Today we confront an unprecedented rapidity of change in our towns and cities. The trends of change don’t look encouraging or promising even though so much money is being made and spent in the city. As cities grow congestion and pollution are rising. Water is becoming scarce. More time is spent commuting. Homes are becoming more expensive Half the citizens live in slums which suffer from terrible environmental degradation. The wealthy happily burn more and more fossil fuel in their air conditioned cars and buildings. The street and the market are no longer social spaces, they are becoming less safe, less secure, especially for women. Surely, the practice of Architecture has retreated from the city – with gated housing estates, malls and airports and even gated parks! Does the profession of architecture have a role in the making of the city? If it does have a role, what must the profession do to play its part? What is the role of academia in conceiving the future of our built environment as a collective enterprise? What is the role of research and experimentation in generating strategies to overcome the present disturbing trends? In this present context of rapid change, what indeed should be the relationship between academics and the profession? These are some questions that will spark a discussion with our two panelists – Brinda Somaya – a well respected practicing architect with a wide ranging practice and, Professor Neelkanth Chhaya who is one of the most experienced and learned teachers and academics we have.
What gets built in this decade – we will have to live with for a century!