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Surat Municipality Building – Past and Present


Surat Municipality, popularly called Mugali Sara, was a Mughal Caravan Serai later converted into Municipal Council Building. Many mindless modifications have changed its interiors, and as it is no one is really bothered about heritage in Surat.

[Will come back and add more]



Just for fun, see the recent news about Surat’s civic past:

Surat Municipality Liquor Revenue 1.jpg


Surat Municipality Liquor Revenue 2.jpg

CEPT Summer Exhibition 2019

CEPT Summer Exhibition 2019


The Bald Eagle of SA has landed.

Tremors after the falling of proverbial big tree seem to have subsided, and a new way of doing things is emerging, of course with contingent pains of labor.

The Semester End Exhibition is both a good and a bad idea. On the painful side – Students and Faculties have extra work load and are toiling to put up the show long after the semester is supposedly finished. Working hard on weekends, with 30% marks at stake when they are not even present to explain their work. Laying bare their work for criticism, judgement (typical to architects at least), scorn, and misinterpretations. Both the teachers and students are reeling under this extra pressure (Sheets, Report, Poster AND Panels) all along getting advice about how they should have prepared for this during the semester itself. It is a pain.

But for outsiders, it is all good stuff. People coming and pointing at drawings, models, studies, and saying: ‘we should do it like this ourselves’. SID designers placing their business cards where their work is on display, giving people an opportunity to hire them. Offices coming and figuring out whether the courses are of their liking, finding potential fields of interest. Also judging where they themselves stand, or noting down names of bright students. Future students coming and drinking on the elixir of a semester’s work, proud parents posing in front of their ward’s work.

So the exhibition is catalyzing, both within and outside the campus, interaction and learning that a University with varied courses is supposed to provide. What good is having these many interrelated specializations in the same small campus when students don’t learn from what the others have done? It is also preparing the students for the life that is waiting for them outside. Many will thank the institution for teaching them the art of succinctly presenting their work, in a way that it speaks for them even in their absence.


A few observations

The realm of design is moving from making to interpreting. In CEPT it was always important to see the wider scope, larger picture, other aspects, of making a building/ object/ even area. It was always the Concept that brought upon a student the best kind of attention. So site and case studies always formed a significant part of the process, and judging by how frivolously some of the design schools treat this aspect of design, CEPT was always strong on study, analysis and ideas rather than on a direct, measurable result in form of drawings, models and presentations. But from small scale to big, even as it is refreshing to see sincere attempts to ‘root’ and construct, the students all seem to be exploring ‘why’ much more than ‘how’.

Even as there are some really engaging studies, so many of the works have mere formal excellence, and there is not enough thought going into sustainability (Yes it is a cliched word) or materials and techniques appropriate for the needs of this poor nation. It is as if this lot is going to be absorbed by large corporations/ wealthy clients in big cities. May be this is a sign of a young and enthusiastic pool of teachers unmarred by the real world. Also of not having the maturity (read cynicism) and practicality that teachers experienced in ‘making’ bring on board. Ideas, but devoid of solid foundation that was the leitmotif of CEPT earlier. Especially in case of Post-graduate studies. This could be the result of restructuring that has taken place in recent years. Changes in those who teach, and the directives about what and how the teaching should happen.

Aware that this is a grievance of a privileged teacher and most schools are years away from achieving even this much. These are the typical trappings of an elitist institution, giving the insiders a false sense of security along with an air of superiority. This is where the step needs watching.


All in all, the exhibition transforms the campus into a vibrant display of capabilities as well as aspirations of its habit-ants. I say keep up the good work CEPT!



I only wish the new buildings and the walkways were not so insensitively put up, killing the original spirit of the place. About that mess, another time.


Arata Isozaki Wins Pritzker 2019

Arata Isozaki: The Pritzker Architecture Prize

For his contribution to the world of architecture, an old favourite of architects and an old world master, gets Pritzker.

To deal with pain to heal, and to build something new that was like the old, both for symbolic and utilitarian reasons.

But without taking away from his achievement: Conrad, take a bow! Yet another Japanese architect wins (Shigeru Ban and Pritzker explained by Conrad Newel) (It is Ito) – this is as much an ode to the evolved nature of the Japaneses’ architectural sensibilities, as the prevalence and predictability of their winning.


Death of Architecture- Exhibition and Dialogues

Death of Architecture, Exhibition, Talks, Events, Dialogue

29 January – 03 February 2019, Ahmedabad

Creating Feeling with Frank Gehry: Fondation Louis Vuitton

Gehry does it again! This film reveals the good side of Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.


This film will let you decide whether it is worth visiting a building because it is art. Some of his other buildings are. If not in Spain, at least in Los Angeles. This building is in the class of Walt Disney Concert Hall, in my humble opinion.


Now compare it with the young guns: ORB as imagined by BIG: Bjarke Ingels And Jakob Lange At Burning Man, and Other Assorted Architects At Kochi Biennale


Bjarke Ingels And Jakob Lange At Burning Man, and Other Assorted Architects At Kochi Biennale

Bjarke Ingels And Jakob Lange Launch Crowdfunding To Install A Mirrored Sphere At Burning Man

Bjarke Ingels And Jakob Lange Launch Crowdfunding To Install A Mirrored Sphere At Burning Man

Mirrored Sphere at Burning Man 2018.jpg


Burning Man, as an event, and as a community, are extremely popular now, and sold out as soon as the expensive tickets go on sale. The spots get filled in a hurry, and the expenditure on installations is increasing. Ingles has pulled a leaf out of Anish Kapoor, Jef Koontz, Kusuma’s books, and half the science fiction movies to come up with a hanging ORB, a sphere representing Earth.

Architecture of ephemeralilty

On architecture side, new materials and technologies in last 3 decades have made possible mirrored buildings. Since every half decent architect has grown up defending and describing how their design fits into the context, and when the context is too stunning, or historic, how their building merges in the surroundings or even vanishes!

Foster, Herzog, Zumthor, Gehry, Sanaa and countless others have used reflective surfaces to achieve the same aim. From Concert hall to laptop roof, (Apple store, actually) to hiding modernity in an old European town, starting in late 80’s, inventions in glass and polishing techniques for steel and aluminium have made it possible to realise the dream of vanishing materiality for architects.

For Burning Man, both the aims of ‘Leave no trace’ and ‘Reflect the whole City’ come together with the idea of ORB. Let us hope it gets the crowd to fund it’s creation out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere… As Jean Nouvel says, “Light is matter, and Light is a basic material”

Architects and their installations at Kochi Biennale

Kochi Biennale, the art festival using city as its venue has now gained much popularity. Something similar to the Burning Man although not in the same league. The city, already popular with tourists, and with it’s historic part (read venue for biennale) taken over by businesses and hotels catering to tourism attracts artists and art minded folks from domestic and international locations during the Kochi Muziris (Muziris being the name of the old port Kochi), a bi annual art event that has art displays, installations at various locations, and associated activities.

Architects, and teams of architects led by architects have been a part of this, starting with Bijoy Jain’s brick sculpture and melted tar monoliths. In the latest round, three others from architect community had presence in Cochin, including Sankalpa and team, on behalf of CEPT. But except for Anish Kapoor’s liquid artwork, every installation has been very tactile, and holds it’s three dimensions, very unapologetic. Or may be Indian architects still can’t escape the idea that everything they make has to ‘stand’ solid.



Anish Kapoor

Bijoy Jain - Kochi 2014.jpg

Bijoy Jain


Even the new one by Tony Joseph is in the same league. As opposed to using the ‘non materiality/ reflectiveness’ to represent Earth, the installations at Kochi, for both art and buildings use Brick, Wood and Bamboo and other ‘vanishing over time’ materials, and remain of Earth, rooted in ground.

Discover Ray Eames and other unsung heroes on BBC Arts


Go to BBC Arts and find a mention of Ray Eames’ work, and read her partner’s opinion about her that most interviews did not bother to note. About Ray and Charles it says “As designers they were inseparable, but for a long time Charles got all the credit. ‘Anything I can do, Ray can do better,’ he said, but the media ignored his pleas.”

The headline does a little injustice to the male counterparts, but since it tries to right a much bigger wrong done (-sic) to the artists by countless biased individuals, I will link it verbatim:

Five female artists whose male partners hogged the limelight

@ (When their mates got the limelight)

Too many muses and apprentices who get written about as passing matters in great artists’ lives and not enough of those who grew into their own women (like Gilot who left Picasso because of his abusive behaviour and affairs, and married Dr. Jonas Salk, in who’s name we now have the Salk Institute)

Frieda now enjoys much better love than many others who were in her situation. Yes, Kandinsky would not have been the same without Gabriele Münter, and the names of Lee Miller and Dorothea Tanning are known only to avid museum visitors.

This is the same in many co-driving architectural practices – even for those not as counter-balanced as Sanaa. The shift is in that many of today’s generation are giving conceptual directions and reversing the earlier sequence of being detailers and managers, roles beautifully elevated-played by Rajes and Ghoshs. Yet, not enough narratives are identifying a person for ideas, shying away from asking who did what when interviewing a team of two. This is worth noting and investigating about than shallow attempts to give awards to women for being architects.


While you are at BBC Arts, also discover this delightful piece of information:

The amazing animation genius you’ve (probably) never heard of

Lotte Reiniger, early Animator who used shadow puppetry techniques long before Disney, and animated children’s fairy tales beautifully. In times when all three vocations – Fairy Tales, Shadow Puppetry,  and lighthearted storytelling – are fading.

Find her @

(Amazing genius of Lotte)

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 […]

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