Rahul Mehrotra | Clarkson Chair in Architecture

Principal and Founder, RMA Architects; Principal, RMA Architects
Professor of Urban Design and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design

House in an Orchard in Ahmedabad, India. Image: RMA Architects

House in an Orchard in Ahmedabad, India. Image: RMA Architects

Rahul Mehrotra

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018
6 pm - 7:30 pm
Hayes 403

Working in Mumbai: The works of RMA Architects

Architects and designers working in India are now dealing with an entire gamut of social, cultural and economic phenomenon that are molding the built environment at phenomenally rapid rates. In the process, the role of the professional architect has been marginalized  - for within conventional praxis, the professional does not engage with this broader landscape but rather chooses to operate with the specificity of a site and in the process often becomes disconnected with the context of practice.

Thus our approach to Working in Mumbai has been to actually use the city and region of our operation as a generator of practice - as a way for us to evolve an approach and architectural vocabulary that draws its nourishment from a more elastic definition of the profession which sees multiple disciplines as being simultaneously valid in engaging with this kinetic landscape. How do we as architects work with the many worlds in the city - do we respond simultaneously to the time past, present and future. How do we do this when all these times exist simultaneously? Can we design with a divided mind?  In our projects, the approach has been to abstract and interpret spatial arrangements and building elements from tradition while using a contemporary sensibility as well as building vocabulary. The attempt is thus to combine materials, to juxtapose conventional craftsmanship with industrial materials and traditional spatial arrangements with contemporary space organization. And to explore how architecture can be used as an instrument to resist the polarized conditions in our cities. In short, to give expression to the pluralism and dualities that so vividly characterizes the Indian Landscape.

AIA Continuing Education Credits Available: 1 LU

Additional events during Clarkson Week

Thursday, Sept. 27, 1 pm
Seminar: Ephemeral City

Friday, Sept. 28, 1 pm
Seminar: Conservation in India

Friday, Sept. 28, 2 pm
Rahul Mehrotra in Conversation with Ashima Krishna, UB assoiciate professor of architecture 

Examples of Work

Biography

Rahul Mehrotra studied at the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad graduated with a Master’s Degree in Urban Design with distinction from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard (1987). Apart from his engagement with the design of buildings, Mehrotra has been actively involved in civic and urban affairs in Mumbai, having served on commissions for historic preservation and environmental issues, with various neighborhood groups. He was the Executive Director (1994–2004) of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), where he is now a Trustee and has taught at the University of Michigan (2003–2007) and at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at MIT (2007–2010).

Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on issues to do with architecture, conservation and urban planning in Mumbai and India. His writings include coauthoring Bombay—The Cities Within, which covers the city’s urban history from the 1600s to the present; Conserving an Image Center—The Fort Precinct in Bombay, which was a seminal study, and based on this study and its recommendations the historic Fort area in Mumbai was declared a conservation precinct in 1995—the first such designation in India. In 2000, he edited a book for the UIA that earmarks the end of the century and is titled The Architecture of the 20th Century in the South Asian Region. Mehrotra has also edited the first of the three books that document the 2004 Michigan Debates on Urbanism, and in 2011 wrote Architecture in India – Since 1990, which is a reading of contemporary Indian architecture.