Architecture’s stalwarts come together
Reinterpreting aesthetic sensibilities at the ongoing India Arch Dialogue
I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.” The timeless relevance of Le Corbusier’s statement becomes evident at the India Arch Dialogue at Gallery 1AQ, an ongoing exhibition of architectural drawings in New Delhi. The 19-day event, which started on 3 February, also has talks and presentations.
Organized by the FCDI (FCML Design Initiative), an initiative of the home décor company FCML, the exhibition seeks to bring architecture and its appreciation into the fold of popular imagination. “We wanted projects that reflect on today’s possibilities, that respond to our aesthetic sensibilities and reinterpret them in the current context,” says Verendra Wakhloo, a Delhi-based architect and the curator of the event.
The exhibition covers a mix of Indian and international projects, some that have changed cityscapes in the last few decades and some that are still in the making. British architect David Chipperfield’s design of the Mughal Museum, currently under construction in Agra, is on display, as is Austrian architect Wolf D. Prix’s plan for the Patna Heritage Museum. There is the emerging starchitect from Japan, Sou Fujimoto, who is showing Mille Arbres (A Thousand Trees)—a radical urban planning proposal to plant 1,000 trees above the busy ring road circling Paris. The late, legendary Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku stuns with its scale, as does Swiss architect Mario Botta’s India works, the Tata Consultancy Services offices in Hyderabad and Delhi. Among Indian architects, there is Ambrish Arora’s restoration of Baradari, an exquisite restaurant in the Jaipur City Palace, and Malik Architecture’s K-Lagoon, a residence in Alibaug that brilliantly utilizes traditional Konkan materials and techniques.
While the list is long, our absolute favourites from this exhibition are the works of Moshe Safdie.
The Israeli-Canadian-American architect’s first project—Habitat 67—established him as one of the most original thinkers of architecture. Built in 1967 in Montreal, Canada, it consists of staggered housing blocks arranged in seeming disorder. Stand facing it and an almost dystopic quality emanates from it. Observe it more closely, and you’ll find skillful configuration of density, privacy, open areas, and access to sunlight and greenery.
With Habitat 67, Safdie gave a lease of life and respectability to the otherwise sterile typology of prefabricated public housing. Ever since, the architect has built to break away from norms. Some of his most well-known works include Jerusalem’s Alrov Mamilla Avenue and Singapore’s Sky Habitat; his only project in India is the monumental Khalsa Heritage Memorial in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab. The India Arch Dialogue showcases sketches and photographs of it.
Built in 2011, the memorial, a sandstone structure, celebrates 500 years of Sikh history. It has magnificent swooping curves in stainless steel that seem to emerge out of the undulating landscape. There are five towers which house exhibition galleries, each representative of the five values of the Sikh faith. The memorial also contains libraries, reading rooms, an auditorium, and a 540ft-long bridge that extends over a 7-acre expanse of water pools and gardens, connecting the two extremities of the memorial.
The India Arch Dialogue 2017 is on view till 21 February, at Gallery IAQ, Qutub Minar Complex, Mehrauli, New Delhi. For more information, visit Fcdi.co.in.