The importance of context, sustainability, nature, and creating an architecture that is true to our culture and fosters an Indian identity has gained much acceptance. The works of legends such as Charles Correa, BV Doshi, Raj Rewal, CN Raghavendran, Shiv Datt Sharma, among others, have long represented Indian architecture on international platforms. Today, a lot of younger contemporary practices in India have joined them, who are making waves overseas for their futuristic thinking that rests on a traditional ethos and the core tenets of contextual, responsible, and resourceful architecture. Listed below are a few Indian architects who changed the culture of architecture:
1. Anant Raje
Architect Anant D. Raje was a leading architect and a dedicated teacher of post-independence India. The development of institutions to support modernization were the central goals, supported by government and progressive patrons alike. The design of such institutions would form the core of Raje’s legacy in the sub-continent, yoked to Indian sensibilities and realities.
Raje refined the concept regarding institutions as self-contained entities rather than a series of individual function-defined buildings. His ability to integrate bold volumes and open courtyards into an existing urban fabric and his fascination with the relationship between shape and void, that explores the permeable division between interior and exterior spaces, were the core ideas in all his projects.
2. C N Raghavendran
From the very beginning, architect C N Raghavendran focussed on sustainable and eco-friendly principles promoting intelligent building concepts, much before the approach became a buzzword. One of the few architects to be bestowed with the Padma Shri, he has been conducive to giving life to some of the most important public projects during the four-decade-long career in India.
Raghavendran specializes in blending architecture with engineering design principles and focuses on energy efficiency and occupant safety and health. His approach to architecture is innovative, comprehensive, and inclusive with climatically and contextually responsive designs. He has been instrumental in the emergence of newer architectural styles, the introduction of novel building techniques, and the need for an environment-sensitive integrated structure.
3. Gurjit Singh Matharoo
With a flair for the unconventional and a poetic perspective to the profession, architect Gurjit Singh Matharoo has that unique ability to transmit his enthusiasm into built structures. His projects, governed by a design philosophy that values restraint above everything else, however, have an approach that is more emotive than calculative and is inspired majorly by beauty, directed by his belief that sensible architecture always comes in after the first and immediate rush.
Matharoo takes pride in designing buildings that harness natural light, creating layers of intrigue in the way each space unfolds within a structure. He believes that the interdisciplinary nature of practice enables him to design holistically – be it commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, or private houses.
4. Rahul Mehrotra
Rahul Mehrotra, an architect, educationist, urbanist, and the founder of RMA Architects, engages in diverse issues, multiple constituencies, and varying scales: from interior design and architecture to urban design, conservation, and planning. He has designed a diverse range of projects including, recycling urban land and master planning in Mumbai, art spaces, boutiques, weekend houses, factories, social institutes, and office buildings across the country.
Apart from Mehrotra’s engagement with the design of buildings, he has been actively involved in civic and urban affairs in Mumbai, having served on commissions for historic preservation and environmental concerns, with various neighborhood groups. He has also written and lectured extensively on issues to do with architecture, conservation, and urban planning in Mumbai and India.
5. Ranjit Sabikhi
Ranjit Sabikhi, a distinguished architect and urban designer who has been in practice since 1961, is one of the pioneers of modern Indian architecture. From shopping malls and housing complexes to office buildings and large urban design projects, he has done it all.
For the last 60 years, Sabhiki has worked on designs that celebrate the relationship of buildings with their surrounding spaces. The architect believes that cities don’t have flaws, and it is the planners and architects who tend to consider the built forms as their aesthetic creations, as objects to be looked at and admired, not as objects designed to accommodate use and change.
6. Sandeep Khosla
Architect Sandeep Khosla, who established Khosla Associates in 1995, developed a philosophy and design language, which is still 20 years later, at the core of the firm’s vocabulary and approach. He is a contextualist who believes that architecture is rooted in one’s environment and to a particular site, with the relationship between built form and the external environment being constant.
Sandeep works with an international style, drawing inspiration from traditional concepts, craft as well as local materials. His designs are experiential, with a certain romanticism, and attempt to modulate space to create beautiful, peaceful, or dramatic spaces. The architect looks at design holistically, often blurring the boundaries between the disciplines of architecture, interior design, landscape, furniture, and lighting.
7. Sanjay Puri
Architect Sanjay Puri founded the firm Sanjay Puri Architects, one of the most sought after architectural and design firms in India, in 1992. He is an unmatched powerhouse of designing, with an extensive design portfolio that includes architectural and interior design projects in fields like hospitality, commercial, retail, educational, and entertainment facilities, as well as large urban projects.
Evolving innovative design solutions that are contextual, contributing to sustainability, and creating spaces that revolutionize the way one experiences them form the essence of Puri’s philosophy. He believes that while designing a project, special care needs to be given to clients briefly, as architecture is the only form of art that affects human behavior both physically and emotionally.
8. Shiv Datt Sharma
Architect Shiv Datt Sharma is one of the most prolific architects who contributed to the making of modern architectural structures across the country. He learned the art and craft of Indian Modernism from the same laboratory where it was shaping up while working on the Chandigarh Capital Project.
During the last six decades of his professional career, he produced a large number of projects ranging from small houses to big campuses, learning how to design for the climate, using vernacular, readily available materials, with absolute sincerity and directness. Sharma’s architecture is a blend of the core principles of modernist architecture interpreted through the lens of contemporary Indian realities.