The eighth edition of the ‘Think Turf’ series witnessed reputed names from the design fraternity discussing the values of architecture, business practices and ethical expertise in one of India’s fastest-growing cities, Guwahati. Their first-hand experiences and ideologies were particularly explored as a means to understand the business aspect of this professional field. Roca, a pioneer in the manufacturing industry, in association with ITP Media (India), called to order an open forum to establish a proactive dialogue between the speakers and delegates present.

Ajay Gupta, executive director at KGD Architecture, set the tone for the evening with his keynote address that touched upon several contentious yet indubitable issues connected to the profession. Gupta mentioned that, though the architectural business was all about designing a building according to the client and usage, “the usage impacts the architecture vocabulary, city’s context and sustainability aspects that are involved. However, many a time, we are forced to only cater to the requirements, rather than having a vision of our own.” He also highlighted that “infrastructural development is an architect’s way forward, but one has to be careful of the nuisance and unfriendliness towards living standards created with this development.”

Following his thought-provoking address, Mayuri Saikia, marketing head, Roca Bathroom Products Pvt Ltd, gave a short speech about the products and brands that the com-pany offers, the professionals associated with them and the global spread of Roca.

Commencing with the panel discussion, the panel members were first asked to look back on their initial years in architecture and share the experiences of their first project. The architects cheerfully took a trip down memory lane.

The first question posed to the architects sought solutions to overcoming basic challenges – such as conflicts or differences with the client or application of byelaws – during the initiation and working of a project. Banka emphatically stated: “The architect has to be confident in explaining to the client about what is right. A bigger challenge that we face currently is the incorporation of Vastu Shastra.”

Taking this subject further, Sen remarked that, as a nation, we do not comply with rules and regulations. “Particularly in Guwahati, byelaws came into existence only a few decades ago. By that time, half of the damage was done.” He mentioned that Gupta’s’s keynote presentation extended views and provoked many questions in his mind, including how the slum-like situation of the North-Eastern region can be back-tracked or rectified.

When asked about the preference for international designers and architects when it came to projects in India, Rittick opined: “India has a confusing architectural language of its own. Once the client and developer understand this language properly, they will directly come to Indian architects because we have expertise in Indian architecture – by understanding its climatic challenges, contextual requirements, etc.”

With a large group of stakeholders coming into play (including a number of consultants, facility managers, project managers for the various verticals of the projects), the delegates were eager to know how the architects synergised the process into a smooth flow. To this, Ranel rightly said, “According to the Council of Architecture, the architect has to provide ‘Comprehensive Consultancy Services’ in which one has to be knowledgeable and aware of all the services related to the facility and operation. Any designer who is true to the profession can master and manage it.”

Another topic that was taken up for discussion revolved around regional architecture. With the growing influence of the West, the local identity and vernacular design of many cities in India are starting to disappear.

Taking this point forward, Luiet shared, “Regional architecture has to evolve with time, and technologies have to be incorporated gradually to keep up the practicality and aesthetic quotient. It is not impossible to design a modern building topped with characteristics of regional architecture.”

The audience then actively shared ideas and cleared their doubts in a vibrant conversation with the enthusiastic panel.

The enlightening evening came to an end, shaped by varying perspectives and insights. Saikia, on behalf of Roca and ITP, offered a memento of appreciation to the panelists. Closing the forum with high spirits, Subimal Mukherjee, general manager (East), Roca, thanked the speakers and audience for their participation.

Author : BY SHRISTI NANGALIA

ARCHITECTS ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES IN THE PROFESSION FOR AN EVOLVING CITY LIKE GUWAHATI

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