Approaching the problem of building an integrated system of historically and socially informed architecture outside of the confines of the crisis,was well discussed in the panel talk ‘The Larger Purpose of Architecture’ organized by NITCO.
Featuring the stalwarts Bose Krishnamachari, K T Ravindran, G Shankar and Jaigopal Rao, Chairman of NITCO and moderator Vivek Talwar began a rather intriguing conversation about the larger purpose of architecture. The intention was to emerge with a discourse that would better influence the generation’s thought process, provoking innovation and ingenuity on their part.
When addressing the first question, which was to understand the larger purpose of architecture and design and what was the one thing that was going wrong; KT Ravindran remarked ‘One can see a larger purpose, it does not lie in one direction. It lies in many layers; in the layers of the environment, larger purpose of transforming society, transforming the lives of people and just the sheer measure of creating something that is beautiful. So there’s is an aesthetic, social, as well as a climatic purpose to architecture… That’s how space in fact becomes a transformative agent in society not just the materiality of walls and their appearance…but in the articulation of space that influences the larger purpose of social transformation…’
Mumbai skyline, cityscape
Addressing the honesty of architecture and juxtaposing it with the urban need for the society to engulf their spaces completely, the thoughts of G Shankar and Jaigopal Rao, echoed the issues of the present situation. How would one be able to connect with the larger purpose of architecture when the issue at hand needed a unifying force of understanding, social awareness, environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing architecture?
Bose Krishnamachari added ‘when we talk about architecture, the word itself sounds like a luxury. For me, architecture and design is not at all on the common man’s platter…Architecture should aim for a healthy atmosphere with an organic environment and responsible affability. We should be able to think of architecture as democracy…’
Kolkata flyover with traffic and the Victoria Memorial in the background
As the talk progressed, the issues addressed ranged vastly and often could not be covered in full depth, as the intensity of the subject itself requiredrigorous patience. Even if we, as an audience, begin to address the issues as a whole, we still arrive at the problem of unifying our present with our traditions, our past philosophies with the technological advancements of today, the concerns of the environment with the needs of the masses, and so on. The problem perhaps also arises with the discourse that must include better urban planning as a whole, or even doing away with what we know of urban planning and charting a new course. The talk itself was the beginning of many discussions that would help untangle the various problems being faced on ground and include a solution that may not be universal, but is certainly well informed and reflective of a new India.