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Architecture and Architects

I have not learnt architecture from any institution but experienced the subject of architecture and the effects of it in everyone’s life. I was exposed to this subject during 1965 – 70 because my elder brother was appearing for the exams externally at Mumbai, studying at home, a town 250 kms away from Mumbai. I was studding 11th year of Secondary School level with technical subjects. That created in me the interest in the subject of architecture.

1977, I left India in search of work and for job satisfaction. My photography and video skills helped me to get jobs of video recording for preparing the progress reports of large scale buildings. I could learn the process from conceptual design to actual construction of a building as per that concept. I came across the various aspects of conceptual designing of a large scale buildings, mainly user friendliness, selection of materials, vehicle parking spaces, approach roads, landscaping and the amenities. The architect’s conceptual design was further developed by groups of associate architects and expert in the respective field of services. They used to take special care for appearance of the building and its impact in the nearby area of the city.

For reasons beyond my control, I had to return to Pune, India in the year 2002. I started noticing the chaos in the city. I started discussing with my architect elder brother about the chaos. He expressed the difference in approach to the subject of architecture in India and abroad. He narrated shocking story of his personal experience from the year 1971 to 2002.

My brother got the Diploma certificate in Architecture (which was equivalent to degree in architecture)after successfully passing the Diploma Examination. in 1971 conducted by the then Directorate of Higher Arts Examination of the Government of Maharashtra. He started his practice from our home. He could get a first job of a single story house in 1971. As per the practice then in vogue, he prepared plans for submission to the municipal office with supporting document. He was told by the Chief Officer that the municipality required Surveyor for preparation building plans and only such persons be allow to do so within the municipal jurisdiction. To avoid the confrontation with the municipal authority, my brother obtained that Surveyor license by paying the license fee of Rs.5/- for a year 1971.

It is a fact that the word ‘architect’ or ‘architecture’ was not properly known to people there in year 1971. An incident, happened in year 2005, with one of his architect friend in Pune is worth mentioning here. The architect friend had prepared and submitted building plans of one his clients to municipal authority of a district town near Pune. After two months the owner called him and told that architect ” the building inspector” wants him to personally come and see him. The architect went to see the building inspector but there was a new person occupying the seat. The occupant got up and bowed down and said “Thank you, Sir. I am the new building inspector and do not know this job at all, for the last 15 years I worked as a driver garbage truck. Since this post fell vacant, I was posted till suitable person is appointed. Sir please tell me what I am supposed to do and where to sign. I do not want to do illegal job by taking money to pass the building plans.” This is the fault of higher authorities who failed to give him required training and then giving him that promotion.

In the year 1972, Indian Parliament passed the Architect Act. This changed the status of every architect fro that of a “licensee” to a full-fledged professional and was authorized to give “advice” or “prescription” to his client like a Doctor or an Advocate or a CA. In year 1975, the Council of Architecture started registration of architects any of the recognized qualification in architecture. Many architects failed to realized the change and the importance of the status as registered architect. The advice or prescription given by Doctor or Advocate or CA does not require approval from any public authority for validation; but the Government and the municipal authorities continued the old practice and subjected such advice of an architect to scrutiny and approval for every building activity even in any privately owned land, making land owner or developer to obtain permission from municipal authority and to pay fees for that permission.

The syllabus of architecture course has failed to create awareness amongst the students of architecture and also the general public about local municipal rules and the new status given by Indian Parliament to architects. This course has become one more field for job opportunities with wrong interpretation of freedom to use individual creativity in the field of building construction, town planning, landscaping, and beautification. Many architects are busy using their creativity in interior designing , making kitchen or bedrooms or living room furnishing and municipal permission agents for approval of building plans.

The municipal authorities are duty-bound to provide and maintain the roads, sanitation, drainage and many other public services. There are specific statutory provisions for smooth functioning of these services under their jurisdiction . The land owner or developer has to give notice to municipal authorities about his/her intent of such construction in his/her land as per the building bye-laws, for which the authorities may give approval, which is a sort of a “no objection” certificate. The authorities are not authorized to collect fine from those who fail to follow these bye-laws but to make sure the construction is made as per rules for safety and serviceability to every user.

In reality the authorities took bribe to allow any type of construction breaking the rules, politician used their pressure, authorities twisted the safety rules further, the muscle men used their power to get away from the safety rules and helped to increase the chaos of non standard building construction. I think this breaking of rules has the roots somewhere in so called freedom struggle by breaking British rules.

All these bending and misinterpretation of existing and non existing rules are used to increase illegal land deals, increased land prices, Land mafia and exorbitant price hike of residential / commercial space, for that encroachment on public amenities.

So called qualified / educated people and authorities failed to consider the rain water flow, drainage system, approach road standards, main traffic roads, number of vehicles on the road while allowing the development of the Pune city. The chaos has become standard to governance of any activity. To expect a system functioning normal or better is considered as abnormal to that standard.

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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Architects


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