Speaker: Rahul Mehrotra
Lecture Title: Working in Mumbai
Rahul Mehrotra is a practising architect and educator. He works in Mumbai and teaches at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where he is Professor of Urban Design and Planning, and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design as well as a member of the steering committee of Harvard’s South Asia Initiative. His practice, RMA Architects (www.RMAarchitects.com), founded in 1990, has executed a range of projects across India. These diverse projects have engaged many issues, multiple constituencies and varying scales, from interior design and architecture to urban design, conservation and planning. As Trustee of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), and Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (PUKAR) both based in Mumbai, Mehrotra continues to be actively involved as an activist in the civic and urban affairs of the city. Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation and urban planning. He has written, co-authored and edited a vast repertoire of books on Mumbai, its urban history, its historic buildings, public spaces and planning processes.
Architects and Designers working in India are now dealing with an entire gamut of social, cultural and economic phenomenon that are molding the built environment at phenomenally rapid rates. In the process, the role of the professional architect has been marginalized – for within conventional praxis, the professional does not engage with this broader landscape but rather chooses to operate with the specificity of a site or locality and in the process often becomes disconnected with the broader context of practice. Thus our approach to Working in Mumbai has been to actually use the city and region of our operation as a generator of practice – as a way for us to evolve an approach and architectural vocabulary that draws its nourishment from a more elastic definition of the profession which sees multiple forms of engagement as being simultaneously valid in dealing with this kinetic landscape.
Working in Mumbai is unlike being based in other regional centers in India where the imposition of a region specific cultural agenda on its architects may demand that they conform to demonstrate their ethnic credentials through particular expressions of materials and form. However, Working in Mumbai, in many ways, thus far, is a guarantee to a degree of conceptual freedom, which permits a modulation of the traditional and contemporary, the local and global – in whatever permutation one thinks is appropriate. This intertwining of times, of attitudes, of the coming together and moving apart of the past and present – is what historically has created the urban kaleidoscope of Mumbai. Thus in our projects, the approach has been to abstract and interpret spatial arrangements and building elements from tradition while using a contemporary sensibility as well as building vocabulary. The attempt is thus to combine materials, to juxtapose conventional craftsmanship with industrial materials and traditional spatial arrangements with contemporary space organization. And to explore how architecture can be used as an instrument to resist the polarized conditions in our cities. In short, to give expression to the pluralism and dualities that so vividly characterizes the Indian Landscape.
CPD Credit Hours and AIA CES Learning Unit Hours are offered to members of the HKIA and the AIA.
This lecture is open to the general public.
The Fall 2013 Public Lecture Series are co-sponsored by “Ronald Lu & Partners (HK) Ltd.” & “Woo, Chow, Wong & Partners (HK) Ltd.” visiting lectureship in architecture.