“We are suffering from foreigner mania”

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From a private developer to a government official – everyone is giving
his/her projects to foreigners. We should curtail this phenomenon.

– Architect
Hafeez Contractor

In an interview with ACE Update, Architect Hafeez Contractor shares a different perspective to the smart cities programme. He also talks on why we do not have any iconic or great Government buildings post independence.

With a host of new smart cities coming up in the next few years, how do you see this as an opportunity for architectural firms?

Yes it is definitely a great opportunity for architectural firms. As far as smart cities are concerned I am not that much in favour of making 100 smart cities. I definitely agree when beloved Prime Minister said that we should make smart cities and more of an urban area. I would suggest that we should have only five or six mega smart cities and they should be connected to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai so that all the existing facilities and the infrastructure can be utilised and shared. If we make 100 smart cities they will be of what population? When we make a city from say 2 million to 5 million will it be able to hold such huge population and yet have structure of international standards. If you make a city for country like ours, say for a population of 30 million; they should be really dense. We should have infrastructure of the quality that can surpass cities like London and New York. If we start making small cities we are always going to be scrounging on what should be there.

We must realise that India is one of the most populated countries in the world. We have to conserve our land. By making so many smart cities we gobble up the most precious land which is next to a small town and which we want to make into a big town as well as we gobble up most of the farmland. We have to conserve the farmland because once we start becoming developed we should not have food as an issue. Next thing I would like to point out is that all the upcoming mega cities about should be at a place where water is abundantly available.

In addition, we are suffering from foreigner mania and blonde mania. From a private developer to a government official – everyone is giving his/her projects to foreigners. We should curtail this phenomenon – everyone has to be aware that we Indian can also do and are doing much better cities and projects. The government takes out tender conditions in such a way that there are no cities developed so why do they keep such tender conditions. We have designed projects as huge as having area 150-200 acres and they should consider we can also design cities.

What should be in the core of design process?
Design is a process and we do design for different people, at different times and with different requirements. The philosophy of design has to keep on changing and has to change to suit the client requirements. As an architect I firmly feel that taking only selected projects is not a good thing. That is just when you want to make a name for yourself. You should be able to take up any project with all different constraints and yet design a successful project.

Why we do not have any iconic or great government buildings post independence?
Since 70 years of post independence we do not have many great government buildings because we always go for the lowest and the cheapest bids which according to me should not be the scenario. The design bidding the lowest does not necessarily have a good design. So firstly we should analyse competitions and the person submitting the best design should be awarded the project.

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