Shaping and designing urban India

“The X-factors in the profession [architecture] remain the quality of education and research and development,” says Ar Jit Kumar Gupta
Since India is adopting a policy of globalisation, liberalisation and opening of economy, we are going to witness major growth and development in urban areas. In an exclusive interview with ACE Update, Ar. Gupta shares why there are enormous opportunities of planning, designing and research in the art and science of shaping cities and designing state-of-the-art buildings.
Architecture in present IndiaArchitecture is known to be one of the oldest professions in the human history. Over the centuries, profession has evolved and grown in intent, content and scope with the fast-changing human needs, rapid economic development, fast-changing technologies and innovations made in the search for new building materials.
Profession of architecture has its prime focus on creating quality built environment. Built environment has now been recognised for its impact on environment, ecology and sustainability, not only at the local level but also at the global level, due to large consumption of energy and non-renewable resources besides generation of waste. Accordingly, it is now being increasingly recognised that profession of architecture needs to be leveraged to make buildings which are highly sustainable, least consumers of energy and generators of the zero waste. Profession of architecture has also showcased that buildings designed by architects can make value addition not only to the city but also in promoting human efficiency and providing higher quality of life. Increasing recognition of role and importance of creating green buildings has also given added impetus to the profession. In their endeavour of providing quality built environments, cities like Chandigarh and Delhi have mandated that all buildings should be designed by the qualified professionals.
Next 5 years will witness major growth and recognition of the profession in the country. The profession, which is considered to be elite and remain confined to the boundaries of larger metropolises, has also started getting recognition in small and medium towns and rural areas. Increasing access to the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has helped in creating awareness among people about the role of architects as a professional distinct from engineers in creating built environment.
With India adopting a policy of globalisation, liberalisation and opening of economy, major growth and development is going to be witnessed in urban areas. India is also treading on the path of rapid urbanisation with 10 million people being added to urban areas on annual basis. Studies made by the McKinsey Global City, in respect of future urbanisation in India, has reported that country will need to add 700-900 million square metres of built space to its cities every year (equivalent to creating a city like Chicago), to meet the needs for human living, working and leisure of increased urban population.
Accordingly, architects will have much larger professional opportunities. With the government launching the programme of developing 100 smart cities, these cities will provide opportunities hitherto not known to the profession. Recent announcement made by the government to provide affordable housing for all by 2025, by creating 26 million dwelling units, will add a new chapter of opportunities and recognition for the profession. Promoting skill development by creating state-of-the-art institutions like IIMs, IITs, SPAs and numerous universities, which are likely to come up in the country for higher learning will open numerous windows for the profession of Architecture. Considering the fact that Indian urban growth and development story has started unfolding only recently, its impact is going to be showcased in the urban centres in creating more variety of state-of-the-art buildings with large footprints, providing enormous opportunities for architects to demonstrate their professional skill, expertise and knowledge.
Growing opportunityAs a professional engaged in consultancy and academics, Ar. Gupta feels the emerging local and global scenario offers enormous opportunities of planning, designing and research in the art and science of shaping cities and designing state-of-the-art buildings. Creating smart cities provide both opportunities and challenge to the architects, planners and professions of architecture and planning to search for appropriate and innovative solutions to create new breed of cities and buildings which provide new dimensions to human living, working and leisure. Creating affordable housing on a massive scale will create a paradigm shift in the designing of the residential buildings which architects have been designing so far. New housing should be planned and designed as cost-effective, energy- and resource-efficient structures without compromising with the quality of life and quality of spaces and built environment. There are a lot of value additions in the domain of planning, designing and managing new cites with appropriate framework to create sustainable buildings besides enormous scope for research and development.
X-FactorsThere are large numbers of factors governing the quality of profession of architecture which include the quality of education, research and development, professional ethics, sincerity, commitment, service delivery and quality of professionals. However, the X-factors in the profession remain the quality of education and research and development. Historically, all professions have survived and grown purely on the basis of quality of professionals serving it. Quality of professionals is determined, primarily and essentially, by the quality of people joining the profession and quality of education imparted. Unfortunately, in the profession of architecture, quality of education has emerged as the major casualty with large-scale commercialisation of architectural education.
A number of architectural institutions have mushroomed in the country (387 in 2014). Majority of these institutions suffer from faculty, both in quality and quantity, with the result majority of institutions are imparting education by proxy. Further, the faculty available is fresh and raw with no teaching experience. Even students joining the profession, in majority of cases, are left over from engineering and other profession. With increasing intake granted on year-to-year basis, quality of education has emerged as the major causality. In the prevailing circumstances, it will be critical to look at the entire gamut of architectural education, quality of intake and quality of education imparted besides promoting research and development to make sure that profession of Architecture provides highest quality of professional input and output to serve the people, community and nations to make this world more cleaner, greener, sustainable and liveable. However, role of professional as well as academic institutions and council of architecture will be critical to maintain the quality of profession.
Achievements in 2014During 2014, Ar. Gupta had the opportunity of closing the “Review of Master Plan of Srinagar-2031” for the state of Jammu and Kashmir as the Senior Advisor for the SAI Group of Ahmedabad. Year 2014 also marked the conclusion of the “Draft Master Plan Chandigarh-2031” as an expert on the project. During this year, syllabus and course contents for the under-graduate level architecture were finalised as the Chairman of the Board of Studies for the Punjab Technical University. In addition, a number of research papers were prepared and presented in the area of smart cities, designing green and intelligent building, promoting sustainable transportation and planning in the north-west states of India.
Expectation in 2015The year 2015, Ar. Gupta sees a year of opportunities in the realm of planning and designing smart cities, in the academics, both as an advisor, teacher and researcher for the post/undergraduate courses in architecture and working on different areas of research in planning, designing and management of human settlements and built environment. He looks forward to 2015, as year of great learning, value addition and education in the domain of architecture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *