‘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@http://www.smartcities.gov.in/
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.
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.
In Architecture, happily, the deed counts.
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.
While reading a post on William Dalrymple’s Delhi farmhouse, I came across this tribute (or whatever) to architect Charles Correa. The first few lines have made me so angry that I had to change my decision to not write about Correa in a hurry:
Ode to Charles Correa, one of India’s most influential architects
Architect Abha Narain Lambah imagined Correa as the embodiment of Howard Roark from The Fountainhead—the bible for every student of architecture
I will come back and update the text, but this is frivoulous writing – and contradicts itself. He was no Roark, another character many architects think they understand and revere, and he personally would disapprove of words like Master Architect, Iconic Architectural Edifice, Reinvention of Indian Modernism, Quintessence, Bold Persona and such being loosely used.
Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, his first building, was in Ahmedabad, the very location where a good chunk of Indian ‘modernism’ was being attempted, without grand support from India’s Prime Minister or the resources of a national capital buoying it. If there is one thing people who have worked with him had to say, it was that he was humble, never angry on site, patiently resolved issues when something went wrong, and behaved professionally unlike some of his contemporaries.
The sense of humour that everyone thought fantastic (it was), came with a tinge of hidden anger at times but many failed to read it. He was a perfectionist, and it is frustrating for a perfectionist to create anything, let alone buildings. His attempts, of making buildings, townships, towns were often compromised by petty politics, and Mumbai and Delhi certainly failed to use his multifaceted (bold?) ideas. And he did see the end of respectful treatment that architects as professionals received when he began, and the advent of the present era where architects themselves are to blame for irreverent treatment they get.
And most influential? Unfortunately, there aren’t really many architects today who acknowledge to be influenced by him in any real sense, and are themselves doing work worth admiring. Abha, Crawford Market has turned out well, knowing the complexity of the project. But this ode, well, is mixed up with Page 3 words, architectural student jargon, superlatives that don’t contribute to the content, and is largely monodimensional.
Glad for someone doing it but I would expect more depth when one writes about Correa.
Note: Architectural Digest too shares the blame. Out of spite for their hunger for viewer traffic, I have reproduced all their keywods as tags, and added some.
Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden at Glass House opens today…
YOUR NARCISSISM IS FOR SALE: The idea behind Kusuma’s work is more than allegorical of present times, but she saw it coming.
Set aside the politic and struggles of the client/ user of Glass House, this is still a work that brings us to question ourselves – if we want to.
Philip Johnson’s work, more in focus because of the discussion around closing of MoMA’s Architecture and Design galleries, in some way, curiously signalled more works like Glass House being celebrated and created at an ever larger scale.
More @ http://theglasshouse.org/whats-on/yayoi-kusama-narcissus-garden/
And, if the famous debate around architectural plagiarism interests you,
(“I’m a plagiarist man — you see, you must take everything from everybody”
then I recommend @http://kosmograd.typepad.com/kosmograd/2013/03/glass-houses.html
Natural History Museum (National Museum of Natural History) at Delhi is destroyed by fire this morning: the fire safety system in the building was not working.
Even 35 fire engines couldn’t save it.
Architecture, or not architecture: this was a loss that could be prevented.
Nature, Ecology, the value of preservation, conservation and that of Memories, clashing with costs of adhering to Fire Safety and building by laws.
Massive Fire Destroys Natural History Museum In Delhi
News and photos @
Rest in Peace Shaheer.
Mohammad Shaheer, landscape architect, former head of Landscape Department, School of Planning and Architecture Delhi, landscape designer of Asiad Village and other prestigious projects like Babur’s Garden at Kabul; owner, Shaheer Associates and partner, MSYK passed this morning.
SPA graduate from 70s batch, post graduate in Urban Design, Sheffield post graduate in Landscape, soul of SPA’s LA department, visiting faculty, guest lecturer and juror at various places, ISOLA fellow active in design till now… this is a good way to go, while still working.
Your expertise in Master Planning, Site Planning, Urban and Architectural Design, Landscape Architecture, and art brought out sensitive designs. Even if you were sometimes inflexible in your views, those are the very views that helped many of your students shape theirs.
Many of your generation are passing, leaving the baton into the hands of the next generation. Hope those you have nurtured and in turn those whom they have taught, will rise up.
Time to turn a new leaf. Navratri celebrations are here again. Beauty. Joy. A little bit of devotion too.
Photo courtesy: CEPT University FB Page @ https://www.facebook.com/CEPTUniversity
Celebrate World Architecture Day today, with Manit Rastogi (Morphogenesis); Kevin Low (Small Projects), Greg Truen (Saota arrcc), 4.00 pm onwards.
Site plan of Nirma University, designed by Amin and Shah. Easy to see why so many people get confused and lost here. Hopefully it won’t be so difficult to find your way, at least for those who turned up the last time for Steven Holl’s presentation…
More details about the architects:
Corruption in Architecture is eating us from within…
Practising architects show interest in Council of Architecture finally. The reason the CoA needs practitioners and not politicians is the way practices are shaping up. With more than 450 schools of Architecture churning out more than 20,000 architects a year, and a limited number of works coming up for design and execution, the competition is going to be cut throat.
And when when the battle gets bloody, all is fair. As the first step, corrupt practices are flourishing, tempting others.
Q: What about corruption?
A: The teachers are not teaching and the professional organisations are wary of bringing up the issue. In MES, in Corporate world, in Institutes, in Government, and in Industries – Wherever there is even a little bit of bureaucracy, the system of ‘cut’ is entrenched, and the percentage is on the rise.
Q: Why can’t architects can’t focus on Design?
A: Those who focus on design lag behind because of or are blocked by these other aspects of ‘practice’
Will come back to update this or follow with a post on Corruption in Architecture – Roots and Remedies.
We have lost PBB. There are no words that will do justice to all his work and all our emotions.
Last rites: Today at Vadilal Sarabhai Crematorium, 7.45 pm.
Prayer meeting at Residence, Monday, 8.00 am.
Rest in Peace, dear Prabhakar Bhagwat.
For this lecture, my notes didn’t come out right.
For their studio notes, see: https://landscapeindiapbb.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/archival-notestracing-roots/