The IIA NATCON 2013 had architects from across the country discussing various aspects and issues of architecture. Hema Vijay reports

Well, considering that rapid urbanisation and built structures are here to stay and that infrastructure development has become the watchword of India’s growth story, the country needs to carefully plan its way ahead. This is to ensure sustainability and to avoid making the mistakes that developed countries made in their move towards urbanization. Is there a way to give direction to this movement?

After a gap of 20 years, last week, the city got to host IIA NATCON 2013, an annual congregation of architects from across the country, to deliberate on various aspects and issues in architecture including urbanization, sustainability and innovation. Over 1,500 architects including award-winning architects like Padmashri B.V. Doshi, Bijoy Jain, Jaisim, and K T Ravindran participated, besides hundreds of architecture students. The convention included an architecture expo that showcased architectural products. Alongside the exposition, the works of master architects from India, recent award-winning projects, and award-winning students’ works were on display too. NATCON 2013 also featured an awareness pavilion that gave information about architectural practices, and a festival of short films on architecture.

The doyen of modern Indian architecture Padmashri B.V. Doshi, who was here on all the three days, says, “NATCON 2013 has been the largest such gathering which has happened in India, and I want to congratulate the Tamil Nadu chapter of Indian Institute of Architects for staging this massive event.” Following the success of NATCON 2013, the TN chapter of IIA is considering holding architectural meets once every three months in smaller cities across the state. The Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), established in the year 1917, is the national body of architects in the country.

Chennai Charter

One of the significant fallouts of the convention is its charter of far-reaching recommendations. This charter has now come to be called Chennai Charter. “Following NATCON 2013, IIA has decided to work for the establishment of a separate ‘Ministry of architecture, regional and urban planning’ in the central government, with a Central Public Architecture Department functioning on the lines of Central Public Works Department which oversees architecture as of now, along with irrigation and other aspects. At the state level too, we seek the establishment of a Ministry of Architecture and a Public Architecture Department like the Public Works Department”, says architect J. Manoharan, convener, NATCON 2013.

IIA will also be briefing various government bodies about the provisions of The Architects Act (1972), as per which the Council of Architecture specifies that architects are to be employed in government construction projects, besides modalities on how exactly architects need to be employed. The third major recommendation of the Chennai Charter is in the formation of an architecture university, whenever sufficient number schools/colleges of architecture are functioning in a particular geographical location. “The Chennai Chapter also calls for strengthening architectural education by introducing teacher training for architectural educators, besides holding of periodic modules or workshops on various aspect of architecture, with credits given”, adds Manoharan.

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