Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has declined to participate in the competition to design the new Andhra Pradesh capital of Amaravati, following which the state government has contacted US-based architect Frank Gehry to come on board.
Gehry, along with British architect Norman Foster and Italian-British architect Richard Rogers, will now be the contenders to build the Amaravati capital complex, which will include Raj Bhavan. CM secretariat and high court besides guests houses and infrastructure.
Gehry’s famous designs include the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; while Foster’s Reichstag restoration in Berlin and Gherkin building in London are iconic. Rogers changed the way museums were perceived with the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
A two-day pre-jury interaction in Hyderabad on Friday had Foster and Rogers accompany jury members with state officials to the site, after discussions on the brief and the timeline for the complex. The Asian jury comprises Delhi-based urban planner K T Ravindran and Pune-based architect Christopher Charles Benninger besides architects from Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.
“This is another golden moment for Indian architecture, similar to when Le Corbusier was creating Chandigarh and Louis Kahn was creating the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad,” said Benninger.
On Indian architects taking umbrage that they were not invited, Ravindran said, “I don’t believe there is Indian architecture, there is only good architecture and bad architecture. Foster, Gehry and Rogers are global architects. Their projects are iconic across the world. When Charles Correa or Raj Rewal build in Portugal, we feel proud about it. We don’t ask why no local architect was invited.”
The brief for the competition mentions that the complex should be a “people’s capital”. Ravindran said that currently over 3,000 people arrive every day to see the site where the bhoomi puja was held. How this idea is interpreted will depend on the architect.
“Each of these architects will work with Indian firms. There will be an immense amount of knowledge transfer… These architects are Pritzker Prize laureates, the architectural equivalent of the Nobel prize. We must celebrate that the best of the best are ready to play on our soil,” said Benninger.