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MARKETECTURE: Msaif vagh. U harvard M BdesignAschoolI fall 2008. thesis preparation

Marketecture: Mumbai saif vagh. fall 2008

Contents 7 1322



1 .

The Elephant in the Room





The Work of Architecture in the Age of Globalization


A. Case: Charles Correa

B. Shopping Spree C. Supermodernism means Supermarkets


44 4651


Hysteric Preservation


Local Notions


Would You Like Fries with that Maharaja Burger?


Adaptive Re(f)use








10. References


D. The Performance of Purchase E. Stall vs. Mall F. Community Consumption


G. Case: Mercat D’Santa Caterina H. The North Fort Area

I. Mapping the Market


Churchgate Station, Mumbai


0. Introduction As India becomes a player on the global stage, questions of an Indian “identity” become vital both in how the country views itself and how it is viewed by a world audience. While the nation’s recent commitment to the historic preservation of built artifact implies a new awareness of the architectural record as an important aspect of its anthropological past, India’s changing political, economic, and social landscape has raised questions about a more self-conscious architectural practice in the present and its implications for the nation’s future. Does the productive and creative initiative inherent in design share a responsibility in the forming of a nation’s self-conception and its writing of a national narrative? In the late 19th century, art historian August Schmarsow wrote that “architecture prepares a place for all that is lasting and established in the beliefs of a people and of an age; often, in a period of forceful change, when everything else threatens to sway, will the solemn language of its stones speak of support.”1 Speaking from a time of impending war, and placing himself firmly in the framework of National Romanticist theory, Schmarsow’s sentiment seems at once thoroughly outmoded and entirely fresh. The turn of the 20th century was for architecture, as it was for the world, a time of great turmoil. The same holds true, once again, a century later. For Schmarsow and the tradition


David Leatherbarrow “Architecture is its own Discipline,” In The Discipline of Architecture, Ed. Andrzej Piotrowski and Julia Williams Robinson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) 2001: 97


of national romanticism, architecture, among other types of cultural production, was a means for nations to define and reproduce themselves in terms of past perceived greatness. It existed as both a form of nation-branding and identity-politics used by countries like France and Germany.2 Because of its tendency towards historicism and referential homage, national romanticism became tied with regionalist theories in architecture, which insisted on the discipline’s maintenance of a connection between building and locale. As late as the mid-nineties, theorist Alan Colquhoun has attempted to couch the theoretical debate in architecture during the first half of the nineteenth century as a confrontation between enlightenment attitudes of the new Modernist movement and the romanticism of the Regionalist movement. In Colquhoun’s demonstration, Regionalism, at this point in history, desperately argued to imbue the built environment with a sense of meaning to counter feelings of placelessness and alienating universality resulting from industrialization’s slow destruction of the notion of “region” in post-war nation-states. The International style eventually won out, rendering the Regionalist’s beliefs obsolete in the architectural discourse.3 In retrospect, Colquhoun’s characterization of the

2 3

Stadshuset, Ragnar Ostberg, 1923


Vincent Canizaro, “Introduction,” Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity and Tradition. (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press) 2007:24 Alan Colquhoun, “The Concept of Regionalism,” Postcolonial Spaces Ed. Gulsum Baydar Nalbantoglu and Wong Chong Thai (New York: Princeton Architectural Press) 1997: 21-22

weakness of the movement’s attitudes seems both overly generalizing and unnecessarily shortsighted. Scholar Vincent Canizaro distinguishes Regionalism as a subset of architectural theory that has at different times served to defend certain architectural styles and practices as well as provide a counterpoint to others. It is also multivalent, in that different regions and different notions of the concept of region necessitated uniquely tailored ideas of Regionalism. In the end, what unites the various currents of theory is, according to Canizaro, “the goal of establishing connections, through architectural means, between people and the places in which they live, work, and play.”4 Canizaro’s assessment is a broadly outlined, and in some cases, indiscriminate, version of what Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre termed “Critical Regionalism” in the 1980’s. This concept was popularized by Kenneth Frampton later in the decade. In their terms, the Regionalist dialogue makes neither historical-leaning nor referential proscriptions; it is not simply an ideology of style, but rather an ethical and ideological proposition. As long as considerations about authentic experience and locality are taken into account, Regionalist theory can then be married with any architectural fashion. With this in mind, Colquhoun, like the flag-bearers of Modernism and the International style, were perhaps too narrow-minded in their appraisal of ideas about Regionalism—considering it only as a nostalgic and limiting movement. When the International Style began its decline in the 1950’s with the failure of the Modernist housing project and city planning, it was criticized as technocratic and unfeeling—architecture had lost touch with the people it served. Sprouting from this dissent was a new post-modern sensibility; just as Modernism was criticized for its cultural muteness, a new theory emerged that favored a semiotic approach, using architectural referents as communicative currency. Postmodernism’s moralist tones sought to recreate the discipline’s ability to interface with its users at a human level, and so, Regionalist values resurfaced, this time married to another style.


Canizaro: 17


Fagus Werk, Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, 1913

Saynatsalo Town Hall, Aalvar Aalto, 1949


By the 1970’s and 80’s architects like Michael Graves and Richard Meier had become celebrities in the field and were designing works internationally. As Hans Ibelings points out, the Postmodern movement went through an ironic shift as architecture saw the rise of “postmodernismbred auteur-architects whose signature was readily recognized in their work. As the demand for branded ‘high-design’ grew, these Postmodernists who once championed regionalist notions of contextualism and sensitivity were suddenly stamping numerous buildings with their specific signature in the furthest corners of the world”.5 So, after a brief resurgence, regionalist values were, for the second time in a century, tossed aside.


Hans Ibelings, Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers) 1998: 28

Piazza D’Italia, Charles Moore, 1980


This turnabout is important in that it is indicative of the effect that the onset of globalization was beginning to have on the discipline itself. As architects garnered higher levels of fame, they began working abroad, taking their self-styled design processes with them. With the advent of the first transnational design practices in the 1960’s, architects began to practice in global terms. And yet, at the advent of the 21st century this practice faces new crises of relevance and autonomy. Architecture, in the last century has seen two world wars, industrialization, Modernism, Postmodernism, and now, the dawning of a new era. From our vantage point, August Schmarsow’s words once again ring deeply. What are the beliefs of this new people? What is lasting and established in this new age? There is indeed a period of forceful change upon us. Will architecture’s stones speak again?


1. The Elephant in The Room Though India is often called an ancient culture, its modern incarnation seems to me rather more like an adolescent wearing the clothes of its ancestors, while searching desperately for a style to call its own.6

How does a country like India situate itself in the discussion of globalization? While the implications of homogenization and the supermodern condition are certainly valid in the postindustrial developed nations of the West, what bearing do they have on the localized and regionalist traditions of India? Although the process of industrialization began early in the nation’s history— with the British East India Company’s occupation in the late 1700’s—industrial development has been relatively slow going. One could easily argue that India has not until very recently caught up to western standards of an industrialized nation. Further, contemporary Indian cultural identity is complicated by the fact that India is a relatively new sovereign state. Although the area’s indigenous civilizations predate development in much of the western world, the young nation of India has faced remarkable growing pains since it its Independence in 1947.


Majula Padmanabhan, “Introduction” Bazaar (New Delhi, Penguin India) 2001: 12


Since that date, India has become the second fastest growing large-scale economy in the world, yet wealth distribution and income inequality continue trending towards lopsidedness.7 Despite friendly relations with much of the world, India’s borders are still not wholly defined, and the relationship with neighboring Pakistan over the state of Kashmir remains volatile. Issues of demographic distribution and the spread of urbanity have come to a head, as the nation ranks only 33rd in terms of population density, yet still boasts seven of the world’s ten most densely packed cities.8 Domestically, the secular country has been severely tested by sectarian violence and rioting amongst Hindus and Muslims, even as recently as 2002. As nationalist and state-based political parties rename Empire-era cities and buildings to reflect local dialects and culture, it is clear that in its adolescence, India still struggles with concepts of self-identification. For practicing architect Romi Khosla, “the need to define contemporary Indian architecture as a continuum of Indian history and identity [is] a debate that is at least a hundred years old amongst European and Indian architects in India. It is a debate that has kept posing questions about the need for contemporary Indian architecture to have roots in Indian tradition… [Yet] it’s almost as if the impact of globalization has wrenched out the need to define Indian identity as a cultural motif in the work of the younger architects.”9 In the midst of this political, economic and cultural turmoil, architecture’s importance as a key to identity and experience is certainly challenged. The document of India’s architectural heritage before British Colonization in the late 17th century is a rich and varied one. The plurality of vernacular architecture as seen in typical dwellings, public gathering places, and religious buildings reflects a sensibility about its equatorial climate, its needs as a predominantly agrarian society, the ritual practices of varied religious traditions, and the influence of migrant and invading communities from abroad. Still, today’s India is a very different place than this history would describe, and its pre-colonial architectural record has less to do with a discourse about identity and the discipline today than does the work of the past four centuries.


7 8 9

“Briefing Rooms: India,” United States Department of Agriculture October 2008 <> “List of Cities Proper by Population,” Wikipedia <> Romi Khosla, “Dialogues in Indian Architecture After Le Corbusier” A+U October 2007: 72


In looking for a key to Indian-ness through architecture, one might begin with John Begg, a British architect who arrived in Bombay in the early 1900’s. In his first work there, the General Post Office completed in 1909, Begg developed a style, dubbed “Indo-Saracenic,” that was later used in numerous buildings throughout the subcontinent. While massing and structural relations showed the new style to be closely related to many of the Victorian monuments previously built in India, it was in the varied textures, playful surface articulation and use of regionalizing ornamentation that an Indo-Saracenic architecture spoke so powerfully to the national imagination. Begg’s work is a crucial starting point in that it was presciently effective at putting local tradition into dialogue with imperial power from abroad. Thirty years later, metropolitan Bombay adopted an Indian-flavored art-deco in reinforced concrete from the European capitals and transformed Bombay from a Victorian city to an international capital overnight. Movie theaters and hotels became the important landmarks of India’s gateway from the West. The Indian City, with Bombay in the lead role, played an important part in the nation’s self-identification, powerfully reflecting mechanisms of social dynamics and cultural values. It was in the 1950’s, as a result of the new Indian Independence, that perhaps the most striking example of architectural nation-building occurred, with Nehru commissioning Le Corbusier to plan the city of Chandigarh and design its government buildings. Necessitated by the division of the state of Punjab during India’s historic Partition from Pakistan in 1947, the creation of a new capital in the state of Punjab was, for Nehru, of the utmost symbolic importance. The prime minister’s thoughts strongly capture the spirit of his perception of the newborn nation-state: I do not like every building in Chandigarh. I like some very much, I like the general conception of the township very much but what I like above all, is this creative approach of not being tied down to what has been done by our forefathers and the like but thinking out in new terms, trying to think in terms of light and air and ground and water and human beings, not in terms of rules and regulations laid down by our ancestors.10



Jawaharlal Nehru, Speech, 17 Mar 1959

General Post Office, John Begg, 1909


Siteplan, Chandigarh Capital Complex. 1955

Chandigarh Capital Complex, Le Corbusier


In the end, Nehru himself proved to be a Critical Regionalist. Corbusier’s work in Chandigarh is archetypal in the ways that it reflects an iconic, Indian character without falling to pastiche. The buildings in Chandigarh are extraordinarily Indian, not necessarily in form, building technique or ornament; it is rather the fact that they powerfully symbolize the nation’s vision of a pluralistic, modern secular democracy, diverse in religion, tradition, and ability. Critic Peter Serenyi writes, In the buildings of Chandigarh’s capitol complex, Le Corbusier offered a powerful architectural interpretation of the moral force inherent in India’s executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. He also expressed in them India’s aspiration to become the foremost leader in the world as envisioned by Gandhi and Nehru. No wonder that in his outline of the city’s program he noted that ‘responsibilities of aesthetics and ethics equally dominate the work.’11

The Corbusean legacy paved the way for India’s first generation of important homegrown architects in Balkrishna Doshi, Raj Rewal, and Charles Correa. Correa’s search to find a voice for contemporary Indian architecture is particularly interesting, in that there exists a clear struggle to maintain a positive tension between a nationalist representation and a postcolonial marginalism. His exploration reached its peak in the late 1980’s with the designs of Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur and the British Council Building in Delhi. While both clearly bear the mark of Correa’s hand, the Kendra is far richer as a cultural artifact, and its successes are important in illustrating the shortcomings of his work in Delhi. The Kendra is designed on a nine square parti, a direct reference to the city plan for nearby Jaipur, which itself is based on the nine square mandala of the planets important in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions. Many important Hindu temples have followed this plan, and Correa was certainly aware of this as well. In diagrams for the building, each self-contained square delineated by loadbearing walls, represents one of the known Hindu planets, with the center courtyard, open to the sky, signifying the sun. This courtyard has an intricate step pattern that recognizably imitates ancient Indian temples. Further, Correa strategically places large paintings and mosaics, both Hindu and Jain, like advertisements for the “Indian-ness” of the site. 11

Peter Serenyi, “Corbusier in India” Perspecta 1983: 118


The effects of representation in a national architecture that at once tries to point to its roots while at the same time showing a modern sensibility is especially difficult—a treacherous path that straddles the line between the creation of kitsch and productive tension. In noting and listing the ways Correa uses signs and semiotics in architecture, one begins to discover the differences between simply reproducing a sign (which results in a building that is a copied text) and a more critical approach of cultural representation (which allows a reading of the building as an incessant text). In his essay, “The Public, The Private, and the Sacred” Correa writes: Architecture based on the superficial transfer of images from another culture or another age cannot survive; architecture must be generated from the transformation of those images; that is by expressing anew the mythic beliefs that underlie those images. 12

And it is precisely in Correa’s deployment of the agglomerate of these symbols that the Kendra’s success is guaranteed. By completely opening the center square and allowing views through the resulting courtyard, the representation of the mandala is allowed to be solely and purely that: representation. Since it only exists in plan views and diagrams, Correa’s treatment of the mandala is, in effect, only understood as a symbol in a vaccum: a staid image. Experientially, the ambulating circulation paths and seemingly limitless cross-views dissolves one’s understanding of the grid. Thus walking through a Hindu temple is nothing like walking through the Kendra; Correa has transformed the symbol of the mandala, allowing the viewer’s experience of a multivalent architecture to illustrate Correa’s view of the pluralism imbued in Indian culture. Vikramaditya Prakash goes further with this idea of obfuscating “traditional” representation. I would suggest that this desire for anchoring is best left suspended. I would propose the somewhat duplicitous strategy of suspending a parodic veil that would reveal by concealing—that would re-cover—the unfathomable depths of the ‘truth’ of our ‘identities.’ Such a veil can also, like a pliable and multicentered fishing net, better resist the penetrating desires of hegemonical cultural tendencies.13


12 13

Charles Correa qtd. in Vikramditya Prakash, “Identity Production in Postcolonial Indian Architecture” Postcolonial Spaces Ed. Gulsum Baydar Nalbantoglu and Wong Chong Thai (New York: Princeton Architectural Press) 1997: 44 ibid: 46

This phenomenon of resistance to the labeling of “Indian-ness” is perhaps best used at a place like the Kendra which celebrates regional arts and craft since, according to Jyotindra Jain, “the unofficial folk culture of India has always maintained its anarchic autonomy despite colonialising efforts to regularize the character of its production.”14 Correa’s British Council, it could be argued, was a more difficult and charged brief. Here, Correa was asked to design a contemporary building housing the Council’s headquarters in Delhi. Citing a desire to express the layered history of India, Correa sets up a linear axis through the building along what he calls “three axes mundi”. At the entrance in a marble clad foyer is the “European” symbol representingt the Age of Reason. Past the foyer, the building opens onto a courtyard centered on the Char Bagh or Islamic representation of the Garden of Paradise. At the end of the axes is a Hindu spiral symbolizing the cosmos. Again, Correa’s dependence on the architectural mechanism of the sign is clear, but while the open axes allows one to see through the building along this line, there is neither dialogue between, nor an obfuscation of the symbols. The layering is purely an optical and conceptual one, not phenomenological, and the composition remains static, with each image simplistically framed by its area in the plan. It is as if the building, through the representation of three distinct symbols, aknowledges the force that each of the three cultures has held on the development of the Indian nation.


Jyotindra Jain qtd. in Kenneth Frampton “Introduction” Charles Correa (London: Thames and Hudson) 1996: 17


A. Case: Charles Correa

While evocative of the 9 square mandala parti of Hindu temples, the Kendraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plan allows for access from all sides, encouraging a conceptual pluralism important in notions of Indian identity. The myriad views across its quadrants at once complicates and enriches the experience of the building.


The British Counciâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ls system of referents is, phenomenologically, much simpler - a linear layering that only works along one axes.


Even as the questions posed by Correa’s work remain unresolved, a new “post-postmodern” condition has arrived in India in the form of the IT park, the shopping mall, and the gated condominium complex. For Doshi, India is a society in which lifestyle, climate, building patterns, and local economies were in sync until disrupted by globalization, industrialization, the modernizing effects that accompanied post-colonialization, the adoption of alien models for architecture and the technological capability to ignore climate. These forces stretch and reweave the web of life according to new parameters…15

While the first results of this importation may seem grim, sterile and alien, the Indian nation has a talent for harboring heterogeneity. Only here can one find the analog sophistication of Bombay’s dabbawallahs16 coexisting with the complex systems of computer programming. The streets of India are evocative of this order, where Rolls Royces pull up alongside ancient auto-rickshaws and park beside sacred cows. The IT parks and call centers are an inevitability and an opportunity: a stated case, a given and a constraint that welcomes dialogue and forces an architectural act to respond. Keller Easterling recognizes India as a new front in the battle between meaning and the ultramodern in her book Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades. In detailing the shift from an American dominance of cultural control to a new state of post-signification, she writes, In its [IT parks], the architecture of South Asia’s c-band urbanism mixes with televisual and media images to make special political signs. In America, television and film store futurologies in ephemeral broadcasts, while architecture stores neotraditional sentiments. In India, television has been politicized by neotraditionalism, while the architecture of broadcast urbanism often embodies futurologies. In India, special effects and ephemeral fantasies accessorize the cultural imagination that makes a business of software exports. Architecture is instrumental in privileging imagery over interactivity. This architectural “face” even sometimes resembles a more primitive still image from the screen itself—a software environment of colors and implied movement.17


15 16 17

Canizaro: 110 The lunch box delivery men who, without the aid of computers, navigate the infinitely complex system of lunch pickup and distribution through the world’s worst traffic to over 200,000 clients each day. Keller Easterling, Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (Cambridge: MIT Press) 2005: 150

I.T. Park Designs, India



2. Hyperworld The new age is a globalized era where economic, political and socio-cultural phenomena change and interact in a process of homogenization and world-flattening.

As borders become

permeable markers of ever-marginalizing nation-states, a unified community has begun to emerge: the global village of the 21st century. Symptomatic of this enormous shift are vast changes to the economic markets, as trading has come to take place at a global level and geographic adjacency to clients is no longer a requirement in the service industries. Politically, the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 can be seen as having triggered the first war of the globalized era; one where the United States has taken up arms not against another nation but rather against cultural ideologues. Such trends have necessitated the rise of new political entities like the International War Crimes Court, where the accused are tried by intercontinental tribunals. On a social level, the global village is both larger and smaller than previous social models: smaller in that transportation and communication networks have linked the entire world. People miles away can be reached quickly, making cultural interchange as easy as picking up a phone or turning on a laptop. Yet, while geographical obstacles have all but disappeared, the global society is in many ways larger and more inclusive than ever. As accesibility to travel and telecommunication becomes ubiquitous, more people can afford plane tickets and cell phones and are thus involved in a never-before imagined planetary dialogue.

While the importance of nations has waned, the dense urbanity of the city has become

symptomatic of the supermodern age. The globe has changed from a patchwork of colored masses into a hodgepodge of large dotsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the planet can be recognized as a collection of cities less and less


tied to the country in which they reside. According to a United Nations report published earlier this year, over half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas; the study projected that by 2050 this percentage would be up to 75%. The global city capital has many faces. In 1993 Charles Jenck’s identified Los Angeles as an ‘urban heteropolis’. For Jencks, “cities like L.A. were interminable urbanized areas with no coherent form, no hierarchical structure, no centre and no unity.”18 Made possible through the improved linking of urban and suburban circuits, the scale of the city is at once expanding enormously and fragmenting rapidly. Following these shifts is a similar scalar transformation of the social networks within the urban heteropolis. In his essay, The Form of the Future, Stephen Reed argues that: Growing social polarization emerges at all scale levels; within cities, where issues of access dominate and local networks divide territories increasingly into protected areas of privilege, and the no-go areas of the excluded; regionally, where, for example the poor may become trapped in innercity areas while the better-off and more mobile occupy suburban areas; between regions, which compete to position themselves with the circuits of the global economy; and at the global scale, where large sections of the world become excluded from global economic networks.19

In this sense, Beijing is a heteropolis, Rio de Janeiro is a heteropolis, and Mumbai is a heteropolis. The challenge to architects and planners here is the adjacency of, and mediation between, formal and informal settlements. David Gouverneur points out that in new developing countries, growth is not linear, contrary to early development in western countries. Instead, everything happens at once in a previously unimagined density of space, in turn creating varied, complex, urban forms.20 Resulting ghettoes, slums, and favelas test the discipline’s need for control, as growing density increases the tension between formal and informal settlement of urban space. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the new one-off cities of Asia and the Middle East. Rapidly conceived, planned, and built, these cities offer designers the chance to gamble at creating new Utopias as sustainable environments and as sites for social experimentation. The vast range and scale of these urban


18 19 20

Ibelings: 84 Stephen Reed, “The Form of the Future,” Future City Ed. J. Roseman (New York: Spon Press) 2005: 4 David Gouverneur, “Urban Connectors”, Harvard Design Magazine Summer 1999: 28

Aerial View, Los Angeles

Rocinha Favela, Rio De Janeiro


outcomes serves as notice of the dire questions confronting designers in the contemporary world: the assumptions about city planning and the design of artifacts to affect change at urban scales no longer hold. As the conditions of a globalized world have altered the terms of architectural practice, they have, in turn, transformed assumptions about city planning and urban design. Reed suggests a new structure for the comprehension of urbanization, one that acts â&#x20AC;&#x153;in terms that transcend the limitations imposed by the static and utopian conceptualizations about the city and its products.â&#x20AC;?21



Reed: 5

3. The Work of Architecture in the Age of Globalization The globalizing phenomenon has created a new set of conditions and constraints for architecture. New users, new programs, and new experiences have shaped a “post-postmodern” condition in which architecture is attempting to remake itself. Ibelings has termed this new international architecture “Supermodernism”. The new archetype of the supermodern building uses light construction and employs minimalist and monolithic formal characteristics. Graphic imagery and surface treatment have become ubiquitous: the supermodern monuments are empty, flexible shells covered in fancy wrappers. Yet the return to imagery, surface and even ornament functions very differently from its use in Postmodern architecture. While Postmodernism argued for a return to humanist values, Supermodernists purport a new realism—phenomenological and literal. To say that designers are searching for an architecture without symbolic or metaphorical allusions is not to imply that there is no meaning at all anymore. Just that the tendency of postmodernists and deconstructivists to look for hidden meanings everywhere has become largely superfluous for the simple reason that, more often than not, there is no hidden meaning. In its place we now have a form of meaning that is derived directly from how the architecture looks, how it is used and, above all, how it is experienced. After postmodernist and deconstructivist architecture, which appealed primarily to intellect, a new architecture is evolving which attaches greater importance to visual, spatial and tactile sensation.22

In this sense, Jean Nouvel is a Supermodernist, Herzog and DeMeuron are Supermodernists, and Frank Gehry is a Supermodernist. 22

Ibelings: 133


Ricola Storehouse, Herzog and DeMeuron, 1993

HH Store, SANAA, 1999


53 W. 53rd St. Atelier Jean Nouvel, 2007


Indeed, if there has been a paragon of globalized architecture, it is Gehry’s project in Bilbao. Devoid of scalar intimation, tectonic legibility, and structural coherence, the Guggenheim is above all a great, shining shell. All jubilant, iridescent surface and no programmatic constraint, Gehry’s museum bears proof of architecture’s relevance in the globalized world. Rigorously a-contextual and making no effort to reference the Basque or Spanish culture that sites it, it is an object building par excellence. Most of the visitors probably don’t even notice the art inside, yet are content to travel around the world simply to bask in the behemoth’s shadow. In an article for the New York Times, Denny Lee finds that Bilbao has become a site of architectural pilgrimage, where most of the devotees know nothing of the city besides the existence of the museum. The so-called “Bilbao effect” denotes the idea that the dying industrial port of some 300,000 inhabitants was utterly revived by the commission for a museum welcoming over a million visitors a year. According to Lee, “Bilbao, a muscular town of steelworkers and engineers, is slowly becoming a more effete city of hotel clerks and art collectors.”23 Yet, while the museum was by all accounts successful as an economic solution to Bilbao’s confrontation with the post-industrial, globalized world, and is certainly illustrative of a certain supermodern condition in the current design climate, questions remain as to whether the project is in fact a healthy and sensible design solution. Should designers not build projects that rail against the lifeless homogenization of this socio-cultural trending? Couldn’t one hope for more of a dialogue between building and city as opposed to Gehry’s brazen soliloquy? In the end, has Gehry helped himself more than he has helped the city of Bilbao?



Denny Lee “Bilbao, 10 years later,” The New York Times 23 September 2007 <>

Plan, 3rd Floor

Exterior view, from Southeast


And so, a new architecture has emerged, because a new global culture needs new types of buildings. Program hardly exists in “high architecture” anymore; buildings are now just flexible shells with ever-thinner envelopes. How does one shape a space to house the flow of ephemera? People now sit in chairs; it is the electronic pulse, the swirl of new media, the rush of liquid money that desires circulation. Migration and dispersion represent new modes of population movement as the national entity loses its ideological hold. The 21st century has already seen the rise of new allegiances. The globalized citizen, the multi-national denizen and the global villager are metropolitan strangers; at once highly individualistic and independent, the populace of what Reinhold Martin and Kadambari Baxi call “resident aliens” is at the same time increasingly heterogeneous. These new masses consist first and foremost of shoppers: consumerism purveys all aspects of culture. For Ibelings, “Urban consumption takes many forms. In addition to the obvious types of consumption like shopping, dining out, theatre- and museum-going, there is also a consumptive manner of looking…which focuses selectively on the picturesque aspect of a village, on the historical buildings and urban spaces of a city centre and on the unspoilt character of the landscape…”24 Architecture and built form are now consumed and disposed of. Like a film or the ballet, it is a new form of spectacle that is applauded or detested by a new form of audience. On both an urban and building scale, globalization has brought the concepts of consumption and spectacle into increasing immediacy. Ardently theorized by Walter Benjamin in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, in his Arcades Project, as well as by Baudelaire in his conception of the modern flaneur, the mounting collusion between performance and both visual and material consumption in today’s world has exaggerated the impact of their early studies. According to Erik Swyngedouw, the classically modern museum is described as an interiorized space that framed and glassed in the object. It was a space where the happenstance encounter and the public meeting were crystallized and frozen in time. In the new City of Spectacle this interior/exterior, public/private relationship is turned inside out. “The outside has now become itself part of the 24


Ibelings: 154

Ticket Counter, Centre Pompidou

interiorized commodified spectacle.”25 The creation of new public and civic buildings that function solely in terms of surface become simple set-pieces in a vast new stage-set city. In this presentation, humans no longer have speaking parts, but become props and extras in an immense societal hoax. Think of the Centre Pompidou, whose exposed, tubular stairways seem to conflate the movement of people with the movement of heating, cooling, and water systems that move through the building’s colored pipes. Philosopher and critic Francesco Proto reads the Centre Pompidou as a cultural supermarket: “A ticket there is bought not for a supermarket trolley full of Campbell’s soups and Rice Crispies, but for an illusion: the illusion of having shared in the collective ritual of fun and entertainment…”26 25 26

Erik Swyngedouw, “Exit ‘Post’-The Making of ‘Glocal’ Urban Modernities,” Future City Ed. J. Roseman (New York: Spon Press) 2005: 132 Francisco Proto, Mass.Identity.Architecture. Architectural Writings of Jean Baudrillard (Chichester: John Wiley and Sons) 2003: 4


B. Shopping Spree The recent work of OMA/Rem Koolhaas has explored issues of shopping and specatacle and public interaction in two notable projects: the 1996 competition for the Luxor Theatre in Rotterdam and the 2002 Prada Store in SoHo, New York. Both works implicitly recognize the reciprocal performative interaction between modern citizens, the globlalized event, and the hierarchies and affected distance inherent to their juxtaposition. While programmatically different, Koolhaas exploits the modern circumstance to explore conditions where theater and consumption are conflated. For the Luxor Theatre, the designer employs material continuity in the form of a very long carpet and a flourishing spiral form, incorporating multivalent functions along one continuous plane in attempts to subvert the hierarchy created by ticket prices and quality of view. The Luxor section shows, however, that the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s innovation comes in the long portico and entrance foyer, because the seats are still, in fact, hierarchically arranged. Although the goal is laudable, Koolhaas resorts to a formalist trick; and the result belies the conventionality of the configuration. Further, the functionally derived necessity of viewing angles still results in a separation between audience and performed spectacle.

As highlighted in the section above, the Luxor does not convincingly solve the problem of hierarchy.

The long, exposed atrium, is an important communal space, however.


Ironically, Koolhaasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; solution for the upscale 2002 Prada store in SoHo, New York is more successful at breaking down hierarchies between performer, performance, and consumer (both visual and material). By combining display space for goods with seating and the practical demands of trying on the high-end shoes, the project breaks down the implicit barriers between haute fashion and everyday use, and spectacle and audience. The blurred conditions between lounge, store, and service further decentralize notions of conventional spectatorship in the shopping arena.


The new global culture has bred new behavior, and architecture is being reprogrammed in its unflappable wake. The programs of the modern world have nothing to do with those of the postpostmodern world. Martin and Baxi contend, “There is no such thing as a program; there is only what actually happens.”27 And so, a new architecture has emerged, because new global experiences require new architectural content. Before, there was the inn, the tavern and the motel— places where weary travelers would stop to rest after a long day on the road. Now there is the hotel—a huge mass that houses jet-setters arriving from far-away nations they left only hours before. These new guests require refuge, a place of peace and solace from the dynamic and foreign world outside. A hotel in Hong Kong can be the same as a hotel in New York. It can serve the same food, provide the same beds, and show the same television stations. 27

Hyatt Hotel, Mumbai


Kadambari Baxi and Reinhold Martin, Multi-National City: Architectural Itineraries (Barcelona: Actar) 2007: 13

HSBC Tower, London

Before, there was the factory, the bank, and the store. Now there is the office building—a glassy tower housing computers and telephones. The new workers require the ability to speak with clients in other countries at the touch of a button, and to see real-time stock quotations across the globe. An office building in London can be the same as an office building in Tokyo. It can be laid out in the same way, harbor the same communication systems and never shut down. These are the markers of the new global landscape, and they are increasingly similar. Before there was the butcher shop, the bakery, and the farmer’s stalls at the village green. Now there is the supermarket—a huge, sterile mass with endlessly repeating aisles, all filled with processed, packaged foodstuffs from everywhere. The new shopper requires fixed prices, one stop shopping, and endless choice. A supermarket in Paris can be the same as a supermarket in Dubai. It can use the exact same signage, carry the exact same products, and accept the same credit cards. The modern-day supermarket is symptomatic of a globalized, post-industrial suburban landscape. Increasingly individualized experiences, today’s trip to the supermarket is highly impersonal and illustrative of the growing banality of the modern domestic.


C. Supermodernism means Supermarkets The modern consumer experience is a highly individualized one, and the layout of the supermarket contributes to this phenomenon. As shoppers move from the more public parking lot through one of a few entrances they are quickly dispersed along the product aisles and into their own private experience with the store. Most stores are similar in design and layout due to trends in marketing. Fresh produce tends to be located near the entrance of the store. Milk, bread, and other essential staple items are usually situated toward the rear of the store and in other out-of-the-way places, purposely done to maximize the customer’s time spent in the store, strolling past other items and capitalizing on impulse buying. For security purposes, the front of the store is the area where point of sale machines or cash registers are usually located, meaning customers leave through the entrance doors and owner’s can easily monitor this highly controlled area. As a result of this, the logic of most supermarkets’ spatial layouts leads to shopper inefficiency and loss of time, especially when the consumer is only picking up a few goods. The system of trapping consumers along aisles favors those who do their week’s shopping all at once . If the supermarket and hypermarkets are the shopping destinations of the new heterotopia, citizens of developing countries still shop at local bazaars, souks and informal farmers’ markets. The stark difference in experiences is illustrative of contrasts between global and local lifestyles.

Yuppie Bachelorette, Two visits a week




25m 10m



Frat Boy, Four (short) visits a week

Housewife, One visit every eight days

While supermarket parking lots are often practical community gathering spaces due to the sweeping necessity of grocery shopping across social boundaries, the long, narrow aisles within the â&#x20AC;&#x153;big boxâ&#x20AC;? disperse the modern shopper, effectively estranging what in many parts of the world had been a communal experience.

The Marsh Supermarket in Naperville, Illinois allows for a more natural shopping experience by shortening aisles and arranging them in a radial array. Here, shoppers are assured of coming into frequent contact with other members of their neighborhood as they browse through the store.


4. Hysteric Preservation Railing against the backdrop of radical changes in the design profession brought about by globalization, historic preservation and renovation has more advocates than at any other time in the movement’s history. A greater number of buildings are being preserved than ever before, and the time we take to recognize that a building is representatively “historic” is becoming increasingly shorter.28 Contemporary currents in preservationist theory have overwhelmingly recognized the movement’s main goal as the marking of a building’s position in a historical field. By allowing it to become a symbol of an earlier period—a captured moment in time—most preservationists’ primary aim is the creation of a narrative that links an idea of the past to the present-day. Yet for architect Rahul Mehrotra, who has completed several preservation and adaptive re-use projects in India, this discourse is limiting in that it “perpetuates a nostalgia driven motivation to preserve…”29 Inherent in this problem is preservationists’ fetishization of the historical and cultural artifact. When left to these devices, conservation focuses much too narrowly on the creation of a precious object. The materialist focus of contemporary preservationist ideology should be noted in the context of globalization and its implications on history and the global environment. For architect Juhani Pallasmaa, “the deep problem with today’s globalized culture is its very experiential


28 29

For an example of this see Koolhaas’ Maison à Bordeaux which was slated to become a historic monument only six years after its completion. Rahul Mehrotra, “Conservation and Change: Questions for Conservation Education in Urban India,” Built Environment November 2007: 349

and emotional shallowness—its lack of the aura of the real.”30 While the temptation to guard the concrete nature of embodied histories in light of these changing conditions can, perhaps, be understood, the notion of securing every scrap of a pristine past in an air-tight vacuum should be regarded suspiciously. It is too similar to the septuagenarian who tightly clutches his typewriter as his colleagues switch to computers. It is also very similar to the old-guard Regionalists, who clung to historic referents in their desire to preserve national and political identity in the face of industrialization. Like the Historic Regionalists of the late 19th century, today’s conservationists must instill a sense of criticality into their discourse. It is myopic to understand architecture solely in terms of a building’s appearance on the day it was completed. Architecture represents and achieves much more than this in the way it changes ideas of use, shifts our understanding of place, and is complicit in forming cultural and collective memories. 30

Juhanni Pallasamaa, “On History and Culture,” Architectural Record June 2007: 105

Shakespeare Country park, Maruyama, Japan, 1997


5. Local Notions

Like their counterparts in the preservation movement, anthropologists and designers have viewed the onset of the supermodern condition as a moment of crisis within their respective disciplines. As the homey lamplight of local cultures begins to fade in the wash of the globalized world’s dazzling new monuments to the modern, scholars have renewed the debate over local culture and Regionalist values. It is a case of history repeating itself. Just as the Regionalist movement arose to counter Modernism’s threat to the heterogeneous and personal in architecture, contemporary society suddenly seems frightened of the potential loss as local identity and meaning teeter on the brink of eradication. Anthropologist Marc Augé makes a clear distinction between space and place in this new world. Contrary to space, place in Augé’s anthropological view is created as a result of the presence of human action. Space, then, is wasteland: indicative of the new, global condition. He has dubbed these soulless zones ‘non places’, areas of transience and impermanence, devoid of human interaction and societal meaning. These are locales of the new globalized building type and are, for Augé, defined by high degrees of both mobility and consumption. An intense hesitance, one that often borders on cynicism, in accepting the modern-day condition can be seen in much of the contemporary anthropological writing. Global scholars Manuel Castells and Arjun Appadurai are



pragmatic in their view of the new givens—arguing for a more nuanced approach to the bewildering rate of societal change. Castells’ supports the idea of a ‘new tribalism’. He writes, A requirement of this counteroffensive is “the development of an architecture that tries to say something—not one that directly expresses society; no serious architecture has ever done that—but one that incorporates the debates, the values, the moving cultural dynamics of society into spatial forms, thus rejecting the new orthodoxy that has substituted modernism with postmodernism, with the uniform architecture of the space of flows…[the new architectures] must introduce a new tension between individual creation and collective cultural expressions in order to reconstruct meaning in our environment.31

While Castells echoes Augé’s yearning for a return of meaning in the globalized world, Appadurai’s characterization is even more specific, tying the idea of meaning to a sense of the ‘local’. In his essay 31


Manuel Castells, “Globalization, Flows, and Identity: The New Challenges of Design,” Reflection of Architectural Practices in the Nineties (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press) 1996: 200

Illusion of Permanence, Appadurai sees the rise of new disjunctures as the crux of global development. Society, he says, is schizophrenic, contradictory and undergoing a crisis of temporariness. Constant anxiety arises from the evolving tensions set out by the rapidly-changing, global environment. He contends that designers must instill a sense of place created by a feeling of locality as a foil to globalization’s persistent attempts to normalize the urban ecosystem. For architects and planners, the concept of locality and the production of the consequences in which it would arise—an idea which which seems is second-nature and taken for granted—must be considered and designed. In the end, “for mere spatiality to take its form, there has to be an effort, a ‘production of locality,’ which is much more complex.” This is not an attempt to substitute or subsume the original locality, but rather to enhance and complicate the idea of locality at its root.32 Interestingly, the work of global and cultural anthropologists has reactivated dialogues about Regionalism within the architectural discourse. As Supermodernist designers have discarded the pastiche elements of postmodern reference, and Schmarsow’s vision of cultural identity through architecture once again fades, new scholars and practitioners have once again rallied to its theoretical basis. Recognizing the renewed peril of the state of local and cultural character, a new Critical Regionalism for the 21st century has evolved. Mobilizing and reconceptualizing Tzonis, Lefaivre, and Frampton in global terms, this new dialogue hopes to preserve a sense of architecture’s capacity for linking built form to humanity. If we understand the early movement’s work as a recognition of local contexts that needed to be regarded and applied to design practice critically, Barbara Allen, in her essay On Performative Regionalism, argues that Tzonis et al. did not go far enough. While issues like program, form, ornament, and tectonics were seen to shape integral parts of regional identities, the movement failed to identify the importance of the “spatial dimensions of people’s practices and normative behaviors.”33 The importance of cultural performance as a regionalist context had been ignored. How we dress, what we eat, and the way we shop are powerful drivers of a shared, communal memory and have vital impact on the way we use and interact with our built environment.

32 33

Arjun Appadurai “Illusion of Permanence” Perspecta 2003: 46 Barbara Allen “On Performative Regionalism” Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity and Tradition (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press) 2007: 422


Jitish Kallat, Artist Making Local Call, 2005

As Allen argues, designers must produce a sense of Appadurai’s “place” by exploiting architecture’s agency to enact shared tradition, ritual and cultural practice. Architecture has the capacity to enforce this trend. Authentic forms of cultural performance participate in the forming of communal memory and, subsequently, a collective identity. Barbara Allen’s emphasis on the potential of performance-based, regional practice in the production of locality is vital to understanding this. Like Swyngedouw, Neal Leach sees architecture’s complicity in social performance, albeit more optimistically: He makes the argument that since “identity” is a performative construct…then architecture could be understood as a ‘film set’…that derives its meanings from the activities that have taken place there. “Through our performances”, he writes “we belong to a culture based on similarly performed identities and these are often acted out on a certain architectural stage engendering an attachment to a particular place or (micro)region.”34



Neal Leach qtd. in Allen: 423

D. The Performance of Purchase

Indian markets are engaging case studies in terms of the display of goods, the inventive use of space and material, and their ability to be deployed as flexible and mobile units. In addition, the varied configurations create different levels of hierarchy, distance, and interaction between sellers and shoppers.

Permanent in nature, this stall configuration gives the vendor the dominant position above the customer in section. It is also highly convenient and easy to monitor goods. The food vendor typically employs an inventive cart that houses both storage of raw goods, cooking mechanism and a power supply. The system is highly mobile, sensorily interactive, and allows the customer to survey the preparation of food.

Merchants selling from the ground take up little space and require very little material. Their positioning allows customers to make demands on high or requires them to squat to communicate.

The two-sided shop is highly secure and practical in terms of storage. The table separating customer and grocer could be seen as a convenience for the laying out of goods or a barrier between the parties.

A hybrid between the sidewalk merchant and the open stall, this configuration is ingenious in that it recyles empty goods containers to allow for the display of merchandise.

The three-sided stall is the most secure of the various systems, but requires the most permanent and formal intervention. Again, there is a trade-off between practicality and vendor/customer dissociation.


In an effort to understand what is essentially local, contemporary theorists have furthered the Critical Regionalist’s manifesto by imposing the necessity of “authenticity” into the movement’s recognized contexts, contending that it should be a central tenant of Regionalist theory. For Vincent Canizaro, “authenticity is a quality of engagement between people and things or people and places. It is not a property inherent to things or places but a measure of our connection to them.”35 In mining new processes of urbanization in the global city, Stephen Reed remembers Jane Jacobs’ comment that “there is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness and disorder [in the urban environment]… the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.”36 It is important to realize that, even in Jacobs’ time, ideas about local culture and authenticity existed within the cityscape. Now, however, supermodern urbanity is rife with both Augé’s “non-places” and territorial boundaries between polarized urban formats. For this reason, both Allen and Canizaro’s claims seem conservative in their hesitance to place Critical Regional theory in more overtly modern contexts. Local and regional practices have changed the very nature in which people enact culture. A trip to the well to gossip and fetch water has turned into a trip to the study to chat on the computer; pick-up basketball with friends has become real-time on-line video gaming played across the ether; a meal shared with family at the dinner table has turned into a bag of fast food devoured in front of the television. Moreover, it would be overly simplistic if the new Critical Regionalists’ idea of “local” was relegated purely to a wholesome sense of community that acted as a protective cushion or refuge for the estranged global bourgeoisie. According to Reed, “People need to participate in the dynamics of change, and they need to participate through places (both virtual and ‘physical’…) situated within and energized by a non-local space which is open, connected to streams of urban, regional and global power while not being controlled by them.”37


35 36 37

Canizaro: 26 Reed: 10 ibid.

As noted by Castells, it is precisely the hybrid nature of the supermodern problem that will help bring about productive dialectical restructuration of new cultural meanings. Plumbing the liminal regions between schismatic urban developments of the globalized age can lead designers to rich new uses of space and new forms of urban event. Reed writes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is often [the incongruous, shadowy, spaces of the contemporary city] which shout to us about the potentials of the urban, of an environment which is open to shifting valences, to expedient and practical appropriation, and to an unprogrammed and unpredictable vitality.â&#x20AC;?38 It is on the battleground of the global city that confrontations between formal and informal, local and universal, authentic and totalizing will come to a head. New authenticities, in which exist a recognition and revalorization of both the global and local conditions, must arise through dynamic difference and tensions.


ibid: 7


6. Would You Like Fries with Your Maharaja Burger? As the popular saying goes, human beings only require three things in life: food, clothing and shelter. As the contemporary climate changes ideas about the design and preservation of shelter, societal conceptions of culture and identity are transformed. The same could be said for food, which shares tacit links to memory, meaning and social self-conception. Comparisons between the design, construction and reception of architectural works share deep resonances with the way that we purchase, cook, and consume food. One can feel equally comfortable speaking of balance, measure, proportion, sensuality, and aesthetics whether discussing architecture or dinner. As a result of this, debates within the architectural discourse would seem to mirror those within the world of gastronomy. Architect Gion Caminada has spoken about economies driven by material factors and building technique in terms of food preparation. When using low-cost materials in innovative ways, he writes, “Value is added because of the special nature of the treatment. The same is true of cooking, when you cook something tasty with ingredients prepared on the spot, instead of opening a ready meal in a well-travelled tin. The strategy of enhancing a reasonably priced native material through a high degree of processing presents a meaningful challenge in terms of planning as well.”39 Similarly, questions about material honesty in building design can be associated with those in the



Gion Caminada “Meaningful Architecture in a Globalized World” The Cook, The Architect, and Good Taste Ed. Petra Hagen Hodgson and Rolf Toyka (Birkhäuser: Basel) 2007: 93

Namaste to you, Ronald


culinary realm: should wood always look and perform like wood, and should strawberries always taste and act like strawberries? Swiss architect Annette Gigon has compared the addition of paint in her design work to the chef’s addition of spice in a dish: “You add a little and it changes the nature of the building.”40 Issues of local authenticity, which are so important in the present era, involve food as significantly as they involve architecture. Like architecture, cooking has traditionally been a regional practice. Designers specified local building materials and hired workers from the region, in the same way that shopping and cooking were always done with respect to what was easily and locally available. While increasingly less so today, food and building still incorporate regional modes of practice to some extent. Taste and style can also be seen as traditionally regional concepts within both frameworks. Palates have been scientifically proven to vary geographically; the same might be said of architecture where color, ornament and detail contrast by region. Traditional practice and religious belief which function primarily at regional levels can be seen as an important link between food and architecture’s functioning at the local level in efforts to create authenticity. Anthropologists Whidney Mintz and Christine DuBois write, “Ethnographers have found multiple entry points for the study of how humans connect food to rituals, symbols, and belief systems. Food is used to comment on the sacred and to reenact venerated stories. In consecrated contexts, food ‘binds’ people to their faiths through powerful links between food and memory. Sometimes the food itself is sacred through its association with supernatural beings and processes…”41 Still, globalization’s blanketing effects have changed the way societies both consume and conceive of their nourishment for better and worse. The same phenomena of proliferation and dispersion that have affected architectural practice have considerably changed the networks of food’s transportation and availability. In much the same way that the world’s built environment has succumbed to Disneyfication, the world’s palate has fallen to McDonaldization. The global populace has begun to eat as America eats, and nations that pride themselves on their gustatory


40 41

Petra Hagen Hodgson and Annette Gigon “Materials and Colors,” The Cook, The Architect, and Good Taste Ed. Petra Hagen Hodgson and Rolf Toyka (Birkhäuser: Basel) 2007: 42 Sidney M. Mintz and Christine M. Du Bois, “The Anthropology of Food and Eating,” Annual Review of Anthropology 2002: 107

capabilities have protested mightily. Locavores and Slow Food advocates have reacted to these changes by boycotting and even bombing certain imported chain restaurants. At the same time, the transformation and liberalization of traditional foodways through globalization has connected the world through cuisine. This has allowed the Mumbaiker, for the first time, to savour an aged French Camembert from Normandy and the Parisian to sample an Indian Alphonso Mango from Pune. In this way, shopping and eating as collective practices and sites of communal memory have begun to transcend geographic limitations.


E. Stall vs. Mall


As with architecture, conflicts between the local and global in the anthropology of food have enriched our understanding of the modern condition. Food, in this framework, should be seen both as a seminal piece in constructing notions of identity, as well as a resulting construction of these notions. Roland Barthes has theorized this idea in his essay, Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption. In it, he writes that food plays an important role in cultural selfimagination through ties to both memory and habit. Food permits a person to partake, each day, of the national past. In this case, this historical quality is obviously linked to food techniques. These have long roots, reach back to the depth of the [past]. They are, we are told, the repository of a whole experience, of the accumulated wisdom of our ancestors…No doubt the myth of [a nation’s cooking] abroad (or as expressed to foreigners) strengthens this “nostalgic” value of food considerably. But since the [nation’s citizens, themselves,] actively participate in this myth, it is fair to say that through his food, the citizen experiences a certain national continuity.42

In addition to the daily act of eating, Appadurai has written about the cookbook as a means of capturing ideas about communal self-significance: through the conglomeration of regions and careful codification with respect to taste and ingredients, cookbooks can become powerful, embodied texts that speak for an entire nation.43 Cookbooks, then, can be seen as one way in which tensions between global and local work to create useful syntheses with respect to societal meaning. In India, specifically, restaurants have become increasingly important venues for such productive phenomena, as different groups from different backgrounds with different beliefs share one dining room to partake in the culturally significant practice of eating, thereby forming and transforming a single collective memory. The Indian marketplace is even better arena for this syncretic creation, in that the basic daily necessities of shopping require these various groups to congregate in one space to purchase their daily needs. Here the modern citizen is surrounded by regional Indian produce, exotic global imports, and

42 43

Roland Barthes “Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption,” Food And Culture: A Reader Ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik (Routledge: New York) 2008: 24 Appadurai, How To Make a National Cuisine: 22


foods that are taboo in certain religions while beloved by others. The Indian market’s ability to bring people of varying religion, age, class, and lifestyle, together, is testimony to its functional importance in the production of collective identity. And as our notions about food change, so do our ideas about the built environment. Arjun Appadurai notes that “leftovers are an extremely sensitive category in traditional Hindu thought, and though in certain circumstances they are seen as positively transvalued, most often the eating of leftovers or wastes carries the risk of moral degradation… and loss of status.”44 Yet, new cooking shows and cookbooks in Indian society have begun to revalorize the leftovers, showing the modern Indian how to transform and reuse last night’s odds and ends to create something delicious and altogether new. In a similar way, important advances in historic preservation efforts are reflective of the Indian nation’s new attitudes towards old buildings. Victorian-era monuments, like Madame Singh’s leftover curry, can become something altogether pleasing and satisfying through inventive design and the addition of a little spice. 44


Arjun Appadurai “How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India,” Comparative Studies in Society and History January 1988: 8

F. Community Consumption The Indian marketplace, in catering to the multifarious communities embedded within it, reflects the differences and intersections inherent to an implied regional identity. By better understanding the contexts that make up these local elements, designers can exploit cultural and religious tastes and necessities as spatial configurations in order to better foster community within the experience of shopping.


Devout Muslim

Devout Hindu




7. Adaptive Re(f)use Many of the voices in today’s preservation movement call for conservation efforts to reestablish within the building the contexts that existed during their construction. Juhani Pallasmaa writes, “The restoration of any building poses ethical, philosophical, and technical problems, beginning with the idea of the preconceived interdependence of form and function. What is the architectural validity of a functionalist building that has been given a new function?”45 Pallasmaa’s position is untenable: he at once calls for a renewed authenticity, while at the same time favoring simple restorations over innovative adaptations.

Colonial Williamsburg, which visionary

preservationist James Marston Fitch denounced in the 1970’s, is an example of how specious such architectural acts really are. According to Jorge Otero-Pailos, editor of Columbia University’s periodical on preservation, Future Anterior, “The entire town had been returned to 1776 through surgical demolitions and scientific reconstructions, then furnished and perpetually maintained in first-class condition. The archaeological operations to ‘purify and telescope historic processes’ presented visitors with a ‘simultaneity of well-being that would seldom if ever have occurred.’ The experience distanced life from the past instead of bringing it closer.”46 When projects like this are designed today, they sponsor an implicit misunderstanding of the contemporary condition.


45 46

Pallasmaa: 107 Jorge Otero Pailos “Preservations Anonymous Lament” Future Anterior Winter 2007: vii

The users of buildings have changed, and uses of buildings have changed with them. Culture and identity are significantly different in today’s world than even twenty years ago, and dramatic shifts in cultural practice reflect this. When preservationists neglects these facts, what should be a vital act of preservation becomes simple reconstruction, and what could be useful and evocative buildings become distant and affected museums. As noted, dialogues within the preservationist movement mirror the evolution of Regionalist theory in the 20th century. Theorists and practitioners like Otero-Pailos and Mehrotra occupy similar roles in preservation to those of Frampton and Allen within the Regionalist debate. Arguing for a less overtly conservative approach to such issues, these new voices call for less object-oriented modes of preservation, seeking instead to preserve the ideas, cultural phenomena, and innovation embodied in historic works of architecture. In Koolhaas’ terms, “we are always thinking about preserving physical substance, but in certain circumstances, it is more valuable to think about preserving ways of life or the ‘non exceptional.’”47 In this manner, preservation becomes less about the restoration of a historic veneer and more focused on the defense of authentic cultural practice and manners of habitation, thereby establishing authenticity and rooted notions of the local at a more essential level. In addition to current preservationist’s attitudes being overly object-driven, the discourse’s focus on the creation of a narrative continuum between the past and the present implies a narrow and outdated view of history itself. Such linear conceptions of the historical record turn the past into a deceased document, written in stone and thoroughly immobile. It is, perhaps, the Modernists who are to blame for this, since it was in their interest, as a self-imagined movement that captured cultural zeitgeist and zoomed to the future, to portray history as a stable, unchanging context that contrasted starkly with their mode of practice. The best works of preservation today do not succumb to this fallacy, however, instead allowing history to become an evolving current, one that changes in relation to a volatile present. For Pailos, “historic preservation, is in fact, a productive force, relentlessly 47

Rem Koolhaas “Preservation of History,” Lecture. Harvard Graduate School of Design. Gund Hall, Cambridge, MA. 21 September 2006


generative of new and ever-expanding categories dedicated to reordering the fundamental codes of culture in terms of history.â&#x20AC;?48 Projects that recognize this, transform historic buildings into openended texts where a multiplicity of meanings are alternately revealed and obscured in an effort to productively complicate a userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reading of both history and cultural identity with respect to built forms of the past. The supermodern condition is one of constant ebbs and flows, new paradigms and conventional paradoxes. Any architectural discourse in these times must recognize the vast and conflicting forces at work in this new world: global and local, kinetic and static, material and act. Society struggles to establish the terms of its identity and authenticity amidst this confusion. As historic preservation cannot escape the inexorable hybridity that structures this climate, the terms by which we understand past and present are implicitly engaged in our search for meaning.



Pailos: iii

Caixa Forum, Herzog and Pierre DeMeuron, 2008

Art Center College of Design. Daly Genik, 2004


G. Case: Mercat D’Santa Caterina 2005. EMBT architects. 5,500 sm

Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue’s adaptive reuse of the 170 year old Santa Caterina Market has both transformed the once dilapitated structure into an emblematic building, and resurrected the gritty Ciutat Vella neighborhood which it occupies. While the colorful ceramic tile roof is certainly striking, the market is an effective intervention because of the way that Miralles and Tagliabue recognize the urban condition in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter. The market is developed as public space. Exceedingly open and communal in nature, Santa Caterina is designed to function as a void that opens off of the narrow streets and dense four- and five-story surroundings. To acheive this affect the market’s plan, in sharp contrast to modern big box supermarkets, is extraordinarily open from all sides, and the small urban plaza created at the neighborhood end is sucked into the market’s space through path figures and material choices.


The lively, figural roof is detailed so as to sit lightly on the reused marketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s orthoganal envelope--a flying carpet that shelters the newly created town plaza. Implicit in the recognition of the market as a plaza is the valorization of shopping and food-selling as a community activity. The plan houses space for stalls as well as a supermarket, and even though one might be buying goods from around the globe, EMBT assures us that it will be done in an essentially local setting.


The building is certainly an eye-catching supermodernist object building along the lines of Gehry’s Bilbao, yet the building’s legible tectonics and sensitivity to local site conditions makes the design effectively ‘glocal’ in a way that the post-post modern generally tries to magic away. EMBT decided to reuse as much of the existing market as possible, even employing the original wood framing as a highly visible roof support and a whimsical referent. The original facades are maintained underneath the new roof and the contrast between stolid and playful enriches the market’s various entrances. The designer‘s attitude towards history and preservation can also be attributed to the success of the market’s ability to negotiate the terrain between forward-looking globalized architecture and nostalgic preservation. In Tagliabue’s words: “Call it a hybrid if you like, but we think its logical if you want to get beyond thinking neatly in terms of black and white all the time. It’s multiplying material and multiplying kinds of time: present time contains past time without erasing it, opening the way to a range of possibilities, a multiplication of meanings. Architecture shouldn’t insist on the permanence of any particular moment; in a manner of speaking, it should try to inhabit time. Our belief is that this approach generates a new way of working on the urban fabric in which it’s difficult to distinguish between rehabilitation and new building...” 1



Fulvio Irace, “Mercat D’Santa Caterina” Abitare October 2005: 168-170



Mumbai, 1930’s

8. Mini/Maxi/OptiMumbai While the Indian nation is seeing the consequences of globalization for the first time, Mumbai has, in many senses, been a global city for centuries. Having begun as a small fishing village, occupied by the Portuguese and then the British in the 17th century, Bombay might not exist today but for the development brought about by its colonial “oppressors”. As keenly noted by Aromar Revi, “the East India Company can be thought of as the world’s first true Transnational Company, symptomatic of a globalized economy.”49 By the late 19th century, Bombay had been almost fully converted from a traditional trading town with an agrarian economy into all-out manufacturing hub. As added proof of its importance in an increasingly linked global community, the city was deeply affected by further British annexation of the Sub-continent (which allowed for overland routes between Bombay and London), and the opening of a sea-route through the Suez Canal. The consequences of the American revolution were perhaps most important during this period, for as the industrial cotton ports in the American South closed during the war, Bombay became the British’s main source of textile goods. As Mehrotra points out, By the 1850’s Bombay was a mixture of cultures and



Aromar Revi, “India’s Urban Futures” Lecture. Making Mumbai Global Conference, M.I.T. Cambridge, MA. 3 October, 2008

was already becoming distinct from the other colonial or traditional urban settlements in India. It was quickly acquiring a cosmopolitan spirit and its ‘stable’ population was fast increasing. During his Governorship from 1853-1860, Lord Elphinstone made a pertinent observation. He noted that the leading commercial classes in Bombay had no real social influence outside the island, and that the manner of life made it unlikely that they would have any particular interest in native culture for its own sake. This made them ‘urban’ people with a definite stake in the future of the town.50

The issue of identity in modern Mumbai is one that is therefore richer and more complex than in any other Indian city. One might very well wonder whether Mumbai requires a more political mode of self-representation or should rather push to realize its potentials a new global capital.


Mehrotra, Rahul Bombay: The Cities Within (Bombay: Indian Book House) 1995: 51


Mumbai is, by all accounts, one of the great cities in the world. With its population of almost 18 million, if Mumbai were in fact a country, it would rank 54th out of 173.51 With a population density of almost 42,000 people per square kilometer, Mumbai ranks first in this category among the large cities of the world. The writer Suketu Mehta sees Mumbai as a series of conflicts over space: a vast populace and temporal shanties muscling for position with gridlocked automobiles and shiny apartment buildings.52 Mumbai is a city in motion, and it has been since its conception. An urban terrain that was literally fabricated through the connection of seven distinct islands, the city has resisted both controlled planning efforts and economic subventions. It is a laissez-faire town with a survival-of-the-fittest attitude, and its urban fabric reflects this nature. According to Mehrotra, who lives and practices there, In spite the transforming state of the metropolis, there are fragments from the past that still exert a presence on Bombay’s urban landscape—fragments that continue to express and represent the ideals and processes that created them. In fact, this palimpsest quality where each explicit layer can be read simultaneously is what distinguishes Bombay from other cities which were based on pre-determined master plans. Bombay on the other hand grew incrementally with many layers added to the core land mass…53

Despite similarities in size, population and density, it laminated conception of Mumbai that makes it different from other Indian metropolises. While cities as dissimilar as Delhi and Chandigarh still represent power through determined planning and their organization of urban mass and void, Mumbai seems to find order in its constant renewal and reorganization. It is for this reason an exhausting and ecstatic illustration of the new third-world, globalized, urban paradigm. In much the same way that one can see Mumbai’s contemporary organization in terms of its past, modern Mumbai’s cultural identity is an intrinsic reflection of its origins. Bombay was a town built on the foundations of commerce, trade, and capital, and Mumbai today remains so. In the words of Mehta: “Bombay is all about transaction—dhanda. It was founded as a trading city,


51 52 53

Suketu Mehta Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (New York: Knopf) 2004: 17 ibid: 30 Pauline Rohatgi, Pheroza Godrej and Rahul Mehrotra Ed. Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives (Mumbai: Marg) 1997: 232

built at the entrance to the rest of the world, and everybody was welcome as long as they wanted to trade.”54 While the Indian nation has its roots in an agrarian past, Mumbai has forever stood alone as a town where goods and money changed hands. The 1990’s saw Bombay’s airports accounting for over 75% of India’s imported goods and 60% of those exported. The Bombay Stock Exchange created important growth in India’s financial sector, postitvely effecting external investment in the nation’s communication industry, real estate, and service oriented future55. Although the Indian cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad have become more well-known as the Indian Silicon Valleys, built out of IT parks and global call centers, Mumbai still houses more of these service campuses than any other Indian city. The ideas of spectacle and capital overlap in modern Mumbai as nowhere else in the world. Founded on trade and money, the city has become home to the world’s largest film industry. Bollywood produces more films and generates more ticket sales revenue than any other. For film critic Irene Bignardi, “some words become even bigger than the thing they refer to. Bollywood is one such case. “[It] instantly conjures up a particular idea of Indian cinema—a good two hours of colourful entertainment, a love triangle, at least six musical numbers, lavish costumes, beautiful women and (not quite so attractive) men.”56 This conception of pure spectacle is knotted up in its city’s imagination. Besides driving aesthetic fashions in color, style, and music, the industry is capable of uniting Mumbai’s populace, young and old, rich and poor, as nothing else can. 54 55 56

Mehta: 16 Sujata Patel and Jim Masselos Bombay and Mumbai: The City in Transition (New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press) 2003: 25 Irene Bignardi “Cinema as Bollywood” Abitare June 2006: 148


The conglomeration of functions, services and developments give Mumbai a unique form. “It is as if, to use American examples, Mumbai combines, at the one and same time, the tightly packed island of New York City along with the silicon corridor of San Francisco and Palo Alto, to which is added part of the spread of Los Angeles…”57 At the same time, the city’s denizens, or Mumbaikers as they are often called, thrive on the spirit of consumption. Nowhere in India can one find the same staggering numbers of nightclubs, street food vendors, cinemas, and retail outlets. The city is a machine that guzzles up and spits out rupees like nowhere else on the subcontinent.

Yet, despite a seeming confidence in its globalized pedigree, Mumbai faces a 21st century

identity crisis. Regionalist politics and culture have created new sources of local pride as well as tension in the city, and Mumbai’s home state of Maharashtra has begun to forcefully remind the city of its ties to the province. This is clearly seen in the Maharashtra based Shiv Sena party’s rise to power in the 1995 elections. It is the Shiv Sena party that was primarily responsible for the city’s name change from Bombay to Mumbai that same year. In the wake of the election, many of the city’s civic buildings and streets were renamed, in a sense erasing the history of the British rule and replacing it with a far more region- and nation-based representation. Many of these buildings, including the prominent Victoria Terminus railway station as well as Mumbai’s airport, were renamed after the Maharashtrian king, Shivaji, who founded the state and clashed with Mughal ruler in the 1600’s. In addition, colonial-era statues placed in important locations were exchanged for those of the ancient ruler. The Shiv Sena party, named for the king, claims to draw inspiration from the figure as well. Ideologically and culturally, the official name change has had a huge impact on Mumbai’s conception of self. In effect, the destructive aspect of the policy is clearly seen in the way that it has shifted the diverse ethnic and cultural cosmopolitanism fostered throughout the city’s history to one more oriented towards indigenous, populist and religious tendencies. Further, Mumbai is tied administratively to the state, and policy and planning specific to the city are enacted by the state government. This issue has led to bureaucratic backlogs and



Jim Masselos “Millenial Mumbai” Future City Ed. J. Roseman (New York: Spon Press) 2005: 107

Chatrapati Shivaji


subsequent frustration from many of the city’s planners and development agencies in their efforts to exact positive change within the greater metropolitan area. For urbanist Jim Masselos, “it is thus also distinguished from other cities in India, in that it articulates the characteristics of its region.”58 At the beginning of the new century, then, Mumbai has apparently been embedded within its region in ways that other great cities of the world are not. Still, Mumbai maintains certain characteristics that define it as a truly Indian city. Its talent for harboring differences in belief, tradition, and practice are couched in its national heritage. While the city’s diverse populations, even today, continue to live in a segregated patchwork of settlement and slum, it is in Mumbai’s civic and communal spaces—the maidans used for sport and strolling, the crowded bazaars and market places, and the vast train and tram systems used by a staggering 6 million people daily—that one finds India’s syncretic genius. 58


ibid: 104

The city, then, becomes impossible to characterize: at once a global prototype, mixed with a national paradigm, tied up in a regional city-state mold. It is as a result of these many incredible forces that Mumbai—and both the new and old buildings that compose its structure—can be considered such an important and fertile testing ground for dialogues about locality and hypermodernity. A hybridized and conflicted city, modern day Mumbai is a climate ripe for dialectical discovery and instantiation. Mehrotra has described its condition as two cities compressed into one world. Within this framework, he distinguishes the pukka or cooked city—formally planned, materially permanent and solid, and monumental—from the kuchha or raw one.59 Pukka Mumbai’s character is acknowledged in the monumental and planned aspects of Southern Mumbai’s Fort district: imposing and monumental stone buildings are an ordered framework that, despite political efforts, still evokes the city’s historical heritage in a distinctly cosmopolitan way. The district’s programmatic contents reflect this personality—government buildings, universities, museums in the area are punctuated with fountains and framed around parks. The economic district around Cuffe Parade, although not nearly as well planned, and the Art Deco buildings lining the Emerald Necklace also reflect the pukka in modern Mumbai. These permanent structures and their imposing nature on the urban fabric have embedded themselves in the city’s spirit and notion of selfhood. They exist, architecturally, as Rossi-an vessels of memory—captured in stone— by the very fact of their persistence in the city’s life. It is this kinetic city that, since Mumbai’s conception, has challenged designers and architects. It is the city of Mumbai’s bazaars, train stations, and slums that give both a dynamic and chaotic feel to the metropolis. It is embodied in Mehta’s notion of Mumbai as a constant struggle for livelihood—wherever an opportunity exists for profit or establishment, Mumbai’s kinetic element works to newly invent and optimize a space for it, like water seeping into cracks. The kuchha does not simply connote poverty, but rather the fluid and flexible aspect of modern day Mumbai. The identity of the kinetic city is, by nature, materially ephemeral. Memory and culture are not wrapped


Rahul Mehrotra, Shama Habibullah, and Zafar Hai, writers. One City, Two Worlds Dir. Zafar Hai. DVD. Marg Publications 2000


H. The North Fort Area The creation of Elphinstone (now Horniman) Circle (1) in 1864 was used by town planners as an opportunity to set up a formal East-West axis from the town centre. This axis ran from the Town Hall on the eastern edge through the Circle up to the extension of Churchgate Street (2) on the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s western side. This axis across the island was counteracted by a North-South polarity between Victoria Terminus (3) and the Gateway of India (4). Flora Fountain can then be read as a marking of the intersection of these axes (5).1 In the early 1900â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Sydenham Road (now Mohammed Ali Road) was created along the eastern edge of the island to open access from the Fort District in the South to developing areas in the North. The avenue connected Byculla Bridge and Crawford Market (6), which sits at the extension of the previously created axis system.2








1 2

Pauline Rohatgi, Pheroza Godrej and Rahul Mehrotra Ed. Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives (Mumbai: Marg) 1997: 90 ibid: 166

up in the tarps and tents of Mumbai’s slum dwellings and informal markets, but rather in their mode of existence. It is in its pure talent for improvisation and existence that we find the kinetic city’s authentic culture. Indeed, the kinetic city differs from the static in that architecture is not the spectacle of the city in Mumbai. It is, rather, festival and tradition that mobilize the population. Here, ritual is the vessel of memory; it exists temporally and can be built up and taken down like the migrant worker’s makeshift hut. In this sense, memory and meaning are elastic and enacted; they are activated by tradition.60 The city’s severe lack of gathering and green areas leads to incredible programmatic, cultural, and temporal juxtapositions between the two facets of Mumbai’s world, and this is seen, to use Mehrotra’s examples, in the way that informal merchants inhabit Victorian arcades or cricket pitches are transformed into formal reception spaces over the course of a day.61 An understanding of the existence and overlapping of these conditions has an important impact on the analysis of implication of globalized and localized identities within the context of Mumbai. For architects and designers, capturing and mobilizing the locally authentic in Mumbai’s kuchha is the obvious challenge. How does one architecturalize the fleeting? Can one make space that energizes a temporally existing culture? Eventually, it is Barbara Allen’s demand for a recognition of the performative aspects of Critical Regional thought, that would provide a soluble recourse. N. Panjwani, writes, that in Mumbai’s market places, “Form is often more important than content. The rustic form in which sacks of red chilies are displayed in the market serves, subconsciously, to make the [village-born] resident feel at home.”62 As seen here, it is the authenticity and performance of cultural practice that fosters the local in Mumbai’s kinetic realm. The modern designer must account for and allow the possibility of such performance in their efforts to revalorize the ethereal nature of today’s problems. According to Reed, “as far as designers and planners are concerned today, the lesson may be one of understanding the problem in terms of a less superficial, less pictorial, perhaps less object-oriented and certainly more process-oriented, comprehension of the condition of the urban and of urban place.”63 60 61 62 63

Rahul Mehrotra “Architecture and Cultural Significance.” Lecture. MIT Cambridge, MA 17 November 2008 Rahul Mehrotra “Conservation and Change”: 351 Rohatgi et al.: 224 Reed: 9


Dhobi Ghats, Mumbai


Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, Mumbai

Dharavi Slums, Mumbai


Still, merely understanding the qualities of Mumbaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s disparate identities is insufficient. Mumbai finds itself a globalized city in a global world. The consequences of this sea-change in the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s urban climate have forced the kinetic and static facets into a previously unimagined confluence. The static city can no longer, as has happened in the past, overlook the presence of the kinetic. For Mehrotra, this failure has resulted in the city densifying in the same space, rather than diversifying into more vibrant modes.64 As discussed, it is only in the harvesting of productive tensions between these hybrid conditions, that architecture can once again fruitfully impact cultural habitation and coexistence.



Mehrotra et al., Two Cities, One World

9. Conclusions The discipline of architecture is at a crossroads. As political, economic, cultural and social circumstances have been transformed in the face of global upheaval, complacent design will become irrelevant design. The arrival of the supermodern condition has rapidly implicated the contemporary built environment and has severely shifted the currents of present discourse. Programs, contexts, regions, and clients no longer represent what they once did. If the world needs architecture, and the world has changed, then architecture must change as well. Mumbai is at a crossroads. As new global circumstances clash with regional politics and dynamic economic change alters the communal order, complacent cities will become irrelevant cities. The new globalized era has brought unimagined density and inconceivable juxtapositions to the metropolitan order, disproving prior preconceptions about the mode in which city planning, urban design, and the built artifact affect the outcomes of the urban situation. Zoning, regulations, neighborhoods, and citizens no longer represent what they once did. If the world needs cities, and the world has changed, then cities must change as well.


Crawford Market stands at the crossroads of many paths. Literally so, in that it occupies a busy and important intersection, but conceptually as well. Built in 1869 and named after the city’s first Municipal Commissioner, the building was, like many of Mumbai’s other civic and symbolic buildings, renamed for Mahatma Jyotirao, a regional social activist, in the 1990’s. There is implicit in the act of Mumbai’s sweeping name changes a certain disregard for history. The regionalist and nationalist motivations to reclaim the city belie the fact that Mumbai might never have existed were it not for the Imperialists. In the same way that politicians casually raze the memories embedded in Colonial era names in Mumbai, one wonders if they would also hope for the destruction of its Colonial era buildings. Yet Crawford Market has been a historically important battleground for Mumbai’s inherent global, cosmopolitan and pluralist identity. In colonial times the building was the city’s primary supplier of provisions, and it served as an important site for cultural mixing due to its location at what was then the border between the British Fort area and the native settlements. Equally accessible to both groups, the market was one of few places where the Colonials would rub elbows with Indians of many different communities. A mixture of Norman and Gothic architectural styles, the market was thoroughly Indian in its use—an active bazaar that catered to all social and religious demographics. Even then it characterized an essential duality between globalism and local culture. Today, the city has grown around it, and the neighborhood in which the market stands is now referred to as either “Crawford Market” or Mohammed Ali Road. A busy commercial area, the


market’s environs are densely occupied and surrounded by five- and six-storey buildings housing shops and restaurants on their ground floors, while its side streets are lined with informal merchants, handymen, and food vendors. The area is a virtuosic representation of kuccha Mumbai: motley, rapidly moving, and ever-changing. Yet its crowded, noisy, gritty vibrancy obscures the market’s proximity and simultaneous conjunction with the city’s formal sector of monumental, colonial government buildings, schools, and parks. The building, itself, exemplifies the contradictions between these manifold tensions. Made up of a main shed structure housing formal stall arrangement and shops, and an informal back area, the market is an evocative pragon of both formal and material hybridity. Catering to the requirements of a highly variable populace, the market remains a meeting place and melting pot of Mumbai’s countless communities. Further, Crawford Market retains both its global and local pedigrees today more than ever, for it remains one of the best places in the city to find imported goods, while still housing space for the sale of local fruits and produce. Intrinsic to its program, Crawford Market implicates issues about consumerism and modern spectacle as relevant not only to a cinema city like Mumbai but to the supermodern condition in general. Yet, the market has begun to show its age in several ways. While much of Mumbai’s meat and poultry is still butchered and sold on site, the market has become more of a wholesale provider, selling mainly to restaurants and hotels. Further, the city’s main fruit and vegetable distribution has moved to Dadar in the North. Having lost customers because of this and the rapidly growing




I. Mapping the Market: Referents

There exists an emphasis on the roof line and a tectonic clarity in the pitched roof’s infill evocative of the Norman and Gothic influence on the building

The punched ornamentation uses an indian floral motif, allowing for a sense of locality in the building’s language


Lockwood Kipling’s mural above the main entrance depicts Indian peasants in an agrarian setting, hinting at the building’s program

The pointed arch windows are Victorian treatment but remain evocative of Mughal and Indo-Saracenic flourishes

The window ornament, again with Victorian detail, also evokes an indian jhali or screen motif

Elements of the siteplan evoke how the market has changed over time with the formal original building and the informal nature of the newer stall development

The Fountain at the lot’s center shows that the building existed as courtyard before it was run over by informal vendors

The Main Building’s arched portals evoke entrance in language and scale, yet the the heavy, closed off nature of the plan suggests that this functions inefficiently

The Hinge’s second floor office space indicates that the building’s tower once functioned, like many markets of its time, in an administrative and government role

The Building’s section and structure are illustrative of the material and structural difference between the Main Building’s tower (heavy masonry) and the goods area (cable trusses)

Many nineteenth century market buildings used a clock tower and spire to signal the presence of a community gathering place


supermarket industry in Mumbai, the remaining produce vendors sit dejectedly at their places and generally leave by the early afternoon. The market’s hybrid personality is also manifest in its existence as both a historic monument and a living, changing building. Classified as a Grade 1 historical monument in Mumbai, changes to the building must undergo the strictest possible scrutiny and ideas about history, preservation, and re-use as they relate to politics and memory must be considered in the building’s redesign. Crawford Market is a site of confluence and intersection between crucial concerns in the prevailing architectural discourse. Its capacity to negotiate the boundaries and interstices between these concerns makes it a sufficiently urgent and complex testing ground for a compelling and contemporary architectural act. In tracing the evolving veins of architectural, anthropological, and preservationist thought, one finds that these currents become most forceful and relevant to societal need when they instill within themselves a sense of penetrating analysis. As regionalism matured into a Critical Regionalism, historical preservation must become Critical Preservation, and so on. The element of criticality requires an initial recognizance of existing, essential conditions. It is only when Kenneth Frampton begins to dissect and distill the elements of what is truly regional that the Regionalist movement is transformed. The preservation and subsequent reimagining of Crawford Market requires a similar rigor. Here, one must understand what the true essence of the market is, and allow for the redesign to recapture, revalorize, and resuscitate this condition. The possibility of critical preservation is particularly well suited to Mumbai for a number of reasons: first, the city has undergone such rapid changes in recent history, that traditional programs are no longer relevant. Restoring, for example, the city’s many cotton mills to their original use would be pointless, as all such industry has been relocated outside of the metropolis. Such cotton mills, while an important part of Mumbai’s history and collective memory, occupy important and expensive land in a city that cannot afford to waste its space. Secondly, the aspect of Mumbai’s kinetic city is not wrapped


up in its buildings, but rather in cultural and social practiceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;ritual, movement, and innovative occupation. Allowing kinetic Mumbai to inform new usages within the monumental is an important aspect of producing the positive tensions that can reinvent Mumbaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s genius loci. In addition to revalorizing the issue of criticality, I have, in this paper, worked to highlight various dichotomies that shape the current condition of contemporary architectural practice, the urban climate that characterizes modern Mumbai, and the circumstance of consumption in the globalized marketplace. In the process of this exploration, specific precedent analyses, historical and conceptual mappings, and spatial studies (which take the form of this documentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s insets) begin to anticipate relevant contexts through which the claims of the project of an adaptive reuse of Crawford Market would situate itself. By mobilizing these constituent contexts, the subsequent design proposal will seek to elicit productive and positive dialectic responses to the complex and contradictory tensions between global and regional, universal and local, preservation and reuse, authentic and pastiche, and kinetic and static, that infuses the current climate in which we strive to theorize and practice relevant architectural acts.


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