CoA MAP Committee Member Architect Salil Ranadive on the Manual of Architectural Practice and the Urge in Architects to produce Good Architecture
November 04th 2022, marked the first day of the first edition of the Lucknow Architecture Festival– the build expo’s first scheduled event was the formal launch of the Council’s Manual of Architectural Practice (MAP) in Lucknow by the Council’s representatives- President Ar. Habeeb Khan and MAP’s committee member Ar. Salil Ranadive.
The Manual is a set of five volumes covering every aspect of architectural practice. It is a guide on the practice of architecture, conceptualised due to the rapid change in the profession observed since the framing of the professional conduct regulations in 1989. Ar. Salil introduced the audience at the Lucknow Architecture Festival to the need, the purpose and the contents of the Manual.
- Volume One: Guidelines for Architectural Practice
- Volume Two: Guidelines for the Engagement of Architects & Code for Competitions
- Volume Three: Guidelines for Architectural Contracts
- Volume Four: Guidelines for Architectural Services & Fees
- Volume Five: Guidelines for the Management of Firms
Led by Ar. Habeeb Khan, Ar. Sapna and Ar. Kapil Setia, the MAP committee constituted seven architects- Ar. P. Vaitianadin (CoA MAP Convener), Ar. J. Manoharan, Ar. Vijay Uppal, Ar. N Mahesh, Ar. Sandeep Shikre, Ar. Salil Ranadive and Ar. Prashant Sutaria, from different parts of the country.
People from completely different parts of the profession could come together (during the lockdown) and compile the Manual.Ar. Salil on the MAP committee
Post his presentation, Ar. Salil discussed with us the dynamic nature of the Manual, its relevance in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, and the current state of Indian Architecture.
The Council conceptualised the Manual as a dynamic document which should be enriched by regular updates. With Ar. Habeeb Khan’s tenure reaching its end, we were curious about the existence of a brief to guide the next leadership to ensure the Manual stays relevant to the changing times.
Ar. Salil: There should be a handover-takeover process regarding several projects underway, such as the continuity of the relevance of the MAP, the digitalization process, and CoA social- a lot relies on the competence and the intent of the incoming leadership in the Council and the spirit to continue with established initiatives.
The Council’s EC, with some members of the original MAP committee, could ensure that the MAP stays on the agenda of the Council.
Every Architect and Academician we reached out to had commended the Manual of Architectural Practice, but the Manual is said to have had limited outreach.
Ar. Salil Ranadive: I don’t know what people expect CoA to keep doing. They have had a dozen programs in different cities in India. There is the CoA social and the website- these are accessible to all. How do you expect information to reach as breaking news? You get to know information because you are inquisitive. There has to be some intent and responsibility on the part of the professional.
I met a lot of people who told me that they were not aware of us doing this (preparing the Manual), but for the past year people have been talking about it, it is on social media- clearly, if you are not aware of the manual, it is because you are not linked to any of these mediums. This expectation to be spoon-fed is unprofessional.Ar. Salil Ranadive
This gap could also come from the fraternity not being used to a more active Council in the past decades.
Ar. Salil: Do architects not want to keep up with what is happening in their profession, probably for the betterment of their professional growth? Just putting it in simple words that “there was no outreach” is not acceptable. I would say we have done a lot- maybe from a micro point of view, we should go a bit more towards East India, but on the flip side, there are few architects in that region. Take Uttar Pradesh, for instance- the most populous state in India, but with only one government college (for architecture). Maybe the lack of investment in building activities in the region in the past decades led to a lesser demand for architects. But with development speeding up, these places will observe explosive growth over the next 20 years.
It is in these regions, with limited mentors, where MAP would be of maximum use.Ar. Salil Ranadive
So, this is a handbook for architects starting with their practices in such regions- answering all the questions.
For the MAP to reach the regions, including tier 2 and tier 3 cities, where the profession has a near-clean slate, to begin with, outreach needs to reach these areas. So, has there been any committee set up for Manual’s propagation in these areas where the Council might have limitations to be physically present?
Ar. Salil: This is where CoA reconnected with the IIA. To a large extent, all these outreach activities have been led by the IIA (or the city associations) because of their involvement at the grassroots level- they are in touch with the local architects and the schools and can get the numbers. Even the Manual launch in Lucknow has been conducted by the Lucknow Architects Association. As for the Council, it has never turned down an invitation for outreach- someone from the MAP committee always accompanies the Council.
The Manual would also be beneficial at the Academic level as part of the Professional Practice Curriculum. So has the MAP reached out to these institutes?
Ar. Salil: A Committee has been set up by CoA, working on how to add MAP to the syllabus of Professional Practice. Along with this, physical copies are getting dispatched to the institutes.
The Manual could also benefit the non-architects, who would be aware of the scope of an architect. How would the Manual reach people outside the fraternity?
Ar. Salil: Through the efforts of the architects- it should be sent to their biggest clients, to the government departments they are in touch with. Every outreach program in tier 2 and 3 cities has been to reach out to the government and the PWD departments.
Architects are already using the manual as an established guideline in discussions with clients.Ar. Salil Ranadive
Digressing from the organizational aspect of the profession, we discussed with Ar. Salil the state of Indian Architecture and why he believes contemporary architects in India lack the urge to produce good architecture.
Ar. Salil: The lack of the urge to produce good Indian Architecture is a very generalized statement. But, when you look at the general standards in new cities, for instance, how many projects catch your eye? Not the shape of the form, but from the intellectual articulation point of view? This urge to convince your stakeholders to do something different has nothing to do with the fee you are charging. How many such instances have come up in the last 20 years, given the quantum of construction in our country? What would happen when this increases tenfold in the next 20 years?
What is the legacy that we are building? Would people 100 years from now want to preserve the buildings that we are making right now?Ar. Salil Ranadive
Even for the CoE Bangalore competition, out of the 300 entries, only 30 were of merit. It was a transparent competition with a fixed fee. The lack of the client’s architectural awareness was not a question- yet our established firms were even wary of participating.
This passion for work is majorly internal. But could some external factor encourage the urge to produce quality work?
Ar. Salil: One external factor is getting motivated by the work of other architects and the credit that they receive. It is about appreciating good architecture. Even the selfish reason that “I also want to be known as a good architect” is enough to guide one towards good work.
Look at the format of the Aga Khan Awards for architecture- they talk about projects contributing to the benefit of society- not just of Architects. Our schools are trying to inculcate this, but when you become a practising architect, the learning goes away.
Can we encourage clients who are good patrons? They can be known as patrons of good architecture. A lot of good architecture came up because the patron was an aware person or institution. Can we patronise the patron? We should give them the sense that the architectural community is also acknowledging the role they play- ultimately it is for society.Ar. Salil Ranadive
At times you need to self-initiate the project. An eight-foot hole on Marine Drive encouraged us to connect with the local citizen groups and approach the stakeholders with a solution. A project emerged out of this initiative.
This sense (and urge) could be inculcated at the education level also.
Ar. Salil: I don’t know. Are you enrolling the right kind of people? Is the intake system trying to include people interested in architecture? Or are the right kind of people teaching these students? We are adjudicating architecture from a two-dimensional point of view on a screen- the only sense activated is the sense of vision. But what about the sense of space? If you visit the Gol Gumbaz, it takes your breath away. That cannot be translated into or communicated through a screen.
It is one thing to seduce the client with visual tools and graphics, but architects are falling for their own gimmickry.Ar. Salil Ranadive
I don’t know if the online way of studying architecture is pushing people towards this. Because now, even judging is online.
I cannot physically look at a model, models are not even being made if there aren’t any incentives associated with them. Where is the urge? Is the urge only there when you are at the risk of scoring a zero?Ar. Salil Ranadive
If you only want to go for the lowest common denominator, you do not have the urge. It is inherent. I was part of the jury for the CoA theses awards- and the quality of even the regional winners was not up to the mark.
To ensure that our education system produces quality architects, the Council is working on an exit exam pattern for graduates to register as Architects. This is being conceptualised in a three-exam format where exams would be conducted in the second and fifth years of architectural school and post-graduating with an Architectural degree. The latter would be for architects wanting to establish their private practice.
Ar. Salil: From my understanding, you cannot register as an architect without clearing the exit exam. The reason for including exams at the second and fifth-year levels was to allow students to go out and work. The second-year exam allows you to be a certified architectural draughtsman. You have to mature as a professional architect, and that maturity will make you a better architect. Education isn’t just about cracking the syllabus. After your education, you can be an employed architect. But, to set up your practice, you will need to clear the portal exam- it won’t be judging your design skills but managing a practice.
In India, nearly 50% of architectural students and registered architects are women. But, out of this 50% of registered architects, only 20% are licensed practitioners. In the 1989 regulations, women in architecture were not necessarily a part of the conversation. But, now, as the representation of women in practice is slowly and gradually observing an increase, the Manual of Architectural Practice puts forth guidelines to promote an all-inclusive profession.
Ar. Salil: Yes, the guidelines (for promoting gender parity) are part of the Code of Conduct, including gender harassment and equal pay. These guidelines are for all genders, including the unspecified genders.
With time, as the trends change and bye-laws get updated, the Manual of Architectural Practice (MAP) will need revisions; a lot relies on the incoming team at CoA to ensure that the Manual stays relevant in the long run. But, as the profession expands, especially in new territories, MAP could be the handbook leading to a more organized and ethical profession.