Following the post-war invasion of a modern master and simultaneous emergence of incarnates of the likes, ‘History of Modern Architecture’ in India kept focusing on assessment and appreciation of discrete products and prominent protagonists, under frameworks imported largely from the same alien international sources long assumed to be ‘universal’. This tendency keeps on using its own tools of analysis, it constantly aligns itself even to trajectories within a standard, globalized conversation. This conversation being naturally and comfortably rooted in its own context with its self-critiques and own dialogues, cannot adequately appraise a remote situation in terms of its indigenous complexities. It is, however, possible to explore more rigorously a wider perspective as ‘History of Modernization of Architecture in India’ within which the above objects themselves are embedded. This may shift our attention to the causalities exposing the history of acceptance and rejections, successes and failures, struggles and achievements, conﬁdences and confusions in the handling of an Idea.
Introductory Remark by Sanjay Kanvinde, Board of Studies at GGSIPU: ‘about this experiment’.
Opening Remarks Rajat Ray, Dean GGSIPU: The meeting is convened to hold a review of the ﬁrst run of the new 3rd Year History of Architecture course in progress at the University School of Architecture and Planning, and other Institutes afﬁliated to GGSIPU in New Delhi. It is to generate discussions in this context to address signiﬁcant aspects that would contribute towards the formation of this course, techniques for conducting it, and public dissemination of our experience in teaching it.
UNIT 1 — ARCHITECTS
Introductory Remark by Anand Bhatt: The First-World/Second-World Bridge, or India, Modern Architecture in History.
UPSTAIRS-DOWNSTAIRS, FIRST-ENCOUNTERS WITH CONTEMPORARY ‘INDIAN ARCHITECTURE’ AND ITS PROFESSION IN THE 1980s by Peter Scriver
Scriver will initiate a discussion of the dynamics of power and prestige in architectural practice and discourse in late twentieth-century India with a personal reﬂection on his early career experience as an overseas-trained graduate architect seeking internships in different practices in Trivandrum, Delhi and Ahmedabad in the mid-1980s. Further retrospective critical reﬂection on Scriver’s subsequent collaboration in the construction of the substantially new discourse about contemporary ‘Indian Architects’ that was emerging at that same moment through major internationally-oriented exhibitions and publications will offer additional points for discussion and debate.
QUESTIONS/AREAS FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION: (1) How was this unprecedented national prestige and international recognition that was attained by particular Indian architects in that period perceived by those who were close to them or their peers from a professional or personal standpoint? (2) Was the ostensible commitment to a ‘cultural turn’ in contemporary architectural form and professional concerns, for which several of these architects were critically recognised, a conviction that was broadly shared by other members of the architectural profession in India — particularly those who (unlike almost all of the acclaimed ‘stars’) had been locally trained?
Thomas Mical: ‘eye-opener/s,’ or consideration of the arrival and immersion of scholarly eyes into the raw context of modern India, and lenticular distortions arising thereof.
Thomas Oommen: questions concerning (a) architectural practice where local cultures are not subsumed within the ‘region’ or the ‘nation-state’? and (b) socially pominent non-experts in the ﬁeld of architectural production.
Remarks for the next session by Peter Scriver: Struggles for power and prestige in the ﬁeld of architectural production in modern India have been a perennial phenomenon since the establishment of the colonial Public Works Department system in the mid-19th century. Scriver will brieﬂy discuss the positions and stances of the key players in this ﬁeld at the beginning of the 20th century, and how their struggle precluded moves in the 1920s to institutionalise the architectural profession and its training.
UNIT 2 — INSTITUTIONS
Introductory Remark by Anand Bhatt: two words, Burdens, or the case of Statuary Bodies; and Domestication, or the case of Professional Institutes.
UPHOLDING STATUTES AND HOLDING DOWN SYSTEMS, PROFESSIONAL GOSSIPS AND (MIS)GOVERNANCE, GOING NOWHERE AIMLESSLY by Ramaraju Rengasamy.
Ramaraju will discuss his observations concerning the Architect’s Act, and conduct of it in the last decades, he will emphasize on his engagements versus (a) aims and objects of IIA, including anecdotal stories of success and failures, (b) history of making of Architects Act, its aims and objectives, establishment of Council of Architecture and its ‘unfortunate’ Status and (c) current questions before the profession.
QUESTIONS/AREAS FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION: (1) concerning the implementation of Architects Act, its successes, and failures; (2) the (mis)conceptions and mindsets of architects vis-à-vis institutions; and (3) where do the institutions stand given recent developments such as the National Education Policy, RERA Act, and the University Grants Commission (repeal) Act?
Premendra Raj Mehta and Balbir Verma: ‘Is there need for control’ … responding to the narrative and questions posed by Prof. Ramaraju.
Ram Sharma: the Asian Games competiton and other issues in 1970s-’80s Architecture – response to questions.
Remarks for the next session by Prof. Ramaraju will concern the genesis and strong emergence of Institutions. The discussion shall indicate the evolution of Institutions through ages and more particularly ‘Christianity’, they had become much stronger and powerful in Europe as Religious Institutions leaving scope for emergence of such formal, or, rigid Societies for various Professional expertise.
UNIT 3 — EDUCATION
Introductory Remark by Anand Bhatt: Twenty Years of this, so-called, ‘crisis of institutions’ in Architecture and Education.
THE EVOLUTION OF A BOOK ON HISTORY OF INDIAN ARCHITECTURE: TEACHING, RESEARCH AND WRITING by Miki Desai.
Desai will lead the discussion using a powerpoint presentation and focus the conversation on two observation, (a) on the method and content of teaching architectural history: innovative methods starting from students’ immediate context, expanding to local, regional and national, and temporarily from the present to distant past, using key examples both of location and time, looking at history not just from the viewpoint of dates, patrons and designers but also of building types and departures, materiality and construction, articulation and connect to society, cityscapes and building types to be categorized on the basis of appearance, physicality, plan organization and stylistic issues, methods to be included besides traditional approach will be on-site recording and group discussions; and (b) how Architecture as a profession and a study worthy area was and to date is as a matter of last choice of the students at large which is a socially caused ‘enigma’ for our profession.
QUESTIONS/AREAS FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION: (a) Based on the above presentation (b) ‘Where and who are the students, where and who are the teachers and where are the schools that are searching for an answer,’ and (c) where are the role models and how they will be emulated to forge the scene of architectural education’.
- Peter Scriver: How did the Public Works Department maintain its competency? Response to questions by Anand Bhatt.
- Ram Sharma: the Festival of India exhibiton in France, 30 years on – response to questions.
Remarks for the next session by Vibhuti Sachdev: ‘I am rather tired of useless negativity that goes round in the name of academic brilliance’ — the demands on Architectural Education in India.
UNIT 4 — THE HISTORY COURSE AT GGSIPU AND ITS OUTCOMES
Introductory Remark by Thomas Mical: ‘ﬁght club,’ or when professionalism has become a prompt to ‘hit me as hard as you can’ the endless duel begins … so here we will take some time to scrutinise what ‘system shock’ can be imagined now.
Part 1. EXPLORING THE QUESTION OF POWER AND PRESTIGE IN ARCHITECTURE by Anand Bhatt
Bhatt will explain Architexturez South Asia’s interest in this exercise and explain the structure of the course, and the motivation behind it, as well as the expected outcomes. He will discuss the outcomes in terms of (a) how the course will contribute critical remarks, pedagogical notes and comments that will be included in annotated course readers that are published by Architexturez in collaboration with CAMEA, Adelaide, and (b) the format of the exhibition scheduled for late 2020.
Part 2. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COURSE SYLLABUS for Term II/2019-20, and Sem. I/2020-21 at GGSIPU by Rajat Ray
Introduction of a new curricual content replacing an exiting one is attempted as process of transition which is inbuilt in the pedagogical process. This has contingent difﬁculties but it might help in developing a conviction as the faculty goes through a critical process themselves that includes transforming the perception of students with respect their notions and preconceptions.
Presentation by Shameen Khan and Atul Jha: School of Architecture and Planning, GGSIPU’s approach to the course.
Questions from the faculty and observers on resources and other requirements, response of the students, and queries for the attendees.
CONCLUSION AND NEXT ACTIONS
- Introduction to the next meeting by Rajat Ray
- Concluding Remarks by Kavas Kapadia, Board of Studies at GGSIPU
Anand Bhatt, Miki Desai, Ishita Jain, Amrita Madan, Premendra Raj Mehta, Ramaraju Rengasamy, Rajat Ray, Thomas Mical, Thoman Oommen, Vibhuti Sachdev, Peter Scriver, Jagan Shah, Suruchi Shah, Ram Sharma, Ethan Stein, Rukmini Swaminathan, and Balbir Verma
GGSIPU BOARD OF STUDIES: Kavas Kapadia and Sanjay Kanvinde
FACULTY AND OBSERVERS FROM INSTITUTIONS: BM School of Architecture, Sonepat; DTC Department of Architecture, Greater Noida; University School of Architecture and Planning, GGSIPU; Jindal School of Art & Architecture, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat; MBS School of Architecture, Delhi; Vastukala Academy, Delhi; Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Ansal University, Gurugram
71, KK Birla Ln,
Lodhi Estate, New Delhi.
09:30 — 17:30 Hours
29th February, 2020