India is both a land of ancient culture and a major society of the modern world. However to the rest of the world the issues of poverty and overpopulation, as important as they are, have precluded the appreciation of certain areas of achievement. One area that is often overlooked is the work of India's Architects.
Comparatively little has been published about design activity in the developing world. The limitations of a developing economy can actually result in a creative response rather than a constraint on architectural solutions. India ranks amongst the largest construction markets in the world. While perhaps much of this construction is a response to rudimentary needs, it has generated an inspired and compelling architecture.
Ritual, religion, and living craft tradition descend from a cultural heritage of genius and beauty. These traditions are a perennial source of inspiration to architects who attempt to embody, identity, and find meaning in the design of new buildings.
This is often a subconscious link and exists in many of us. The other part of the challenge for practicing Architects in India is the dependence on a labor-intensive building industry. Mechanization and prefabrication do not yet compete on a cost saving basis with the sheer abundance of manpower in India. Technical backwardness is one facet of the remarkable presence of the past in modern India and the building process today maintains an almost ritualistic link with the heritage of skilled craftsmanship, high quality building stone, and the availability of other traditional materials.
So where do today's Indian Architects fit into all this? Many have lived and trained in the west and are committed to the planning principles of modern architecture. They use archaic techniques in their work, often giving the buildings a visceral quality of execution. Apart from the planning and building process...