architecture – / multiple media / in tempo & in situ / @aloknandi


This zone is a work-in-progress looking at some aspects of architecture(s) in India.

On a more general note, I am interested in “architecture as narrative medium” (ref. a.o. Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media, 1994, The MIT Press).

To think about modern architecture must be to pass back and forth between the question of space and the question of representation. Indeed, it will be necessary to think of architecture as a system of representation, or rather a series of overlapping systems of representation. This does not mean abandoning the traditional architectural object, the building. In the end, it means looking at it much more closely than before, but also in a different way.

The first contact with architecture in India was in 1989 – a project of book on the architecture of Calcutta, for the tercentenary of the city. The book did not happen, but out of the recce trips, I organized two exhibitions of photographs by Fabien de Cugnac, a.o. one in 1993, part of a homage to filmmaker Satyajit Ray; the architecture part was sub-titled “L’envers du décor” and was part of four exhibitions – in Homage to the film maker Satyajit Ray – in one venue (La Bellone), including the exhibition of photos Henri Cartier-Bresson in India.

Calcutta - Tagore House - by Fabien de Cugnac

Kolkata – Tagore House – photo by Fabien de Cugnac

In 2011, another architecture project – India-related – is taking place, in dialogue with CIVA, Brussels, and the Louvain Faculty of Architecture – LOCI St-Luc.

Asia Society, NYC, hosted an architecture-related event in summer 2011, with Rahul Mehrotra.

Architecture in India after 1990 represents a landscape of pluralism in an era when the state no longer feels responsible for projecting an image of progress through a built environment. Instead, the state uses statistical indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to express progress and status. Moreover, the period following 1990 overlaps with the liberalization of the Indian economy along with the glamour and the gloom that accompanies globalization. Rahul Mehrotra, Architect and Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, addressed the complexities of contrasting designs of architectural structures and their socio-economic implications in a conversation with Naresh Fernandes, Editor-in-Chief of TimeOut India.

During the program Landscape of Pluralism: An Illustrated Lecture on Architecture in India Since 1990, Mehrotra gave an overview of the themes that he explores in his latest book on architectural structures in the rapidly changing economic landscape of India. Corresponding to the new patronage and forms of wealth in the post-liberalization era, Mehrotra categorized architecture in India into four categories- global practice, regional manifestation, alternate practice and counter modernism.


More to come – and meanwhile some visualization projects can refer to projects such as :

Designing a Better Urban Future – New Delhi (Philips x Monocle)

In the past 40 years, India’s urban population has boomed by more than 350 per cent. It is set to reach around 400 million this year and projected to top 533 million in the next decade. Such rapid urban growth throws up huge challenges for planners and architects, but New Delhi is an example of a city taking control of its future development, with its ambitious Master Plan-2021. Through wide-ranging urban projects the city government is fostering new vibrant communities, while connecting modern Indians with the subcontinent’s proud history.

We will be drafting a bibliographic list.

In French, there is a.o. this book by Stefania Rossl:

Les architectures contemporaines: Inde, Mai 2010, ISBN 978-2-7427-9062-3

L’essentiel sur les édifices contemporains (1935-2009) les plus marquants qui font la singularité architecturale de l’Inde, entre influences coloniales et recherche identitaire, entre traditions locales et technologies avancées, entre inspiration orientale et développement économique.