Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 20-21 (March 1991) p. 41.

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Architectural Conundrums

DA.G. Krishna Menon

Krishna Menon studied architecture at JJT, Kharagpur, followed by post-graduate degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, and from the Urban Planning Department of Columbia University, New York.

He started working as a professional architect and urbanplannerfroml970withavariedpracticeallover India. Since 1985 he has become increasingly involved in urban conservation of historic towns, and building restoration/reuse work. Major projects include the conservation ofChanderi, Varanasi Chats, Mirzapur, Bhubaneswar, Mamallapuram and, currently, Ujjain. He is particularly interested in developing innovative approaches to urban development and rooting architectural practices in indigenous technologies and


He has been part of the visiting faculty at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, first in the Department of landscape Architecture, then in the Department of Urban Design. Currently he teaches in the Centre for Conservation Studies.

He has published several monographs, research papers and articles in professional journals.

He is a founder member of GREHA, a voluntary group of professionals undertaking research and development assignments in the field of the built environment. He is also actively involved in the work of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.

At the beginning, a reminder: after all the theorizing at the end of the day we architects have to build, we have to have four walls and a roof up, and whatever we might say and do we are judged by that. We may have everything down on paper, but if we don't build we are not architects. The concept of architectural criticism, even the study of architectural history, has not developed; what has, is the practice of architecture. Some of us are acutely aware of the fact that we are practising blind, we are facing problems on a day-to-day basis and we are merely reacting to necessity. Over the past few days I felt that there was a lot to learn, perhaps to contribute, to what everyone is attempting here. The best thing I thought is then for me to express some of the problems I face as an architect. What is perhaps common in our discussions is that we are talking about an object, a people, a culture. But as architects we are definitely rooted in our individual practices, and there is no escaping that.

Even in the expression of the practice, two problems surface: however sensitive the architect/ the transference of the objective correlative is still a problem, he can only do it as

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