Transition of an innovative architect

A creation of Raj Rewal.

A creation of Raj Rewal.  

HIS "SIGNATURE" is part of Delhi's skyline. Now bringing the World Bank building, the National Institute of Immunology, the Parliament Library and the Asian Games Village under one roof is an exhibition that highlights the city's landmarks as well the man who built these - Raj Rewal.

"My first public building was the Hall of Nations at Pragati Maidan. It was to celebrate 25 years of Indian independence and I wanted to make it exuberant. I had done buildings before like the staff quarters of the French Embassy, the house of Sham Lal and of Satish Gujral. It is very difficult for a young architect to be able to get a chance to build, so he has to depend on his family and close friends in the beginning," he says with a smile.

For a man who has spent 30 years with bricks and stone, time has certainly not been able to diminish his zest to create. "My favourite project is yet to come. I can't say which of my buildings I love the best; it is like asking a mother to choose a favourite child. But the CIDCO Housing in New Mumbai, low-cost housing for the poor, is probably the one I am most proud of. One of my biggest concerns is that we have not been able to build houses for the poor. It is something we need to do," he says.

A chance to look at his buildings down the years, the exhibition gives visitors an opportunity to see the models as well as the finished work in stone. With models of all his buildings on display, including projects that never materialised, like the City Museum, it is a peek into the three-dimensional world of an architect. "A writer can just write. Painters use colour. But our medium of expression is big buildings. We need models to conceptualise space. I think the art of architecture is modulation of space and light and the models I use help me visualise my drawings," he explains.

And moving just beyond brick, the exhibition also has the `right' visual aids to help the viewer see the finished product from the drawing board to concrete reality. With three movies directed by Raj Rewal's son Manu running on a large plasma screen, it will be an exhibition with a difference.

Being held at the Visual Arts Gallery at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, the exhibition will be inaugurated this Friday (December 26) and will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. till January 2.

By Mandira Nayar

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