India was a newly independent country that had to be re-shaped to meet the demands of the modern world. A few entrepreneurial players led the way to achieve successful results on a long and rewarding journey. One of these players is CP Kukreja Architects in Delhi. Dikshu Kukreja, Managing principal of CP Kukreja Architects, has documented these developments in his new book Five Decades of Indias Built Environment. Sunday Guardian is joined by him for an exclusive chat about the occasion. Excerpts of an edited interview
Q. Please tell us more about your book. Who was it created and when?
A.I am an architect, urban planner, and environmentalist who is passionate. I am the Managing Principal of CP Kukreja architects (CPKA), based in New Delhi. We also have offices located in the USA, Vietnam, Japan and China. After completing my Bachelors of Architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi I was awarded a fellowship by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in America and a Masters of Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard University. I have worked internationally in France and the US before returning to India and joining CPKA.
CPKA designs built environments at all scales and typologies. We do this for residential, retail, hospitality, and institutional projects. Our work is grounded in context and driven by innovative technologies.
The book covers the last five decades in India’s built environment, as the title implies. The text examines the history of Indian architecture through the lense of CPKA’s fifty-year-old multidisciplinary approach. It features some of our most important architectural projects, which have shaped India’s architectural landscape from post-independence to the postliberalised society to today.
Arunima Kukreja, a passionate writer, interior designer and philanthropist, is the author of the book. We went through our archives to see the many projects that our firm has contributed to our nation’s growth as we approached CPKA’s golden anniversary. We felt that a book would be a great way for all that hard work to be remembered and cherished by everyone. Amazon allows you to order the book online.
A. We are humbled and honored by the excellent reviews we received for the book.
It was presented to prominent dignitaries from around the globe, who have praised the edition with enthusiasm, including Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu (Honble Vice President) and V. Muraleedharan (Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs), have presented the book to Shri. The book has received praise from many prominent members of the architecture community, including Mr Daniel Hart (President of the American Institute of Architects) and Mr Sherif anis (Executive Director, AIA Middle East Chapter).
Arunima and myself were also invited to present it at Jaipur Literature Festival. It was unveiled by Hans Jacob Frydenlund (Honorable Ambassador of Norway).
A. As CPKA was approaching 50 years of industry experience, we began to go through our archives. It was amazing to see the extent of the work done by our firm over the past five decades. We were also fascinated by the changes in India’s architecture and building landscape over this time. So, we decided to document and share our firm’s work with the world. We show you the profound changes in India’s urban environment, through the lens of our fifty year-old architecture practice. The book was created by Arunima Kukreja and is the result a two-year-long effort in the midst a pandemic.
Q. Q. Please share your three most striking memories from this 50-year period.
A.My first memory is of my father Mr CP Kukreja in his early 30s. He won the design competition in 1969 for JawaharlalNehru University. With its multidisciplinary approach to architecture and comprehensive contextual master planning, the JNU campus was considered a leader in this field.
Another fond memory is when I joined CPKA 1997. There was a convergence of ideas between me and Mr Kukrejas at this stage. Although we had different personalities and opinions, our shared philosophy about work and life was similar. Both of us wanted to improve people’s lives and have a profound effect on society’s expectations of architecture. We built in harmony with nature, not at the expense of it.
The third memory is when we were selected among the top 100 architecture practices in the world. I was also selected by the Union of International Architects Paris to be one of the top 100 architects worldwide in 2021. I was also thrilled and humbled to see our design for India Pavilion at Dubai Expo be lauded around the globe and chosen as one of the top three pavilion designs in the world. It was a major game-changer in bringing contemporary Indian architecture to the global stage.
A. We are thrilled to have completed half a century of service in the industry. This special occasion is being celebrated in many ways. We will be launching our book Five Decades of India’s Built Environment. We have also collaborated closely with the National Association of Students of Architecture, and created a design contest and scholarship for students of architecture through CP Kukreja Foundation for Design. We are also traveling around the globe displaying our work at CPKA over five decades. The exhibition was held in Seoul and Dubai in 2021. It will also be part of the London Festival of Architecture in June. We also organized celebrations in-house with our beloved team at CPKA.
A. We are currently working on many important projects that keep our office lively and positive. Our team just completed the master plan for Ayodhya and we look forward to its implementation. Another of our projects is the ongoing East Delhi Hub. It will be India’s largest and most prominent transit-oriented development project. It will be home of Delhi’s tallest structure. Other projects are also in development.
We are also involved in exciting international projects in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nigeria. A Tale of Two Cities, which will air on WION, is another show I am currently working on to bring urban issues into mainstream conversation. I will be speaking with global leaders from major cities around the world about key global and local issues related to urban planning and design.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org