The post independence years saw rise in state identity crisis and perhaps architecture found its new wisdom in seeking such political identity of independent state. The advent of various architects, studied and trained abroad helped in strengthening the wants of identity. The architecture envisioned itself to be responsible for nation identity as whole, subjecting its regional complexity far behind in such utopian thinking. The tag of third world was entrapped into the notion of state architecture coupled with mighty overcast of modern masters imaginations. The identifiable language that emerged from these legacies was seen in few architectural projects like Rajghat New Delhi, Gandhi Smarak Sanghralay, Atira Housing, IIT Kanpur, Dairy at Mehsana, Medical Research Institute, Chandigarh, Sri Ram Center New Delhi, TISS Mumbai and Rabindra Bhavan New Delhi. The architecture clearly marked the new archetypes for a society whose values were enmeshed into history & myth of thousands of years.
The brutal verdict of functionalism and utopia, overlaid with some regional relief was witnessed in advent of Louis Kahn in Indian architecture scenario. The architecture saw subtle and sudden relief from engraved brutalities of modernism. The methodical formalism and regional quality of Kahn’s work put new impetus in Indian architecture yet seeking for its identity then. The newly established architecture linage from Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Delhi, Chandigarh was something that put India into the global map of architectural innovation.
The year 1986 saw sudden change in what was termed as pan Indian architecture in practice and academics. The exhibition of VISTARA (expansion) rooted out the academics pedagogy of western modernity with non-manifested ideology of intuitive world, endurable images & experience of everyday life. The overlays of history and myth has changed the perception and expanded the boundaries of architecture. The VISTARA arguably challenged the notion of rationality of science and technology. The western domain remained busy with transformation of rationality and science with environmental issues while Indian sub-continent was still seeking the logic of metamorphosis of myth. The VISTARA exhibition opened up the new debate that architecture obviously needs to resonate the locale & it made it very explicit the overlays and its relationship within the constitution of history.
The project on social modernization and housing faced with stark brutalities of aesthetic cleansing project. The architecture of state is suddenly replaced with housing for state. The sudden shift also witnessed the wants & need of language to construct the housing typologies. The want of technology and seek for identities are two extremities that still not expanded till date into new variation. The academic pedagogy and practice suddenly finds new seepage: subject of city and nature. The incomplete project on modernism and industrialization/ De-industrialization of cities along with inner-city conditions, social housing and direction to the development has further eroded the sphere of architecture in this new obsession. The pedagogy with colonial mind-set, envisioned to have non-architectural dialogue.
UN-MESHED: The architectural question, often being trapped in two extremities in Indian context namely modern subtleties versus local sensibilities or modern sensibilities versus local subtleties. The catching sky is an analogy of myth that remains open ended without being subject to fetishism & objectification. The catching sky is an unwavering & stoic claim, that remains subservient to itself, leaving infinite possibilities of embededness. The Indian architecture is a tribute to the catching sky, it is not merely a transcription of history rather an analogy of open-endedness within. The catching sky is an artifact & memory together, transforming itself both as a object and subject. The catching sky that moves with us, that shapes us. The work of Indian architecture always remains in debt to the catching sky and the relationship that it has build with decisive intolerant modernity. The catching sky is a phenomena, a sense, a subtle order, and potential of infinite and latent finite of enduring meditative engagements within timeless architecture.
PHOTOGRAPHS CREDIT: MANOJ PARMAR ARCHITECTS