Memory and Metamorphosis
Cultural memory is an important part of Raj Rewal's architectural upbringing. His extensive travel across India and the curation of the 1986 Paris exhibition Traditional Architecture in India, where he surveyed a large number of Indian monuments including the Stepwells of Gujarat, are secular monuments and urban spaces that have deeply influenced his work.
Indian inspiration to solve contemporary problems has its limitations. Let us say you cannot make a Toyota factory or airport based on Indian temples! On the other hand there are certain elements of design dealing with climate and cultural values which have relevance to our work even today. Building techniques are changing quickly. The pattern of living is in the process of evolution and a global culture inspired by the media is eroding traditional values. Does this imply that architectural heritage has no future? Some would like to equate regionalism with backward fundamentalism and others would argue that globalisation and market economy would promote a new kind of brutal banalisation. In fact, contemporary societies have to fight on two fronts. They have to confront fanaticism going back to the medieval times as well as the mindless attitude inspired by the market economy that form follows finance.
In terms of architectural language, there is another way which amalgamates the essence of traditional wisdom with techno-savy of our times to create humane, ethical and sustainable architecture. Passive energy saving systems learnt through traditional methods can go hand in hand with smart buildings based on state-of-the-art technology.