induct a pedagogy that was more broadly inclusive in its intent while simultaneously addressing the complex characteristics of our local habitat. We felt that as academics, we still possessed agency to offer an alternate model of education which could at least mediate and, perhaps, actually mitigate the adverse impact of the transformations taking place in our society and thus contribute to creating a larger and more diverse vision for professional practice. Our efforts were a drop in the ocean. In today’s scenario of proliferating architectural schools this seems a more difficult task, not the least because both the profession and the academic institutions have become more deeply complicit in fulfilling the neo-liberal economic agenda. To put it bluntly, what we are witnessing today is the co-option of educational strategy to serve the ends of the elite. Thus, current policies are more concerned with making education ‘cost-effective’ and to ‘catching up with the West’ than to deracinate the local problems Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

of architecture or architectural education. Such strategic choices do not bode well for the welfare of our society as a whole. In its incipient stage, this was the challenge we confronted at the TVBSHS. Let me clarify at the outset, however, that it is not my point to rail against the emergence of the ‘flat world’, but, as an academic, to advocate the important role of academic institutions to mediate, if not determine, habitat policies under any circumstances. Therefore, what should we strive for in formulating appropriate educational strategies in India? To begin with, at the TVBSHS, we cultivated a profound belief that architectural education can make a difference to contribute to the welfare of our society. It must, of course, work in partnership with the profession, but not as its handmaiden as it had in the past. Ideally, architectural education must connect the education, the profession and the social system and it is the evolving social system – and not market forces - that must determine the changing priorities of education and the profession. To achieve this objective, architectural education must be treated as a discipline and a profession in its own right with its own knowledge base. This belief undergirded the pedagogy we put in place at the TVBSHS. The pedagogy we followed was based on the concept of ‘learning by doing’. This was the only way we felt we could break the cycle of repeating how the earlier generation had been taught. The problems of the habitat were looked at afresh, both by the student and the teacher, and through such collaborative viewing and analysing

the problems to be tackled in the classroom were identified. Research was fundamental to this process for producing new teaching material. The syllabus had to be periodically re-structured to ensure that more effective learning of its components was taking place and this entailed frequent self-reflexive discussions among the teachers. Teaching therefore became a dynamic activity, both inside and outside the classroom. It engaged the teachers intellectually. They were challenged to work on the city or the local habitats as a laboratory and the complex social, cultural, political and economic issues of the real world were replicated in classroom exercises from the first year on, to ground the learning of the student in the environments they lived in. In this way, the School became a site for learning and the teacher had credible professional objectives to pursue: both education and practice benefitted from this strategy. Admittedly, these are not new ideas. Reading the Journal of Architectural Education, for example, one realises that the idea of treating architectural education as a discipline has been articulated by many academics for a long time all over the world, but not in India. Only a few Schools in India have tried to address the disciplinary potential of architectural education, while the majority are content to follow well-worn paths laid by their predecessors and the dictates of the Council of Architecture (CoA), which prescribed minimum standards to be followed by all Schools. It is on the basis of conformity to these ‘minimum’ standards that the CoA permitted the graduates of the approved Schools to register as architects with the license to practice the profession.


While a few of the members of the Council are academics and private practitioners, the overwhelming majority are architects working for government departments, who, not surprisingly, viewed the issues related to architectural education through the lens of their status as low-level functionaries of the government. Thus, the objective valorising conformity and obedience to achieve ‘minimum’ standards in architectural education finds resonance among the members of the Council: it is rooted deep in the contemporary management system, and its genesis could be traced to the colonial origins of the profession. But challenging the system had its costs: I know, because of our experience running the TVBSHS. We were confronted with constant hostility by the CoA, which magnified our faults and overlooked our strengths. Ultimately, facing closure, the University with whom we were affiliated, The Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi (GGSIPU), took us under its wings in 2007, as a teaching department of the University. Perhaps we were lucky to have survived the wrath of CoA, albeit in an altered state, but the point to be emphasised is that the priority of regulations has invariably been to enforce order, not encourage excellence or difference. The TVBSHS was an experiment in pedagogy to contribute to the architectural discourse in the country. It attempted to challenge the prevalent ideology of architectural education by analysing its problems and formulating alternative strategies, and though relatively short-lived, it generated ideas which continue to be relevant. The new pedagogy was closely linked to, and contingent on, formulating and following a new syllabus that we put in place. A new syllabus The syllabus at the TVBSHS focused on the disjunction between the disciplinary potential of architectural education and its professional objectives. In India, we realised that architectural education was profession-centric and so it was unable to deal with the complex problems of our developing society. Thus, there was need to explore these issues in the classroom in order to advise the profession on how to deal with them: this is the disciplinary potential of architectural education. To put this objective into practice, we

identified three broad areas of disciplinary concerns. First, we articulated the kinds of problems of architecture that were needed to be resolved to contribute to what is called the 'culture of building'. This meant that the School was not merely aiming to produce architects but it tried to focus on the entire web of architectural production. Howard Davis, who coined the term 'culture of building' (Howard Davis: Culture of Building, Oxford University Press, 1999, 2006), pointed out that architects should not be arrogant to consider that they were the sole creators of architecture - they were only part of a long production chain which together resulted in the construction of buildings. Thus, when we say a building is good architecture, it is the result of the contribution of several related professions, trades and associated agents, including material suppliers, masons, contractors, the municipal regulators, financiers, and of course, clients, and so on – who are all connected in a web of relationships to produce architecture. Our approach to problem solving at the TVBSHS therefore, took this broad perspective into account in studio exercises and research projects it conducted. The objective was to create holistic improvements to the living environments. This did not mean that the syllabus had to teach all the related disciplines that constituted the network, but in teaching students to become architects they were made aware of their role in the 'culture of building'. Second, while the TVBSHS syllabus covered the subjects identified by the CoA guidelines, we grouped them and linked them horizontally for effective knowledge transfer. In a recent document brought out by the UNESCO and the International Union of Architects, what we attempted at TVBSHS in a rudimentary manner has been expressed more compellingly, from which I will quote. The document identified the challenges faced by contemporary architectural education as emerging out of the changing contexts that the society is experiencing. They identified three contexts that need to be considered. One, they call, 'nature's revenge' and the new ways in which architects and architectural education will have to learn to respond to its imperatives. The second, the overwhelming challenges of urbanisation which is growing very fast, particularly in developing countries like India, which is creating newer kinds of problems which the architect

and architectural education must learn to confront. The third, is the question of technology which is evolving continuously, necessitating not just tinkering with the old system but creating paradigm shifts in the way architecture is taught and practiced. To take into account these three challenges within a context of constant change is the new challenge facing architectural education. To address these issues at the TVBSHS, three settlement contexts were identified for study: the traditional settlement as a product of local building cultures evolved over time; the modern planned settlements, which were, of course, associated with the modernisation process; and, the proliferating settlements of the poor urban migrants, which were the result of the massive urbanisation transforming the country’s habitat. The syllabus focused on each settlement type to identify and define the issues to be dealt with, using the means at our disposal to do so. Thus, the academic programme attempted to develop three diverse habitat policies and the kind of architecture appropriate for each to meet its specific needs, thus turning the gaze of the student (and the profession), away from the dominating influence of the architecture for the elite to other equally urgent issues that needed to be addressed by the architect. The third area of disciplinary concern was the need to translate the first two points into a pragmatic and effective curricula or syllabi. This was achieved at TVBSHS by addressing three areas of the curriculum. The first was building technology. Here, the focus was on three issues: 1. Construction technology, 2. Design Technology, and 3. Management Technology. The second area of the curriculum we focused on was building sciences. Not many institutions in India teach the design of buildings in scientific terms - in fact, the ‘science’ of architecture has been grossly neglected and perhaps subverted to encourage intuitive design processes. Architectural education in India does not concern itself with how to evaluate the performance of the buildings that architects design and build, so we focused on three attributes of building science: first, energy studies; second, environmental sustainability; and third, performance criteria in order to evaluate whether or not Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


what the architect sets out to achieve had been achieved. In a rudimentary manner, each of these objectives was addressed at TVBSHS. The third area of the curriculum we focused on were the issues related to building arts and social sciences. Within it, the sub-themes were, one, history and theory; two, social sciences in architecture; and three, public policy and city planning: I will flag the last point because many other academicians have already emphasised the need to focus on history/theory and the social sciences in architectural education. As the example of DDA’s proposal illustrates, one of the major tasks of our profession is to develop our capabilities to influence public policy in order to achieve larger professional objectives. A major strategy we adopted to achieve this was to treat the city as a laboratory and deal with real-time problems confronting architects, urban planners and city managers. To explain some of our concerns in developing the syllabus, let me take up the issues related to building technology. There is a widening gap between the advances in technology taking place worldwide and the situation prevailing in India. We are mostly importing materials and construction technologies developed outside the country. There is a constant flow from external markets of obsolete materials and technologies which we accept gratefully, and this is influencing the kind of architecture we produce. In the process, we believe that our architecture is becoming ‘world class’. This approach is leading to economic and intellectual colonisation of the architectural profession, which is evident in DDA’s proposal for constructing low-cost housing with the help of a manufacturer from the UK. In the absence of indigenous research we are unable to mediate the globalising local market, thus resulting in the global market influencing our building decisions. Collaboration between engineers and architects can help in achieving the objective of developing appropriate technologies – high-tech or low-tech. The focus on design technology must also take into account the tremendous development taking place in digital technologies all over the world. In 2005, while preparing for an International Digital Architecture conference we organised at Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

TVBSHS, I was surprised to learn that in the previous ten years over 1200 papers had been presented and only four or five were from India. When the whole world is talking about digital design technology, our architectural schools are not. We only attempt to make our graduates operationally literate in the use of computers so that they can be employed as efficient cyber-coolies in BPO offices being set up in India. To become key players in the development of digital technologies needs big funding, but industry giants like Infosys are not interested in funding development of indigenous research in architectural schools (we tried and failed to get funding for the conference from Infosys). Of course, Infosys and other IT companies are themselves not undertaking research in any significant manner because they are content to remain successful service providers. Our educational strategies must nevertheless engage in research that will develop technologies to serve our social and economic needs. The focus on management technology should develop a strong role for IT to bring order to the disorganised building industry. This is slowly happening in the larger building and infrastructure projects being undertaken in the country, but its benefits need to percolate down to more everyday activities. Building Sciences is an undeveloped area in architectural education. There is only fragmented teaching taking place in this subject area, but there is tremendous opportunity for developing it to a more advanced level because many architectural schools are located in engineering colleges. For example, energy studies of buildings are essential for achieving sustainable use of energy in buildings. It should be a part of basic architectural education and environmental sustainability because responses to climate change are related areas to confront 'nature’s revenge'. There are tremendous opportunities in these areas for future architects in India. Developing performance criteria is another area that we attempted at TVBSHS. Research projects were undertaken in collaboration with foreign universities to establish local parameters to gauge the effectiveness of design intent. This is because green architecture has become a new mantra, and we need to assess the environmental performance of buildings

comprehensively in order to evaluate its benefits in the local context. We need to revise our academic curricula to develop these areas of knowledge and skills to achieve these objectives. Finally, a few words on building art and social sciences in architecture. This is an important component of architectural education but it is neglected in Schools all over the country. We are overstressing the physical sciences which are reflected in the intake characteristic of students wanting to study architecture. Thus, we continue to propagate the colonial tradition of requiring entrants to be proficient in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics (PCM), ignoring the importance of other knowledge streams that architecture can benefit from. Social Sciences are very important to develop responsible architects to meet the varied expectations of our society. For example, if we simply look at our achievement in the area of housing over the past 50 to 60 years, we find how we have failed miserably to meet the expectations of our society. That is one reason why DDA seeks foreign expertise to construct low-cost housing. Sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc., are all important subjects with which architects must be acquainted in order to understand and serve the diverse societal values and expectations of our society in their works. Similarly, we should train architects to influence public policy related to our profession and also in relating architecture to city planning. One of the things implicit in what I have said is that architectural education should try and achieve diversity, not monoculture. All 322 Schools who have been given permission by the CoA to conduct architectural education (so far) do not have to follow the standard prescriptions of its guidelines. What are the conditions necessary to create diversity in academic institutions? First, there should be diversity of students - from different academic backgrounds, from different economic backgrounds, and different cultural backgrounds. Second, there should be diversity of faculty, in terms of fields of specialisations, experiences, etc. to avoid in-breeding and getting trapped into a closed intellectual loop. If an architecture School is tied up with a university there will be opportunities to have a dialogue with other disciplines. For example, at the GGSIPU, where the former TVBSHS is now located, the University is planning to establish an


interdisciplinary School of Design, a part of which will be the University School of Architecture and Planning. The School will now be able to access scientists or sociologist from other University departments to teach architecture. Third, there should be a diversity of output goals. One of the problems with architectural education in India today is that all Schools try to produce iconic designers who want to establish boutique professional practices. But there is need for academic programmes to teach other kinds of expertise, say, in building sciences and management. At the TVBSHS, we made an honourable attempt to diversify the interests of our graduates. Finally, we need to divorce the process of architectural education from the process of licensing to practice architecture. Because of this link, the CoA was able to close down the TVBSHS and its innovative initiatives. Ideally, the School or University should focus on giving the B Arch degree and the CoA should separately test graduates, if required, for awarding the license to practice. This gives tremendous academic freedom to Schools. The irony is that the guidelines of the CoA only prescribe a broad framework for the syllabus, but most Schools do not take advantage of this freedom to formulate their own syllabi. So, under the same Council umbrella, different schools could, in fact, follow different philosophies or approaches to teach. The erstwhile TVBSHS did that, but we were tripped up on account of infrastructural deficiencies. Many among the 322 Schools of Architecture in the country need to develop similar strategies and thus keep pushing the envelope of architectural education. Conclusions Reform in architectural education will require inputs from a variety of actors – the regulatory authorities, Schools and Universities, students and the profession. Each has a role to play to make architecture an important agency for the betterment of all sections of our society. This essay has only focused on the role of architectural education, but that, according to me, is an important segment of the whole to consider. It becomes all the more important because of the number of Schools of Architecture that have come up (and are coming up) in the country. Perhaps, as it has been pointed out by Indian Architect & Builder while initiating this campaign, many of the Schools lack resources,

including infrastructural facilities, but as we demonstrated running the TVBSHS, such deficiencies can be overcome if the School has a vision and a sense of purpose. That is, again going by the TVBSHS example, if the CoA agrees with the proposition that the kind of reforms we attempted in pedagogy and syllabus are important ingredients to reform architectural education. In our specific case, much of the hostility towards TVBSHS emanated from personal agendas of those in power, but that is no reason to presume that in future other office bearers of that institution will not re-prioritise administrative agendas. So, inspite of our bitter encounter with the CoA, I personally feel that we need the support of the CoA to bring about the reform in architectural education. The ideas that I have discussed were collated more formally almost a decade after the TVBSHS started functioning, at a symposium held in April 1999, by our collective GREHA, who started TVBSHS, and HUDCO, on ‘New Directions in Architectural Education, The necessity of a cultural paradigm responsive to the majority’. The symposium brought together architects, teachers and researchers from different parts of the country and a few from abroad to discuss and formulate new approaches based on a cultural paradigm. Though some of these issues are dated, I would still like to reproduce the recommendations that emanated from the symposium to succinctly recapitulate the agenda for reform: 1. The identity of the architect to be recognised as being distinct and not to be confused with allied professionals such as engineers and other technical disciplines. 2. An increased social awareness necessary for the practice of architecture in our developing world becomes a pre-condition to the delineation of roles and definition of norms for the architectural profession. 3. The Council of Architecture to take up the task of clarifying the autonomy of the architectural profession and to delink it from AICTE. 4. The Architects’ Act of 1972 to form the basis for developing rules for conduct of the profession and for architectural education. 5. The present requirement of affiliation of architecture schools to universities be re-examined in the light of the necessary autonomy of the architectural profession. 6. Studio-based learning practices be recognised as the essence of architectural education and an examination system

appropriate to such practices be put in place as early as possible. The core of such practices being the concept of peer group evaluation. 7. A special effort has to be made to train teachers in architecture. This is an urgent necessity considering that over 100 architecture schools are in operation in India and most of these schools function with hardly any teachers. 8. There is urgent need to produce appropriate teaching material, which would be of relevance to the regional schools of architecture. Such material to include software specially developed for global connectivity through the internet. 9. A small working group to be established immediately to go into the issues and make proposals for the autonomy of the architectural profession, evolve standards of evaluation specific to architectural education, propose guidelines for training of teachers of architecture as well as the production of appropriate teaching material, and to suggest ways of raising finance for these activities. State Governments, Central Government, international institutions, as well as private sector institutions to be included in these efforts.

A G Krishna Menon, September 2013

This column invites eminent academicians, ethical teachers, teaching architects, institution builders and design educationists to comment on architectural education (and design education as an extension) in the context of India. Concerned architects / academicians / educationists / teachers and students are invited to write to us / call us / email us for further discussion. Your deliberations / observations / critique / counter-arguments and agreements will be deeply valued. We must create a meaningful community of like-minded people to negotiate our future as professionals and responsible citizens of a globalising India. We must hold ourselves responsible for the quality of architectural and design thought in the coming decades. Please send your feedback / comments to IA&B believes that this issue is of prime (and unprecedented) importance at the moment for the future of architecture in India.

Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013




Scale, Geometry, and the Paradigms of Organisation Within the fine concepts of form and space and the images of grandeur that is the architecture of India, there is a transcendent understanding of Order. Constantly augmenting, but in principle constant, it remains the continuous transparent underlay, in form and ornament alike; sprouting from an indivisible confluence of the tangible and the abstract. As integral notions of proportion, circulation, interaction, vision, comfort and delight accommodate themselves in the idea, powerful compositions and visionary schemes embody versatile models of thought in the built, the unbuilt and the unbuildable. Sublime atmospheres orchestrate incredibly powerful visions as the nuances of beauty are no longer attributed to the prerogative of the beholder. Thus, emerges an enduring image. Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

82 [1] [2] [3] – The ‘Great Stupa’ at Sanchi is a simple hemispherical brick structure. Crowned by a ‘chatra’, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, it has four profusely carved ornamental gateways and a balustrade that encircles the structure to mark the ambulatory path. [4] [5] – The Bagh Caves are a group of nine rock-cut monuments, excavated on a perpendicular rock face of a hill. The ‘vihara’ or the columned monastery has a quadrangular plan with a prayer hall chamber at the back, called the ‘chaitya’. Together, the two represent the preliminary articulation of Buddhist sacred space.


While our architecture attempts to address its obligation towards the purpose of its conception, it transcends that very purpose to communicate meaning and elicit emotional responses.

Architecture is a tangible embodiment of the abstract and the conceptual. [4]


In an attempt to compose space, we aspire to achieve harmony.



In an attempt to go beyond the confines of its meaning, it employs a conceptual syntax – a language that is structured on ideas of geometry, enclosure, scale, proportion, presence, prominence, approachability, form, space, and organisation, thus...order. And in this attempt, our architecture demands forms and compositions thereof, to represent great resilience towards its contribution to life. Thus, a singular form sometimes contains and is sometimes contained within a multitude of paradigms.

The Great Stupa, Sanchi | Dharmarajika Monastery, Taxila

Bagh Caves, Dhar District




Gupta Vakataka



Ashoka and architectural patronage. Buddhist Architecture.

Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013


Pratihar Rashtrakuta






Pandya 100







Birth of conscience. Rise of the Guptas in the north. Early Buddhist Style.


83 [6] [7] – The Dharmarajika Stupa,15m high and 50m in diameter, is a circular structure with a raised terrace around its base. Around it is a passage for ‘pradakshina’ and a circle of small chapels surround the Great Stupa.

Fundamentally, our built spaces are attributed to human enterprise.

[8] – The structures are a result of reinforcement through centuries, with the addition of rings of smaller stupas and constructions surrounding the original ones. The monasteries, however, are quite identical in their general layout and appearance.

Through effective spatial manipulations, the ideas of scale, volume, enclosure, structure, locus and symmetry are employed. Platonic forms are allowed to interact, respond, collide, compete and stabilise within opposing notions of the apex and the datum, the dominant and the peripheral, the significant and the trivial. [6]

The alphabet of architecture is organised within the grammar of the visual. While there is a consistent endeavour to achieve a meaningful spatial organisation, elements within this organisation respond to a conceptual hierarchy – from the predictable to the sublime – transcending the forces that enable these compositions at the same time exercising great restraint and control within the scheme.

The spaces within the scheme are interrelated, interdependent and inclusive. They have attributes of dimension, measure, direction, orientation, presence and stability.


The order is understood to be enduring, architecture is deemed transient.

[8] Rajput










Bahamani Portuguese







Dutch Mysore 1700

North British








Deccan South


Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013

84 [9] [10] – The finest examples of Medieval Temples include the Ghateshvara Temple in Baroli, the Khandariya Temple in Khajuraho, the Daitya Sudama Temple in Lonar and the later Mahadeva Temple in Ittagi. The temples show a gradual evolution, but are distinctly characterised by small or medium-sized, intricately ornate structures. [11] [12] – Depicting the microcosm and rituals, both at once, they typically comprised of an inner sanctum, the ‘garbha-griha’ or womb-chamber, the circumambulatory path, a congregation hall, and at times, an antechamber and a porch. The ‘garbha-griha’ is crowned by a tower-like ‘shikhara’.

While architecture is limited by position, ideas permeate through space and time.


Central to the development of formal concepts of space in the architecture of India, is the potency of the scheme. The scheme, in turn, is a framework of elements within the principles of organisation. Principles of organisation are derivatives of perception, will and meaning. Meaning is articulated in organisation, geometry and detail. Thus, a schematic proposition is manifested in a versatile and ever-changing typology that enables the idea to exist in the most humble as well as the most eloquent of designs. Each is complete and yet, each presents a possibility. While the degrees of flair and finesse of expression depend on the means and intent, the embedded order does not negotiate with the absolutes.

[ 11 ]

Each form is expressed in its finest potential and there is great clarity of intent.

[ 10 ]

[ 12 ] Medieval Hindu Temples




Gupta Vakataka



Indian Architect & Builder - September 2013



Chalukya Pallava Pandya










Post-Gupta Developments in the north. Princely Dravidian States Hindu Temple Architecture.



September 2013: The Uncanny Presence of Development Indian Architect & Builder Magazine

Space Frames investigates issues of architecture and environment through the medium of photography. To contribute, write to us at or to the curator Dr Mathew at

Dinesh Abiram Dinesh Abiram was born in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu in 1985. He is a photographer based out of Bengaluru, India. With a bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication, he has worked with various advertising agencies, and magazines before becoming a full time photographer. As a practicing photographer for five years, his interests lie in long-term architectural projects, and documenting typologies. He is especially interested in understanding how changing communities affect the spaces they live in. Dinesh Abiram is currently pursuing his masters in Photography from the National Institute of Design in Gujarat, India.



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