Architectural Voices of India by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta

Apurva Bose Dutta
Bengaluru-based author and award-winning architectural journalist, Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta brings together luminaries of the architecture fraternity, for a discourse on architecture and planning in India, its evolution, and a sharing of their journey in the field. The diverse voices of architects Karan Grover, Brinda Somaya, Hafeez Contractor, Shiv Datt Sharma, Christopher Benninger, Ravindra Bhan, Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel, Raj Rewal, Prem Nath, Sandeep Khosla, BV Doshi, Sanjay Puri, Sonali and Manit Rastogi, Jasbir Sawhney, Sanjay Mohe, CN Raghavendran and Kamal Malik celebrate the diversity and the spirit of architects and architecture in India.
Some excerpts from two chapters of the book:

In Pursuit of Nirvana: Christopher Benninger
Architecture in India

Apurva Bose Dutta (ABD): Are there any revelations of Indian architecture that are noteworthy and have caught everyone's attention?

Christopher Charles Benninger (CCB): I feel Indian architects have recently come to grips with the fact that there has been a gap in our history. There have been lost periods during the early invasions, colonial times, after Independence, and now with globalization. These times saw traumatic disruptions in our cultural continuity. Suddenly, India finds that it is the oldest civilization in the world, and simultaneously, the newest society. We have had to reinvent ourselves suddenly. But this loss has been a long process, and rediscovery is a long and continuous process. In fact, all societies need renewal and self-discovery. In that sense, we are path-setters.

Architectural Voices Of India
But ours is not a loss due to stagnation. Rather, it is a loss due to disruption; multiple disruptions over centuries. There is an innate search for meaning, and for identity, a desire to prove that we in the sub-continent are different-not only in India, but in the vast erstwhile colonial world. We all struggled against waves of disruption; against colonialism, government regulation and the abrupt invasion by globalization. All these disruptions displaced our primordial roots, which lurk within our spirits, and we are trying to reconnect with them. I feel that "reconnect'" is what Indian architecture today is all about. But it is not about kitsch or ethnic architecture or decorating buildings with religious motifs. It is deeper within the nature of our culture and the way we live.

Architectural Education: In Need of an Overhaul?

ABD:Your contribution to education has been immense-from establishing prestigious institutions, to being on the board of governors of several, to designing world-class campuses. What do you feel is missing in architectural education today?

CCB: What is missing in architecture, as a whole, is a grounding in the fundamental problems of urbanization and objective reality. There are no courses in the social sciences imparting a knowledge of and promoting sensitivity towards the Indian people and the real stresses they are under. We are not addressing the crises of the urban masses who have no hygienic and humane shelter. Our educational practices are deepening this gap.

Flash Forward

ABD: There are lots of intentions that can be realized through architecture. How do you want your practice to make a difference to Indian architecture in the coming years?

CCB: I feel that architecture remains the "mother art", and that it allows humanity to have a direct interaction with culture and what we call civilization. Architecture, in the larger sense of space-making, urban ordering and logical planning, is what brings people together to employ logical and rational decision-making as democratic groups. This is the essence of civilization. This is how societies have matured and evolved into higher and higher states of existence. One of our intentions must be to create public spaces that attract people to come together for peaceful, intellectual dialogues.

Another intention must be to create beauty in the putative sense; create a sense of wonder and a realization that human beings are evolved, logical, magical, rational and poetic creatures. If one visits Madurai and other Chola temples, one realizes that mankind has an intelligence and a degree of magnanimity that is a gift beyond the natural world. One realizes that people or humanity is special. At such times of realization, people experience existential moments of ecstasy, and know it is great to be alive, to be a human being and to work for other human beings. This is called being civilized.

Spiritual and Progressive: Kamal Malik
Of Inspirations, Ideologies and Determination

ABD:Your approach to architecture is scientific, spiritual, philosophical and ecologically oriented. Your design concepts are known to be strongly influenced by yogic ideologies and your early years in the Himalayas. Please elaborate on this inspiration and approach to design.

Kamal Malik (KM): My childhood in the pristine environment of the Himalayas, my wonderment at the miracle that is nature, and my introduction to the books and teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda had an indelible impact on my life and my thoughts. The deep connection that I have with nature was made possible because of this spiritual master.

I realized early that the frontiers of finite knowledge are reached very quickly, and then begins the journey of understanding and incorporating the intuitive and the infinite. This inner journey of self-realization culminates in the attainment of sanyama or balance-total inner silence, the absence of duality. It is beyond all theories and concepts and what we call conventional knowledge. Embarking on this journey leads to an inevitable re-analysis of one's beliefs. This creates a sense of detachment-not to be confused with insentience or apathy, but rather, the separation of the observer, the witness.

There is a possibility that this inner journey will influence what we do. I have tried in my own way to bring that sense of silence, serenity and even joy (that is, my experience of this thought process) into the realm of the people whose habitat I am designing.

We are blessed to be born on hallowed soil with tremendous depth of philosophy and thought. Marrying this spiritual foundation with a robust assessment and incorporation of essential design elements, such as climate, environment, social factors, function, local building materials and techniques, sustainability and ecological sensitivity, results in architecture that is dynamic, transformative, yet contextual to the region that it has evolved from.

Architectural Education: In Need of an Overhaul?

ABD:How would you describe the present status of architectural education of India?

KM: Poor, miserable and thoroughly inadequate is what comes to mind when I think of architectural education in India today. The curriculum is fixed, fossilized and anachronistic, and only serves to stunt creativity of any kind. During my school and college years, educational content, as well as the vehicles for disseminating this content, were wonderful: it was natural, afforded more latitude of thought and expression, and was not stressful. It was also much less myopic; we were learning so many diverse things. At SPA, we had faculty from all fields-IIT professors, famous doctors, artists. Our learning was experiential and tactile, as well as didactic.

Architecture in Changing Times

ABD: Your works have been characterized by a fascination with local materials, local crafts and sustainability. If you compare the present to the past, how different is the interpretation of the concept of sustainability in architecture?

KM: Sustainability as a concept incorporates a lot of common sense. Let me give you the simple example of our ancestors: they used to cut trees, make their houses out of bamboo and thatch, and burn the wood in their houses to prepare meals. They built courts to allow the sun to penetrate, kept smaller fenestrations on the south-west side and made more windows on the northern side. The materials they used were the ones available to them-clay, laterite; they couldn't travel 500 miles to go to a cement plant. These are basic things, and this is absolute sustainability.

I can, however, count on my fingertips the number of people who can understand and appreciate Laurie Baker's works today. Centuries of spiritual and empirical knowledge documented by our ancestors languishes, while superficial ratings such as LEED have taken centre stage in the discussion on sustainability. Most of the LEED projects today are, in my opinion, inadequate because they lack a common-sense approach to the subject.

Note: 'Architectural Voices of India' is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK. More information on the book is available on; the author can be reached at

Exotic Luxury

Jinal Shah, Director, Mint Homez, is bringing to life her visions of interior design that are closely aligned with sustainability and creativity in every possible way What is the USP of Mint Homez? Mint Homez was started in 2016 in Pune. The brand is an extension of Furnitech, the largest manufacturer of upholstered furniture in India. It offers an amalgamation of art, quirkiness and off-beat designs that can be seen in our couches, armchairs, recliners, consoles, and in our furnishing of... Read More ...

Embodying Natural Elements

Designed by Salient, Club Montana Vista is an amalgamation of hospitality, functionality and picturesque beautySpread across four acres and circumventing the Shivalik mountain range, Club Montana Vista in Siliguri is conceptualised as a clubhouse. Amalgamating hospitality and landscape design, the resort is sited in a humid, sub-tropical climate zone in the picturesque mountain ranges. The client brief was to create a Vaastu-compliant building consisting of 25 clubrooms not exceeding 50,000... Read More ...

Ar. Jabeen L Zacharias - A multi-faceted artist

Ar Jabeen L Zacharias is the first lady to be selected President of IIID, the apex professional body of Designers, Architects and related Trade in the country. Along with a new Executive Council, she will steer the Institute during the next two years. She brings more than three decades of architecture, planning, project management, consultancy and training to the position. She has held leadership positions both with the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) and Institute of Indian Interior... Read More ...

Pool House: 42MM Architecture creates an environment for well-being

Pebble in the Grass The design inspiration of the pool house by 42MM Architecture lies in creating meaningful environments that enhance the feeling of well-being The unique and quirky pool house breaks many conventional architectural ideas with a bold design and an unusual execution. Conceived as a standalone structure, it complements the existing house, without replicating it. It accommodates a consolidated entertainment zone with a home theater, lounge, pool, changing room, a gym, and two... Read More ...

Space Craftt Architects build a cottage atop a steep slope

Rugged Beauty Space Craftt Architects build a cottage atop a steep slope with panoramic views of the valley and mountains Fact File Project Name: Hill House Client: Yallappa A. Patil Site Area: 10000 sq.ft Built Up Area: 3500 Sq Ft. Location: Fort Panhala, Dist, Kolhapur Architect: Space Craftt Architects Project Team: Ar. Umaesh Raje, Ar. Sachin Pande Interior Designer: Space Craftt Architects Landscape Designers: Space Craftt Architects Structural Consultant: Sunil Desai MEP Consultant:... Read More ...

Ar. Ujjval Fadia designs a modern farmhouse

Weekend Getaway Fact File: Project Name: Weekend Home Location: Bavlu, Ahmedabad Site Area: 4880 sq.yd Built Up Area: 700 sq.yd Architect: Ar. Ujjval Fadia Team: Ar. Ujjval Fadia, Ar. Mitali Shah, Id Sejal Patel Interior Designer: Ar. Ujjval Fadia, Sejal Patel Landscape Designer: In-house Structural Consultant: Er. Nitin Patel, Maruti Consultants MEP: In-house Civil Contractor: Dharmendra Patel Project time taken: 15 months Cost: 2, 05,00,000 Photo Credits: Subhash Patil Material Palette... Read More ...

Architect firm Saransh uses rustic materials to re-create a tactile apartment

Homely Textures Architect firm Saransh uses rustic materials to re-create a tactile studio apartment in AhmedabadFact File Project name: MD Apartment Location: Ahmedabad Gross Built Area: 725 sqft Architecture Firm: Saransh Completion Year: 2019 Photo credits: Ishita Sitwala, The Fishy Project Material Palette Kitchen Appliances: Siemens Bath Fixtures: Kohler Lighting: Flos Flooring: BFT In stripping the space bare, there was a conscious decision of making it minimal and at the same time,... Read More ...

Studio Svarup Architects' design celebrates rural life

Celebrating Rural LifeFact File Location: NH24, Azadpur Mafi, Distt. Amroha, UP Built up area: 1,500 sqft Site Area: 20 acresClient: Anekant GroupArchitect Firm: Studio Svarup ArchitectsPrincipal Architect: Arnav MathurTeam: Divyaa Saxena, Siddharth BansalConsultants: Sudhir Banga (kitchen)Awards: Winner Architecture Ideas 2.0 at FoAID 2016, Winner A’Design Award 2017 Studio Svarup Architects’ design of the Enroot Restaurant captures the spirit of the rural landscape through the grains,... Read More ...

Green Building: Design Consortium designs India's first 5-star SVAGRIHA rated residence

A Sustainable ApproachDesign Consortium designs India’s first 5-star SVAGRIHA rating residence in CR Park, New Delhi Awarded as India’s first residence to achieve a 5-star rating by SVAGRIHA a TERI and GRIHA collaboration, the form of this 8100 sq.ft house is achieved by staggering and stacking, in order to maximise diffused light. SVAGRIHA is a simplified rating and audit process for green homes.The design, based on principles of green architecture, is punctured with fenestrations to reduce... Read More ...

Castles in The Air by Ar. Sangeet Sharma

ISBN: 978-1-945563-85-0Publisher: RumourPages: 234Paperback ExcerptsLaughter is said to be the best elixir and the book is a satire on architecture written by one who knows the bricks and concrete of the profession by heart. The author delves into the journey of a professional practice with wit and acerbic humor. Every scene unfolds like a screenplay, leaving the reader amazed with the brutalities of life in architecture, and life itself.The book is not for architects alone; but also for... Read More ...

Trends 2019

"Future of the building material industry is very optimistic, especially for safe and environment-friendly products," says Ashwin Reddy, Director, Aparna Enterprises, while giving a perspective on the construction activities in the real estate sector Demand for energy-efficient, environment-friendly, sturdy, light and safe products will continue to be strongAshwin Reddy According to industry estimates, the building material industry is currently valued at $126 billion, employing around 40... Read More ...
Ravi & Nupur Architects

Ravi & Nupur Architects

Ravi & Nupur Architects is a design consultation firm, established in 2009, headed by Architects Ravi & Nupur Jain, with the aim of design of built environment that prioritizes the occupant’s need & quality of life in coordination with social & natural environment.Ravi & Nupur Architects is a professional architect and interior designing firm, based in Jodhpur. The firm was established in 2009 by Ar. Ravi Jain, now principal architect, in 2009 and later joined by Ar. Nupur Patwa in 2013,... Read More ...
Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas studied at the Architecture Faculty of the Universidad Iberoamericana. He has made an enormous contribution to architectural development and style in Mexico, improving the environment and quality of life for users. His professional life, with over 30 years of experience as an architect and developer, has been highly prolific, with approximately 180 projects designed, over nine million square meters constructed, and around 2.5 million sqm developed.Sordo Madaleno has won... Read More ...

The Material Palette

Interior designers and architects are experimenting with a host of building materials, from the traditional to the most modern, to offer infinite interior design optionsCompiled by Seema Gupta Interior spaces in India have never been so uniquely designed and furnished. Along with the new products in the market, the age-old traditional time-tested and eco-friendly materials continue to find favour. According to Sachin Gupta of Beyond Designs, home decor is the best way to inject your... Read More ...

Greenbuild India

One of our main focus is preparing for the next 20+ years and sustaining LEED’s explosive growth trajectory. So, in the last few years, we have shifted our vision to prepare ourselves for the future, writes Mahesh Ramanujam, President & CEO, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI)More than 20 years ago, the USGBC started as a vision; today, it is an unparalleled community of sustainability-focused and like-minded people responsible for anchoring one of the... Read More ...
Ar. Hiren Patel

Ar. Hiren Patel

In my architectural practice since 1989, I have gone through several ups and downs, small ones and big ones... growing with every challenge... adapting to prevailing conditions to tide me through the worst crisis. This journey has taught me through wonderful experience to introspect about the intricate idiom with ease.In my quest for excellence, I have poured into my work passion, commitment, wholehearted enthusiasm, hope and my energy and I hope to maintain such a level of integrity and... Read More ...
MGS Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

New Building Material & Construction World

New Building Material & Construction World

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week