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Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University

Kashmere Gate Campus, Delhi


Assessment of cross-disciplinary engagement in profession of Architecture

Shubhangi Goswami

Fourth Year, 2013-2014

MS. Anjali Mittal


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my guide Mrs. Anjali Mittal

who, to the best of her abilities helped me explore a challenging topic and pushed
my curiosity towards a meaningful direction. Through her consistent questioning
on my thoughts, I could develop deeper interest in the topic. Without her support
and belief in my ideas, this study would have been difficult.

I would also take an opportunity to thank Mr. Rajiv Bhakat, who with his
knowledge in the architectural practice and knack of logic helped me structure my
content. I would like to thank him for taking out his precious time beyond studio
hours to give inputs and share resourceful information about his office and their
work, related to my research.

It also gives me pleasure to thank Mr. AGK Menon for his timely reviews on my
work and for his suggestions on the practical side of the research and the
dissertation coordinator, Mr. Sumant Sharma for his guidance.

FIGURE 1 CONTEXT OF ARCHITECTURE .............................................................................5
FIGURE 2 MOST COMMONLY AGREED VIEW ON SINGLE, MULTI -, CROSS-, TRANSAND INTER-DISCIPLINARITY ...............................................................................6

FIGURE 3 CONTEXT OF ARCHITECTURE .............................................................................8





FIGURE 6 RENDERED MODEL OF THE DESIGNED MASTER PLAN ..........................................28

FIGURE 7 DRAWINGS OF THE DESIGN PROCESS .................................................................28
FIGURE 8 ONE OF THE OPTIONS OF THE DESIGNED WEBSITE LOGO ....................................30
FIGURE 9 DESIGNED WEBSITE HOMEPAGE FORMAT .........................................................31



When Vitruvius in his book Ten Books of Architecture said that architecture was a
building that incorporated: utilitas, firmitas, venustas1, he meant to cover the big
envelope of what comes in its making. It includes how functional the building is,
how strong it is in its structure and the aspect of its aesthetic appearance.
Architecture has existed through decades and centuries, adapting the way the
society demands its needs from it, the political affront opened its hands for
provisions to its ease of growth, the culture proliferated to achieve an image
through its built, the scientific advancements gave insight to unprecedented
possibilities, giving in to the whims and fancies of the individuals who groped this
medium of expression for their personal statements. The multi-valent nature of
architecture has given it the power to cast an effect on its users in the numerous
possible ways it is related to them in. With its context ranging from the natural to
human to built environment the architecture functions in multiple directions with
various forces guiding it and deciding the course of its action. For such a symbiotic
relationship to exist and to achieve an effective product of that process and to
holistically respond to the conditions, it is needed of the profession of architecture
to be well learned in these areas of effect.
It is for this nature of working of this field that its education system and practice
often keep coming in debate and discussion about inadequacy of knowledge about
various disciplines, inability to deal with them or their way of functioning or selfidentity crisis while working in that milieu. As the profession demands a certain
amount of know-how of these other disciplines and expects to work within a close
range of their overlapping working atmosphere, it must be seen as a necessity to
have the intention and ability to coordinate and work mutually with them in a more
realistic way. This demand calls for the skills to be taught and developed in the
architecture schools. The inter-disciplinary involvement at the school would help

The Ten Books on Architecture Vitruvius

prepare the architects in- making to understand the real mechanism of the
profession and would also open up the students to the significant cross mutual
impact of these disciplines and make them understand at an early stage, the
relationship between them. The architecture education in India despite all its
shortcomings and constraints need to address to the techniques students must
harness to practice architecture in harmony with other fields. This issue and the
solutions to it, is not in the scope of this study but it looks into the practical cases
where this cross-disciplinary approach has been adopted in the related context of
India with its translations. It highlights its encouragement in some cases and the
drawbacks in others, where it has failed due to lacking such an outlook.

To study the nature, extent, scale and feasibility of cross-disciplinarity of
Architecture practice in India and to scrutinize various models which have
worked on that principle under various advocating firms, while comparing it in
the light of the current nature of Architectural education in India.
An architect/ architecture practice needs to involve or get involved with other
disciplines for effective results, calling for a cross-disciplinary approach on
varied levels in the processes of architecture.
Cross-, Multi-, inter-, or trans-disciplinarity is an essential condition for
sustainable development and the fields dealing with design, in more specificity of
human habitat, need to employ strategies to involve in this approach in ways
leading to better sustainable results.
This research reaches out to understand the need and the ways of connections in
Architecture with other disciplines. The scope of this research has been limited to
the practicing firms, their models of such involvement, and their projects pan-India.
It also looks at the nature of education provided to architects, its intentions and

aspirations and explores the thoughts of contemporary pioneer educators who

strongly believe in the development of cross-interaction of architecture with other
disciplines and have been the torch-bearers of related programs and the works of
their individual ventures have also advocated such urge to cross boundaries of
disciplinarity within architectural practice.
* Few works of a firm are rendered for analysis through primary case study and the
analysis of others has been done from their published work on official websites.
This study is subject to no bias of choice and has no intention of propagating any
one or the other firm. The firm chosen for detailed study was as per the convenience
of communication with the members of the firm.
The study has analysed various ways in which cross-disciplinarity is viewed in
India. Models of these have been investigated and analysed with their Indian
contextual nature and scale. The extent of such an approach is viewed in contrast to
the feasibility of it with the tight Indian architecture educational backdrop. The
viewpoints and endeavours of the powerful people in the system have been viewed
and thereafter been reflected upon in relation to the feasibility of incorporation of
their tuned thoughts upon cross-disciplinarity.

The works of some top notch practicing firms have been scrutinized to gauge the
possible ways in which Architecture in India can be more strongly, effectively be
rendered useful to the people in wholesome response to the functioning of societies.
This has been done with analysis under the self-crafted criteria which form some of
the factors/conditions for basis of cross-disciplinary involvement.


'The architect builds the cell in his mind before he constructs it in wax' wrote Karl
Marx and this relationship between building and human awareness distinguishes the
worst architects from the best of bees. (Marx [1867] 1976:284)2
It is this trait of human awareness that every architect can use to his benefit to
make a meaningful building in contrast to a mere building without much substance
of value. And the source of this awareness of innumerable contexts can come from
varied origins and areas of knowledge which would change the relevance of a
building's richness for its dwellers. The accomplishment of this well aware work
with the knowledge endowed of various aspects call for exchange of thoughts,
expertise, mutual interpretation, cross-arguments and understanding through multilevel dialogues.

"We must recognize that architecture is seldom, if ever, the creative effort of one
individual alone. Instead, architecture is the embodiment of a complex social
process...the collective matrix of design forces that is involved in the generation
and transformation of building type is seldom limited to the confines of the
building 'site' or some other artificially imposed boundary. The building project
inevitably becomes embedded in-and is an extension of-a larger local and extralocal context of temporal and spatial influences. As a result every a compilation of many histories, sets of intentions and contextual
These relationships to set forth the example for a building prodigy with

Book Architecture and Order: Approaches to Social space Michael Parker Pearson Pg 2
Book The Patina of Place: The cultural weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape
Kingston Wm. Heath
Pg 183

agglomeration of debated intentions and collectively devised techniques of

implementation requires a cross-disciplinary engagement which is a pervasive
phenomenon, with each program benefiting from their respective rich contexts
giving in return a more wholesomely perceived context.

Figure 1.
In order to understand such an engagement better, one needs to ask the possible
meaning of such cross- disciplinarity and further understand the way research and
interaction that takes place through it.
There are various terms which are the constituents of this branching of disciplinarity:

when concepts and/or methods from more disciplines are used together, the
approach is

When in addition to it, concepts and/or methods are coordinated, it becomes


if the borders of disciplines are also crossed, the approach is called


if crossing the borders leads to combining disciplines, it becomes


Franois (2006) considers that inter-disciplinarity consists of a specific more or

less integrative interrelation between two disciplines (e.g., biochemistry),
multidisciplinarity involves the harmonization of differences between more

sciences coming together, and the final stage is trans-disciplinarity, when a global
theory is finally derived.4
On a finer-tuned scale, Ktter and Balsiger (1999) distinguish a spectrum with
multi-disciplinarity (unspecified collaboration), and inter-disciplinarity (supradisciplinary collaboration where different disciplines keep their autonomy when
solving a given problem), to end with trans-disciplinarity (joint collaboration
between scientists and practitioners in the resolution of a problem raised from
outside of the scientific context).4

single disciplinary
multi disciplinary

cross disciplinary
trans disciplinary
inter disciplinary

Figure 2.
So there are several approaches to relation of a discipline with other disciplines.
After the different viewpoints of various sources, one can derive the general and
most appropriate meaning of these, which are:
Single disciplinary approach is the most rudimentary/primary stage of approach
where only the criticism of the discipline happens in isolation. Any design process
must cross this initial stage of critique to understand its scope from various other
connected lenses.
ex. When a architectural firm has an internal design team and approaches their
projects by inputs from within the composition.

Urbanism on multi-, trans - and inter - disciplinarity, essential conditions for the sustainable development
of human habitat
A.-I. Petrior

Out of all the definitions and models, the interdisciplinary stage comes out to be
the most evolved and complex in the order of involvement. Here, all the effects of
various disciplines on each other on a much real front is accounted for. And these
interrelated effects are seen in conjugation to the discipline concerned, wherein the
solution come out from joining the mutual reactions of disciplines.
ex. when an external common project like a government's project require a lot of
experts (from various disciplines) like engineers, architects, sociologists, doctors
etc to come together to work.
To keep it to a less integrated model where the nature of the discipline is not
modified and joined with others, but only the decisions are mutually coordinated
according to the possible effects, cross-disciplinary approach can be adopted.
ex. when an architectural firm have discussions and receive inputs from people
from various fields like graphic designers, human resource person, marketing
expert and after stages of coordination take design decisions.

To further retain self identity and autonomy and only use other disciplines'
principals for understanding and making decisions for one's own discipline,
where the research of their fields can be of aid, multidisciplinary approach
would be meaningful.
ex. an architectural firm which understands the working of other fields and take
considerations of their
impact by reading literature, studying their mechanism for an architectural
And when the project is external and all the disciplines with their autonomy
work together for proposals, the approach thus followed is trans-disciplinary.
ex. a design project which requires apart from an architect's team other artists
and designers to give proposals.
These techniques can be used subjective to the project/intention that needs that
specific treatment. It also is dependent on the stand of the user group of the

techniques, of how much involvement, integrity or autonomy they want to have.

Though the above researches would help "provide more alternatives with which to
view data. Awareness of different disciplines allows one to introduce novel
approaches not considered before, to have access to a different data base which may
enhance a discipline's pre-existing one, and to avoid mistakes made
and corrected in other disciplines."5


Figure 3.
The definition of sustainability as coined by Dr. Brundtland (1988) is,
"development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs"6, of which the underlining
meaning was a balance between the three traditional pillars- economic, social and
environmental (Bugge and Watters 2003), to which a fourth cultural one was
added later (Djeant-Pons, 2010, p. 15).
This definition itself emphasize on the indispensable interdisciplinary character of

Book Domestic Architecture and the use of space An interdisciplinary cross-cultural study
Susan Kent Pg 1
Our Common Future: Brundtland Report Chapter 2 Towards Sustainable Development, UNWCED

So, when one talks about the design with sustainable intentions it is necessary to
incorporate all the various disciplines which are players and participants in the
sustainability process. The definitions of urbanism and spatial planning too, reveal
their inter-disciplinary character in theory and methodology.

The Charter Torremolinos (European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter,

1983) describes the concept of planning as spatial expression of economic,
social, political, cultural and ecological policies of society. It is both a
scientific discipline, an administrative technique and a policy developed as
an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach directed towards
development balanced regional and physical organization of space7 The
main activities according to the charter include coordination between
different policy sectors, coordination and cooperation between the various
levels of decision-making, and the promotion of public participation.8
Various contexts in which architecture demands of inter-disciplinary
involvement and needs to push its boundaries for a better result are
discussed below:

Building in strong sociological history

The word "structure" comes from Latin struere which means to build, to arrange,
and contains the notion of an organised thing. Thus spatial structures can be
defined as the building/organization of spaces and "the manner in which space is
organized by the cumulative locations of infrastructure, economic activities and
their relations."9 The perspective of the Sociology of space talks about the aspects

European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter - Council of Europe Pg 5
Report on SPATIAL PLANNING Key Instrument for Development and Effective Governance with
Special Reference to Countries in Transition, Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations New York
and Geneva, 2008 Pg 14
The Geography of Transport System

of space from the lens of social sciences and is concerned with understanding the
social practices, institutional forces, and material complexity of how humans and
spaces interact. Within its umbrella of concerns comes the discussion of spatial
relations with the social life.
As a result of Gidden's theory of Structuration, "spatial structure is not merely
an arena in which social life unfolds, but rather as a medium through which
social relations are produced and reproduced. (Gregory and Urry 1985:3)10
which indicates the strength of the spatial structure in defining the way a
society would interact within its parts.
These 'structures' also become a part of an Architect's tools to work for the
society and give them means for desired interaction levels through these
spatial structures thus architecture which also is responsible for the
composition of spatial structure is accountable for the social relations that are
formed and grow from its actions. The understanding of these social relations
and systems within a society are also needed to be well incorporated by an

Building in earthquake-prone areas

The destructive effects of earthquakes shows that the separation between civil
engineering, architectural and urban planning leads to a critical and
unwanted situation and pleads for a close collaboration between civil
engineers, architects and urban planners, resulting into safe architecture,
multi-criteria urban planning, multi- hazard structural engineering focused on
seismic issues.
For example: The post-disaster construction for the coastal settlement in the
case of Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, Southern India ignored the cultural, social
and neighborhood aspects of the settlement creating undesirable results and
dissatisfaction for the community which came from the analysis study of
shelter reconstruction process in 2004 tsunami hit fishing villages of Tamil


Architecture and Order: Approaches to Social space

Michael Parker Pearson

Pg 2



Building in protected areas containing natural and cultural heritage sites

Sustainable development of large areas, such as biosphere reserves,

involves not only preserving species and habitats, but also cultural values.
The cultural heritage is reflected by traditional architecture based on using
construction materials specific to the area (Mei, 2010), but also other
details, such as their placement, color, height etc.
Preservation of the requirements of traditional architecture can be ensured by
their inclusion in urban regulations applicable to the area, so that the
restrictions are uniformly observed. This requires of an architect to involve
the conservation field to be an important hand in the project and also become
a participant in the urban planning accordingly.

Building in vulnerable areas

Coastal zones are vulnerable not only because in some cases they are
classified as ecologically fragile (e.g., the European Union), or due to their
high biodiversity, but also due to some geological processes affecting
them, such as the erosion. The erosion is amplified by the increased urban
pressure (EEA, 2006), and even more when their volume grows due to the
height and density of buildings.
The solution consists again of urban planning restrictions based on civil
engineering studies aimed at identifying the conditions required to reduce the
crushing risk or diminish the intense corrosion due to the marine environment
Thus in sensitive areas like this, it is of importance to have an interdisciplinary project model which gives the safe and sustainable approach to
the built conditions.

Mitigation of climate change


Recent studies have proven that during the warm seasons, particularly during
the heat episodes, extreme temperatures are amplified by built-up zones,
which become heat islands (Cheval et al., 2009).
In the particular case of specific buildings, the choice of construction
materials, orientation and other engineering details can amplify the effect.
At the same time, certain urban planning restrictions, such as the presence of
green spaces, water, design of roads and trees along their sides can reduce
the heat stress. At a different scale, territorial planning can regulate and
optimize land use, related in its turn to the energy balance and climate
changes (Dale et al., 2011).
Only integrated studies can substantiate an integrated regulation system
aimed at better adapting the built environment to climate changes and
increasing the quality of human life.

Landscape is, by itself, an interdisciplinary concept.

Introduced by a geographer, Zonneveld (Wu and Hobbs,2007), it is currently

used by ecologists, botanists, soil scientists, climatologists, economists,
agriculture and forestry scientists, geologists, artists, architects, engineers,
and many other professionals in addition to geographers, each discipline
defining it in a different way.
So, a landscape project essentially demands of the project to be approached
from multiple directions to exploit its potential to the best.
Specific urban issues, situated at the interference with other fields, require
trans-disciplinarity even more.
Principle One of the Rio Declaration states that human beings are at the
centre of concerns for sustainable development (UNEP, 2012) human
habitat can be seen as a complex system (geographical, ecological, social
etc.), and only a holistic, trans-disciplinary approach can understand it in full
or manage its sustainable development.
Such an approach is also consistent with Gaia Theory (Lovelock, 1979),

stating that actually the entire planet is organized and works as a whole.11


Urbanism report on multi-, trans - and inter- disciplinarity, essential conditions for the Sustainable
Development of Human Habitat
A.-I. Petrior





Various disciplinary modules which exist in the way of functioning of multiple

disciplines in relation to each other have to become a part of the understanding of an
architect and the one in-making. To even be accustomed to all of these relationships,
there has to be a clear and very strong agenda of the education system, synchronizing
with the intent for sustainable, efficient or successful results in professional world.
To set fit in the professional milieu sustainably, one has to question the kind of
education or learning imparted to the architect. Whether the nature of ties discussed
above remain only ideally theoretical to understanding or they also translate themselves
in the learning experience of an architecture student.
As per the possibilities of models of work discussed, the education system can mould
itself to deliver its recipients with any kind of skills to practice further in professional
world. It can be an introverted, self-contained Single-disciplinary model or a welladvance and spread, rich Cross-disciplinary framework. But we must understand the
intended objectives of the education system. What it was at the time when the profession
got autonomous recognition to now four decades hence, when it has grown out to its
peak maturity, which would hint us the deviations or changes that came naturally or
intentionally with change in time. What drives its motives in the current time and what
are the loopholes and shortcomings in the system's working.

To understand these aspects, the framework of analysis involved a formal dialogue with
educators and extracting inputs from the thoughts expressed by a few by other mediums.

Following is the list of educators and other sources which became helpful in achieving
an insight to the facets of education system and further scrutinize them on the categories
which will be helpful to understand a possible pattern from it.


1. A.G.K. Menon, an architect, urban planner and conservation consultant who has been
practicing and

teaching in Delhi since 1972 and is currently the convener of INTACH

Delhi Chapter.
He also co-founded TVB School of Habitat Studies.
His inputs on the topic were taken from his essay "Reforming Architectural Education"
in the IA&B Sept2013 issue by Indian Architect and Builder and from personal reviews
and discussions in which he expressed his concern on the current trend of architectural
education and the way schools are shaping up to follow those. In it he has also given
insight to the formation of TVB School of Habitat Studies and the principles and school
of thought behind it. The struggle against the pressure of conventional to nurture a
school which had a strong value system. He shows a contrast between both the times
and states the essentials for a more holistic system of education which wouldn't only
mould itself according to the change in time but has a foundation to justify its
sustainable changes.
2. Ranjana Mittal, current Assistant Professor of architecture in School of Planning and
Architecture, who thinks closely of challenges in Indian architectural education and has
been in the teaching circuit since a decade.
A mode of personal interview was used to discuss the status of efficiency of interdisciplinary involvement in education.
3. Rajiv Bhakat, a practicing architect and a co-principal of Delhi based firm, Studio
CoDe and has been in the teaching circuit and has fresh enriched experience in it. A
personal interview with him gave a current general overview on the topic.

4. Inputs from a discussion forum of Courtyard of USAP on "Education vs. Profession",

with convener Ashok B. Lall and AGK Menon. One of the topics of the talk debated on
"The relevance of the gap between Education and Profession" and brought in the views of
the fifth year batch in their internship semester who could draw fresh comparison
between their education experience and the onset of practice.


5. Architecture dissertation on Architectural Education in India by Mukta Tandon, TVB

School of Habitat Studies guided by AGK Menon, 1996. It talks about the stages in the
legitimization of architecture profession, formalizing architecture schools, the setting of
their curricula, the IIA charter and its laid proposals to the government, their acceptance
and deviations from it in the current scenario. It also laid emphasis on the challenges and
loopholes in the structure of the curriculum system of India's top architecture colleges by
analyzing key aspects like the disciplines taught, credit distribution, time spent on those
disciplines in the respective colleges and coming to a general conclusion based on the
research of how education used to in that period (ie. 1990s) in contrast to the image of an
architect and theory behind it.



Inputs from all of these sources are tabulated for the convenience of comparative
study with areas of question under each row. It is also to derive at possible inferences
of general observed and discussed changing trend in education.
With these extractions, one aims to know how the various disciplines taught in
architecture are addressed, whether they are a part of one connected network, how
does the system want to bind them or if it is unable to do so because of some missing
links in the system.






more on
and holistic

- Visionary
- Lot of
drafted to
be taught.


Commercia Subjects


variety of
schools of
thoughts by
a mixed
n of

Fifth year

education in
A master
discipline that
planning and
*as per IIA.





To produce
to serve the
needs of

To teach
variety of

and teach
skills to
display it.

To develop
and boost


- Dictated
by practice

Involve as
in design.

demands of

Process of
a project.
of it from
concept to

of each
subject on

on of all
the subjects
and their
on one
another by

of the
debates and
issues and

To satisfy both
the pragmatics
of profession
and demands
of educating

in local

- Diverse

- Well
web of
s with other

cy in
n of most

- Balance
between 3
fields of study:
science of
man, nature
and man-made

- Practical
and fails to
satisfy the



with all
subjects for

- Overall
outside and
inside the

- Creation
- Training
of a value
to influence system
would have
an impact
on the
nature of

- Needs

- Inculcate

- Engage in a
critique of
- More
culture, while
technologic preparing for
the profession.
- Shared
teaching to
of the interdisciplinary

In 1987, the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) adopted a charter which outlined the
goals and objectives of the profession and stated that the profession had to be reestablished (after 40 years of independence) as an independent discipline. The charter
on architecture adopted at the annual convention at Ahmedabad states that:
"Architecture has to be established as a lead discipline in the process of built
environment"12 and goes on to say "Architecture as a master discipline incorporates
studying designing, planning and managing activities"12
With the initiation of formal architectural education and the formation of its
curriculum, the intent of the course was to be holistic and a lot of disciplines were
aimed to be covered under its span so as to cater to the necessities of being an

Charter of IIA


Architect and the knowledge one needs to attain to understand the dynamics of
amalgamation of science and arts in this course. Now, almost reaching 3 decades, the
architectural education as per the same agenda with vast curriculum of the schools
have been teaching a variety of disciplines under different studios. Stress is now also
being laid on the theoretical end of the education and hence exposing student to a
scheme of school of thoughts by diverse faculty composition which targets to enrich
knowledge in various areas.
In contrast to this, the education system has also to keep up with the growing
demands of the profession which has bloomed nationally and internationally. With the
increasing competition of the profession and its highlighted value in society now, there
is a lot of pressure and responsibility which comes down to the education system. The
commercial attraction by the profession and its growing market demand has had an
impact on the functioning of schools. There has been a change in the objectives of the
architecture schools and their ideologies. To catch up with the speeding profession,
there has been a shift in focus of the studios. The strong inter-disciplinary meanings is
fading due to the inconsistency and fading relationship of cultural-societal subjects
with design. Coordination and established links in multi-discipline studios are missing
from schools and the design education is less oriented towards societal bearings than
before. The relevance of each subject/field of study for architecture and the reflection
and importance of it in design is lacking. Along with society/culture based subjects,
the awareness of general issues and debates in the sphere of architecture concerning
their impact and impact on them by other fields is not being well discussed/debated
about in colleges.
All of these shortcomings in the education loop are inclining to a weak structure of
unrelated disciplines that would fail to bring a strong meaning to the society. To be
more effective architect today requires more than the inculcation of a formal or
aesthetic style. The shastras ask of the architect's intellect to be broadened by the
knowledge of the carpentry, engineering, astrology, mathematics etc. Though the
designers role has shifted, construction, working details, engineering, estimating are
only a part of he has to know. He must be a sociologist at many socio-economic


levels, an ecologist, a landscapist, and a humanist.

So, an architect must be able to make use of the knowledge attained in school and see
through all of these aspects of related field or must be able to work in collaboration with
some or all of them as the profession dictates. And it becomes an utmost necessity for
an architect to know how all these disciplines bind together. Architectural education
must be able to teach how to be more effective while tying multiple disciplines.
Professor Anandkrishnan who is the Chairman of Madras Institute of Development
Studies expresses, "An architect must not only have the required technical skills but
also be equipped with financial and management skills"13. He must also be able to
affect the public policy making with his know-how, as the academician and an
effective leader in the field Mr. AGK Menon suggests. This would be able to change
the adverse infrastructural damages and bring larger opportunities for a different
perspective to the nation's infrastructure.

Bauhaus, an art school which was a balance between an arts and crafts tradition and
designing was considered the main source of methodology basis for design education.
Developed in the backdrop of economic and civil chaos in Germany at that time of WWI,
it was a model that promoted diversity.
Its ideology welcomed students from diverse disciplines and offered studies in
specialized workshops. It also encouraged faculty autonomy and independence.
After the IInd WW, the work of the Bauhaus was in a sense continued in other countries.
The Ulm school attempted to systemize design methodology and introduced novel
subjects such as ergonomics, semiotics and communication theory.
There was also an impact of the multi-culturalism on the Bauhaus pedagogy which was
the idea of "interconnected education". There was an understood need to seek
relationships and commonalities between disciplines, to join projects that combined
expertise in every area. These were holistic, nonspecific educational policies.

Bauhaus itself did not have any architectural department during its few initial years of

Article: Architect 'need interdisciplinary skills' The Hindu

sept.4, 2006


existence though its key aspects were modern graphic, industrial and architectural design.
The course that were a part of the Bauhaus School were designed to skill students in arts,
and were: basic course, workshop, design theory/graph, /translation, /grid. All of these
staging in different extents to unlearn and learn the art of exploration beyond building
design and knowing the varied meanings of design.

The Frank Lloyd Wright school of architecture which was formally initiated in 1932 was
also multidisciplinary which focused on "Learn by Doing".
"The fine arts, so called," they asserted, "should stand at the center as inspiration grouped
about architecture . . . . (of which landscape and the decorative arts would be a division)."
Education at this school would emphasize painting, sculpture, music, drama, and dance
"in their places as divisions of architecture."14

Howard Davis, who coined the term, 'Culture of Building' pointed out that the "architects
should not be arrogant to consider that they were the sole creator of architecture. They
were only a part of a long production chain which together resulted in the construction of
buildings." Even, "sciences are very important to develop responsible architects to meet
the varied expectations of our society"15, as stated by Mr. AGK Menon. Thus when we
say, it is a good architecture, it is the result of the contribution of several related
professions, who are all connected in a web of relationships to produce architecture.
This interconnected web of relationships between several fields and the functioning of
them in practice has been discussed in the next chapter.


Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

"Reforming Architectural Education" Magazine IA&B Sept2013 issue





Indian architectural practice has in past one decade seen the growth and development
in the firms taking up architectural projects and works. Big name architects have
established their long run practice in architecture by the brand of their firms which
have carried forward the lineage of work.
Post-independence saw a wave of independent architectural feats stamped by the then
modern architects and as the field grew to make its bold impression on the country's
newly blooming architecture, there was a emergence of bodies with similar mindsets
who aimed to spread their school of design. "One can almost make a case for a pre1990s ideology and a post-1990's ideology at work in the architecture of the
country."16 Where pre-1990s had embarked on to form the national image of modern
India, post-1990s saw variations in the regional/local image of architecture and the
practice became more diversified in the rationale it wanted to absorb in its
architecture, conceptual, exteriority, sustainability, efficiency, technology display,
simplicity, modernity, one/combinations of some/in scant cases, all. And now in the
early 21st century, it is difficult to keep a count on the number of old or recent, existing
or launching Indian firms practicing in varied ways across India. The point of
investigation remains the same of how much are they able to/aim to live up to the
intentions of the founding principles of being versatile and involved across cross

To see the pattern and state of such inter-disciplinary behavior in architectural

practice today, a few samples of Delhi-based firms are investigated.
There are various ways in which the practicing firms can be categorized for their
disciplinary behavior. Various factors determine and decide the way an architecture
firm adopts its style and level of disciplinary involvement. For example, scale and

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Sept2013 issue


nature of project decides the level of involvement of disciplines by firms which also
includes the time and economic factor of the project. Some firms by their philosophy,
only follow one attitude of involvement and some of them base the structure of their
member composition and their hierarchy to work out the dynamics of their office.
Some involve a well-established network of consultants to cater their services to
efficiency and there are those who take public participation mode to reach out to their
target audience in a better way. There is also no dearth to the large scale kind which
have a huge team and mainly are introverted to come right with the specified need of
the clientele from their self-testified designs.
The division of models of firms based on the categories discussed above and in
Chapter 2 has been made for the firms studied. The brief reason and description
explains their flagship category and the nature of their model.
1. Multi-disciplinary

- Heads of the firm take the final decisions after suggestions/inputs from the lower
- Autocratic decisions
- verticals -a range of architects work at different hierarchical stages.

2. Inter-disciplinary
Project management/organizations/NGOs involving multiple fields for a project or
cause beyond the
field of architecture. (*non architectural firms)

- A non-profit organisation that seeks to protect the lives and livelihoods of
people exposed to natural disasters and living in disaster prone areas.
- Primarily engages in shelter reconstruction and adopts locally based
approaches to reduce the impact of future disasters on communities at risk.


- Involves works in collaboration by architects, engineers, disaster management

team, doctor, state management etc.

KHOJ International Artist's Association

- Apart from cultural programmes, it takes up public welfare works where it
involves various disciplines for public participation oriented projects.
Aapki Sadak, a consultative project of Urban Design by Architects, Designers
and Artists and the local community for offering solutions in alter native
mobility through the pedestrianisation of economically diverse localities in
South Delhi, was an initiative by the Delhi based firm, Ashok B. Lall Architects
in collaboration with KHOJ.

Ramanan Corporation (RCorp)

3. Cross-disciplinary
The process of projects are various stages of discussions involving decisions by
coordination of
disciplines and mutual consensus.

Studio CoDe
- Democratic firm by the idea of common design discussions and not extreme
office hierarchy.
- Varied range of projects with coordinated cross-disciplines actions.

Vir Mueller architects

4. Trans-disciplinary
The project remains outside the realm of the discipline and wide-range/genre of
fields come together to see the possibilities of design.

Lotus Design


For the firms above and others involved in majorly intra-discipline projects,
divisions/categories can be based on the scale/nature of work also as following:


i. Urban + Big Architecture

Mani Chowfla Architects and Consultants

Abhimanyu Dalal Architects (ADA)

Sanjay Kanvinde Architects

ii. Big Architecture


Studio CoDe

Vir Mueller architects

iii. Small Architecture (/Big Design firms)

Lotus Design


iv. Public welfare bodies/public organizations



v. Consultancy Oriented

CPK (C.P. Kukreja Associates)

Consultancy Engineering Services (CES)

Ramanan Corporation (RCorp)

- From core software solutions to socio-agri applications, from traffic control to
wildlife watchdogs, their spectrum of study and analysis is designed to provide
endless opportunities for a wide range of professionals.
- Photographers, agriculturists, poets, coders, social activists, market planners
and so many more diverse fields welded in.
- Provide high quality technology products for the masses and top notch services
for Small & Medium Enterprises as well as Non Profit Organisations.
- The Project Kalpana is a non-profit initiative dedicated to the cause of crisis of
farmers. It brings in consultancy and participation from diverse areas like
Artists, Linguists, Advertising, Soil Testing, Server Specialists, Web designers


who could help reach to solutions to the national problem with their specialized
The above categorization suggests us of the few of the principles (*based on the
aspects laid by this study) on which various firms have based themselves to describe
their disciplinary approach. There are various levels on which such involvement
happens between disciplines by each one of the firm. To investigate those different
scheme of projects of a firm have been picked to study under the following criteria
which would help gauge the level of cross-disciplinary involvement:
- Scale of project
- Nature of project
- Time taken for the project to complete
- Nature of budget
- Range of disciplines involved (and how, wherever can be traced)


Studio CoDe

The firm practices communication and graphic design, interior design, website design,
architecture and certain amount of urbanism with master planning. They believe
"design crosses disciplinary boundaries and design is not an insular profession and
cannot be practiced in isolation " and thus they offer total-design services customized
and accommodated to client's requirements.

From the wide range of projects the firm has taken up, the ones chosen to analyze are
those which vary on the criteria mentioned above. The three projects are intentionally
chosen from different bands of the spectrum of projects so as to see the change in the
level and way of involvement of the firm with varying base factors of the project.



Revitalisation of the looks of Bagel's cafe along with their menu offerings. The firm in
collaboration with client and graphic designer, worked on the conceptualisation and
building of the visual and spatial look of the new cafe.
The cafe brand was targeting to launch multiple outlets of various scales within the city
with this prototype in Meher Chand market, it had limitations on its expenditure, thus
giving very framed options for its working model.
Scale of project


Nature of project

retail project for visual branding and interior design

Time taken

5-6 months

Nature of budget


Figure 4.

Figure 5.
Source: Firm's website


People involved from other

To what extent and how

venture capitalist

Brought in investment approach to the project

Guided the potential growth of the project

food related marketing person - In coordination with the firm for design inputs that
would reach out better to the market in the way the
people are most appealed by it.
- The work happened on design levels of what
colours to be used to relate with the kind of food
offered and images that best reflect the menu.
brand identity (visual

- Graphic design suggestions for the outlet for

identity) person of the brand

client's satisfaction.
- Interior and graphics had to show the style of the

financial advisor of the client

Gave practical links to all the possible options of

colours, materials, design choices available to the
firm that would fit the range of the budget for the


The interchange of ideas happened by the firm with the people of the Cafe brand
who for very specific demand of their visual identity became a key player in the
design suggestions and processes.

The scale and budget did not demand of the project to intrinsically involve any
outside field. Also, the nature of the project of an established brand name gave it
an internalized discussion forum.

The main multi disciplines that were important were graphic designing, visual
branding and marketing.



The master plan creates a residential district across 100 acres for the historic Ballarpur
paper mills as an extension to the existing industrial colony. nestles along a highly
contoured lush site, the new colony connects below the state highway via a densely
planted connection to the strikingly urban front created by the new administration and
public buildings in front of the existing factory.
Scale of project


Nature of project

master planning

Time taken

2yrs +

Nature of budget


Figure 6.

Figure 7.
Source: Firm's website


Ventured along with a joint partner. it was an economy driven project in which after
an introduction of it with the firm members, the principals took over the main
communication work.

People involved from other

To what extent and how

Land Surveyor

To give the information of the topography of the


Soil sampling person

As there are varying contours on the site, the

related specifications of it were provided for the
base information of the project.

In-house ecologist

Gave advices, suggestions, technical viewpoints

Forestry department

and directions to the design process. They

Environmental expert

suggested how the design's potential can be


grown around the environmental constraints of

the side.

Local transportation

A lot of the decisions had to be made according to

State regulation legal person

the legal possibilities of the site as a state

Land use : Legal person

highway ran through its premises.

Human resource person

The demands and needs of all the grades differed

Of grade A, B, and C workers.

so did their psychologies and private lives.

Hence, the housing provided for them came after
and while understanding and incorporating these

Financial advisor

The project involved large financial investments

and was critical of how to be dealt alongside
design because of the scale of the project. Hence,
the kind of economy and the contextual financial
sustainability of it also featured in the design for


the site.


This project saw a wide range of fields and disciplines involving in different
stages of design like understanding the site, technical information for the various
aspects of site, potentials/opportunities and cues for design, environmental
behavior for the design and design's nature to sit in the specific environment,
legal constrictions and implication on the design, financial bindings, human
requirements and psychology for the people specific to the site.

The time for which the project has stretched is long because of the scale of the
project and the crucial amount of involvement with other fields on major stages
of design.

The design has grown on various levels because of number of rounds of panel
discussions that happened with the head or members from various technical
areas which were used in the design techniques and revisited again for a
feedback and suggestions from those people to get to an enriched design by
combining knowledge from all.


The company website design of Skymet to reflect their capability and status as India's
biggest private weather forecaster. Required to target visitors from both urban and
rural sectors and encourage them to check the weather and all things weather related,
the site had to exude depth and breadth of knowledge, professionalism through bold
design and intuitive interaction.
Biggest challenge for the firm was in the translation between design intent,
technology capability and relaying real time information via a customized content


management system.

Scale of project


Nature of project

Website/logo design

Time taken

4 and a half months

3 months for design

1 and half for coding

Nature of budget

Moderate. distributed among both firms (Studio CoDe and Iffort)

Figure 7.

Figure 8.
Source: Firm's website


People involved from other

To what extent and how

Iffort, digital media agency

Handled the coding and management of the website

Gave practical options for a comfortable interface

Both, Iffert and Studio CoDe worked in collaboration to create a web interface which
involved translating complex technical weather data into easy to understand web
A core programming team and visual identity team were heading the project in the firm

The project itself was outside the field of architecture. It explored the area of
website design bringing in expertise of technical fields.

Coding and programming aspects were to be understood by the in-house team for
creating a suitable and up-beat design.

Technically practical and creative inputs for the design came by collaborating
with another body of experts in digital media. The nature of project pushed the
involvement across disciplines and the scale helped in keeping it to the required


This study discussed various disciplinary theoretical models that exist and, the levels and
ways at which they involve the key discipline with other allied or non-allied (different
genre) disciplines.
Out of these analyzed models of relationships, inter-disciplinary model has the most
sustainable intentions and results, with the reason that it looks at multiple context under
one palette and accounts active participation from all the other fields to achieve an output
which is holistic and is beneficial from all aspects without compromising or neglecting
important areas of effect.
In architectural reference, such involvement helps in generating a product or in
evolving a process which is socially, culturally, historically considerate; for instance
redevelopment in post-disaster areas require not only rapid shelter provision but also a
sensitive understanding of the cultural needs of the affected society bindings. A shelter
which mitigates the loss of the people while understanding their local activities'
mechanism is more suited/beneficial option in the long run than a quick aid which might
serve the momentary purpose but deteriorates what defined their societal fabric.
The process of architectural growth must also live up to ground realities of the Indian
context of the kind of lifestyle people prefer, the economic backdrop, the political
influence etc.
Thus, this model shows how inputs and close working with varied disciplines enlarges
the scope of better results.
This research tried to observe and analyze the nature of inter-disciplinary connection in
the education system of architecture. While the pioneer schools of architecture like
Bauhaus and FLW encouraged cross-disciplines' awareness and skill development, the
current education system shows inefficiency in an all-round development of a student.
As stated, by the people in the present leading academicians' circle, it comes out that
though there is still a need to have a strong inter-relation between various theory and
practical subjects, there are fractures in the establishment of their connections. As Mrs.


Ranjana Mittal expresses, there is an independent growth of ideas in schools but what is
missing is the awareness generation of their impact on each other.
Design, which seems to be the main focus of the schools, has loose connection with other
related subjects that make it stand. Schools which once were coiled around holistic
principles of habitat studies are now commercially driven, as stated by Mr. AGK Menon
and thus they miss on imparting the core values to the profession.
With that status of educational backdrop, the profession of architecture sees a wide range
of selection of models of disciplinary engagement. In that light, this study classified
various kinds of firms which have come to adopt different models of work ideologies. It
was observed and concluded that their philosophy, team composition and style connects
directly with the extent of disciplinary involvement they choose to make. From singledisciplinary to trans-disciplinary examples of case studies, there were exceptions in
involvement because of other factors that dictated the project outline.
Studio CoDe, which was chosen as the primary case study gave an insight that within a
multi-disciplinary firm the factors like; scale, time, budget, client's choices dictate the
project's leap, outside its disciplinary boundaries. It also showed how the extent or scope
of a rich inter-disciplinary dialogue increases with a lease of any of the above mentioned

Therefore, this study concludes the relevance of various disciplinary models (-cross,
inter, multi, trans) in today's practice of architecture based on factors from two directions.
One that comes from the roots of education that prepares an architect and on the other
hand, the mechanism of the professional world. And thus, what theoretically is the ideal
set-up of cross disciplinary connections, gets challenged in the professional sphere by not
only the external conditions of the project and market but also internally, from its feasible
content of the architect's skills, capacity and capability to stretch out between different



Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture

Michael Parker Pearson, Architecture and Order: Approaches to Social space

Kingston Wm. Heath, The Patina of Place: The cultural weathering of a New
England Industrial Landscape

A.-I. Petrior, Urbanism report on multi-, trans - and inter disciplinarity,

essential conditions for the sustainable development of human habitat

Susan Kent, Domestic Architecture and the use of space An interdisciplinary

cross-cultural study

Our Common Future: Brundtland Report Chapter 2 Towards Sustainable

Development, UNWCED

European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter - Council of Europe

Report on SPATIAL PLANNING Key Instrument for Development and

Effective Governance with Special Reference to Countries in Transition,
Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations New York and Geneva, 2008

The Geography of Transport System

Article: Architect 'need interdisciplinary skills' The Hindu

sept.4, 2006

"Reforming Architectural Education" Magazine IA&B

Sept2013 issue