To quote William Shakespeare, “What is past is prologue.”
Honestly, is anyone is really interested in a prologue? Or with someone's past?
Every person looks at the present or towards the future and yet the past has a few lessons to teach.
I do not want to use this prologue to boast about my achievements but to share some thoughts that I had gathered in my years with architecture.
Years back, when I had stepped out of school, architecture was a profession primarily for the elite. Architects were either designing monumental public buildings or grand villas for the rich. The ordinary man greatly depended on the mason and the contractor to build his dream house.
I had always wished to serve the common man rather than a rich baron. It was with this inclination that I started doing more mass housing projects than some other architects of my genre. I started getting more involved with my clients and helped them to cut on cost without compromising on the quality of architecture.
The object of my designs was to cut down on negative and useless spaces, to increase the quality of natural light and ventilation, to have larger room sizes and yet have affordable pricing. A good architectural design with simple grids, continues beams, economical spans and a simple framing plan goes a long way in reducing the cost of the structure. An economical structural system is vital in affordable housing.
Personally, I was serving to my object to cater to the ordinary person. The promoter was happy as his projects were selling at a much faster pace. Clearly, architecture had reached the ordinary man and had escaped from the clutches of the elite.
The real estate boom brought with it modern construction techniques and equipments. The hand mix concrete is a thing of the past and batch mix plants are visible in even remote villages.
However, the boom in the real estate sector had it's own side effects. The masons and other skilled labour had moved on from towns to cities and from cities to metros, each time, leaving a huge vacuum in their field. The unskilled labour, in no time, filled this vacuum and graduated to become skilled masons. The quality of construction clearly suffered. I sincerely hope that some Polytechnic school starts a basic training for the skilled labour on the latest techniques of construction.
I plan to combine my skills as an architect and as a cartoonist for a guide book on some basic tips for construction. This website would soon feature a section on construction tips.
I have also been criticized to have been a party to the creation of one too many colleges. Education, and more so technical education, was the domain of just a few. Today, several colleges compete with each other to attract students to their classes. Quantity, some say, harms quality and most of these colleges do not have the same quality that colleges used to have when they were few in numbers. However, I feel this is just a transitional phase and the theory of 'the survival of the best' would ensure the rise in the quality of education. I am happy that the child of an ordinary person can easily get into one of the colleges that I have designed and serve the nation.
Each work of an architect is like a baby for him and like a mother can not discriminate between her children, an architect too can not pick his favorite building. But there are always a few buildings that an architect enjoyed designing.
I would always pick the auditorium that I had designed for my alma mater as my favorite. I wanted the person sitting on the last row of the fan shaped Audi to clearly see his son's face as and when he performed on stage. Also, I did not want a single black spot in the acoustics of the air cooled auditorium. Yet, I wanted all this at one fourth the cost on which auditoriums were then being made. I am happy that we achieved our goal and the all-time great gazal singer Jagjit Singh performed and appreciated it.
Which reminds me of something that has troubled me all these years. The works of an architect are always valued by the cost that it incurred. The more the cost the better the architect, while I believe that the architect's job does not end at the drawing board. He has to step beyond it, he should ensure that the cost is curbed and yet the quality is raised. Thus, as a protest, I refused and still refuse to add the cost to my list of projects. I believe that the built area is a much better reflection of the architect's calibre.
I found cartooning to be a good get away and for a brief while, I have enjoyed making cartoon strips for a local newspaper. These cartoons are being reproduced in the humor section of this website. Some of these cartoons are topical and may have lost their punch but I hope you enjoy them.