europalia.india – architecture – Working in Mumbai – The Music Room

On Nov. 21st 2013 at 7pm, Alok Nandi is introducing/convening the 3rd evening of CollectionsIndia at LOCI St-Luc School of Architecture:

  • – Conference by Rahul Mehrotra: Working in Mumbai
  • – Indian Food by “Coup de Food”
  • – Screening of “The Music Room” by Satyajit Ray


Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and planning and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Rahul Mehrotra is professor of urban design and planning and chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). He is a practicing architect, urban designer, and educator. His firm, RMA Architects, was founded in Mumbai and has designed and executed projects for clients that include government and nongovernmental agencies, corporate, as well as private individuals and institutions. The firm has also initiated several unsolicited projects driven by the firm’s commitment to advocacy in the city of Mumbai.

Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation, and urban planning in Mumbai and India. His writings include co-authoring Bombay-The Cities Within, Banganga-Sacred Tank, Public Places Bombay, Bombay to Mumbai-Changing Perspective and Architecture in India, since 1990. He has also co-autored Conserving an Image Center-The Fort Precinct in Bombay. 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.

Mehtotra has long been actively involved in civic and urban affairs in Mumbai, having served on commisions for historic preservation and environmental issues. He studied at the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad (CEPT), and graduated with a master’s degree with distinction in urban design from the GSD. He has taught at the University of Michigan (2003-2007) and at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at MIT (2007-2010). Currently he is a senior Mellon Fellow (2013-2014) at the Canadian Center for Architecture.



Projects and collaborations: RMA architects. Mumbai

Architects and Designers working in India are now dealing with an entire gamut of transforming social, cultural and economic phenomenon that are molding the built environment at alarmingly 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 or a particular economic group 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.


The city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has served as a laboratory from which the practice has extracted lessons through our involvement with a wide range of activities in the city. In this schizophrenic space, research became an important activity – the mechanism to understand the city, the broader environment and the role of architecture and design more generally. We looked at architecture, urban history, documented historic areas as well as contemporary urban centers and architecture, worked with conservation legislation, interacted with local history groups, worked on policies for recycling land in the city and an entire gamut of activities that engaged us with the problems of the city. Through these engagements we were exposed to the different worlds that existed in the city and the different ‘times’ that created these varied worlds. To cut across these differences while respecting their integrity and aspirations became somewhat of an obsession. 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?


The lecture will weave a series of rich narratives around the gamut of issues and questions that will intersect at many moments as these different narratives unfold. Architectural design, observations of the emergent urbanism, the critical engagement with the practice of conservation, research and writing as integral to the practice, interior design and the model of cross subsidies to facilitate social engagement are some of the issues that will be become the focus of these narratives.

August 2013


Info about the Collections India series on

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