5 Reasons I See India’s Potential to Produce A Stararchitect

Stararchitect” conjures up a cloud of thoughts (Star architecture. Star power. Architecture as a symbol. The North Star for architectural design. Brand. Design. Fame. Architecture prowess. Household name.), but above all, I think of The Pritzker Prize. I feel like the weather channel for  announcing the next “big thing” in architecture is The Pritzker Prize. The weather channel is telling you “you better keep this in mind ’cause you’ll need that umbrella!” The Pritzker Prize is telling you “you better keep this name in mind ’cause you’ll need that knowledge to understand the state of the world you live in.”

Ningbo History Museum by architect Wang Shu

Ningbo History Museum by architect Wang Shu

2012’s Pritzker Prize Laureate was Wang Shu, a Chinese architect famed for his re-use of building rubble in his designs. Expansive facades feature roof tiles and bricks from the demolished village that previously existed on that very site. The Pritzker Prize choice of Wang Shu tells us:

1.) Sustainability is important. The reappropriated construction refuse reminds us of the Three Four Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It also reminds us that sustaining heritage and history is important.

2.) China is a powerful country with a powerful new identity. This is the first time a Chinese architect has been named. The closest the Pritzker has ever gone to a Chinese architect before was when I.M. Pei was recognized as a Chinese-American architect.

Detail of reused rubble in the facade of the Ningbo History Museum by architect Wang Shu

Detail of reused rubble in the facade of the Ningbo History Museum by architect Wang Shu

It’s rare to see a non-western architect. So I thought, has there been an Indian Pritzker Prize winner before?

The answer is no. (But I wouldn’t be surprised if Indian architecte Charles Correa is a nominee soon!)

While it may still be a long time before we see an Indian Pritzker Prize winner, I feel that India has the potential will definitely produce a stararchitect in the future. Here are 5 reasons why I see India’s potential to produce a starachitect.

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal by Charles Correa Architects, photographed by José Campos of arqf architectural photography

Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal by Charles Correa Architects, photographed by José Campos of arqf architectural photography

5 Reasons I See India’s Potential to Produce A Stararchitect

1.) Hinduism is treated as a way of life, not a religion.

The importance and reverence of nature in Hinduism as a way of life really rings true when designing for the 21st century. Instead of maintaing sustainability and resilience simply because an architect can no longer afford not to, an architect that understands the Hindu mentality would already have nurtured the innate importance of environmentalism. Some of the famous Indian architects that are recognized now– Sheila Sri Prakash, Laurie BakerCharles Correa— all deal with sustainable design and local sensitivities.

Hinduism and the environment

Hinduism and the environment

2.) India is a huge market. Now the world’s eyes are on them.

India is the second most populous country in the world and will soon surpass China and become the most populous country in the world. The growing middle class is creating a huge market. With this, more international interest will be on India, and with the world’s eyes on India, India will need to prove their modernity to the world. Often, when a coming out party like that is required, big name architects come in and give country its identifiable, iconic architecture.

Countries host  international events like the World’s Fairs (now the World Expo) and the Olympics to use them as a sort of debutante ball, presenting themselves to the world… often in the form of symbolic architecture. For example, the Eiffel Tower was designed for the World’s Fair of 1889 in Paris. Similarly, the Bird’s Nest was designed for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

"Hi mom! Can you see me?"

“Hi mom! Can you see me?”

3.) Indian designers want to be educated.

According to Urban Architecture India, not enough design schools are available for aspiring designers in India. It’s not a dearth of designers or interest, it’s a lack of schools and resources. These untapped potentials could all be India’s first Pritzker Prize winner.

There are only five to six good design schools in the country. Had the supply of experienced designers been enough, some of the top manufacturing companies of India would not need to hire design heads from abroad,” says Forbes Marshall director, Naushad Forbes, who is also a visiting faculty at Stanford. The Indian industry can meet just an estimated 10% of the demand for design professionals, as design schools take in only about 500 students annually.

Award-winning Load Carrier designed by Vikram Panchal, senior faculty at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad India

Award-winning Load Carrier designed by Vikram Panchal, senior faculty at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad India

4.) There are endless years of rich history and culture to draw from.

Working from precedents is highly important in the studio environment and with such a vast and diverse bank to draw from, an architect in India cannot help but be moved and inspired. Take for example, the musical temple in Hampi, where exacting measured columns form musical tones when struck. Or look back to the iconic Mughal architecture of centuries past– its most famous example, the Taj Mahal. Or draw from the rainbow cities of Rajasthan: Jaipur (“The Pink City”), Jodhpur (“The Pink City”), and Jaisalmer (“The Gold City”).

Musical pillars at Vitthala Temple in Hampi

Musical pillars at Vitthala Temple in Hampi

5.) Hurdles in urbanization, will require innovation.

When there are hurdles, innovation happens. In a country where metropolises and slums are growing uncontrollably and rapidly, city planning and urbanization phases must be implemented. Architecture can work closely with city-making. By 2030, affordable housing needs to increase 10 times to meet expected needs (source). This is a role in which architects can truly innovate and overcome a pressing issue with design.

Dharavi, India's Largest Slum at Dusk

Dharavi, India’s Largest Slum at Dusk

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India is a country that can inspire and produce its own Stararchitect. Beyond architecture, how has India inspired you?

One thought on “5 Reasons I See India’s Potential to Produce A Stararchitect

  1. Pingback: 5 Reasons I see India’s Potential to Produce a “Stararchitect” « Shilpa Architects Blog

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