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
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.
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
Full report is available @ http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/Publications/WDR/WDR%202015/WDR-2015-Full-Report.pdf
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.
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 http://www.spa.ac.in/management.aspx… 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:
| GENERAL COUNCIL
Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani
Honorable Minister of Human Resource Development
Government of India, New Delhi
| EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
Prof. Ram Sharma
| ACADEMIC COUNCIL
Prof. Chetan Vaidya
Director, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi
Prof. Chetan Vaidya
Master of City Planning IIT Kharagpur, B. Arch.
|Dean of Studies
Prof. Nalini M. Thakur
Professor of Architectural Conservation
M.A. Cons. (UK), B.Arch.
( email@example.com )
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
MCP, MCSD, MCILT (UK), MIUT, MIRT,
|Coordinator Placement Cell
Prof. Dr. Sewa Ram
Ph.D., M.T.P. B.Tech. (Civil Engg., IITD)
Shri Parag Anand Meshram
Assistant Professor of Industrial Design
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.
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 @ https://architectureindeed.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/swach-bharat-ad-there-is-hope-for-a-clean-india/
This news from Karachi is making waves through out social media. And it has an Indian angle to it.
Tribune has covered the news about Clean Up Initiative @ http://tribune.com.pk/story/787908/painting-it-green-ivs-students-give-their-street-a-facelift/
Painting walls is not new to Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (http://www.indusvalley.edu.pk/), 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 @ http://www.indusvalley.edu.pk/PDFs%20FP%20Student%20Week%202014/Aas%20Trust%20PDF.pdf
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.
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.
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 @ @ http://epaper.dnaindia.com/story.aspx?id=56051&boxid=103777&ed_date=2014-11-01&ed_code=1310009&ed_page=3
And at Gandhinagar
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.
Here comes a new advertisement for Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Clean India Mission’.
Between the ups and downs created by an astute politician engaging with masses in a nation wide agenda, uppity politicians and government servants getting down to clean (at least in crowded photos) the public spaces, the discourse bringing back Gandhi’s ideas; where many genuine activities and a whole lot of tokenism that has started, it is great to see that the advertising community finally has found something worthwhile to do. The new question is, how to talk about Swachchh Bharat – In theaters, in posters, on TV and on social media, there are ideas – good, bad, and ugly. So even when a large number of un-cool people are still not affected by the idea of taking responsibility for their surroundings, it is heartening to see that the idea in this advertisement sticks:
Even though they might not know how to spell Hindi words in English, the ad is reasonably well executed. I only wish they were not forced to include the clip with Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking about this. But this is certainly one of the better ads to come out of government with their lowest quote bidding for selecting creative agencies.
Let’s hope for success of Swachchh Bharat. The campaign makes sense, and the advertising shows promise.
The new CEPT logo is like a dog’s new haircut. Appears horrible at first sight.
But we hope that it will feel better with time. Honestly.
See CEPT’s facebook page for more.
Newspaper article today about this exhibition, to be inaugurated by CEPT president. Hope we could stop sounding like politicians when we talk about architecture/ architects.
More details not readable. People behind curtains ought to be mentioned.
Navratri 2014 at CEPT
It is indeed beautiful at CEPT campus. Students prefer, as always, not to have intrusions by strangers, but the appeal of NID and CEPT garba continues.
Glad to see the lights – muted, subtle and elegant. Such a contrast to many other places around the city.
More photos on CEPT University fb page.
This is so beautiful: Security doesn’t come with gates. It comes from relationships. Something Mr Doshi tried to achieve in his buildings, and stood for it. And for CEPT campus, despite the ghastly attacks, and despite the thefts and disturbance the students and faculty lived with during those years… His perspective is his gift. The article also talks about some of his buildings.
More on exhibition might get added here, starting with this reflection:
There was just about everyone at the opening. So many models specially prepared for the exhibition. It was worth having the whole office coming to a standstill. The special publications – posters, coasters, mouse-pad, and specially, the books – brought out on the occasion are a treat to anyone who has been following Mr. Doshi’s journey.
Here it comes (on 9th(correction from
6th) October 2014): Retrospective exhibition of works by architect Bal Krishna Doshi at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. -Update: For a better resolution image of the invite, see http://ngmaindia.gov.in/pdf/bv-doshi-e-invite.pdf. The exhibition is accompanied by events, talks and replica spaces to experience some of Mr. Doshi’s designs. Open till 30th November 2014.-
Dear Sunita Purdhani,
You will be remembered for this smile of yours. Loved by family, by friends, and by those kids to whom you brought so much joy.
Rest in peace.
This, I dedicate to Sunita….
Conversation between twins inside the womb:
Baby 1: And you, you believe in life after birth?
Baby 2: Absolutely. It’s obvious that life after birth exists. We are here to become stronger and to get ready for whatever awaits us next.
Baby 1: This is absurd. There is nothing after birth! What would life look like outside the womb?
Baby 2: Well, there are many stories about the other side. I’ve heard there is a blaze of light there, an intense and profound feeling of joy with deep emotions, thousands of things to live for…
For example, I’ve heard that we’ll eat with our mouth, there.
Baby 1: That’s silly. We have an umbilical cord and that is how we eat. Everyone knows that we don’t use our mouth to eat! And, on the top of it, no one has ever come back from the other world… Those stories are all coming from naïve people. Life just ends at birth. Period. That’s the way it is and we must accept it.
Baby 2: Alright, then allow me to think differently. That’s for sure, I have no idea what life after birth looks like, and I can’t prove anything to you. But I like to believe, that in the next world, we’ll be able to see our mother and that she will take care of us.
Baby 1: “Mother”? You mean that you believe in ‘Mother’? Oh! So where is she?
Baby 2: Everywhere, don’t you see it! She is everywhere, all around us. We are part of her and it’s thanks to her that we are living right now. Without her, we wouldn’t be here.
Baby 1: This is ridiculous! I’ve never seen any mother so it’s obvious that she doesn’t exist.
Baby 2: I don’t agree, that’s your way of seeing things. Because sometimes when everything quiets down a little bit, we can hear her sing. We can feel her hugging our world. I’m pretty sure that our life will start after birth.
An architect has to be everything. Has to know everything.
Know how to think, draw, build, demolish, rebuild in part and whole, not build at all, restore, repurpose.
Know the by-law, know how to break it.
Design a table, a temple, a tomb, even a town. Smallest to biggest, simplest to most complex. Concepts 5000 years old to newest materials in the market.
Build sustainable, cost effective, expensive looking, durable, opulent, not opulent, climate responsive or fully controlling the environment, for pedestrians and for cars. Beautiful, yet maximising the FSI.
Keep away the destructive, criminal or just those keen on graffiti but involve the community. Don’t allow disturbing noise but make a lively place – easy to clean, safe, secure.
Cater to children, aged, challenged and challenging, men, women, others.
Often in the same design.