The much-looked-forward to Rajasthan Architecture Festival 2023, held from 6-8 October at Jaipur’s Clarke Amer, set the city alive with its three days of back-to-back discussions and brainstorming sessions through the day, relieved by foot tapping music, sumptuous food, and a live wire audience in the evenings. A welcome dinner and a cultural evening with Rajasthani music by the well-known group Dunes of Rajasthan set the tone and spirit for the days to come.
Media Partner MGS Architecture presents highlights of the event

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)A Beacon of Hope: Inaugural Lamp Lighting of Rajasthan Architecture Festival - Second Edition

From 1000 participants in 2022 to 2000 in 2023

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF), an initiative of the Indian Institute of Architects (Rajasthan Chapter), was visited by about 2000 architects from within and outside India – a no mean feat! It brought together the architecture community on a common platform to share knowledge, engage with stakeholders, and showcase the latest building products and innovations in the field of design. The theme this year was ‘Architecture for a Better Future’.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Unveiling New Horizons with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony of Showcase Building Material Exhibition

Celebrating architecture and culture of Rajasthan

Workshops, Art Installations and Competitions, Heritage walks, Exhibitions, Cultural evenings, Sculptures and Paintings, a joust with polo players at the Polywood Polo Academy, Sufi night at the royal City Palace… RAF 23 was replete with learnings, entertainment and showcasing the cultural ethos of Rajasthan.

On display were works of prominent artists, namely, M.F. Hussain, Raja Ravi Verma, Jatin Das, Dharmendra Rathore, Bhawani Shankar Sharma, H.S. Raza, Krishen Khanna, T. Vaikuntam, Dileep Sharma, Pratul Das, and Hariram Kumawa. A workshop on design and build, provided insights into the practical aspects of computational design and building, highlighting the role of technology-codes (G-codes), materials, workflows, labour, sustainability, and outcomes in architectural projects.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)IIA Rajasthan Chapter Committee Standing Strong with Hon’ble Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, RAF’s core team Lights the Way

Chief Guest Rajeev Arora, Chairman RSIC, while inaugurating RAF 23 said that India was at the intersection of tradition and modernism wherein respect for the environment and our rich cultural heritage must remain the source of inspiration; and preserving both for our future generations must be our foremost concern. He laid stress on the celebration of creative collaboration, the critical cutting-edge aspects of architecture from sustainability to modernism. “Architecture is a legacy of Rajasthan. It is a driving force for bringing positive change with good dialogues and can be a catalyst for a better tomorrow.”

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Renowned Artist Jatin Das Inspires the Audience with a Captivating Presentation

Shaping the trajectory of architecture

Meaningful dialogues were held amongst panelists – experts in their related fields of work - on topics that ranged from trends and technology to sustainable architecture, Maths & Architecture and the Resultant Parametric Forms, Exploring Architectural Evolution From Havelis to High Rises, Intuition-based v/s Evidence-based design approach, AI a curse or a boon for Architects, Moving to Mars or Saving the World? New Urban fabric/ perspective of a futuristic city, Designing for a Generation of Women, Art in Public Spaces, Metaverse a fertile ground for Architects, Glimpses of IIA Rajasthan Building, and more.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Save Our City presents Art Vogue, an art exhibition with a spectacular showcase of creative expression at RAF

The unanimous opinion was that the Government and all the stakeholders involved in the built environment, including engineers, need to come on board. A reality check needs to be taken on why architecture is at the crossroads today: juxtaposing heritage and modernism in the realm of architecture.

Deliberations were held on current issues like urban transformation and challenges, wherein experts presented some solutions for the masses; how disruptive technologies are creating an impact across the world by touching all aspects of our lives, including architecture, which may change the entire pattern of learning and designing.

Some words of wisdom from actor and motivational speaker Ashish Vidyarthi

Life is an ocean of stories that play out in various platforms

Personal triumphs matter. The “What next?” thought is what motivates

Recognizing my X-factor and keeping my sparkle alive no matter what

The more successful we get, the more we are at the mercy of others

Don’t perform for others; do things for yourself

However big you become there will be someone bigger

Excelling as a creative being while jostling with a fast-paced world

Hungry amongst abundance

Take pride in what comes naturally to you.

Questions were raised on whether architecture be viewed as a luxury or a necessity and why it is not reaching the masses, despite architecture being one of the oldest professions in our country. Information was shared on the tangibles and the intangibles, the disaggregation of the future, collaborations and responses to climate change, and the urban fabric, wherein it urbanization was perceived as “actually de-ruralization by migration: the past departs in a rocket; the future arrives in a cycle”; hence, it is important to revive from the past.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Ar. Tushar Sogani, convenor of RAF honors the Keynote Speaker Ashish Vidyarthi with a token of appreciation

Prioritizing sustainable architecture

Panelists drew focus on adaptive reuse, creating community spaces, using materials from project sites, bringing in greenery in buildings with a green cover, ideating with new materials, creating net-zero modular buildings with vegetable gardens for a sustainable lifestyle. Due to increasing urbanization, shrinking spaces call for small, compact architecture, Bhiwandi near Thane was cited as a zero carbon city being built by the Maharashtra government.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)A vibrant panel discussion on the topic - Maths and Architecture: Resulting Parametric forms

Trends and Technology must be used judiciously

Panelists brainstormed on 3D Printing for mass housing and for making prototypes, Prebab Construction Technology, 5-Plane Prefab. Artificial Intelligence, Design Software, even ChatGPT. Discussions were held on data driven design parametric, and software that augments architecture.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Championing Creativity: Celebrating the Bright Young Minds of the Student Installation Competition

Trends reflect change and sometimes innovations lead to trends. There is a thin line defining trends. We start experimenting with AI, and then using it. And when it starts to go mainstream, it no longer remains a trend. Behavioral changes also lead to trends, for example, the preference for larger and wider spaces during the Covid pandemic. Covid 19 brought us back to the basics of living, where architecture is expected to be more eco-friendly, resilient, and sustainable.

Technology brings ease of construction and more modern solutions; it impacts architecture, new materials, and new applications. Architecture may be tech-rich, but it should be timeless since human needs come before trends or technology. Like in the past, we saw timeless architecture being created.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)A Sufi Night of Melodies by Sufiyat with Yashraaj in the beautiful City Palace

Is AI a curse or a boon for architects?

In an invigorating session on the role of AI in defining architecture of the future and on how AI can collaborate with other professions, panelists discussed the impact of AI on our lives and our growing reliance on technology. AI is all about data collection which the human mind cannot process. The discussions set the audience pondering on whether AI is a curse or a boon for architects? Can AI out-design architects? Since it will not be easy to analyze the amount of data on the solutions put forth by machines, will we need more data analysts than architects? We don’t know what good or bad AI will do in times to come. We already have machines that can design furniture. Will AI make use of robots in the future to create? Will AI control the narrative from the next generation?

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Walking Through History: A Journey of Heritage through Chowkri Modikhana

A slow life savours everything

Opposing views belied the importance being given to AI in view of the belief that design can input everything but not the emotional quotient of the client. How does the building respond to the client not becoming a slave to AI? AI is a tool for visual reference; it gives options, but the architect must remain the master. AI will give beautiful options in design, but they may not lead to the construction of functional buildings. So, AI should be embraced but not enslave us.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)A Thrilling Polo Match at Polywood’s Polo Academy

New fabric and perspective of a Futuristic City

This session put forth views on minimalism, living with less, co-living and sharing resources, building micro apartments for compact living, sharing of amenities, and modular systems that can be dismantled and reassembled.

Suggestions were made on downsizing living spaces, doing with less, moving away from the center of cities, reducing dependency on resources, going beyond the typical setting where land takes up more space, for example, downscaling units to increase balcony space, opening up living spaces, opening up walls to expand spaces, making buildings a part of the landscape. All this can be made possible, provided we are willing to live with the basics for which we do not need to be urban at all.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Exhibiting brands: The event saw new product displays and innovations by well-known brands of building product companies. They included names like Polywood, O General, Litomatic, Jaquar, KEI, Everest, Century Laminate, Dormak, Flokem, Kohler, Assa Abloy, and many more. Digvijaya Dhabriya, MD of Plywood (main sponsor of RAF 22), appealed for mass production of building products so that like China, India too could bring costs down and increase exports.

Different dimensions of the architecture profession

Can the architecture profession be restricted to designing alone or can it have other , new dimensions, was the question addressed in this session. The different avenues discussed were architecture journalism, public relations, research, and analysis. These were options for bridging the gap between learning architecture and practicing it. A balance must also be maintained between learning, technology, and business acumen since practice and pedagogy speak two different languages.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Hon’ble Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s Presence Elevates the Valedictory Celebration

Architectural writing opens up a whole new world wherein architecture as a field becomes more holistic, moves outside closed rooms and becomes more democratic. The career path of architectural writing can expand to journalism and curating. Emphasizing the importance of the written word, the panelist opined that the writer comes with thinking and communication skills, and the ability for interpretation and analysis - skills that every architect should imbibe. In conclusion, we must recognize, acknowledge, and encourage writing on art and architecture.

Grand Finale of RAF 23 highlights Hon’ble Lok Sabha Speaker’s Support to the Architect Fraternity and to the long-pending request for amendment to the Architects Act 1972

RAF 23 ended with a Valedictory Function honoured by chief guest Hon’ble Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. He assured the Rajasthan IIA Chapter of taking up their issues and concerns with the state government so that effective policies and a framework could be formulated for unhindered architectural growth and progress.

The 2nd edition of the Rajasthan Architecture Festival (RAF)Hon’ble Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s addressing the audience

What’s more, following an earlier discussion with RAF 23 Convenor Tushar Sogani, who had requested him that the fraternity had been long seeking an amendment to the Architects Act 1972, the Minister told the gathering that he would take up this issue and personally ensure that the changes would be taken forward.

RAF is fast emerging as one of the key platforms for architects to connect, communicate, learn, share, and advance in the field of architecture. Though only in its second year, it is already making a lot of noise across the world.