The name Mahendra Raj echoes the era of praxis that resonated largely the imminence of architectural engineering that dominated the post independence construction of modern India. His work comes along as didactic innovation in the field of civil engineering and architecture, which has responded the paradigm shift in architectural production as well as adopting the industrial culture of technology. The doctrine of utilitarian construction coupled with the compositional qualities of structure has history in his academic and experience of formative years working with masters.
He was largely known as engineer-architect, educated and exposed to modern means of conceptualizing architecture, primarily due to modern thought that were ready to experiment and innovate. Indian architecture has unparalleled epochal process of architectural engineering practice that enabled several and diverse architectural imagination. His practice was shaped by two large concerns, firstly the emerging trend of civil engineering practice as a reaction to altered imagination of what could be modern India, thus the edifice of modern representation was largely relegated to the emerging structural engineering practices (especially the engineers were the seen as an agent of change with respect to technology) and secondly, with his experience and as an individual predilection with respect to brutalist tendencies that allowed his practice to orient engineering response to the architectural imaginations or enabling architecture to liberate from cartesian system of production. His work showed the way to intrinsic relationship between rules of space and engineering possbilities. The brutal structural forms are not only determining the spatial quality but also the nature of enclosure systems through newer means of structural elements.
Historically there are times where structural engineering thought has dominated the architectural discourses by cult of individual practices, namely Jean Durand, Pier Luigi Nervi, Buckminster Fuller, Felix Candela, Fazlur Rahman Khan, Jacob Zunz and in contemporary times by Santiago Calatrava. It would not be any exaggeration to add Mahendra Raj into the list along with the structural practice that has profoundly influenced architectural practices emerged in modern India. He created the loftiness of structural engineering practice that resonates the culture of structural experiment with social and scientific utility.
Image Credit: Rediff.com India News
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