Talks and Lectures at Archiprix’17

by Sarang Barbarwar
6 March 2017

.

.

.

.

Archiprix 2017 took place in India, at CEPT University with several events scheduled during the month of February.

Presented here is a keynote lecture by Rahul Mehrotra and three main input lectures by Bimal Patel, Neelkanth Chhaya and Jacob van Rijs that show the range and scope of the ideas presented.  Students and professionals who had converged from all over the world for the competition were able to open their minds to the ideas put forward.

.

.

Architecture in the Age of Inequity

by Rahul Mehrotra

.

.

“Crisis is an opportunity to reinvent what we are doing!”  - Rahul Mehrotra, Professor and Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Mehrotra has been continuously involved in various projects across the country ranging from the rejuvenation of Kala Ghoda area in Mumbai to Hathigaon in Jaipur. In his lecture, Mehrotra emphasizes how the urban elite in India is growing while the other half continues to struggle. Post liberalization, the kind of developments that have come up from private developers in the country are insulated from the larger context. This inequity has got a physical form which restricts the role of architecture to image-making in the globalized capital markets. Mehrotra adds that it is here that the profession needs to rethink. Spatial arrangements have a huge role to play. Architects should contribute to the world around through re-imagining these spatial possibilities.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project

by Bimal Patel

Rivers across continents have become a cesspool for effluent discharge and waste dumping. In this pitiful scenario of human negligence there have been few silver linings. Dr. Bimal Patel, principal architect, HCPDPM and President, CEPT University, reflected on his journey of heading the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project, Ahmedabad.

Conceived almost four decades back, this project had a diverse array of objectives to fulfill. The Riverfront had to become a city level public space as well as recharge the ground water level of the city. It aimed at creating cultural and trade opportunities while on the other hand it had to improve the city’s street network.  From environmental damage being done to Sabarmati to the challenge of rehabilitating thousands of slum dwellers; there have been recurrent concerns  in the venture. Dr. Patel explained how these challenges were addressed and a unique self-funded development was realized. He concluded on the note that the Riverfront Project was about – “Bringing the Sabarmati back to Ahmedabad and Amdavadis back to Sabarmati!”

Ahmedabad – A View from Below

by Neelkanth Chhaya

“Cities should be places that increase the possibility of conversation, creative work and growth of civilization” says Neelkanth Chhaya, architect and academic, who has served as a Dean of Faculty of Architecture at CEPT University. Having taught for almost two-thirds of his life, Prof. Chhaya has a unique perspective of cities around the world.

The State with its laws, the people and their beliefs bundled up with the market form a balance that makes a citizen act. Dominant states create imperial cities like Delhi and Calcutta while overpowering beliefs form the essence of cities like Varanasi and Allahabad.

Ahmedabad never had supremacy of an imperial regime or dogmas which form the basis of some other cities. It grew on its own because of its ‘Amdavadi’ traits. The ability to accept, adopt and adapt and a never say no attitude is unique to the city, a quality that made people come here for work and led them to settling their lives in the city. Prof. Chhaya describes Ahmedabad as “a city that requires one to shed their central vision and emphasize the peripheral to know more!”

Talk

by Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV

Jacob van Rijs, architect and urban planner from the Netherlands, has been engaged in the profession for more than two decades. Interestingly he has also been a winner of Archiprix 1990.

In his lecture he described his past involvements in India and abroad and the kind of learnings he has had all through these years. The current scale of construction in India is enormous, however much of it is repetitive and restricted in design innovation. Jacob shared his experience of working in India where he tried to break the trend in Pune’s Amanora City. He discarded the possible bunch of closely packed residential towers with typical floor plans. Jacob’s answer to the scenario was a flexible grid with varied floor plans clubbed in a linear form varying in volumes. These volumes with the collective spaces generate a new experience every time.

This desire to experiment with spatial experiences inspired Jacob to design an elaborate canopy in the Rockmagneten Museum for rock stars , the glass bricks for the Crystal House and so on. According to him there are a lot of challenges varying from cultural tastes to changing regulations; however, architects should continue to re-imagine, rethink and experiment with spaces. He adds “When buildings are used as a backdrop for pictures probably that is the moment you succeed”.

.

.