Skip to content

All Posts on Architecture, Indeed

All posts on this blog, in order of appearance:

This is reverse of ‘Last few posts…’

I will come back and mark them in categories viz.: Most visited, most shared, most popular, my favourite, receives most spam comments, updated, and perhaps even add notes.

  1. Building, dwelling, thinking. on September 7, 2012
  2. Tenders and Bidding 101 on September 12, 2012
  3. A curious case: Project in a new place on September 13, 2012
  4. What has Rahul Gandhi done for me? on September 24, 2012
  5. Subversion at CEPT Campus on September 30, 2012
  6. Lower That Lowest Quote on September 30, 2012
  7. Underbelly of Museum Business on October 8, 2012
  8. When in doubt, show underarms on October 8, 2012
  9. Delhi Glows on WordPress on October 13, 2012
  10. Turtles in White China on October 15, 2012
  11. In Memoriam Louis I Kahn, State of Union and Roosevelt on October 22, 2012
  12. Mixing Education With Business on October 29, 2012
  13. Survival, Without Brain… on November 3, 2012
  14. God’s letter to Indians I (White Skin, Dark Hair) on November 7, 2012
  15. If Crime Doesn’t Pay Architects on November 7, 2012
  16. How to grab government land on November 19, 2012
  17. Rich Folks, Poor Folks on November 24, 2012
  18. If Honesty Pays Architects on November 24, 2012
  19. (How it goes) When you start young on December 3, 2012
  20. Countdown starts for SA50 on December 17, 2012
  21. SA50 is here… (Re-sign) on December 26, 2012
  22. More SA (Calender) on December 26, 2012
  23. Grand Alumni Dinner? on December 27, 2012
  24. Multi-percussion & Saxophone at Campus (27.12.2012) on December 28, 2012
  25. A headache is a headache, but Architecture is more complex on January 1, 2013
  26. Where are values? on January 6, 2013
  27. Values are at the back (of your mind) on January 7, 2013
  28. Eight Minutes at Tagore Hall (Multi Kulti, 28.12.2012) on January 8, 2013
  29. SA50 1st Day (26.12.2012) on January 13, 2013
  30. SA50 2nd Day (27.12.2012) on January 14, 2013
  31. 10 Architecture Firm Blogs to Watch in 2013 by Architectural Record on January 17, 2013
  32. SA50 3rd Day (28.12.2012) on January 18, 2013
  33. SA50 4th Day (29.12.2012) on January 19, 2013
  34. Have Faith in Unknown: Redirecting to an interesting view, and person… on January 20, 2013
  35. A headache is a headache, but Architecture is more on January 25, 2013
  36. You are your business card on January 27, 2013
  37. SP40 is here on February 9, 2013
  38. Century’s Worst Advert, TVC featuring Colgate on February 13, 2013
  39. Riverfront = Wall on February 15, 2013
  40. EMD, another name for extortion money on February 20, 2013
  41. More from SP40: Movies (10.02.2013) on March 2, 2013
  42. In memoriam: Henri Labrouste, Father of Modern Library on March 16, 2013
  43. Empanelment: Better Than a Business on March 3, 2013
  44. It is Ito on March 17, 2013
  45. Who is right? on April 6, 2013
  46. The why of it all (Internship for students of planning) on April 9, 2013
  47. Question of the day: To teach or not to teach on April 9, 2013
  48. Here’s What It Would Look Like If Paris’s Houses Could Fly on April 13, 2013
  49. Sympathy for Boston (and others) on April 16, 2013
  50. Ellis Bridge is not what Ellis Bridge was on April 29, 2013
  51. Architect, Developer, Father in law on May 16, 2013
  52. Story of CEPT Logo on May 16, 2013
  53. Dabbawala scam: Case of life imitating advertising on May 20, 2013
  54. Northwest Washington Bridge Collapse: Reminds me of Ellis Bridge on May 24, 2013
  55. In Memoriam: Beloved Brooklyn Bridge on May 25, 2013
  56. A month of SPAM, and how to get a closure: Learn from Peter Cartier on May 27, 2013
  57. More on Dabbawala Scam: Too many people are missing the point on June 11, 2013
  58. Cost of the Building: 155,000… Architect’s Fees; 8,000 on June 13, 2013
  59. Scavenger Hunt – MoMA Landmarks of Modern Architecture on June 19, 2013
  60. Toilets for women: mirrors of imbalance on June 23, 2013
  61. CEPT University Official Page on Facebook on July 4, 2013
  62. New New CEPT Logo on July 4, 2013
  63. In Memoriam: Kurula Varkey on July 15, 2013
  64. School is a place to give not to take (To teach or not to teach II) on July 19, 2013
  65. It’s been done by the women in academics on July 23, 2013
  66. Enough about Chennai Express on July 24, 2013
  67. No need to shout: M/s. Prabhakar B. Bhagwat on August 3, 2013 (Taken down, somehow came out wrong)
  68. Poster War is on at CEPT (Who supports B Plan?) on August 16, 2013
  69. How BHP Conquered CEPT: A simile on 67th Independence Day on August 17, 2013
  70. CEPT to CEPT CO PVT LTD: Shame on all involved on August 19, 2013
  71. Christopher replies to: An appeal from CEPT students on August 29, 2013
  72. Marissa Mayer controversy: Its all about perceptions on August 30, 2013

After finishing a year of blogging:

 73. Remembering Rishi on September 12, 2013

 74. Advertising creativity goes around in circles on September 14, 2013

 75. Crime pays Council (of Architecture) on September 25, 2013

 76. Garba garbad at CEPT: Part I on October 10, 2013

 77. Garba Garbad at CEPT: Part II on October 11, 2013

 78. No fun being a contractor anymore on October 17, 2013

 79. This post on November 13, 2013 (Sticky – but not particularly popular)

 80. Welcome Mr. Chhaya on November 17, 2013

 81. New Google Search Adverts: Warm, fresh, after our own hearts on December 2, 2013

 82. Amending Architects Act, 1972 on December 10, 2013

 83. May be CEPT shouldn’t wait another 100 years on December 23, 2013 (Most liked so far)

 84. Fees for project: 200 crores, Kickbacks: 50 crores on January 10, 2014

 85. CEPT Logo Design Competition, Again on January 16, 2014

 86. Garba Garbad Part III: The real story of CEPT Navratri on January 17, 2014

 87. RIP, Piraji Sagara on January 24, 2014

 88. MHRD’s Design Manifesto: Towards a better design future (And what about CoA?) on January 25, 2014

 89. Architecture in Doshi Family on February 15, 2014

 90. Now the Code of Conduct on March 5, 2014

 91. Dirt on WAPCOS on March 7, 2014

 92. CEPT Logo, Final Final on March 13, 2014

 93. Shigeru Ban and Pritzker explained by Conrad Newel on March 25, 2014

 94. The Best Architectural Websites 2014 by Bob Borson on April 21, 2014

 95. Are CEPT students smart? on May 12, 2014

 96. Pissing Tanker Advert: Missing the point by a mile on June 8, 2014

 97. Rishi (Remembering you again) on June 19, 2014

 98. Elena Shumilova and her lovely photos on July 5, 2014

 99. RIP Ajay Gandhi on July 14, 2014

100. New Idea TVC, Not So Smart on August 19, 2014



Reblogging ‘State of Advertising: Why Brand Advertising Is an Industry in Peril’

This post was worth my time: Simple. Clear. Captures the problem and the potential. Yes, the only advertisements we love to watch on the internet are shared and recommended videos. Ones that engage us: show us an idea that we want to spread around, or the work we want to recommend.

State of Advertising: Why Brand Advertising Is an Industry in Peril

The way I see it, the difference between TV and internet is that in absence of TV, internet will kill the idiots in this business… So many of TV ads are insufferable (on top of being a part of what we hate anyway) that one would think morons to be the building blocks of advertising universe.

I do not know whether to lament the CarDekho advertising, literally gone to dogs, or to celebrate the Nissan ads of Terrano.

It may be true that often the client doesn’t know how to select a good agency. Or to get feedback about their campaigns in a way that they can decide to keep continuing or to discontinue their fabulous/ disastrous approach. But finding a way to measure and respond to this will benefit both sides.

So, success on the internet is for the ‘loved’ advertising, as opposed to the ‘hated’. People will readily rally behind an idea they can relate to, and a brand that engages them. Of course, while making one feel a useful, worthy component of the free world, in command of sharing  – to become an extension of the Brand itself. I remember seeing Amul’s hoardings shared by so many, and that is true for Google India’s last ads as well. For those I loved (Automobile ads and PSAs in equal measure) and shared, a special post will be up soon.

People won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.


For more on the topic of Brand Advertising, see:

Brand Advertising is Dead-Long Live Brand Advertising @

…long live lovemarks @

Why B V Doshi didn’t get Pritzker Prize

Recently someone searched: ‘Why B V Doshi didn’t get Pritzker prize?’

Good question.

Despite the fact that he’s a pretty good candidate:

He has contributed fairly to the fields of architecture and design.

He has the international repute expected of a potential winner.

His philosophical breadth goes beyond or at least equals his peers.

He has a flock of admirers who appreciate his intellectual abilities… Even bitter rivals acknowledge his grand role in developing independent India’s architectural discourse.

He apprenticed under Le Corbusier, designed some prestigious buildings in Ahmedabad – still considered the Mecca of Architecture in India.

Notwithstanding all the limitations of Architecture practice in a newly independent country and a new city he has never been afraid to experiment, sometimes at a great cost.

He embodies his times and his country. Quintessence of Indianity in his persona and in his functioning; when a part of him can easily identify and connect with the rest of the world.

He co-founded the School of Architecture Ahmedabad and Vastu Shilpa Foundation, the research, documentation and publishing unit that was the light at the end of a tunnel for a long time.

He extended his reach to planning and social housing; his approaches proving to be right in time.

He’s been written about, filmed, photographed, exhibited and now has an aptly named autobiography ‘Paths Uncharted’.

He even wears the right black frame spectacles! (See Conrad Newel’s brilliant take on the role of black framed glasses in winning Pritzker Prize)

He is not only an architect, which is a big thing in itself, but a teacher, thinker, entrepreneur, and lot more.

Then what’s missing?

May be because he isn’t White, Western, or Japanese- apparently that’s a lucky pool. (Again, happy to refer you to CN and his analysis of Pritzker winners of past)

May be because he didn’t conclude his designs with the precision and finesse of Masters. The same philosophical perspective that makes him such an endearing teacher and guide perhaps stopped him from becoming obsessed with buildings, at least buildings as an end.

May be his approaches, varied and multifaceted, were so ephemeral that they cannot be readily categorised as buildings by the same architect. However despite some seriously horrendous buildings and some obviously ‘inspired’ ones, he can answer all questions with just the School of Architecture building (and then some)!

Perhaps he doesn’t represent his country enough. Perhaps his layered understanding of nuances of Indianity doesn’t reflect obviously enough in his buildings. At least in their photographs.

In third world, buildings are not expensively built or extensively maintained. They are not well documented and yet change often. Other architects don’t come visiting your cities or buildings on their vacations. Jury members are unlikely to have seen much more than photographs of your work.

But most possible of all: the reason is that he is ever changing. He is difficult to box – his buildings or his journey. He’s tried a good many things, worn many hats. And that, I think is a major hurdle in interpreting his contribution, when it comes to being identified and recognised as a master architect.

And it’s only a guess, but I think that was not his goal either.

Demolishing Legacy – Learn from LACMA

Demolishing Legacy – Need or Systemic Oversight?

There is a move to let go of the Hall of Nations Complex and Nehru Pavilion. RSS is tearing down its modest home in Delhi to make way for two big towers as their new office. National Gallery Delhi is going in for a major extension. Rabindranath Tagore might get a new museum dedicated to him in place of a defunct Rabindrashala premise in Delhi…. Many Modernist and some historic buildings are under review from this standpoint: Keep, reuse, modify, repurpose, or demolish?

Recently Arun Rewal  started a campaign (again) to save the Hall of Nations Complex from demolition. This issue is not new and the same concerns are consistently raised by architects since long. But the idea keeps coming back. So one wonders: is the need for a clean slate more symbolic?

Possibility One: Demolition follows function

Demolition is a physical, functional requirement when a space

1. Has become dysfunctional/ it’s function irrelevant and a new function cannot revive the building or landscape.

2. Is cluttered over time, often straddled with old technologies difficult to maintain or upgrade.

3. Has too many fragments that can’t become one, and is faced with the need of a big unified space that can be used (and sometimes rented) as a whole.


4. A new requirement has come up that just cannot be supported by the old building.

For example, Pragati Maidan venue is a maze, difficult to walk. It does not respond well to the new functions. For obvious reasons, a lot of visitors prefer going to Greater Noida than trying to reach Pragati Maidan in rush hour traffic. This, not to account the discriminatory practices of ITPO weening potential exhibitors off the venue, is a real issue.

Chandigarh is the favourite whipping example of all, as many of its buildings are proving difficult to maintain and expensive to upgrade. Few administrators can really bear the trouble and cost of air-conditioning a huge pavilion, or of restoring exposed brick work buildings like those at IIMA Ahmedabad.

The slow, tedious process of keeping (or re-purposing) a beloved building is only for the brave of heart: NGMA Mumbai has done it. In their own words, “Introducing floor space into the cavernous high-domed interior of a hall designed along the lines of London’s fame Royal Albert Hall proved to be an architectural challenge. Not only could the outer shell not be touched according to heritage laws, but the foundation was also found to be weak being on a sandy base. Delhi-based architecture Romy Khosla’s design involved constructing a structure within a structure to encase a five-exhibition galleries, one leading to another via a teak and chromium stairway, a lecture auditorium, a library, cafeteria, office and storage space for a permanent collection as well as traveling shows. The renovation has taken 12 years and cost 3.5 crores.

Possibility Two: Breaking away with the past to start afresh

Demolition is a clean up more for symbolic reasons. Or, what happens to buildings is a mere reflection of what is happening to the decision making structure: Change of values, priorities, of financial or organisational model:

Typically, a government with opposing ideology will overturn many a measure of the previous one. Specially when they want to be seen as trailblazers. At least the old wine will be presented in a new bottle after making a clean break with the past.

Oftentimes it is to address a long piling need that the old structure could not or would not address. Like the Auditorium at CEPT. Or when a museum expands its collections.

I quote from Guggenheim’s example: “When Thomas Krens, the museum’s dynamic new curator, commissioned Gwathmey Siegel & Associates to restore the gallery and to add an extension that would cater for the functional needs of the building, he was bound to make new enemies. The public had grown fond of Wright’s folly; there was widespread feeling that, no matter how clean-cut and simple, any addition to Wright’s building was a scandal.”

Those who have no idea of the difficulties of this process are often the most jingoistic about (someone else) going through it… And no one can do it right.

Who sees the beauty?

Again, Guggenheim: “By the mid-Eighties, the building had fallen into a sad state. ‘There was chicken wire where the light now streams in, with bits of the lighting blocked off to stop it hitting the paintings,’ says Rogers. When Tom Krens succeeded Thomas Messer as museum director in 1988, a programme of expansion and restoration had just begun. With a pugnacious zeal worthy of Wright himself, Krens quickly decided, with the architect Charles Gwathmey, to bring the Wright building back fully to its former glory.

‘What we tried to do with the restoration,’ says Krens ‘was simply to ‘unpack’ the building, to take it back to what we call its ‘pre-original’ condition.’ To make it, in other words, the building it was always meant to be, although Wright would surely have disapproved of the dazzling white paint on the outside of the old gallery; he used a subdued sandy colour.”

More @

The new architect, often, sees it. And in some cases, a ‘newer’ one does not. But all thinking is welcome in this fora. In the latter’s case, this will be an apt example: This concept by OIIO Architecture is sure different (Or rather, same)!



What about Modernist legacy in India?

True, Pragati Maidan has issues, but it also has a locational advantage and Metro. All great exhibition venues are grand, and difficult to get around by walking simply because of the scale involved. This is a thing possible to solve by clever management and putting extra resources (Like shuttles at the Mahatma Mandir at Gandhinagar). So why have things come to this point?

As people, are we not the kind to cherish our legacy… Be it modern or ancient? Take the case of Tagore Hall – revived at an expense, but not really used. Sanskar Kendra, which would have become the heart of Ahmedabad’s cultural life, is hardly visited – lying in hope that development towards riverfront will bring some life to this venue. Architects and citizens, all have put the campaign to ‘Save Sanskar Kendra’ behind and gone back to their routines. Ellis Bridge, saved from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s pragmatic decision to demolish it, is back to being the headache for the corporation – Already ruined by earlier decisions and forgotten by the citizens who so zealously saved it.

Fact is, that the trouble to lovingly re-establish any of these structures is too much. And no one is really willing to put in the energy…

Learn from LACMA

But can there be another way in preparation for something new, big, grand? Is there a need to demolish all earlier achievements?

Peter Zumthor and others show a way to do a new LACMA – They already have Bruce Goff, Renzo Piano and Urban Light. Now, Zumthor, with his inkblot, proposes to solve all the problems of this campus at once:

Latest proposal by Zumthor:

la-et-g-lacma-zumthor-design-20140624 la-et-lacma-tarpits-20130814-photo

Original proposal



Finally, for those who want to know what is on the chopping block (slightly old, from 2013):



Good, bad, ugly, all of us will have our opinions. But change, is inevitable, and a rare architect will not think really hard about changing the work of another.

My Copy & Paste on Nehru Pavilion:

Stop the Demolition of The Hall of Nations Complex and Nehru Pavilion?

Stop the Demolition of The Hall of Nations Complex and Nehru Pavilion?

Demolition of The Hall of Nations Complex and Nehru Pavilion?

Hall of Nations

Quoted from Arun Rewal’s plea (will update):

With deep anguish we have learnt of mindless efforts to demolish the Hall of Nations Complex and the Nehru Pavillion at Pragati Maidan, Delhi. We appeal to you to channel all authority vested in you to save the Hall of Nations and Nehru Pavilion.

A National Icon
The Hall of Nations and Industries Complex along with the Nehru Pavilion at Pragati Maidan are iconic structure’s in Delhi’s landscape. These landmarks were designed to commemorate and celebrate 25 years of India’s independence in 1972. Postage Stamps were also printed at that time in which the even represented by the image of these buildings.

Landmark and Cultural Icon
Like the Jantar Mantar and Humayun’s tomb, Purana Quila, the Hall of Nations and Industries as well as the Nehru Pavilion are part of the city’s memory. Carefully sited in relation to the central vista, the Purana Quila, Supreme Court, these buildings contribute as landmarks to the positive image of the city. The spatial organization of these buildings also provides opportunities to extend our cultural legacy within the city without destroying it.

Architectural Ingenuity and Engineering Marvel
The Hall of Nations, Hall of Industries and the Nehru Pavilion reflect structural ingenuity, richness and complexity in spatial and formal character as well a layering of space and architectural character. The Hall of Nations constitute the largest span public structures in Delhi have the potential to accommodate a variety of uses. At one time they were arena’s for congregation and exchange, where citizens of Delhi would gather to discover and be informed on innovations. The Nehru Pavilion designed was designed to house exhibits envisioned by Charles Eames. These structures designed by Raj Rewal were selected on the basis of an architectural competition.

Celebrated around the World: a symbol of modernity
The buildings, acknowledged all around the world as icons of modernity have found a place in the annals of architecture and Indian cultural history. A recent exhibition in the Pompidou Centre, Paris celebrates their architecture and cultural marvel. The buildings also chart out a path for Modernity in India. The buildings show how a deep understanding of our traditional structures can be reinvented as topological transformations accommodating the modern. The buildings accommodate the persistence in the memory of the city’s form and our shared cultural heritage, a value that all cities long for. In addition, these buildings are reminders of our country’s ability to innovate with limited resources and clever use of manpower. The architectural forms have a value beyond their building constructs. They manifest a shared Indian cultural legacy.

An Appeal to Save the Hall of Nations Complex and Nehru Pavilion
With a sense of shock we have learnt that are efforts being made to tear down these buildings. This is not the first time that mindless negativity threatens our country’s heritage. The Taj Mahal and other historic monuments as well as elements of the Central Vista have been threatened in the past. We are a country of limited resources where in the name of market forces and mindless planning, singular sources of authority have directed onslaughts to promote narrow interests. There are many places in the city or sensitive dispensations that can be utilized to accommodate the new or specific programme agendas without uprooting valuable elements, character of the city or its edifices.

We strongly condemn such efforts and actions to destroy our heritage and request you to initiate action to conserve the hall of Nations, Halls of Industry and the Nehru Pavilion. We support the petition to protect these buildings that mark our shared rich architectural and cultural heritage from any demolition. We also appeal to you to allow these buildings to be put to active public use.

Gender parity at CEPT: Better late than later

Update: This notice arrives in the mail: Good beginning, followed by a great second step…

Important Notice:

CEPT University is one of the few open campuses in the country and it prides itself for the freedom of accessibility it offers for all during all times. However, based on the complains we have received, we also realize that it makes us vulnerable to various social crimes, especially during the time when the studios are open through the night.

An emergency phone is activated to use INSIDE or OUTSIDE the campus when there is any critical security concern. This number can be dialed through your mobile phone directly and it will ring up at both the security gates. This service is available after the office hours (from 07:00 PM to 09:00 AM).

In case you should feel any kind of threat please call:

Emergency Number: 07926302430

Please put this on your speed dial.


You don’t have to be a woman to think gender.. And bias is a shared burden, so hope things will change and get better for all students and faculty at CEPT with efforts towards gender parity and a conscious push towards liberal values from grassroots level.

. News about CEPT - Gender Parity.2015

So what has changed in the meanwhile?

Recalling this old reference among architects: If you have one, you are Correa. If you have two, you are Raje, and if you have three, you are Doshi.

Daughters growing up to enter the vocation of their fathers has had no small role to play in changing the general perception about architects/ engineers/ planners. Even if they were sometimes encouraged to settle down with good catches, or be a backdrop of their spouses’ more illustrious careers, they seem to be making a dent. This, along with generations of bright girls and boys who entered the campus as teen-agers and grew up fighting biases.

It was not easy to imagine a situation where a woman was a dean, biased or otherwise. At present all the deans are new faces. And except Anne, all women: Anjana, Krishna, Manvita, Darshini. The next layer of teachers has a good balance too. Students body comprises of more women. Any which way, more and more women entering the equation has helped. It has certainly brought dignity to the struggles and loneliness faced by their previous generations. To twist Friedrich Hayek’s expression slightly, after years spent trying to make genders equal, CEPT is finally coming to treat them equal. Well, not exactly, but this is a start as good as any.

Steven Holl Lecture and Kalp at Nirma University, new beginnings for many, many things

Kalp at Nirma University School of Architecture

Steven Holl and B V Doshi at Nirma Kalp 2015

Steven Holl and B V Doshi at Nirma Kalp 2015

Kalp begins

Kalp begins…

Steven Holl at Nirma University _ Urban Hopes 18 Mar 2015

‘Urban Hopes’ lecture by Holl

Urban Hopes

Surprising to Nirma, by not surprising to others, there was quite a large turn out of academic and professional architects. Linked Hybrid, his housing design in China, is a favourite of many. And now he is designing an art gallery in Mumbai.

Welcome to India, Steven Holl; all the best with your Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum project in Mumbai.

More photos @

Ilha De Calma adverts, a thing of beauty

Ogilvy and Mather, take a bow.

For your brilliant print ads for the Union Territory of Daman and Diu to start with. The two merging symbols such as Nature and Heritage… Beautiful graphic work.

For your new campaign for Diu Tourism.

For the TVC.

For the initial suspense. Showing Diu and not revealing the place, thereby making many think of Portugal, and leaving many wondering. It did peak everyone’s curiosity.

For Ilha De Calma TVC. For transporting the viewer into a different world altogether. Bull’s eye.

For the music, now I love Chopin even more.


or @

See the photos used in the print campaign @

Thank God, for the Isle of Calm.

Enjoy the ad. VISIT DIU.

Design and Architecture Awards, finally coming of age

Design and Architecture Awards are finally coming of age…

Recently NDTV brought in focus what many outsiders consider glamourous, and, as many insiders consider to be judged unfairly in Awards: Architecture. Grohe tied up with NDTV to bring us the design and architecture’s largely glossed up effort that is actually hard work. Going by the NDTV’s preference of luxurious lifestyle and telegenic and presentable designers, this was a good departure, really.

My thoughts on Grohe NDTV Design & Architecture Awards 2014


Find more @

The awards have turned out to be rather fair, and winners are generally held in good esteem by the architectural community. Commercial awards, but not gone to commercial firms.

These awards were well advertised even in 2013. They got even better this year. The award function was well organised, the sponsors and presenters were agreeable and articulate; architects understated as expected, and themes generally relevant. It was a happy surprise to see students holding their own, and pegging down a problem that plagues all architectural students these days so precisely.

There were a few familiar faces, but aside from the expected categories of hotels and commercial interiors of other awards, there were good categories like Infrastructure Architecture, Structure and Heritage. A little bit like the Oscars – better liking towards projects with a cause, and especially like this year’s Oscars: setting aside the big names to recognise some hidden gems known more in the design fraternity, and not so much seen in the advertisements in construction magazines.

SPA and CEPT alumni shine, as they are beginning to in recent times, and some from the Gen X-Y and many of Z/ the millennial generation also shared the limelight. No ghosts of past haunting the present. No representation from the 50 and 60 year olds, like they didn’t matter anymore. Everyone talking about how young architects and designers are brilliant and terribly inspiring.

So speaking from an architect’s view point, NDTV and Grohe has had the sense to do this well: tying up, bringing on board a respectable jury (even younger and more expansive than 2013), and trusting them to choose well from the over 1000 entries. There is the facet of marketing, branding, and media, but it is value focussed, not crass. Just the hype this community needs. After J. K. Cement, this is another good award platform, just more alive. What more can a decent designer ask for?

Christopher Benninger gets a life time achievement award, and is the only one to mention B. V. Doshi.

The only thing I would say the self-critical architectural and designer community doesn’t do well yet is: to thank or recognise their teachers in a decent manner.

World Developmet Report 2015: Insights on Mind, Society and Behaviour

Sometime back the World Bank brought out Development Report 2015, and it sure contains some interesting insights.

Notice India’s graphic: Not sure about connecting puzzle solving with problem solving in general, and also about an appropriate way to remind someone of their caste identity, but caste is a mental model for many still. Love the use of windows to explain the idea of mental models. Models frame what we see, understand and base our decisions on. Designers and decision makers need to be aware of the huge impact of

Mental Frames

What frames our (world) view

Full report is available @

The brewing crisis in architecture

1. Too many colleges (over 300 in India)

This means that there are or will soon be many young professionals looking for too few jobs. It is often said that half of the architects in India would not be running their practices if they found a good job. Many colleges are not able to find good teachers. Senior practicing architects don’t find it worth the while to teach if they are not paid well, as is the case in many private colleges. And most colleges are not able to do enough to attract them for various reasons. Hence a lot of recent graduates and post graduates join teaching. But architecture being a building profession, experience of building gives a perspective – missing at quite a few places. As so many graduates join their Alma Mater, in-breeding will happen, marring the health of an academic institution as far as new ideas are concerned.

2. Going to college is not sufficient

Not enough skills are transmitted at college level to hit the road running. This is a problem at majority of university level institutions in India. So when graduates come out with high expectations, they can’t meet the demands of the market, and find it very frustrating to go through the two years of learning that makes them ready. Even more so if they are post graduates. The employers themselves have very high expectations from architects, where who don’t know enough are competing with those who do.

3. Not enough buildings going on

Rather, not enough buildings where an architect’s role is clearly understood are happening. Clients are either smart and know a lot, or don’t know what to expect. Government, the biggest builder, has no capacity to hire architects or get work done professionally.

4. Low fees because of the fierce competition

Not enough money for the practitioners, and so often not enough money for the employees. So, a life of insecurity or drudgery for the best years of an architect. Or, architects moving to design-build, or to compromise by charging the contractors what the client doesn’t pay. Or to bribe their way into getting many a corporate or public projects. In the vicious circle where one ought to have done a project to get a project, the quoted fees are going lower and lower.

5. Clients are often incapable of distinguishing between one architect and another

Procurement of services, even architectural, is still a field largely played by engineers, and many with a 40 year old training. Often architects are unable or unwilling to understand the problems faced by a client due to the gaps between various professions. Although this is changing fast, many clients still end up hiring the wrong person or getting the wrong product.

6. Not enough support from construction professionals

Civil engineers, good ones, are in high demand. And there is a reason for it. Sadly, there aren’t enough of them around. At least to build buildings.

More later. Will update and add.

Who’s the youngest of them all? (Its Smriti, again)

Smriti Irani is the youngest minister in Mr. Narendra Modi’s mid sized ministry.

Not only in the ministry is she the youngest, but also at many other aging decision making bodies.

For one, look at… At the helm is Smriti Zubin Irani, Chairperson. Followed by the senior professors and heads at School of Planning and Architecture Delhi. All older than her. The chair, at 33, is demographically still in the bracket called youth. Shockingly, the only one amongst the whole list. The next youngest person, Mr. Meshram, is easily 38, having graduated in ’95. Youth is supposedly India’s biggest asset, but is it getting a farthing’s worth of chance? Right training and incubation? Obviously, those on the councils are old hands, solid as oaks. But. With all respect due to the seniors, I hope more young people would be inducted in SPA, and given room for errors and disruption. (Hope the same for CEPT, and, India in general)

Capture from School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi’s About page:



Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani
Honorable Minister of Human Resource Development
Government of India, New Delhi

Prof. Ram Sharma
Prof. Chetan Vaidya
Director, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi


Prof. Chetan Vaidya
Master of City Planning IIT Kharagpur, B. Arch.

Director’s Profile

Dean of Studies
Prof. Nalini M. Thakur
Professor of Architectural Conservation
M.A. Cons. (UK), B.Arch.
( )
Dr. P.S.N. Rao
Professor of Housing
Ph.D., M.P.(Housing), Cert. A. App, Cert. U. Mgt., B.E.(Civil),
AIIA (by Examination), FITP, FIV
( )

Controller of Examination

Prof. Dr. Vinay Maitri
Professor of Programming
M.Sc.(Stat.), Ph.D.,
Coordinator Placement Cell
Prof. Dr. Sewa Ram
Associate Professor
Ph.D., M.T.P. B.Tech. (Civil Engg., IITD)
Honarary Warden
Shri Parag Anand Meshram
Assistant Professor of Industrial Design

Make in India: Is Indian Autodesk around the corner?

The new government of India tells it’s ministries and government departments to buy IT products which are made in India (government-asks-its-wings-to-procure-made-in-india-goods). There will be a central website to track this procurement to help the departments and show to top bosses the total consumption.

Is a software a product?

Does this include services? If yes, this idea may be loosely interpreted, because not all that much innovation happens here as far as IT services are concerned. Many are me-too attempts. Some of the companies are too young or unorganised to go for government departments with their tedium of processes and other unmentionables. So versions of reverse engineered products and service packages will crowd the scene with genuine, well-baked, home grown ones.

Imagine this: The government departments that were themselves using pirated (and often outdated) software will magically find, pay for, train in, and utilise Indian products. More and more tenders will invite vendors “Providing Genuine Indian Software for the Computers at so and so (department)” Indian equivalents of Chinese keyboard will replace the foreign imports everywhere. AutoCAD will be replaced by ???

If it is understood in spirit and letter both, it will step up the struggle of ‘foreign’ companies and their legitimate Indian subsidiaries to convince the often rigid mindsets. There will be more and more contracts to write softwares or create packages specific to client needs. And local companies will learn to step up and provide solutions as best as they can.

It’s also scary: In some ways, it will become like Defence services. The earliest movers would have the best opportunities, irrespective of the merit of their offerings. At many places, there will be deterioration in performance. For a host of products and services, there appear no indigenous alternatives in sight. E.g. Drawing, designing or human resource management softwares. What about Operating Systems? Even Google is struggling to get Chrome up. Does everyone know how to successfully use open source or Freewares? I don’t know how it will work in a place with too many options and too many levels of decision making.

Get better or get eliminated

To make in India, huge sacrifices are required. And, to make it well, it will suck the life out of the maker. Some will work in a room without a fan, toil their entire lives to create a water cooler that works without power, when most top scorers of her/ his school will run to join, and buy from, companies making A/Cs. Having more of the former type is the only way to move this big wheel. You need good education, and you need good skills. We also want parity with the rest of the world. So, the Government has to back it up with a system of thorough knowledge, and merit based reward. Support all the ‘good’ people. Hope that will follow.

This is not nationalism. This is common sense, of improving the economy where you operate, making your immediate surroundings a little better. One could call it social movement, not only economic. But only if you could make it genuine, and, Indian. Then it will be beneficial to India by using Indian brains, generating and keeping money in and for India.

Tourism Ministry finally hits the bottom (with their new safai advert)

The horrible advertising so often coming out of radio has found a new low: The Swachchh Bharat or Safai advertisements from Tourism Ministry.

‘Singing a dirty song’

When I heard the first one, it started with someone singing in a really pathetic manner (they dragged on for a while too), and then the narrator came in talking to the audience about the song being ‘ganda’. Which is supposed to imply bad as opposed to ‘saras’ which would mean great in such a context. At that moment I couldn’t guess where it was going. Then came the twist… “The song may ganda (un-clean, the other meaning of ‘ganda’), but at least keep your surroundings clean.” Issued in public interest (read torture) by Ministry of Tourism. Bad copy writing, and nothing more added by the way it was made.

‘Giving safai to others’

I survived that one, somehow. Then last week, came one even worse. Like the first one, it had the element of surprise, about a person having to give ‘safai’ (explanation) to others and to self all the time. So it started better than the earlier one. But again, the twist feels like being hit by a moving train. “If you are so interested in giving safai (offering explanation of your acts), why don’t you clean your surroundings?” Issued in public interest, again, by the same guardian of public interest-the tourism ministry.

It doesn’t connect to the audience, it doesn’t connect to the core content of cleanliness, it doesn’t brand the advertiser – Simply put, it just doesn’t make sense.


So, there is a tiny chance that this campaign was an oversight of massive proportions – in which case, we wonder why it is still allowed to continue. Or, more probably, it was made on half a shoe string budget. By a team that didn’t spend on that ad even that half a shoe string worth of effort or money. It is oh so sad to be out of money and out of talent at the same time. There is, also, a third possibility – that this is an orphan forced onto someone who didn’t care much about it. Just afraid of, or, trying to please the superiors, by spending the budget.

I give better marks to the young team that made Swachchh Bharat ad, reviewed @

How to clean up: Thanks Ugly Indian, Schools of Architecture at Karachi and Ahmedabad

This news from Karachi is making waves through out social media. And it has an Indian angle to it.

Indus valley school of art and architecture wall painting

Tribune has covered the news about Clean Up Initiative @

Community Service

Painting walls is not new to Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (, where community service is a part of FP curriculum. Like School of Architecture, CEPT Ahmedabad students cleaning up Gulbai Tekra area to make a play space for children (see links at the end of this article), they have adopted a garden in 2010 through the city’s ‘adopt a garden’ scheme. Apparently they have a foundation program with activities similar to IITs. It is good to see their other initiatives, only much bigger:

I quote from their website:

“The Department of Architecture was awarded a project of the Karachi Port Trust for the development of Sands-pit as a resort. Work on the project is expected to commence soon with several architecture faculty involved. In addition, the Department of Architecture has initiated a project for the development of the shrine at Sehwan Sharif, Sindh in collaboration with the Centre for Social Sciences set up by the Alliance Francais in Karachi. The project will be carried out by students, but will be jointly managed by the faculty of the Liberal Arts program and the Department of Architecture.”

For Aas Trust, an NGO working for rehabilitation of drug addicts aged 6 to 16, FP was requested to paint the walls of the rehab center situated in PECHS @

But this is a clean up initiative, in addition to painting the pretty pictures on walls that so many cities now have. Kudos to these kids.

Indian Angle

As the students have posted, the drive is inspired by The Ugly Indian, my long time favourite. Thanks Ugly Indian. And thanks Mr. Modi, not for being the inspiration behind the event, but for bringing this issue to attention of all and sundry.

Indus Valley Clean Up Initiative-Fareeha Nanjiani Fb Post

I am ever glad to see architects jumping into activities relating their environment. Starting voluntary organisations, organising citizen movements, leading heritage drives, and basically, being a part of the society by bringing positive change. Let us wish for more of this, what with over 300 colleges in India alone.

Students at Ahmedabad

Every other school and college ‘launched’ a campaign to clean up theeir surroundings on October 2, no mistaking that. But here are a few who have done it with a slightly longer perspective.

More about School of Architecture, CEPT’s recent work at Gulbai Tekra, Ahmedabad:

In a bid to give Gulbai Tekra a facelift, CEPT students conducted a two-day workshop where 28 of them cleaned the slums and engaged slum children in activities:



and @ @

And at Gandhinagar

Anti corruption clauses-hidden silver lining in government contracts

Anti corruption clauses are the hidden silver lining in government contracts.


Came across these clauses tucked within a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a project near Neemrana in Rajasthan. (RFQ-cum-RFP For Programme Manager For New Cities (PMNC) For Khushkhera- Bhiwadi- Neemrana Investment Region Under The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Project Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited (DMICDC)

(ii) will reject the Proposal for award if it determines that the Applicant has engaged in corrupt or fraudulent activities in competing for the contract in question;

(iii) will declare an Applicant ineligible, either indefinitely or for a stated period of time, to be awarded a contract if it at any time determines that the Applicant has engaged in corrupt or fraudulent practices in competing for and in executing the contract.


I have often felt that contracts with governments are lopsided in favour of the government. And despite all the hue and cry about private sector being powerful, governments are vested with all decisions, and often cling to power and money with the tightest grip. Once a person has taken up work, and men and machines are deployed, there is little one can do except to hope that the payment comes. When there are delays and revisions, one is at the mercy of whims and fancies of any officer in charge. Often there are sensible people in charge. But at times, not. If there are transfers, as is common in present government structure, one needs to start all over again… It is a dark, burdensome place.

Specially in Rajasthan, where quality is difficult to achieve in any project remotely public. They have done international tendering for museums, restorations and heritage precincts. They have some beautiful hospitality projects. Their roads were once their pride, and some still are. But their rural infrastructure is in shambles. Their public agencies, municipalities, panchayats, PWD, RnB are in poor shape, mired by lack of capacities and by corruption. And mainly because the rot reaches all the way to the top. Poor infrastructure reflects an inherent weakness in governance, even with RTI. This is a time when speed-money is a term of the past, even the pay for your payment era is largely over, and Rajasthan is leading the race for ‘Pay Before Procurement Starts’.

So at a time such as this, contracts such as this are a cause for cheer. Firstly, there are more professionally drafted contract documents around now. Secondly, because of clear definition of scope, and the homework done on client side, there is less chance for confusion and more chances of success of contracted task. Finally, because such clauses are appearing clearly within contract documents, they can be taken up for implementation by any officer desirous to do so.

As a senior bureaucrat once mentioned: “It is up to us to enforce a behaviour once we have defined the rules of the game. We may not go by the letter in every case, and we may not have the mechanism to go after the rogues now – but once it is written in the contract, we can start any time.” With nearby Neemrana being pom-pomed as a future smart city, this appears as a ray of light at the end of a tunnel for Rajasthan.





A professional historian and wise ass considers the contemporary world and the past


Sculptor and a Web Designer


Making sense of the world through words

The Hub Review

Insights from an architecture practice

jeff stikeman architectural art :: blog

architectural illustration


Exploring the built environment

The Urban Junction

A Meeting Place for ideas on Indian Cities


travelogue, design, crafts, aesthetics, lyrics, sustainable, films, architecture, animation, amazement, celebration, critics, joy...


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers