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National War Museum Battle Lingers On

Is an original design better than an inspired one?

Should you fight for what is right if you are wrong?

Designer of Teg Bahadur Smarak, FA Alumni and owner of Aakar design, Gurpreet Singh challenged the selection of sP+a, oft awarded and winner of other competitions, on the grounds that the design is not original (but it was supposed to be). And supposedly, none of the entries fit the context – State Houses and Axis. For added measure, the Jury accuses Gurpreet of pushing too hard in an attempt to influence.

Thank gods of architecture for the scanty architectural journalism that India now has, and see the story about design of National War Museum


India’s planned National War Museum in limbo (Scroll Article by Shreya Roy Chowdhury)

A design competition that has recently been in news (If only in Architects’ groups), and that generated some debate, various articles and petition challenging the selection of a designer other than the winner, is the design of Andhra’s new capital, Amaravati.

My post is @ Mahishmati, Amaravati, Culture and Cult: Symbols are important in Architecture (Amaravati: Another controversial architectural competition)

In both, the winners are not commissioned the project. In Delhi, there is the problem of invalidating a decision made by a Jury, and in Andhra, of an opaque process that followed the competition, to commission the work to architects other than the winning team. And of course, the new architects were sent to Bahubali film’s director to learn about Seemandhra cultural context. In this scenario, Bihar seems to be doing well. They seem to have their selection process in place, and have international firms working on prestigious projects…. I am looking forward to Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Science City and hope it will progress faster than Bihar Museum and Nalanda University!



How to use a celebrity in advertising: BeMyGuest ads of Dubai Tourism

Be My Guest!

Why am I talking about BeMyGuest#1 when BeMyGuest#2 is already released? Frankly, at this point I would welcome any distractions that take my mind off the horrible ads trying to pull Amitabh Bacchan in selling Lloyd Air Conditioners.

THIS is how you do celebrity adverts! ‘Shah Rukh’s Personal Invitation’ is a good example of how to marry the star value of a celebrity with the usual tourism advert elements!

Shah Rukh Khan’s Dubai advert from late 2016 is easy to relate to. It is well executed, and shows the agency team had a good grasp of Dubai Tourism’s core demand too! It is not usual for the maker of a movie or ad film to not be awed by his personality, and ask him to play ‘Shah Rukh’. Most of the time people write a script where the star is playing a character, like my pet peeve of the moment, Lloyd Air Conditioners. But this is a Catch 22 situation – the tremendous face value because of which the big star is selected, actually works at counter purposes: the viewer relates to the star and not the character! In comparison, I’d any day take straight forward endorsements like Hema Malini’s ‘Buy Kent Water Purifier!’

Very aware of the power of his film star status and persona, however, BeMyGuest ad is smart with Shah Rukh – showing off his popularity and instant recognition by other people’s reactions. A star playing himself AND being just a regular character.

In January 2018, the ‘Making of BeMyGuest’ was released, and was well watched. As expected. Who doesn’t love Shah Rukh? The part about him conquering his fear because ‘It needed to be done’ is highlighted precisely keeping the young travelling audience in mind. And the lady who ends up mouthing ‘Dubai is the most beautiful place’ is the perfect other end of target audience. Well balanced in terms of generating interest…

And then the second part came out; in the comment section of which someone calls SRK her big brother, and some young fellow (or, perhaps a paid watcher) claims this to be the best ad he has ever seen! For me, however, it is disappointing.

I get the logic: International flight from most parts of India to Dubai is easier than Kerala, easier than even Kolkata, and this destination is far better packaged than Singapore. So I can see why the second part tries to project Dubai as the place for family celebrations and a romantic getaway.

But in terms of execution, it lacks crispness and punch. It also relies too much on shots of others, though some of them are familiar faces, and so are not easy to imagine as the characters they are playing. If Shah Rukh is playing Shah Rukh, others should be playing themselves too! Only the Footballer Boy, Indian origin but from London, is a nice touch. The Second Inning unfortunately can’t deal with the problem that every sequel faces – the burden of expectations! It fails to carry on or supersede the surprise that the first one created.

Watch it if you are a big SRK fan (or, like me, are bored out of your wits watching inane ads using other celebrities). At any rate, it demonstrates how a celebrity should be used in making ads.

Architecture College Rankings in India: Top Ten or Death of Architecture?

What a load of nonsense!

According To NIRF, These Are The Top Ten Architecture Colleges In India

Verbatim from ArchitectureLive: “NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) has released the list of top ten Architecture colleges in India. The list was released by Shri. Prakash Javadekar, Human Resource and Development Minister at New Delhi. About 3000 instituions from India had participated in the rankings.”

According To NIRF, These Are The Top Ten Architecture Colleges In India @

Did these jokers even talk to a total of 10 architects? Where did they get this intelligence, from CIA?

Superficial Exercise: Where the world is without Humbug

How did they begin their search? By looking for random engineering colleges that also had architecture departments? Or for those that have been around for years? Or those whose alumni are building good buildings? Or those who find placements because they switch their profession and become coders? Or where the good practitioners and academicians are teaching? Or those who are winning all the trophies at NASA?

Why mix the good ones with those not so good ones, so that the whole list can’t be trusted? I cannot help Sarcasm: If not those institutes where teachers devote their life to noble idea of teaching, and where genuine discourse about the role of architects and nature of practice, pedagogy, and purpose of architecture is taking place, where the graduates are unhappy about their work because they are constantly comparing themselves with other better works and universities across the world, why has it not at least included those started by architects with a romantic notion of knowing what architecture is, diligently trying to pass it down to students who themselves enroll because they are either risk takers, or because their other options were even worse!

And on the other end, where are those places where the students are very happy with having made a wall section by the time they are in 5th year? And at the same time they select projects that spread over acres and select big complex titles for what they call ‘thesis’ (and I thought calling School of Architecture’s dissertation a thesis was a bit preposterous, considering it was an undergraduate’s work- sometimes measuring  a building and sometimes talking about a foreign architect’s works that they have never visited)! Transportation Hubs, 5000 student campuses, and shelters on moon. Where the grades are never lower than 70, and often above 90 – implying the student knows most there is to be known about design!

Where are the gems of institutions who pay the coaching classes for sending students their way?  Or for hosting conferences on their premises. Where the classrooms are air-conditioned with libraries (literally) 100s of books strong… Faculties join the same college right after graduating, and students join facebook groups that post jokes and memes about architecture, and of course get their models made by professional model makers (that the college proudly displays as students’ work). Where failed professionals and neem hakims control and mould students’ and Architectural profession’s future.

Why not include them? At least give a strugglers’ nomination to those that had to pay Council of Architecture for recognition? You have no idea how humiliating it is to seek retired professors to put their names as faculty just to attract students who will come to study in their sports cars, and run around to collect faculties for online confirmation to CoA. Even more humiliating than to have to pass the students who don’t care to work, or having to give them drawings that they can submit as their own during the pretense of a jury… At least the parents who pay lakhs of rupees in fees will have heard of Architectural profession, unlike the rest of the country.

These are the people to wrest the honour and prestige of Architectural Design out of hands of Civil Engineers and other ‘unqualified’ quasi professionals standing as architects all over the nation.


Keeping Hope Alive

Glib, but hope things will improve, because this is still better than that international listing which included IIT Roorkie as the best college of Architecture in India a few years back with no sign of SPA, JJ or others, in sight. (Even if only comparing with SPA Delhi and other IITs – by own admission: “If architecture is what you are interested in, IITR is perhaps not the best place to pursue it.” @

Knowing very well that this is a reactive post, I intend fully to come back and write more after a thorough review and research. But in the meantime, I beg you all to not put your faith in rankings and do your due diligence… In these times of paid reviews and fake profiles, Quora still seems to be a go to place. Read the comments, and you will know the wheat from the chaff. This one, slightly old, has answers of all colors and stripes. Which is the best architectural college in India? @



For uplifting your mood, better visit this story instead: It has some half decent sketches of Moshe Shafdie’s building (Virasat E Khalsa Museum at Anantpur Sahib)

‘If at first you don’t succeed, cry, cry again’

‘If at first you don’t succeed, cry, cry again’:  Rethink History, Rethink the writing and Rewriting of history…

Have you heard of Madelon Vriesendorp? I bet that most of you have not. Winner of the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize 2018, Madelon delighted us with her work during our growing up years, and was nearly forgotten in the hue and cry (pun intended) of the new age digital art and new ways of writing and interpreting art and architecture.

Now in her own words she talks about being written out of history. While she is being dug out of that, she is still not available easily to brush and polish and present. Let me go and look at my copy of Delirious New York, if I have not lost it.



Linking: Hugh Hefner’s Surprising Architectural Legacy

Now for some trivia about Playboy Magazine founder’s interest in Modern Architecture. Argument by an architectural historian:

Hefner’s link with the world of architecture

Hugh Hefner’s Surprising Architectural Legacy

Mies, Wright, Shafdie (On the scene), Eames and even Gehry? Go read the article for gems like “It made it acceptable for men to have an interest in Design”, and “Playboy could not exist without architecture.”

The magazine was always produced to a high standard of design, this was known. Thank you Anna Fixsen (Metrolpolis), and Princeton professor and architectural historian Beatriz Colomina for a little bit of lightness, and refreshing view of Playboy as democratising design and a modernist influence on the common folk.

Ant Farm Dwelling featured as in Playboy Magazine


Ten of the most beautiful modern libraries in the world

Several library buildings have been commissioned in last two decades, by a generation that believes in the power of a book. Even as the norm of Quiet Library seems to be taking a back seat in new Indian commissions, and in professional institutes and technical universities where there are already discussions about learning by demonstration – something architecture schools have figured out long ago.

This round up is highly recommended:

BBC Culture – 10 of the most beautiful modern libraries in the world

Functionality and relevance of a Grand Library building can be debated but not the charm of a library. Imagine, like Alexandria (My favourite), Nalanda’s library coming alive, again attracting 1000s of visitors from all over the world. Seeing what was proposed by the architects in their concept, the library building has a prominent place and design treatment suitable to become anchor of proposed new Nalanda University. As the entire proposal rests on water, hoping that the problems they are running into because of flooding and high costs, will be solved and something magical and truly inspiring will emerge.

The post with my thoughts on Library at CEPT is @ Lilavati Lalbhai Library: New CEPT Library in the making

Looking forward to see what happens to the library commissioned by Obamas.


In the meanwhile, I am impressed to see how work produced by an eclectic bunch of people gets branded with the name of Modi (Who was elected PM one year after the article was written), and Gujarat. Ironic, but similar to USA that gets credit for work by people who choose to call it home, like Rahul Mehrotra.

Gujarat to shape Nitish Dream


More @ Nalanda University revived after 800 years

Where Nalanda University started in 2014, the Convention Centre (RICC) next door, definitely had a Gujarat connection, but another time about how things are viewed  by the reporters/ masses V/s how Bihar happens to be a place where many international as well as Indian firms had an opportunity to show their abilities.



Form follows Fitoor (What about Bhadra?Or Let’s not talk about CEPT)

Almost Five years ago, I started writing this draft, tentatively titled ‘What is conservation? And what about Premabhai? I’d put down the words:  Contectual response; Parking; Ghosts; Mammoth, monolith, problems, use

I vaguely recall it was prompted by the brouhaha over conservation, and I probably meant to compare the designs of Premabhai Hall designed by Dr. B. V. Doshi, Architect, founder of School of Architecture and VSF, and the bank by Hasmukh Chandubhai Patel, architect, the HCP in HCPDPM, in context of insertions that happened in Bhadra Fort and changes in it’s surroundings during glory days of Ahmedabad Modernism (judging by the tags I had selected: Ahmedabad, Architect, B. V. Doshi, design, New Premabhai Hall, Old Premabhai Hall, Premabhai Hall, what does an architect do?).

Now I sat down to write a post that I meant to title “Let’s talk about Bhadra” and midway I changed the title. I got thinking about it again because of the numerous concerns being raised about yet another new building at CEPT Campus. And about it being a travesty.

Any change looks terrible at first. In campus, we should not talk of Gufa, and in Connought Place, of the LIC building, both of which shocked architects at the time when they sprung up.

Flashback: What happened to Bhadra area? A: Architects had a field day!

In 1970s, two significant architectural offices ran from here. Those were the heydays of Bhadra area. A lot got constructed, and some trends were set that dictated the fate of the space in and around the fort.

Two banks, now People’s Co-operative Bank, and UCO Bank, operated from the zone, with Bank of Baroda not far along the Teen Darwaza route. The bank building with subtle, unassuming facade, shows a response to the surroundings, its only noticeable feature? Two columns. It does not attract attention standing next to Premabhai Hall that is easily comparable to an alien ship in the surroundings. The response the hall shows to its surroundings by clawing out a space in its section is at a floor that we never visit. The mammoth hall didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now.

Bhadra fort, with a history of Muslim (Fort), Mughal (Serai), Maratha (Bhadrakali) and British (Prison, Clock) and Modern insertions, the ASI office by GoI, the pigeon hole office building which replaced some of the original Bhadra footprint, has weathered and witnessed architectural equivalent of a massacre before a precinct redevelopment that students forever criticise when they do a case study was envisaged.

The humble bank in Bhadra Square has a big brother – or two. Just outside is perhaps the first high-rise of Ahmedabad: Another bank building, made in phases, the State Bank of India by Hasmukh Patel. And right opposite Siddi Sayyid Jaali that is the symbol of Ahmedabad, even if rarefied and gaudily decorated at present, Central Bank of India (1972). That bank is another case study in how to relate to the context. Next to it is the glass facade hotel designed by two SA Alumni a few years ago, not worth wasting words on. Nothing that surrounds it including the House of MG (A heritage hotel now) opposite, has shown a registrable response to Jaali for whatever reasons. Hence this Mosque, and the Jaali, serve as traffic rotary and don’t have much of a presence till a light is shone on the facade.

Design is not what it does, but also what it doesn’t do…       

Jobs may not be my favourite Contemporary, but he did profess an idea we all recall often: DESIGN IS NOT WHAT IT LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE. DESIGN IS HOW IT WORKS. In our esoteric exchanges about authenticness to time, space and principles, there is not enough about how the user will experience and use the design. I would normally lament the energy wasted by some of the profession’s foremost brains in pulling up the top 5% for their little mistakes, and never on pulling ‘up’ the stinky lot that is making buildings and public spaces in an indiscriminate manner, both in visual-functional sense, and ethically.

‘Who is discussing Command and Control Centre building being put up in the august company of Sanskar Kendra (that we so paintakingsly saved from being blemished by AMC)?’ The Command and Control Centre in it’s new location, is still bang next to Sanskar Kendra-undoubtedly a Modernist Heritage- but is anyone paying attention to it?

The laissez faire is a personal folly too, thinking ‘What is the point going after the angles and red aluminium panels on some 1000 seater Auditorium in the vicinity of all the nice corporate buildings that we should thank god of architecture for, or Extension to a club designed by another heavyweight who is well respected in the fraternity for his design integrity and sense?’ Both the new buildings are designed by architects, who, no doubt  learnt a great deal about how to put up a building during their making of these. It is easier to attack what is designed around Kankaria, but the Lake Edge at Vastrapur, or Saijpur or Redevelopment around Polo Temple, or a modern complex of buildings in the name of one Mahatma are too lame to talk about.

What happens on the sacred north lawns?

In last Six years, North Lawns were mostly used for photo ops, and not one student/ teacher has mentioned the weather measure that stood there, serving a real purpose. Once the institution started providing conditioned environment, the uses of North Lawns are only going down. (In one of his interviews ‘A Confluence of Nature and Architecture’ the man behind North Lawns, Architect Doshi, talks about Air conditioning: “The way architects think is changing… You don’t adjust with the variation of the day, but we create buildings with constant light and climate. And we are making buildings for a specific use, not as part of nature.”)


(North Lawns from North; Image from:

Now one can not imagine having the sort of discussion that happened when students called Prof. B V Doshi to explain his design for the amphitheatre. Half the lawns were filled with students with hurt expressions about how his newest building will kill the spirit of the central open space of the campus. He defended his proposal to students and fellow professionals demanding a justification to make a change in the campus when things were working perfectly…  It was the kind of debate that the amphi was supposed to have but never did.

No doubt the SA building next to it has architectural merit, and it gets a spatial character on account of these mounds, but on the other side the quality of space towards ramp was incidental, not designed. Campus-scape evolved with time, and the sense of space people remember from first 25 years was as much chance as modern design.

Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) has prided itself in changing the idea of Architecture – from a technical discipline to a ‘Design’ discipline. But even if you accept the hindsight that Prof. Doshi and his contemporaries developed a starting point for the next generation to construct and express India’s Modernity, then that in itself is a huge contribution.

Intentions, not only results. Journey, not only destination…

At the time when Indian Architecture’s central figures (Or their next generation) is writing their versions of what happened, and therefore inventing themselves, this is the politics of architecture – not to bring up the real issue. A vast number of present buildings are being designed by structural designers and contractors in whose offices architects get thousands of rupees to make 3D views.

But CEPT has not been taken over by the president’s company as decried by some 5 years ago. The new commissions have gone to an alumnus (Rahul for Library) (Dilip for Auditorium, interiors and repurposing of studios), or to ex-SA faculty (Jayesh for the building by SBST students), or to a subject expert (Rajan for the Green building) or a co-founder and teacher to many architects (Christopher for Academic Hub).

Think about how the SBST building had to be renovated even when it is one of the more recent buildings. About the old days when admin building was renovated, canteen was designed, SID Workshop came up. Every time something functional was added, Aesthetic was diluted… Cut those who tried some slack.

Now, if I take a legit potshot at a hotshot, is it ok to be famous because of it? I the infant terrible. Of course in one’s own tiny yard of Architecture. We must beware of what we do: The young professionals already know to question everything, let’s not set precedents where they get a signal that it is ok to answer nothing.

Christopher Benninger Book_Advice

Time for Letters to Not so Young Architects?

CEPT graduates who attended universities abroad and prefer to mention only their second Alma Mater in their profile know well that, however profound, SA had a lot left to do – in terms of facilities, buildings, and how to function as a campus. If  some folks will actually invest time to teach the students and young professionals about how to put together a decent building, it will be a big service to the nation. I hope they raise a better generation than us, who raised more cynics and fence sitters than any previous generation.

If your souls are burdened it is only by the sum total of the entire profession’s actions. Architects who suggest unsustainable technologies without knowing about cost, those who can’t see the user’s need or limitations in their arrogance, those who accepted or channeled work to their offices using CEPT’s name, and those individuals who nearly ran the once beautiful institution to ground with their self importance, carelessness or greed… Those are the demons within our selves. So go out and build.

Must end with a submission: This post is not about one building in particular. There have been too many and rather lengthy reactions to the proposed design for the Academic Building by Christopher Benninger at CEPT University Ahmedabad, and it is good to see the architectural fraternity enthused about something after long. If I find time to go through the proposal, the critiques, and still have any words for Christopher I will put them up here. Till then, I end this rant with a feeling that I will definitely revise this, and a joke:

From Christopher I expect a funny take I found on ArchitectureLive:

‘Architect’ aghast at a design: I don’t really agree with your concept and approach. I think you should..

architect Magdalene:

Have I done justice to the journey? I can change the goal as long as I am walking...

Sab ka apna apna nazariya hota hai



The post I wrote about new CEPT Library two years ago is @

For drawings of Premabhai Hall by VSC, see Architexturez website, and for more on State Bank building, HCP website.

Details of Bhadra’s redevelopment are @

Doshi’s interview ‘A Confluence of Nature and Architecture’ @

Dhoshi’s ongoing Retrospective in China is covered @’s-first-retrospective-in-china-at-power-station-of-art-shanghai.html

Reblogging: Let’s

“Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry […]

via Let’s — Submitted For Your Perusal

Mahishmati, Amaravati, Culture and Cult: Symbols are important in Architecture

In the whole hue and cry about the design for new capital city of Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati, no one has asked this question: Why should the client not want to relate to the design?

Symbols are important for everyone. Common people use common objects as symbols, aesthetes use more evolved and more aesthetic objects, and architects who are forced to use trashy common objects use gray colored generic contemporary forms as symbols – that’s all.

The two aspects of design – First: Architectural Aesthetic and the Second: Associations/ Aspirations of decision makers and end users, are not always in sync. Architects often get esoteric, basing their decisions on their experience and interpretation of what is good. Something that is often not grasped by the other party. Or, they propose haute couture designs in terms that only other architects will understand.

In the case of design Amaravati, proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh/ Seemandhra, there have been all manner of opinions. Half the people, even well informed ones, don’t know that a whole new city is being designed. That says something about how much a layperson knows and is informed about design. It is a reflection on our media’s depth of understanding too.

Of the bunch that knows and cares about what’s going on, many people- both architects and non-architects, have been at pains to stress that they don’t like any of the designs. In the aftermath of selection and award of the project, there are two major factions… One point of view is, that the designs are not suitable enough. That is client perspective. The other perspective is that client has acted callously and probably out of altruistic motives. That is the original winner’s position. More on that another time.

The truth, of why the decision has gone and will go on in this wayward manner, is somewhere in between. The constraints in front of client are huge. They have to do something no one in their knowledge or in India’s recent memory has done. They have to do it via democratic route, where every act is open to public scrutiny, and every step is open to questioning. They have tried their best to involve leading architecture firms, and to convey to architects the aspirations and expectations of people.

Let us remember that they have to do it at half the capacity – the primate city has gone to the other state during the splitting between Talangana and Andhra – Whatever social justice or political mileage there may have been, the bureaucratic machinery and all finances are also divided. And what was common, is now with the rival, or being rivaled. Oh, the burden of setting and becoming an example in full public glare. And they need an identity, quickly.

So when the Chief Minister roped in Bahubali’s director to help with the design, all hell broke loose in elite architects’ world. It horrified many that a film director was asked to imagine a city, and a Chief Minister could be so clueless as to not understand that a city is much more than an image. How filmy, many said. Just like Telugu people, some said. Even the guy in question, Rajamouli said that he knows only cinema and nothing about making of cities.

It is evident that in architectural community, this is interpreted as something reflecting poor taste. But let me ask: Why should the client not want to relate to the design? Ask if any of the firms gave a damn about Telugu culture or history of Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.

Why is it so wrong to aspire to have a connection with local culture? Ultimately, the people who judge this are the masses, and their associations have to matter. And this is from the guy who brought some of the most progressive concepts to fruition, not someone stuck in a twisted nostalgia about past.

Foundation Ceremony of Amaravati_yvapwwohhy.jpg

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister beside a model of proposed New City Amaravati

And why not the big colorful models and the dramatic presentations? Chandigarh had one too, with all the class and touch of the Swiss-French Modern Master, and the elite audience like the then Prime Minister who could appreciate houte culture.

‘Baahubali’ director to help design Andhra Pradesh’s new capital


“To its credit, Foster has designed iconic structures like the 50 UN Plaza, Singapore Supreme Court, Imperial War Museum (UK), Century Tower (Japan), the Ireo City (Gurugram), Cyber Port (China), Bloomberg headquarters (UK), The Index (UAE), International Airport (Kuwait), to name a few.

“The Chief Minister insisted that Foster first go and meet Rajamouli. Foster’s architects met Rajamouli in Hyderabad the other day and shared their thoughts,” a senior official of AP Capital Region Development Authority (CDRA) said.

Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana, CRDA Commissioner C Sreedhar and other officials, too, had a “session” with the film director in Hyderabad last week wherein the latter gave them a talk on the “history” of Andhra Pradesh and the “Dravidian architecture”.”

And the guy was upfront about it: “Designing a set for a film is different and I have no expertise”

Even when a good number of architects design sets and animated cities (Even cities-in dreams-in movies), the person with not having a qualification is sneered upon by the elitist community that has not bothered to serve the very masses the city is going to be filled with – Class three and four workers, petty officials, vendors, shopkeepers – Basically, people with no class, and no money, to hire architects.

I also wonder if this is much ado about nothing because at personal level, I don’t think any of the three designs aimed to be contextual in terms of culture. Only Vastu Shilpa Foundation, led by Rajeev Kathpalia, have demonstrated their ability to respond to context in a way that lay persons can recognise the connection. And the client’s desire to hire an international firm was evident from their scouting, the structure of the competition and their selections. But this response to Andhra Culture? Neither it was part of the brief, nor highlighted in early stages. And now it has become the deal breaker. Much has been written and explained, but nothing has changed the decision, and I am not even sure anyone other than architects have even deliberated it.

In my humble opinion, the architects have missed an opportunity somewhere, because the sudden need to have appropriateness hits the client only when a design is featureless in a way that it can’t be distinguished by lay people, and can’t therefore become a symbol.

Aesthetic, taste, sustainability, design excellence, cost, all matter. But symbols are important. Identity that binds the masses is still much in evidence in everyday objects people choose, and the pride in an ancient culture is one important part of Dravidian identity. So objectifying an image of Andhra was and will be a design mandate. The more designers believe that only beauty of form and function can satisfy the deep rooted desire to connect to what you own, the more they are risking their own profession. And the less a person can relate to designs objectively, the more they will base their decisions on imagery and other subjective parameters.

Good luck Seemandhra!

Note: This is a rough cut, I hope I can come soon and update this. Thank you for reading.

Additional reference article:

An architect explains why turning new Andhra capital into ‘Bahubali’ sets is a ridiculous idea


“A cursory glance at the many appointments of planners and architects that submitted their plans and designs for Amaravati does little to articulate any central vision for a new city.” and “…look at the designs of the main government buildings in the capitol complex, for which the government held limited competition between Tokyo-based Fumihiko Maki and associates, UK-based Roger Stirk Harbour and associates, and Ahmedabad’s Vastu Shilpa Foundation led by Balkrishna Doshi.”

“We do not know many details about these entries, but relying on the few images posted on the official website, one can say that they fail to inspire (my emphasis).”

Alumni shortlisted for IIA Awards 2016 (School of Architecture CEPT Ahmedabad)

Updated with winners:

The Awards were declared on March 16th 2017.

Category: Public and Institutional: Chitra Vishwanath (’82 Batch), for The Altier School at Bangalore

Category: Unbuilt: Girish Karnawat (’86 Batch), for Bamyan Cultural Centre at Bamyan

As both are recipients of several earlier awards, the wins don’t surprise. But for sure, it is a reason to celebrate! ….Congratulating all winners in 10 categories: Together with architects and designers who keep striving for better, continue to inspire others!

(The FAAA events and recognition page @ is not very extensive, but for more: @—chitra-vishwanath)

For some more details, see IIA Awards page @, and now the compilation of all shortlisted entries is published and available with IIA Mumbai like last year.


SA Alumni are shortlisted for IIA Awards 2016

So glad to see the Alumni of School of Architecture featuring on several honours & awards lists slowly. Lightens some of the frustration of dealing with our routine, underpaid, stressed out long work hours, where no one seems to value what one stands for.

Only an architect in today’s India will feel the pain of another. And if a Jury of 14 of them shortlists 56 architects for excellence in design, including a few seniors who themselves were inspiration for the new generation, one can’t help but notice that a handful of them are ex-CEPT, ex-SA. And more than half are women.

Christopher Benninger, who participates frequently in IIA Awards, is one such name with whom at least two of the younger lot have worked. On a lighter note, one of them is even named KIDS. Along with him Prasanna Desai, Shahrukh Mistry and Sonali Rastogi’s offices have been the ‘go to’ places for whole batches of architecture trainees and freshers. Sanjay Puri, who started his office when half of the selected kids were in high school, is a much awarded presence with two IIA Awards, and have designed a few buildings in our surroundings as well. Tony Joseph’s name too appears on the list and at least one of his works, Madhuban Resort and Spa, Anand is close by to experience.

Shortlisted architects for IIA Awards 2016: Congratulations and wish you all the very best!

Good bye, Neeru Gandhi

Dear Neeru,

SA Alumni mourn your loss. May your journey henceforth be without pain, and may those you have left behind find peace.



Say hello to Ajay:

Not so Smart and Liveable Cities at Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017

‘The Smart and Liveable Cities’ Seminar, that had a good start, watered down quickly, and as expected. Apart from the problems the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit is mired by this time, it is also a topic that no one – really, no one seems to be able to explain clearly.

The seminars were drab and so many of the attendees were just roaming around, again, as anticipated by many. A good number of those who came, came because they were forced to. Without interest or anything real to gain. From chaos raging in Capital’s corridors of power to the confusion created in lower ranks by the slow and lacklustre decision making at various levels of leaders and officers in not such a distant past, there have been goof ups before and during the summit. It may be that new set of officers behind this event don’t seem to have as much of a handle on what works and what doesn’t. The move from near Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar since 2011 hasn’t helped matters, more so in the aftermath of demonetisation.

Urban Development, that found footing as a focus area since 2005, has had all kinds of projects being showcased. From private Industrial townships and Diamond City Surat to Sabarmati Riverfront Development to backlit acrylic models of GIFT City, the Global Investors’ Summit had it all. But the ‘Smart’ sobriquet is no use to any of the cities. Ahmedabad is doing its pilot in some godforesaken corner, and it is evident that even senior officers are still struggling to understand what makes a city smart – certainly, not 8000 affordable houses. If Riverfront Development is the showcase project for creating pedestrian facilities and green areas, imagine what the rest of the city has: Dug up roads, ugly buildings and gated developments.

The action seminars did not see enough action and participation was lukewarm at best. Even the municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad spent a few quick and uneasy minutes. Smart villages, another hollow idea used by uncomprehending half experts, does no service to the meaning of “Smart’ not contributes to any understanding of villages by the crowd at the summit. Self proclaimed subject experts are not able to say anything that makes any sense to the dimwit reporters who then resort to taking random photos of people, and create negative headlines out of sheer desperation. If there were great speakers, I am yet to see any reportage of their explanation of Smart anything. Venkaiyah Naidu came, and RBI governor came, and many others came and went, but the void in the middle of this VGS is obvious.

But then again, I was told that Gujarat is better than most other states, and that cities here are ‘smarter’ than others. Only time will tell.

More about smart cities@


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Vankaiyah Naidu at VGGS 2017



Bimal Patel reappointed President – Not really CEPT news

Dr. Bimal Patel’s appointment as President, CEPT University has been extended for 5 more years.

This is not really news, as it was kind of expected.

More soon…


The book is out:The Architecture of Hasmukh C. Patel


Written by Catherine Desai and Bimal Patel, the book on Hasmukh Patel, one of the founders and for a while Director of School of Architecture, CEPT and an architect from Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) Vadodara, is here.

Since he went about his work rather quietly, the volume of ‘Select Works’ will surprise some. But even without the show and pomp, and the razzmatazz of some of his peers, his designs just work/ ed.

Hasmukh Patel, Architect's Selected Projects

Book Cover ‘The Architecture of Hasmukh C. Patel’

In Architecture, happily, the deed counts.

New York architects to design Chicago library and museum


Presidential library to be designed in Chicago as a revitalisation project:

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are selected to design the project, and will work with Interactive Design Architects.

More soon.



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