‘Does Architecture Matter?’
State Of Architecture is a one of a kind three month long exhibition, curated by Rahul Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote and Kaiwan Mehta at the NGMA. The exhibition focuses on Architecture in India post Independence, it’s ambition, it’s relevance and the manner in which it is perceived.
The NGMA, by a gallery in itself is difficult to work with, with its half floors and differing ceiling heights, it tends to pose a challenge to general display and circulation through the exhibition space. However, state of architecture, has used the space to its advantage. The visitor enters on the ground floor, where through curvilinear surfaces and statistical data, he/she is completely immersed in the foundation of architecture and this exhibition. One finds themself surrounded by calculated facts and statistics over the years, based on architecture and its development post freedom. The visitor can also interact with magazines on one end of the ground floor, whilst being able to look up at the architectural texts and magazines that have been published over time.
If the fluidity and the articulate graphics on the ground floor weren’t enough, one moves towards the first half floor that covers the first twenty years of architecture post independence. Again, here the timeline was spread across a series of panels with essential information of each built form displayed. There were certain images, larger than others that encompassed the wall in entirety, built forms that were thought as those that created a shift in perception in relation to the Architecture in India. The next floor covers the next twenty years in a similar fashion. Here, one sees an ode to the ‘Vistara’ exhibition from the 80’s, one of the former, government sponsored architectural exhibitions in India.
Each space had customized furniture that blended well with the exhibition itself. Vibrant colors in different shapes and sizes allow the visitor to stop, sit back and take in the ‘architecture’ around them. The visitor climbs on to move to a more familiar understanding of the built form with more recent works and a continuous projection and seating space running through plans and sections of iconic built forms through history. One tends to notice this pattern in the display of timelines, each floor, each timeline having its own way of being read and interpreted, either along a wall, through panels and sections or completely encompassing the visitor as on the ground floor.
As one reaches the top of the NGMA, The Dome, he/she is surrounded by current projects that either have just been developed or are going to be developed. The periphery of this space is lined with origami. These informative foldable cubes, move forward and open up with sensors that now impact the visitor in his/her understanding of architecture today, encompassing our surroundings completely. Suddenly we see no timeline, no way of walking through the space and one can almost feel lost in this labyrinth consisting of panels and openings. The panels have windows that create this visual connection through the space. The visitor then notices the extent of the exhibition and a way of viewing every part of the exhibition.
State Of Architecture held numerous talks from various established architects during these three months and has definitely stirred up an interest amongst many in the field of architecture and what it stands for. Architecture does matter.