It was late afternoon when I got hauled into the office of Charles Correa on Mathew Rd, Marine Lines. A publisher had compiled a Spanish translation of his essays and owing to its success, they wanted its English edition published. Since I was over-seeing publishing at UDRI at that time became my responsibility that necessary done that a reprinting of his previous essays can be done. Correa and his entourage who worked with him were readily accessible therefore most of his stories about practice and his writings were common lore. Correa came with one of the clearest interpretations of defining an architecture for India and what made it possible was his writings. Though meeting him seemed quite inconsequential at that time in hindsight after almost 10years, I find this book of essays a benchmark to measure varying imaginations of Indian spatial practices. It's not because I had a minor role to play in its production but its aspirations from the time most of the essays were written in which is around the early 1980s have never been equaled yet.
Indian architecture, Architecture for India was defined in The Year of India for an exhibition organised by the French Government in 1985. It was a political construct to recognise the role the French had played through the work of Le Corbusier in India. Projects of the time were instruments by the government to give a newer image for its building practices. Large public, institutional building commissions are given to emerging Indian architectural practices who learning from the context and the world masters imported outlined a strategy for architecture in the country. Correa and the lot from that generation became masters who showed the way from what they had learnt to construct an architectural imagination to pass onto the next. Masters came from the tradition of craft, those who had certain skill handed it down to the generation after. Architecture ideally is transferred from generation to generation but if every generation must reinvent what it means to practice architecture what we are left with is a state of architectural practice in India today.
To sustain an architectural practice, or any kind of practice of similar scale, the first perquisite is patronage. Where does an architectural practice gets work from and how is that work validated. There are two main sources that form an impression of architecture in India which is Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture and Kenneth Frampton’s Modern Architecture. The imagination of Indian Architecture follows that tradition. It complies ideas of styles from a past to a recent position. Contemporary Indian Architectural history has remained it a Nation Building narrative and only those who’s buildings are published are ascribed into this narrative. Though his was almost accurate till about a decade back when the number of architects in the country was limited and predominantly there were a greater number of architects practicing and platforms publishing under the domain were those building buildings.