October 31, 2021 3:20:14 am
IN THE last 30 years, architect and urbanist Rahul Mehrotra, 62, has made Mumbai his inspiration, his canvas and his exploration. Mehrotra came to Mumbai from Delhi when he was 10, and, after completing his education at the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad (CEPT) and Harvard University, he set up his eponymous firm, RMA Architects in the city.
Since then, he has made buildings, written books, curated exhibitions and lectured on Mumbai and the lessons it holds for architects and urban planners.
Mehrotra and his firm are the focus of a new exhibition, “Architecture of Practice: Research, Reflections and Reformulatons: RMA Architects/1990-2020”, curated by critic Kaiwan Mehta, 46, managing editor of magazine Domus India. The exhibition opened on October 27 at Max Mueller Bhavan and will continue till December 31.
It brings together RMA Architects’ scale models, a timeline of Mehrotra’s evolution as an architect with Mehta’s annotations, and six recent projects, including Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Worli Samshan Bhumi and interventions at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS).
Mehta said, “We have always cursed architecture in Bombay, which may be true. Yet, there is a history of wonderful architects in Bombay, like Claude Batley, IM Kadri, Charles Correa and now, Rahul. Bombay has produced some of the best architecture practices that were housed and located here.”
Mehta first met Mehrotra a decade ago, soon after the latter’s book, Architecture in India Since 1990, was published.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a collection of 20 scale models of balsa wood, teakwood and trees shaped out of copper wire.
Made by RMA Architects for their projects, these miniature models are as artistic as they are functional.
Notably among them are those of CSMVS and the other buildings on its grounds.
Mehta said that for young architects and urbanists, the exhibition offers insights into the broader purpose of architecture.
“So much of architecture and design has just become about lifestyle. Architecture is not about fetishising some textile or wood, but how you make the world a better place to live in. So, whether you are doing an institutional project or a crematorium or a museum, at all points you are contributing to the cultural and social life of people,” he said.
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