At the launch of a publication on the works of Raj Rewal, the acclaimed architect himself led guests round the French Embassy, a building he helped design

In a grand hallway at the Embassy of France, dressed in a fine black suit, stands a tall, gray-haired man, surrounded by a group of people congratulating him for his new book. He is Raj Rewal. The book “Innovative Architecture and Tradition” (Om Books) has essays by Raj Rewal, Kenneth Frampton, Peter Davey, Suha Ozkan and Suparna Rajguru, which sum up the concepts that shaped Rewal’s creations — a repertoire of residential, public and institutional buildings. The book was launched last week with a brief tour of the premises by Rewal, associate architect of the embassy.

While elaborating the various aspects of architecture, Rewal recalled anecdotes from when the embassy was being built and also shared the rationale behind the different facets of the building. “Along with the other architects, our idea was to design something which not only projects France and India but also something which creates a dialogue. As you walk through the embassy and egress from the hall, you’ll see a Mughal garden with water channels and candle-lit lighting. We wanted to create a relationship between the chancery and the residential area of the ambassador,” said Rewal.

Known for his design of projects like the Nehru Memorial Pavilion, the Asian Games Village, the National Institute of Immunology, the library of the Indian Parliament, the Lisbon Ismaili Centre in Portugal and the Indian Embassy in Beijing, Rewal has more recently added to his list the Visual Arts Institutional Campus, Rohtak. His works are deeply influenced by the theory of aesthetics and rasa.

“'Raj Rewal’s buildings have dominated our growing up years as prominent cultural and historical milestones, more so in Delhi. From the Hall of Nations, the Hall of Industries to the World Bank Regional Mission, his architecture describes a fascinating trajectory from the local to the international. The book is a humble tribute to the master builder,” said Ajay Mago, publisher, Om Books International.

The much awarded architect — honours include a Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Architects — also happens to be the first Indian architect whose works are going to be displayed for six months at the National Gallery of Modern Art.

“I am proud and moved to be a part of this book launch, not only because of the relationship I have with Raj Rewal, but because I think it’s a beautiful book which reflects dedication of a man to art and innovation,” said François Richier, Ambassador of France to India.