Smart Cities (2): Forget the Indian Architect – January, 2018

Was re­vis­ing the two de­f­i­n­i­tions of Typological Instituteds, and at the same time, read­ing through the sem­i­nars of 59 and 65 with Indian ar­chi­tects rea­son­ing about — as to why there must not be a national style’ of Architecture but there must be an Architects’ Act.

I thought of ty­po­log­i­cal in­sti­tut­eds in 97 or 98, around the time mo­bile phones and the Internet ap­peared in New Delhi and out of a com­mon­sense: that it would not longer suf­fice to think of ar­chi­tec­ture in the con­text of the City, or the city as a work of Architecture.

The effect of tech­nol­ogy on ar­chi­tec­ture’, to bor­row a phrase from the Seminar of 59, did not con­cern me, but the work­ing of the state cer­tainly did – it ap­peared to in­creas­ing rely on techno-sci­en­tific trans­for­ma­tions – and there re­mained the ques­tion of ar­chi­tects and their am­biva­lence, how they op­er­ated with an aleatory ease the ques­tion of an ar­chi­tect-func­tion (so suc­cess­fully in­duced into the state by the Architect’s Act) and the col­lec­tive as­sem­blage of enun­ci­a­tion de­ployed with some suc­cess since 47, to cir­cum­scribe that very func­tion.

~ * ~

Started read­ing Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal, Scientific and Railway Gazette pub­lished be­tween 1837 and 1867. I have at­tached a sam­ple, have a look.

It is fab­u­lous”, I hear my­self say­ing, this jour­nal.

It starts with an in­dex, not a table of con­tents (already an in­vi­ta­tion to dis­man­tle the what­ever the writ­ers and ed­i­tors have put to­gether), and goes on, … Communications across the Isthmus of Suez, the Medals Awarded by Royal Academy, Thomson’s Tilting Apparatus for Railway Wagons, The Temple of Minerva, Philosophy of Sand Formations … it is con­tin­u­ous, it does not make a thing out of aca­d­e­mic bound­aries, and I think it well rep­re­sents the space cre­ated in the 19th cen­tury as A City-Machine is mo­bi­lized, the great vari­ables at the heart of pro­duc­tion blur in-and-out of play.

So I start read­ing it again as if it were a car­tog­ra­phy, a map that ar­rives in ad­vance, and as Borges has it a map whose size will be even­tu­ally the size of the Empire. We still find tat­tered ru­ins of that map, it is true, in­deed shel­ter­ing the oc­ca­sional beg­gar or an­i­mal around the rail­way sta­tion, the Sadar Bazaar, the can­ton­ment, the weather sta­tion, the riverbed.

~ * ~

Machines ar­rayed in an il­lu­sion of ho­mo­gene­ity, com­puted space – so we now use the coun­try it­self, as its own map, and I as­sure you it does nearly as well”

Heritage Cities, Smart Cities, Resilient Cities: an as­sem­blage con­sti­tutes it­self (without weight’, with­out its own mass’, with­out en­ergy”) by the gov­ern­ments’ pro­nounce­ments, and I no­tice the form of ex­pres­sion, how it in­duces trans­ver­sal po­ten­tials (Marx al­ready points us in this di­rec­tion in Future Results…) and dis­tance (think of cor­po­real city with its mass, en­ergy and mem­ory we have known since the 17th cen­tury). I un­der­stand how this dis­tance re­fur­bishes the great vari­ables for tech­ni­cians of space, for all those ar­chi­tects play­ing at lit­tle sol­diers, even.

~ * ~

For this rea­son I no longer com­pre­hend what Indian ar­chi­tects say: ar­chi­tec­ture has a so­cial mis­sion, they tell us with cer­ti­tude, architecture pre­cedes phi­los­o­phy” and I only see (repressive, mo­lar) ma­chines at the mo­ment of its in­cep­tion; the name of James Fergusson (who catalogues build­ings like but­ter­flies”) ap­pears again with ease and I see mon­u­ments, mu­se­ums even, that will erected in the name of Architecture the Father.

I hear a shout in the col­lec­tive as­sem­blage of enun­ci­a­tion, … give us the money, give us our spec­ta­cle, give us our ac­cursed share, of course, else how will we ever build a theoretical ma­trix” for it?

~ * ~

And I see how easy it is, in the economies of it all, to for­get the Indian’ Architect.

Chandigarh <a href="#planisme" aria-describedby="footnote-label" id="planisme-ref"><em>Planisme</em></a>
Chandigarh Planisme: Le Corbusier in 1951 started with the 7v sys­tem (rationalization of the city-plan, ap­pli­ca­tion of the logic of speed, like the blood­stream in the hu­man body’) and ar­boriza­tion (logic of ter­ri­tory and wa­ter­ways, urban el­e­ments af­fected by land­scape’) be­fore those build­ings (or Solar Artefacts) were syn­the­sized. Source: LCOC

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Notes from the Moleskine


  1. Typological Instituteds in Dynamics of Meaning in Arhitectural Form and On Typology/Mapping Heterologies.
  2. The Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal, Scientific and Railway Gazette. London: Groombridge & Sons, J. Weale. XIII (1850).
  3. Seminar on Architecture, Edited by Achyut P. Kanvinde. New Delhi: Lalit Kala Akademi, 1959.
  4. Seminar on the Architect and the Community, New Delhi: India International Center, 1965.
  5. … that es­cape the do­main of the ar­chi­tect”, Foucault lists three, the logic of speed, the logic of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the logic of ter­ri­tory in Foucault, M, 1982, Space, knowl­edge and power” (interview with P Rabinow) Skyline March, pp 16–20.
  6. Purportedly from Suárez Miranda, Travels of Prudent Men, Book Four, Ch. XLV, Lérida, 1658 in J. L. Borges, A Universal History of Infamy (translated by Norman Thomas de Giovanni), Penguin Books, London, 1975.

    … In that Empire, the Art of Cartography at­tained such Perfection that the map of a sin­gle Province oc­cu­pied the en­tirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the en­tirety of a Province …
  7. Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Chapter XI, London, 1895 (Also cited in Edney, Matthew H. (2009). Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843. University of Chicago Press. p. 353n39)
  8. Guattari, Félix. The Three Ecologies. Trans. Gary Genosko. London: Athlone Press, 2000.
  9. Marx, Karl The Future Results of British Rule in India″ in the New-York Daily Tribune, August 8, 1853; reprinted in New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 856, August 9, 1853.
  10. Architects: Inside the Government’s techno-sci­en­tific trans­for­ma­tions, ar­chi­tects can still deal with ur­ban sprawl and hous­ing (the do­main of macro-ma­chinic ecolo­gies); in­side tech­ni­cal pro­duc­tion, they deal with en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and her­itage-con­ser­va­tion (‘childhood mem­o­ries’ or the do­main of com­mon sense, that is, the do­main of recog­ni­tion, rec­ol­lec­tion or fix­a­tion of per­ma­nent iden­ti­ties be­tween the I’ and the world).

    Little Soldiers: In the do­main of so­cial ecol­ogy there will be times of strug­gle in which every­one will feel im­pelled to de­cide on com­mon ob­jec­tives and to act like lit­tle sol­diers,” by which I mean like good ac­tivists. But there will si­mul­ta­ne­ously be pe­ri­ods in which in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive sub­jec­tiv­i­ties will pull out” with­out a thought for col­lec­tive aims, and in which cre­ative ex­pres­sion as such will take prece­dence.’

    Guattari, op cit.
  11. Statements ran­domly ex­tracted from news-me­dia in­ter­views by Architect MN Ashish Ganju at New Delhi, December, 2016.
  12. Bataille’s the­ory of con­sump­tion, the ac­cursed share is that ex­ces­sive and non-re­cu­per­a­ble part of any econ­omy which must ei­ther be spent lux­u­ri­ously and know­ingly with­out gain in the arts, in non-pro­cre­ative sex­u­al­ity, in spec­ta­cles and sump­tu­ous mon­u­ments, or it is obliv­i­ously des­tined to an out­ra­geous and cat­a­strophic out­pour­ing, in the con­tem­po­rary age most of­ten in war, or in for­mer ages as de­struc­tive and ru­inous acts of giv­ing or sac­ri­fice, but al­ways in a man­ner that threat­ens the pre­vail­ing sys­tem.
  13. Or, The con­den­sa­tion of phys­i­cal and so­cial re­la­tion­ships to­gether as a plan.