EP 249 . 14 Sep 22

Intangible architecture

With Durganand Balsavar

In the episode

  1. What is the role of an architect? At times, even social reformers were called “Social architects”. Charles Correa believed that architecture and urban design were instruments for social change. Could you elaborate on this idea?
  2. What is the “first principle thinking” when one is designing a building for a community? How does one measure the outcomes since it’s quite intangible?
  3. In my 100th interview with BV Doshi, he explicitly mentioned that, back in India, people used to collaborate and build together. How did such a process happen?
  4. Even in our tech world, we have this “fail fast” ideology. In one of your conversations with legendary Newyork architect Steven Holl, he says, “Disobedience is important for an architect and you got to fail, fail again and fail better.” How does it work when such massive costs, infrastructure, and people’s lives are involved? What does “fail or success” mean in this context?
  5. Your own practice, Artes-ROOTS has a very different trajectory. It is a research-based practice involved in the ecologically-sensitive design, with community participation. Could you share a few experiences about how, research, advocacy, community, and practice relate to one another?
  6. At TDB this year, the theme is design and “Memorial for Charles Correa”. Correa didn’t see tradition and modernity as mutually exclusive.
  7. You often speak about, “we need to look at history” while we are designing for the future. Can you share the nuances of this seeming paradox?
  8. Can one relate to the legend simply through his work?

About Durganand Balsavar

This Audiogyan is in association with The Drawing Board.

The Drawing Board is an international architecture platform based in India where students can test their understanding and skills in shaping the way communities live and thrive while preserving local heritage. TDB has been actively running an Architecture competition for undergraduate students since 2016. It was conceptualized by Mindspace Architects and Rohan Builders.


This year, they are back in action with a live event. Architecture undergrad students can submit their project ideas on the theme of designing a “Memorial for Charles Correa”. The last date to submit your concepts is 1st October 2022. More details in show notes and thedrawingboard.in


We have one of the Jury members at TDB with us on Audiogyan. Prof Durganand Balsavar. As the founder-principal architect of Artes, Prof Balsavar has served as the Ideational Curator of the Jaipur Architecture Festival, he is on several national juries and founded the creative think-tank Confluence Ten. Besides having co-authored several books and written journals, he explores varying media in search of re-imagined landscapes of the future and alternative histories.


Today we’ll try to document some of his thoughts on the intervention of architecture for social changes, and how he looks at history from his long-standing career of 3 decades. We’ll also pick his brain about, how can architecture communicate the greatness of Charles Correa which is the theme for this year’s “The Drawing Board” competition.