Working in Mumbai - The Recent Works of RMA Architects, India

Fall 2014 Student Lecture Series: Rahul Mehrotra

Working in Mumbai - The Recent Works of RMA Architects, India

© Boston Architectural College; Video by: Matt Gelineau

November 12, 2014

Abstract: Architects and Designers working in India are now dealing with an entire gamut of social, cultural and economic phenomenon that are molding the built environment at phenomenally rapid rates. In the process, the role of the professional architect has been marginalized - for within conventional praxis, the professional does not engage with this broader landscape but rather chooses to operate with the specificity of a site or locality and in the process often becomes disconnected with the broader context of practice.

RMA's approach to Working in Mumbai has been to use the city and region of operation as a generator of practice - as a way to evolve an approach and architectural vocabulary that draws its nourishment from a more elastic definition of the profession which sees multiple forms of engagement as being simultaneously valid in dealing with this kinetic landscape. Thus in projects, the approach has been to abstract and interpret spatial arrangements and building elements from tradition while using a contemporary sensibility as well as building vocabulary. The attempt is thus to combine materials, to juxtapose conventional craftsmanship with industrial materials and traditional spatial arrangements with contemporary space organization and to explore how architecture can be used as an instrument to resist the polarized conditions in our cities. In short, to give expression to the pluralism and dualities that so vividly characterizes the Indian Landscape.

Rahul Mehrotra is Professor of Urban Design and Planning and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design. He is a practicing architect, urban designer, and educator. His firm, RMA Architects, was founded in 1990 in Mumbai and has designed and executed projects for clients that include government and non-governmental agencies, corporate as well as private individuals and institutions. The firm recently completed a social housing project for 100 elephants and their caretakers in Jaipur as well as a corporate office in Hyderabad and several single family houses in different parts of India. Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on issues to do with architecture, conservation, and urban planning in Mumbai and India. He is a member of the steering committee of the South Asia Initiative at Harvard, and curates their series on Urbanization. He currently is leading a university wide research project with Professor Diana Eck, called The Kumbh Mela - Mapping the Ephemeral City.