The ‘Architect’ in Architecture
The ‘architect’ has evidently lost the authorship and exclusivity s/he once possessed—an observation that might be visible not only, but in the profession worldwide. Today, the collaborative role of architecture instead rests on developers, clients, various consultants, and foreign firms, somewhere subduing the voice of the architect.
Speaking for the profession in , it is imperative that the role of the architect be acknowledged more strongly, especially in the planning of cities. The government’s massive Smart Cities Mission, which aims to develop 100 sustainable and citizen-friendly cities all over the country, has done very little to include architectural voices into the conversation. Same goes for our heritage structures that are being replaced by modern structures despite resistance shown by architects.
As a result, architects are making efforts and are regularly creating platforms that can give way to solutions to better architecture. Practitioners such as have begun to assume the role of activist. In addition to certain professional bodies like the Council of Architecture, Institute of Architects and Institute of Interior Designers, a lot of cities have very active architects’ groups who meet, interact, disseminate, and share their views on the profession and issues surrounding it.
Numerous international architecture conventions are also creating opportunities of increased visibility. Here, major discussions on burning topics such as sustainability and the green movement, integration of urban planning and architecture, and the role of architects in the planning of cities, are being explored. These conversations about how architecture professionals can better society are also beginning to include conversations with planners, governmental bodies, environmentalists, citizens and psychologists.
Women’s participation in the field is definitely growing worldwide, but particularly so in , where they are contributing to architecture and planning in a myriad of ways and are holding authoritative positions. This is a far cry from the gender-biased profession architecture was in even a decade back. Needless to say, on many forums, it is the women who are initiating changes.
The Need to Look at ‘Cities,’ Rather than just ‘Buildings’
Many of India’s major cities are experiencing issues of infrastructure, basic planning, and sanitation, though they receive little attention. While smaller cities are proving to be great examples, there is still a need to look at urban planning from scratch. India does have a few architects such as Christopher Charles Benninger, whose focus has been to integrate architecture and urban planning. Numerous architects in the country have realized that working in silos and for their own buildings alone might not work. Many are beginning to look at the larger picture within their cities, and rather than focusing solely on individual projects, are seeing the need for architecture to engage with cities.