As technology advances and India progresses it gets more difficult to disagree with Amartya Sen when he says that globalization is inevitable. Today in virtually everything, be it in people, places or commodities, it is easy to see the crossing of national boundaries. In a recent issue of Tehelka, writer and Architect Gautam Bhatia talks about the influence of globalization on architecture and how architecture has become just another commodity in today’s world.
He begins by saying that the increase in land values and the demand for floor space is without question responsible for putting Architecture on the fast track of change. But more importantly it is the people’s perceptions of style that seems to blame for accelerating this change.
Ten years ago, the Punjabi Baroque was an emerging style of Delhi’s houses, in which the persuasion to elevate modern domestic buildings to higher levels of ornamentation, was just a joke. The styles included those of Bania, Gothic, Early Hawai and Marwari Mannerisms. At that point of time this type of architecture seemed to have no purpose other than that of exterior decoration and was just thought of a passing stage that would soon die down without a doubt.
But the short span of 20 years of globalization seems to have had an adverse effect on architecture. Bhatia gives a perfect example of an elderly Raja, reminiscing about princely India while standing outside an ancestral palace that has now become a heritage hotel. Architecture, once a profession considered to be that of creating spaces with an aesthetic value that will live through the ages has lost its meaning.
Architecture seems to have given in to the age of globalisation. It has lost its purpose of influencing people and the society. It has lost its purpose of making habitable spaces to one of simply assembling masses in space. Bhatia expresses his view by saying that architecture is merely an accumulation of new technologies and products, in which function and simplicity have no say in the matter. No longer is making a beautiful building out of ordinary objects the architect’s driving passion. Now it is about assembling new products in ways, which will sooner or later lose its value, which exactly Architecture is not about.
Mahatma Gandhi – The Father of Nation (India) once said, the ideal house should be built of materials and skills gathered from within five mile radius of the site. But in today’s world where people seemed to be charged with economic motion and governed by newer levels of greed, the constructing of the ideal house as said by Gandhi seems reliance, technology and even Human dignity.
The last twenty years of globalisation has taken Gurgaon from being a sleepy village of buffaloes and mud houses to a city of multinational tower blocks and apartments. Here the idea of Punjabi Baroque seems to have acquired a great deal of respectability. Today young architects barely out of school, attack projects with impatience like a business deal.
The quality of architecture is now lost in the adrenaline rush of such architects. Architecture has now become a lifelong materialistic buffet that relies on technology to display newer forms of abundance, and make them available to a growing market of Indian consumers. In the age of malls, cinemas and multiplexes there lies a hunger for novelty and delight. The fate of a building is now that of a commercial commodity.
The old definitions of architecture as creating spaces of rest, containment, comfort and protection don’t make sense anymore. Architecture can only be directed towards real life situations, built on an assumption that any desired change is effective only if it is an enhancement of the present condition.