Lok Jumbish - Sanjay Prakash

Architecture remains one of the most social-minded of our professions in the country – Sanjay Prakash

Lok Jumbish - Sanjay Prakash
Lok Jumbish - Sanjay Prakash
Project and Photo: Lok Jumbish, by SHiFt – Sanjay Prakash

Sanjay Prakash quotes on the role and relevance of architects today in the society: Below,

As an ancient profession, architecture was never really close to the general public. Works were commissioned by the rich and powerful and designed and executed by a class of professionals, which came to be defined as ‘architects’. One could have a benign elite or a self-serving elite, and that made the difference on whether the architect would be asked to execute public drinking water fountains or private mosques, respectively.

It was only after industrialization in the west and independence in India that there were a few decades of considering architecture as a service to society at large, and with liberalization and capitalistic market dominance, architecture has reverted to form: serving the elite, as it always did.

There are other professions that require large investments of capital and so are also controlled by the elite. Film-making comes to mind. However, in film-making, the revenue comes from the people at large and so it is controlled by popular, even populist, considerations. For architecture, the buyer of its products (especially after liberalization) is already petit bourgeoisie or minor elite. Except for limited examples in the public realm, no longer is it the case that the “people at large” pay for the product of architecture.

Yes, there was a time when architecture was brought onto service of independent Indian society, but that moment has gone, and so have all pretensions of serving the people at large. That moment was characterized by India’s tryst with the commanding heights of the economy represented by the public sector. However, both Indian society and Indian architects lost that opportunity to make a difference and that era ended amidst a dust storm of corruption and maladministration, near bankruptcy even. Could things have been different? Probably due to that era, it is still true that architects remain one of the most social-minded of the professionals in our country, and might lead a resurgence towards a balanced public policy that would respect markets and the people at large equally. 

Sanjay PrakashSanjay Prakash, B. Arch., A.I.I.A., is an architect with a commitment to energy-conscious architecture, eco-friendly design, people’s participation in planning, music, and production design.  Over the years, he has integrated all his work with the practice of new urbanism and sustainability in his professional and personal life. 

His area of practice and research over the last 34 years includes passive and low energy architecture and planning, hybrid air-conditioning, autonomous energy and water systems, bamboo, wood and earth construction, community-based design of common property, and computer-aided design. Under his guidance, hundreds of persons have developed capabilities in performing design, conceptual or management work in these areas.

He is Principal Consultant of his design firm, SHiFt: Studio for Habitat Futures (formerly known as Sanjay Prakash & Associates), and was a partner of daat and Studio Plus, firms that predate his current firm.  

His name and work is mentioned in the twentieth edition of one of the main reference works in architectural history, A History of Architecture by Sir Bannister Fletcher. 

3 Responses

  1. the class that you mention still has no clue of architecture …. beside thinking what it got from classified architects is a better bargain vlaue … as most under sell their skills … am one of them.

Share your comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


The Good, the Bad and the Aesthetic - Bhopal

The Good, the Bad and the Aesthetic

This essay delves into how municipal corporations envision creating Western cities (instead of responding to the Indian context) and end up creating cities that only appear to work, instead of actually being more socially inclusive, dynamic and publicly active. The Smart Cities Mission then caters only to the rich and this becomes evident in not just the visuals they use, but also the manner in which they describe their vision of a World Class Infrastructure. This essay by Avani Mittal is amongst the shortlisted essays.

Read More »
Source: Author

Chabutra As Thresholds To Effective Placemaking

The essay discusses the past, present, and future of the Chabutro’s in Ahmedabad from the author’s perspective based on their time spent there. Chabutro’s serve as markers and play a significant role in placemaking. The essay emphasizes the importance of Chabutro, highlighting the connection it holds for a potential future as a new wayfinding tool. This essay by Prakriti is amongst the shortlisted essays.

Read More »


ArchitectureLive! is hiring for various roles, starting from senior editors, content writers, research associates, graphic designer and more..