Every Architect Should Contribute In ‘Nation Building’
Ar. Habeeb Khan
Council of Architecture
The Council of Architecture (COA) was constituted by the Government of India under the provisions of the Architects Act, 1972, enacted by the Parliament of India.
The Act provides for registration of Architects, standards of education, recognized qualifications and standards of practice to be complied with by the practicing architects. Ar. Habeeb Khan, President of the Council, shares his views on the current architectural scenario in India.
Civil Engineering & Construction Review: What does it mean to be an architect today?
Habeeb Khan: Architecture is a very responsible profession. The output of an architect, be it in any related specialised field, defines the quality of life of its users. The biggest responsibility of today’s architect should be to help and support ‘Nation Building’. Architectural profession plays a crucial role in the development of a nation. ‘Nation Building’ doesn’t only mean architectural development, buildings, projects or infrastructure
development; but also encompasses moral and social development. Architectural education teaches and instills these fundamental values, and we architects should not only imbibe these in us, but contribute substantially in helping our nation develop and build strong foundation for our future generations. Today’s architects also need to be more sensitive towards sustainability, a long term vision for our planet earth and the legacy that our future generations will inherit. In addition, they need to imbibe the concept of contextuality in their work.
CE&CR: What is the need of the hour in the field of architecture?
Habeeb Khan: The need of the hour is for a sensibly-built and ecologicallybuilt contextual architecture. The architects need to understand the basic
concepts of genus-loci, climate, geology, sociology, geography, economics and other allied fields to produce sensible architecture. There is a need to work for the common man, contribute substantially to mass urban housing, rural development, upliftment of the downtrodden, and contribute and help the government and other allied agencies to carve a better India.
CE&CR: What are your thoughts on architectural education?
Habeeb Khan: The gap between architectural education and practice is increasing by the day; it needs to be bridged. Without going into the reasons of the same, we need to bring about a turn around in the quality of education being imparted in our schools. There is also a need to, not only grow vertically but horizontally: architectural education needs to strive to be at par with development in profession for the output to be market ready. Not only this, our education system, process and pedagogy has to be equivalent and also better than international education systems.
CE&CR: In your opinion, what are the key issues, challenges and emerging trends in architecture in India vis-à-vis global trends?
Habeeb Khan: There are many fronts on which we are lagging internationally. We need to arrive at parity - legally, constitutionally and equitably, and raise our professional and academic standards to meet global challenges. ‘Trends in architecture’ is a very delicate term- better not be used. The so called trends are responsible for the decay in the quality of architectural output that we see not only in our country but internationally as well. Architecture is serious business, if I may say so. The architecture that we produce shall be more humane, sensitive, should cater to the people it is being built for and respond to the context it is being built in. Succumbing to the temptations of the western world, iconic symbolism, senseless so called inspirations and economically unviable architecture is to be avoided at all costs. This is the greatest challenge faced by Indian architects today.
CE&CR: What are the best technologies emerging in India for architecture? Out of these, which are the most promising and relevant in the Indian scenario?
Habeeb Khan: There is nothing like best or bad. Technology has to be only ‘appropriate’. Moreover, there can be no ‘most promising or relevant’ in any scenario as a blanket or generalised statement.
CE&CR: As the President of COA, what changes do you strive for?
Habeeb Khan: Oh, there are many.
- The 47 years old Architects Act needs to amended, to keep in tune with the changing face of the profession and education.
- Administration of the council has to be transparent, effective and inclusive.
- The development of the profession has to be all inclusive and should consider the entire country in totality. It should also meet the aspirations of the government policies.
- There are innumerable issues faced by the employed architectsincluding government, private or employed by institutions as teachers. We need to look into the issues being faced by each.
- The future of the young graduating architects needs to be looked into and support needs to be extended to them so that they are able to establish a foothold in the profession.
- Working closely with the state government and central government for easy facilitation of issues and understanding the policy framework affecting our profession.
- Reforms in the education sector.
- Reaching out and shaking hands with all parallel, affiliated and allied organizations.
- Procurement of architectural services and streamlining the process along with equitable implementation throughout the country.
- Creating awareness in the society about architecture and the role of an architect.
The road map is quite clear and sorted out. Let’s hope we are able to achieve most of it.
CE&CR: It is common to see foreign architects working on prestigious projects in India. What would it take to start the reverse trend?
Habeeb Khan: I have mentioned earlier that we not only need to upgrade ourselves in all respects but also sort out certain policy matters, and sign few accords and treatises, at the government and the COA level. But apart from this, there are many private practitioners working abroad and doing quite good; all of us need to learn from their experience
CE&CR: One final question, what is your dream project?
Habeeb Khan: At the moment, the dream is to work for our profession and contribute whatever best I can through the COA.
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