India: Lack Of Professional Architects Causes Dismay And Concern

The article below speaks about the state of the profession of architecture in India. Some of the statistics are very startling and portray a very sad state of the profession. However a glimmer of hope for me personally is the mention of my alma mater Rizvi College of Architecture.

RCA has been mentioned as one of the three institutions in the country that are imparting a quality of education that is way higher that the generally dropping conditions nationwide.

Much of that credit goes to my Principal and Director Prof. Chauhan who is my professional guru. He has been at the helm of affairs since the start in 1992 and his unstinting push for a higher standard of education has spurred students and faculty to excel.

Saturday 03rd of November 2007 India has around 140 schools of architecture that produce about 4,000 architects each year. But only about 40,000 architects are registered with the Council of Architecture to serve a population of over a billion.

‘Since the number of architects is grossly inadequate, most of the architectural work in the country is carried out by non-architects: engineers or masons who double up as petty contractors,’ says a review of the profession.

Further, though architects like to consider themselves a part of the westernised elite transforming the country, their actual status in society as effective professionals is low, says one of a series of papers published in the latest issue of the German architectural journal Archplus, focussing on ‘India’s Insular Urbanism’.

This special issue was released in time for the Nov 1-3, 2007 Urban Age conference held in Mumbai. This conference was part of a series of nine being held between February 2005 and November 2009 in New York, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Berlin, Mumbai and Sao Paulo (December 2008) and Istanbul (November 2009).

Architect, urban planner and conservation consultant A.G. Krishna Menon contends that the advice of Indian architects is ‘routinely substituted by others who hold influential opinions about the architectural product, thus reducing the economic worth of architectural service in the marketplace.’

In India, engineers have greater authority in deciding architectural issues compared to architects ‘whose contributions are reduced to merely manipulating the facade of the building under construction’.

Menon argues that the ‘burgeoning of architectural schools’ in India over the past decade-and-a-half led to a ‘precipitous drop’ in educational standards, and the shortage of architects worsened the ‘debilitating colonial pedagogic agenda that imparts vocational training’.

There is praise however for some institutions – the School of Architecture at the Centre for Environment and Planning (CEPT) of the University of Ahmedabad, the Kamala Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA) and The Rizvi College of Architecture in Mumbai.

Indian architecture has also gained from some locally produced magazines like Architecture+Design published from Delhi and The Indian Architect and Builder published from Mumbai. Issues of sustainability and low-cost housing are more widely appreciated, says Menon.

Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs adjunct associate professor Jyoti Hosagrahar views Indian architecture and urbanism as a ‘failure’ to become ‘modern’ in European terms, and also its ‘failure’ to remain true to its inherited forms.

She points to problems in definitions, saying: ‘Fundamental to the emergence of modernity as a global project was Western Europe’s colonization of Asia and Africa.’

The Archplus introduction to this focus on India notes that Indian urbanism has gone through a range of trends – the mood of upheaval in the period after Independence, as reflected in Le Corbusier’s planned city of Chandigarh, along with many other public buildings and projects, the search for identity during the 1970s and 1980s, and the socio-economic impact of liberalisation during the 1990s.

Questions about urban planning were also raised at the Urban Age conference. Mumbai-based planner Shirish Patel said: ‘We have no planners in the city (Mumbai) any more. The government has dismantled the planning process. We instead have a set of development control regulations, which are laid down by the government.’

Urban Age sees itself as a ‘worldwide investigation into the future of cities’ and is jointly organised by the London School of Economic and Political Science, and the Alfred Herrhausen Society, the international forum of the Deutsche Bank.

Original article link here

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