I was in the designers’ section of Raj Rewal’s Sheikh Sarai office in Delhi when the main chamber called for me to come. The company’s director, architect and urban designer, Raj Rewal, was in the room. “To a sincere, young man, May you flourish in your prospects,” he wrote, inscribed on a book he gave me. Furthermore, the work was based on a conversation between Raj Rewal and Ramin Jahanbegloo, an Iranian philosopher and professor at a university in Toronto.

Book in Focus: Talking Architecture: Raj Rewal in Conversation with Ramin Jahanbegloo - Sheet1
Raj Rewal with the Visual Arts University architectural model at his studio_©Shiv Ahuja

I opened the book to begin reading it, and the first thing I noticed was this:

According to Mies van der Rohe, “Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.”

The book’s preface refers to Ludwig (Mies), which establishes the tone for the narrative concerning the architect’s designs. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German-American architect, shares credit alongside Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture.

Book in Focus: Talking Architecture: Raj Rewal in Conversation with Ramin Jahanbegloo - Sheet2
The book’s cover, which portrays the architect Raj Rewal’s working style_©rajrewal.in

Talking Architecture, is the book that takes you on a journey through Raj Rewal’s early years, young adulthood, academic career, and professional life. It expresses his past feelings, lifelong love, and intense commitment to his career. An architect inspired by Gandhi and Nehru designed the most socialist, secular architecture when given a chance to show off his skills.

The book is organised into four major sections or the five phases of architect Raj Rewal’s life. The first section describes his journey from Hoshiarpur to Paris. Beginning in the small Punjabi town of Hoshiarpur, Raj Rewal advances to the AA after the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi. This includes an account of his early years, school memories, the anguish of partition, and what it meant to be a Muslim in such difficult antagonistic circumstances. It also describes his journey from Delhi to overseas, his experiences with love, and the tale of his unconventional marriage to a French lady.

Raj Rewal completed his architectural education in London and Paris, where he also worked on a number of artistic and professional projects, before moving to India in 1962.

The blueprint in the form of this book, provides extensive information on the processes necessary to become The Raj Rewal of the architecture world. The book’s preface offers an outline and synopsis of Raj Rewal’s work. Based on several interviews with the architect, the book mainly consists of a conversation between Jahanbegloo and Rewal in which they debate both the latter’s accomplishments and the state of architecture in general.

The roof of the parliament library building is visible in the image facing the Indian Parliament and was designed to blend in with the façade of the present parliament building_©Manu Rewal.

One who has never been exposed to architectural features can instantly recognise the components that makeup Raj Rewal’s architectural language, whether they are touring Raj Rewal’s office or one of his completed architectural works. The same can be said for this exciting exploration into the life and times of architect Raj Rewal.

Raj Rewal frequently combines his designs with Indian architectural traditions. He contextualises contemporary architecture, ideas about authenticity, and archaic notions of aesthetic experiences. One of the primary building materials used by architects, stone, is claimed to offer unique qualities and properties, such as a “soothing” character. The emotional impact determines a structure’s credibility it makes on the audience. He maintains some authenticity in his works by employing genuine craftsmanship. To infuse the heart of traditional values into his work, Rewal frequently discusses topics related to the history of Indian architectural traditions and the essential values of buildings and towns.

He had always desired to build a mechanism to aid a developing nation that was struggling greatly. He was inspired by the marvels of Indian architecture to combine modernism and traditionalism in his building. While being reasonable and sensitive to nature, Raj Rewal’s architecture has always been a human centric approach.

Building a design language and defining an architect are two processes that the author of Talking Architecture guides the reader through. This makes people at all career levels consider where they fit in the industry. Although the reader may not personally identify with Raj Rewal’s working style, this book provides an in-depth analysis of the elements that go into developing a working style.

Book in Focus: Talking Architecture: Raj Rewal in Conversation with Ramin Jahanbegloo - Sheet4
The architectural fraternity was unable to prevent the iconic Hall of Nations by Raj Rewal from being demolished in the name of modernisation_ ©Ariel Huber

Raj Rewal, an architect while serving as the chairman of DUAC, used to discuss governmental interventions and their effects on Delhi’s morphology even during office conversations. The book frequently discusses the policy issues impacting India’s built environment and traces the same trend.

Talking Architecture details how Raj Rewal is thought to have expanded the traditional Indian concept of “rasa” through his architectural works. In the specialised field of architecture, scientific and technological progress may coexist with the poetic and artistic concern for progress with a “humane face.” Rewal talks about the difficulties that the modernist viewpoint for architects and the globalisation of architecture present.

Raj Rewal’s blocking and massing at the urban design level can be read at the Asian Games Village in Delhi_©MIT.

He had an impact on India’s post-independence development. He believes that because historical knowledge of culture and climate still holds in today’s society, modern architecture could help address the urban dilemma of an influx of people.

This book effectively captures Raj Rewal’s personality and the architectural legacy he created via his works. His sensitive architectural designs are well renowned. His works establish an impression of our culture and history, educating future generations about the ideals upheld. Raj Rewal’s major works, which include offices, a parliament library, offices, exhibition halls, university campuses, and residences for both individuals and organizations, span six decades and a significant historical period. They have additionally aided India’s development.


Jahanbegloo, R. (2010) Talking architecture. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Raj Rewal (no date) Architectuul. Available at: https://architectuul.com/architect/raj-rewal (Accessed: December 16, 2022).


Sadiq Zafar is a practicing architect, urban policy researcher, and planner who previously worked for a national research institute and held the position of assistant professor at the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. He researched urban poor housing neighborhoods while working as a sustainability planner in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.