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Architecture for Infrastructure

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Prof. Charanjit Shah spent his childhood with his family in the refugee camps of Purana Qila in Delhi fighting the odds to rehabilitate themselves. He had never imagined himself as an architect. It was only during the course of his education at School of Planning and Architecture, that he was inculcated with the passion for architecture which inspired him to follow the footsteps of great masters. Today, as the Founding Principal of architectural firm, Creative Group in New Delhi, Prof. Shah has been instrumental in creating sustainable built-forms through his understanding of the materials, innovative construction details, critical structural analysis and other elements of applied architecture.

We nArchitecture as a profession has been constantly evolving ever since I have come to understand it. There is much more competition, especially with the need to match up to global standards. However, I think that we are still at an infant stage of infrastructure. We have yet to learn to work in a holistic manner. All our departments are working in isolation, resulting in shifting of issues. We also lack a holistic design and planning approach. The overall road map of planning is not visible. Either the issues are not properly addressed or there is a lack of practical and actual feasibility studies. Perhaps, we believe more in global experts and imported professional expertise than complimenting Indian experts and work out our Indian Infrastructure. We try to imitate the West and follow the same blindly. Even though we have created the best of Metro and road infrastructure, our cities are still choking and our roads are cramped. It is perhaps the beginning towards learning to create global facilities.

Creative Group has won over eight consecutive national/global architectural design competitions including the global competition for the Chennai Airport. Our global associates were pleasantly surprised to see our professional work culture and how a small team of architects delivered global professional standards. In fact, small architectural firms can professionally deliver their services for larger projects provided they are fully equipped with a good team of sub consultants and a professional approach and ability to catch up global matrix of deliverables.

Architectural Education

we need to redefine our methodology of architectural teaching. In today’s context of single window delivery, the architectural education also needs to inculcate the discipline of finance as well as construction and project management along with physical and environmental aspects of the built-form. We need to give proper attention to various other elements of applied architecture other than the design studio to generate leadership qualities. This could be achieved if the education gears the future architect for providing professional timely delivery.

During my teaching at various schools of architecture such as the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi (SPA), Vastu Kala Academy (VKA) and Department of Architecture in Jamia Millia Islamia, it was observed that the students somehow neglected the education of various elements of applied architecture. Perhaps due to a stereotyped curriculum and methodology which is only limited to copy-paste of a few age-old books that are still being referred. Therefore, the curriculum of architectural education has to be at par with today’s global context. If the Council of Architecture acts sensitively towards this issue, many knowledgeable authors could develop various books/literature on important subjects regularly so that the students are routinely updated.

Infrastructure Design – Learning and experiences

India is fast developing and cities are growing in multi-layers. The parameters of architecture practice have grown many a folds in terms of urbanization, scale and growth.

In today’s global knit context, is the architect to lead or to be led? All of us need to re look and penetrate into various aspects of challenges which the profession is facing. The overlapping roles, professional clashes between the architects and the engineers in terms of understanding and visualization need to be addressed. With my two sons, Ar. Gurpreet Shah, Principal Architect heading the design team and Prabhpreet Shah, Executive Director, Business Development and Project Management, our firm has strived to provide end to end single window consultancy for smart urban development.

There are changing lifestyle, mode of transportation, and deficiency of urban land. The entire parameter of practice of architecture needs to be re-looked, adapting to the realities and necessities of the day for a pragmatic approach towards the design issues. Our firm, being a part of the audience as well as the performers, aims to satisfy both the compulsions. Such as in one of our institutional projects, GEMS School, Kochi – dubbed as the “first smart city school for the smart city of Kochi.”

Working on mega infrastructure projects for the past so many years, we have learned that larger projects do demand a better interface between planning, management and administrating the same in a channelized manner. Inter-ministerial, inter departmental and inter professional connectivity in overall visualization of a project calls for command of professional leadership and skill to visualize, conceptualize and implement the project. For example, during the execution of Chennai Airport mega project worth `2015 crores for the Government of India, we learnt the hard way, how to face the bureaucratic, political and professional hurdles and get the project into a practical shape.

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