Tag Archives: Ranjit Hoskote

A tour of the State of Architecture exhibition

25 February, 2016
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IMG_0391 1. The exhibition highlights the key role architectural journals, books and magazines have played in sustaining the profession’s knowledge infrastructure.
IMG_0311 2. The exhibition asks and addresses the questions ‘Does architecture matter? Are architects still relevant in India, and can they contribute in any significant way to a nation-state and a society in extraordinary flux?’
IMG_0319 3. An impressive infographic guide maps with mustard, maroon and red dots, the changes in a number of spheres in the architectural profession between 1947 and 2016.
IMG_0318 4. We are pleased to report that Bombay is the most prominently featured Indian city in the exhibition’s ‘Book as Archive’ section, with publications Buildings that shaped Bombay (2000) and Bombay Planning and Dreaming (1965).
IMG_0339 5. The delicate Maulana Azad Memorial (1960) located between the Jama Masjid and the Red Fort in Delhi and designed by architect Habib Rahman. Many of the structures built in the early independence era have come under increasing threat, a recent article reports.
IMG_0350 6. The ingenious Hall of Nations (1971) at Pragati Maidan designed by Raj Rewal Architects, is another example of national architecture that is at the risk of being razed.
IMG_0383 7. On the top floor of the exhibition we get a sense of the challenges young architects face in India and their structural solutions to these challenges.
IMG_0369 8. These expanding and contracting vectors convey the foreseen and unforeseen challenges and rewards of the architectural profession today.
IMG_0373 9. ….and a reward in sight!
FullSizeRender 10. A photograph of the exhibition’s curators (L-R) Ranjit Hoskote, Rahul Mehrotra and Kaiwan Mehta, featured in the catalogue.

Interiors: Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall (1920)

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Esplanade Road.

‘The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India’ is an outstanding exhibition that surveys the state of the architectural profession in India from 1947 to the present day. It uses three historical milestones — Independence, the Emergency and Liberalisation — to chart the changing role of architecture in India over the decades.

On Level 1 of the Gallery we are made aware of how heavily the early nation state invested in architecture to articulate its aspirations and modernist visions. On Level 2, which moves into the 1970s, we find the state in a flux and the architectural profession operating separately with architects negotiating both tradition and modernity in their works.

On Level 3 we find India engaging in an increasingly globalised world of the 1990s and 2000s and architects exposed to a multiplicity of influences, trends and choices. Here the modern, post modern, folksy and subaltern all find room.

‘The State of Architecture’ is at the NGMA till 20 March 2016 and should not be missed. Follow the exhibition’s Facebook page for an equally impressive list of lectures and events to attend.

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A Tour of the People’s Free Reading Room and Library

19 January, 2016
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DhobiTalaoLibrary051. A staff member with a penetrating gaze and readers in the main reading room.DhobiTalaoLibrary022. Another staff member and readers in the newspaper section. DhobiTalaoLibrary033. A reader with an iconic Vithaldas Mewawala bag, bent over a newspaper. To his right, a marble tablet with the names of the subscribers to the Bombay Native General Library book fund of 1863. DhobiTalaoLibrary01 4. (L-R) Poet and cultural theorist, Ranjit Hoskote, and author and trustee of the Library, Jerry Pinto, examine a rare book.DhobiTalaoLibrary045. As she has always done. DhobiTalaoLibrary066. A bearded, smiling bust of Ardaseer Framjee Moos (1827-1895) commissioned by ‘His Friends, Admirers and Members of The Bombay Native General Library’.DhobiTalaoLibrary08 7. A bust of Nowrozjie Furdoonjei (1817-1885), ‘A Tribute of Respect and Admiration for His Lifelong Efforts in Promoting the Cause of the Social and Political Advancement of His Countrymen’, between student readers.DhobiTalaoLibrary07 8. A bust of John Harkness, Principal Elphinstone College, commissioned by ‘His Pupils, Assisted by the Leading Members of Native Community’, stands with its sideburns and nose dismembered.DhobiTalaoLibrary099. The marble top writing tables at the Library are mementos in memory of F. B. Khan. The monogram however reads MFK and we wonder if it stands for Memory of F. Khan.

Interiors: The People’s Free Reading Room and Library
Framjee Cowasjee Institute, oppoiste Kyani & Co., Dhobi Talao.

Everywhere in the People’s Free Reading Room and Library we are reminded of Bombay’s vibrant commemorative culture. Busts of local worthies, marble table tops and tablets, inscriptions on cupboards, all remind us that along with the famed philanthropical gifts of the city’s merchant princes, there were also more egalitarian and inclusive forms of gifting, in which an array of citizens could pool in their resources and commemorate a public figure.

Indeed it is this commemorative culture that makes the library a place by the ‘people’ and for the ‘people’.

Photos by Hashim Badani.

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