MAKING TIME FOR DESIGN MATTERS
To meet the urban housing demand, the focus is on rapid city development, but there is also a concern for lack of holistic planning which presents a twofold dilemma. Realty+ panel of design experts with this background, discuss the role of architects & planners.
TEXT: RUSTAM SINGH
On one hand, the city’s socio-cultural well-being depends on an all-inclusive urban planning ahead. On the other hand, there is a dire need to produce more spaces to live-work and play for the economic growth. In such a scenario, the role of architects becomes even more complex.
No longer the sole captain of the ship, the architects now have to work in tandem with a slew of other professions. The panelists also stressed the fact that in spite of the critical role an architect plays in a project design and construction, they are still paid not worth the efforts they invest.
Commenting on the current scenario of collaborative architecture, Divya Kush, President, Indian Institute of Architects & Member & Member Council of Union of International Architects said, “Architects are taught from the first day in college that architecture is the mother of all arts, which gives us a sense of entitlement over other professions. But, there’s a vast mosaic of professions that are equally important.” that are equally important.”
Industry veteran Prem Nath, Founder & Principal Architect, Prem Nath and Associates added, “Architects are trained to be visionaries, but the clients – private developers or public organizations, more often than not have a shortsighted goal for the project. As a result, we lose the bigger picture of planning a city’s long term prospects. Moreover, architects are exploited for their talent with peanut salaries.”
RETHINKING SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
While, the role of architect should be acknowledged more strongly in the planning of cities, the design community too needs to be more proactive in its participation in community development. Voicing the similar sentiments, architect Anubhav Gupta, Business Head, Godrej Group’s Land Holdings (Vikhroli), Chief Design Officer & Head – Sustainability & CSR, Godrej Properties Limited said, “There seems to disconnect between architects, the design community and the industry. Cities are big economic engines because of their buildings and design. However, not just economic, but environmental and sociocultural reasons should all be factored in the worth of architects in the industry.”
Uma Adusumilli, ChiefPlanning Division, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) added that the problem stems from public perception as well. “The general perception of architecture right from the college is different from reality. If one wants to bring change, it must be brought from education level. Also, the common man’s participation in public projects is almost nil. The public is more focused on their own per square feet and basic utilities. So the discourse has to start from all the stakeholders.”
Shweta Shalini, Advisor for Maharashtra CM & govt. policy expert & ED Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation said, “Everything has to be market driven and that’s why it works. How much does a private builder value an architect? What value does an architect bring to a builder, and more importantly how much does that value translate to a customer? In India, people move in first and infrastructure follows later unlike other nations. The most important thing is convergence. Architects today take a lot of pride in copying western ideas, and hardly any research firms do visionary research to fill the gaps the Indian way.”
The discussion concluded on a cautionary note that the state has practically given up the idea of “an Indian architecture” as it had done earlier through government buildings inspired by regional architecture. Today, the corporate and developers are the chief patrons of architecture, which has somehow relegated the usefulness of architecture for the public.