How to build a country – in three easy steps

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How to build a country - in three easy steps
Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya
How to build a country - in three easy steps
Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya

Architecture isn’t always reckoned as a nation building enterprise, but a new exhibition shows us exactly how the Indian identity can be ‘constructed’.

At the entrance of Fort’s National Gallery of Modern Art, a hoarding in Devanagari scripts is attention stabbing. It reads, ‘Architects ko gussa kyon aata hain?’ The two-month-long exhibition titled The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India which opens on January 6 may not precisely answer that question, but its curators — cultural theorist and poet Ranjit Hoskote, architecture theorist and editor Kaiwan Mehta and renowned architect Rahul Mehrotra — chew over many such subjects, which invites the provocation.

Inside the rotund gallery, walls are dotted with info-graphics — the ratio of architects to people in India is 1:24,480; two in every five architects are women — and various confrontational questions like ‘Is the smart city a dumb idea?’, ‘Have architects lost touch with society?’ and ‘Is contemporary architecture just urban wallpaper to most people?’

So, what is the state of architecture today? “Terrible,” says Mehrotra and continues, “Good architecture is of course dependent on architectural talent. But more than anything else, it is dependent on patronage, articulation of aspiration, which it comes to represent. And the state of patronage is terrible.” […]

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