The contemporary Indian architecture, experts say, has severed contacts with its traditional roots and has degraded under the shadow of colonial legacy. Patterns of architectural courses in India have made the subject comparative to engineering, with many people confusing civil engineering with architecture.
Architect Munishwar Nath Ashish Ganju said in an interview to HT on the sidelines of a conference on South Asian Vernacular Architecture (SAVA) on Sunday that contemporary architecture has not imbibed wisdom from vernacular or native architecture that was in tune with Nature.
“There are very few architects in India who are using elements of vernacular architecture in their designs. The harmonious co-existence of people with Nature for centuries had led to the flowering of region-specific architecture, which we now call vernacular architecture. But these days, we ignore it and straightway prefer concrete structure, primarily 2 BHK or 3BHK apartments in high-rise buildings,” said Ganju, who has been teaching architecture for over 40 years in India and abroad.
“As an expert, high-rise buildings and apartments are structures that have been cut away from Nature. There is little community connection in those structures, which is one of the major causes for various urban ailments like depression, hypertension or other psychosomatic diseases,” said Ganju. He added that vernacular architecture represents local cultural identities, unlike contemporary architecture which can be constructed anywhere and everywhere.
Jinan Kodappully, a teacher at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and Indian Institute Of Craft Design, Jaipur, said, “Traditional architecture used biological sensibility that is closer to Nature, while modern architecture uses intellect, which is more masculine and aggressive. This is why I say modern architecture is not kind to women and children. Nowadays, standing kitchens are about three-foot-high and children can no longer see what is cooking or happening in the kitchen space,” he said.
Architect, Prof AGK Menon, however said there is still room for promotion of vernacular architecture in South Asia. “Modern architecture is only 10 % of the construction in India and is limited only to urban areas. Vernacular architecture is a living heritage and not a thing of past to be preserved,” Menon said.