Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

‘Political parties are driving our land scams’

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An interesting retrospective in the too familiar arena of Indian Politics from Charles Correa .

This article is from the Tehelka Magazine, Dated Sept 13, 2008. Image via NATIW

Our cities are out of control. Literally. But there are ways of fixing them. Architect Charles Correa dissects how for ANASTASIA GUHA

Charles Correa, 78, architect, activist and pioneer in Third World urban planning, is also angry. At the systematic way in which political parties are destroying Indian cities; at the smug inefficacy of NGOs that are doing little to save them. Correa is well placed to know what besieges our cities. Among many things, he has been Chairman of the National Commission on Urbanisation as well as the Chief Architect of Navi Mumbai. Sitting now in his impeccable sea-facing flat on Nepean Sea Road, South Mumbai, he argues strongly for a complete overhaul in the way cities are managed. Civil society, he argues, can do very little except make a noise because no one izs answerable to them. A much more radical change is needed. Excerpts:

Why are land scams increasing in so many cities across India?
Because our political parties are using urban real estate as a prime source for finances. Of course, some money stays in some people’s pockets, but the engines driving this corruption are not individuals — they are the political parties themselves.

Like the SEZs in Goa? Yes, that’s a very good example. Goa, an honest society for hundreds of years, has become extremely corrupt in a breathtakingly short period — just over a decade. How did this come about — and so quickly? Individual corruption is not enough. No, the main actors have been the political parties — and their need for funds. So any local politician, especially an ambitious one, soon learns how to earn ‘brownie points’ with the party bosses in Delhi.

But didn’t this always happen?
No, right up to the late 60s, industrialists financed political parties (a pattern that might have started with the Birlas and the Freedom Movement). Then during the Emergency, someone realised there were much bigger percentages in defence contracts. In fact, those kickbacks are astronomical. But because the CMs of the states don’t have access to these funds, they have to exploit urban real estate. In the process, they are ruining our cities.

But why doesn’t the Opposition expose what is going on?
Because every political party needs all the money it can get — and they believe, quite correctly, that their time will come next. In that sense, Mumbai is like a great milch cow, waiting to be exploited. In fact, one of the biggest perks you get when you are elected CM is the opportunity to loot the principal cities of the state — with hardly any accountability. For instance, the CM of Maharashtra, who makes all the major decisions for Mumbai (eg, increasing FARs, changing landuse, etc), is not accountable to the people of this city — because he was not elected by them. He, and all the other members of his Cabinet, have been elected from some other villages and towns in the state. So they have no reason to pay any real attention to what the citizens of Mumbai feel. And the same is true of Bangalore and Karnataka, Chennai and Tamil Nadu, etc. And each state generates its own funds, acting as a ‘Profit Centre’. This has huge advantages for the CM as well. For as long he (or she) does not ask the Centre for funds, he can give tickets to his own chamchas. On the other hand, if he asks for help, then he will have to accept someone else’s candidates. So it’s in his interests to keep the system going.

But what about public opinion, and the role of the NGOs?
Did you know that India has the largest number of NGOs in the world? It’s a reflection of the frustration of the citizenry. But unfortunately, government does not have to pay any attention at all — because their re-election depends on other voters who are not concerned with this city. So for all practical purposes, our NGOs are just a form of cabaret, performing for the media — or perhaps for themselves.

How can we change this?


Continue reading the story at the  Tehelka Magazine.

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 26, 2008 at 7:59 pm

A man on a tree

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Mr. KP Singh from Udaipur is a delightful engineer with a gleaming Colgate smile. When his clients came to him with a plot of land with a Mango tree in the middle, he refused to cut down the tree and convinced the client to build a Tree house. The structure that developed around the tree is a series of small cozy enclosures, with branches jutting out from the walls around. The Tree itself is load bearing structure and the house is designed specifically to deal with the local winds.

“My name is KP Singh, Kulpradip Singh, this is the house which i built eight years back, It has become a place of inspiration for many to realise that the tree can provide them not only the shelter but also the pleasure of living with the living thing.”   –  KP Singh

Images Via Honda Drive Every Drop

Via Pardon My Hindi via Honda Drive Every Drop

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 10, 2008 at 12:30 am

Bangalore Express

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The Bangalore Express is a contemporary Indian restaurant in London with a very warm ‘Bangalorean’ ambiance so to speak, well Bangalore isn’t really the Garden City anymore. But, the concept behind the interiors is based on the concept of Bangalore – Garden City  and Express – Indian Railways.

Entrance is not too exciting, the restaurant sits on 103-105 Waterloo Road, with a few tables outside. But once you enter the restaurant it is a whole other world. The chaotic lines criss crossing over shades of green blending in with the timbers and furniture, gives it a urban-earthy feel.

Like the railway sleepers they have a scaffolding with a dining area on the top level. The customers sit in their little berth, crammed in for a more private conversation. Their menu offers a wide range of North Indian Food. Yes, i don’t understand how it makes sense at all.



This space is all about romanticizing India- Bangalore – Indian Railways. The language is clear – chaotic lines, earthy contemporary colours and crammed spaces between railways berth scaffolding. But the type of food offered is just disappointing.

Via The Cool Hunter

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 10, 2008 at 12:25 am

080 Transform: Contemporary Architecture Event in Bangalore

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Incite and the Gothe-Institut Max Mulller Bhavan, are organising a Contemporary Architecture Exhibition and event, collectively called 080 TRANSFORM.

Incite INClined towards Ideas Thoughts and Expression through (Contemporary Architecture)

The Event is aimed in informing people about the city of Bangalore and where it is heading in an architectural context. The exhibition is no restricted to the architects and designers but everyone who is interested in Contemporary architecture in Bangalore. I would recommend architecture students, developers and anyone concerned with Bangalore’s infrastructure and urban planning attend this event. There are limited enteries and works on a first come first serve basis.

080 TRANSFORM, with a strong design focus, has a multi-directional approach through the exhibitionand associated events. Projects built in the timeline of 1990 – 2007, that have consciously attempted to transform the built dialect of the city, are featured through panel displays. The exhibition presents forthcoming transformation ideas – explorations that are not yet realised, through models.

Click on the Poster to enlarge. –

There are three basic events spread out over the 10th to the 26th of October

Design Dialouge, Dialouges among architects and various professionals.

Design Walk of Projects, Tour of Projects with Architects.

Meet The Architects, Direct Conversation with Architects.

Some of the best Architects of the day will be presenting their work and Ideas at the venue. Including Aumitro Gosh and Nisha Matew from  MgA, Prof. AR Jaisim from Jasim FountainHead, Gayathri and Namith from GNA, V. Narasimhan  from Venkatramanan Associates and many others.

A detailed schedule of events and exhibitions can be downloaded at the Incite website or here.

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 9, 2008 at 1:50 am

Posted in Architecture, Events