A juxtaposition of design and lifescape

Published: Jul 30, 2019, 17:59 IST | A correspondent |

A masterclass on architecture in context will explore the concept of Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

What is life without context? Meaningless, we say. And that's exactly what architect and urbanist Rahul Mehrotra is trying to explain in an upcoming Masterclass – on study of contemporary architecture and linking it to urban conditions in India. "As Architects we respond to the most obvious aspects of the context – material, physical location, and climate etc. But if we nestle the immediate context of our interventions in its broader, more fluid and often less tangible context of socio economic, cultural and political forces, we can push ourselves further to create responses that are even more grounded and productive for the communities we serve," he adds.

This could be rather complicated since we live in a globalized world with images, aspirations and influences that are fluidly traversing the globe. "We can't escape these as they also mould society's aspirations. If our buildings have to be relevant to the locality and finally to the society we serve, understanding the context of our operations is finally extremely critical," says Mehrotra who has written several books including Architecture In India since 1990.

In Mumbai, the need of the hour for design and by extension designer, architects, planners is to expand our horizons to make our urban system more robust. "Cities grow and evolve either by opening up new land for growth or recycling land within their domains. In both these processes, people are affected by these moves and must necessarily participate in order to safeguard their interests and ensure that the decisions made are sustainable. Without this engagement¬—as the saga with the mill lands has shown—land becomes an abstract entity little more than blobs of color on a land use plan, open to change and manipulation. Cities by nature are contested territories. Who commands what and how in a democracy is determined by who participates or does not participate in the process. It is here that it is crucial for a city to articulate a strategy for its growth and build a consensus for reflecting the aspiration of its citizens," he adds.

Mehrotra believes that Mumbai lacks the overall vision and articulation of the larger design aspiration and that the sense of the physical plant of the city and its metropolitan imagination is essentially lost. When society invests in designers and architects to imagine better spatial possibilities for the society, the task must connect design more meaningfully to the lives of the people – not just the rich but more critically the underrepresented. "Unfortunately, today most designers have become myopic in their concerns and are fetishizing design possibilities at the really small scale. We have to snap out of that preoccupation if we have to retain our agency as a profession in our society," he adds.

What: August 9, 5:30 PM
Where: Auditorium, First Floor, Godrej One, Phirojshahnagar, Vikhroli (E)
Entry: Register on www.indiaculturelab.org

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