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361° Conference, India: Architecture and Identity Explored

The conference, to be held in Mumbai from 19 to 21 February, will bring together noted speakers in India and around the world to discuss pertinent issues relating to architecture in the country and its subcontinent.

361° Conference, India: Architecture and Identity Explored


BY

5 February, 2014


Since 2005, 361° Conference has gathered architecture’s leading lights to discuss topics of relevance to India and its subcontinent. Noted speakers have included Richard Meier, Fumihiko Maki, Rahul Mehrotra, Ben van Berkel, Kengo Kuma, and Will Alsop, just to name a few.

361° Conference is curated by Indian Architect & Builder, one of the oldest architectural magazines in India. We ask them what we can expect from this year’s event, which is set to take place from 19 to 21 February at the Nehru Center in Mumbai, India.

1
Charles Correa, India, speaking at 361° Conference 2013

How did the idea for 361° Conference come about? What is its objective?

361° Conference was established in 2005 in India as a platform for discourse and discussion on architecture and by extension, design, in India and its subcontinent. The idea was to create a thought exchange programme where architects from India gather, discuss relevant issues and network. For a developing nation such as India, it is crucial to raise awareness and understanding about the philosophy and process in architectural practice, especially amongst students. The objective, therein, is to create an accessible and affordable platform and institute a community of like-minded people who are either inspired or informed.

3
Jenni Reuter, Finland, speaking at 361° Conference 2013

Why is it called 361°?

The one extra degree makes the difference. In fact, the logo itself carries a small inscription
that mentions ‘The degree of difference’. The thought is loosely based on a quote by Desiderius Erasmus. The belief is that the concern should be articulated beyond the usual – to an extra level, to a more meaningful approach.

2
(Left to Right): Fernando Menis, Spain; Hélène Binet, UK; Sumitro Ghosh, India; Sean Godsell, Australia; Palinda Kannangara, Sri Lanka; Kevin Mark Low, Malaysia, at 361° Conference 2013

Who is the conference aimed at?

The targeted audiences are architects – in practice and academia, and students of architecture. Generally, practitioners from other design disciplines attend the conference as well.

5
Interpretations of Sustainability, exhibition at 361° premises, 2013

Can you describe the format of the event?

The event spans over two and a half days. It opens with an evening lecture (Icon lecture by Dr BV Doshi, followed by a dialogue with William Curtis) followed by two intense days of lectures by 14 prestigious speakers. A selective networking reception is organised as a part of it.

6
Dr Ken Yeang, Malaysia, speaking at 361° Conference 2012

Why was “Architecture and Identity” chosen as this year’s theme?

For the past three years, we have been deliberating on instigating a directional and relevant inclination for architecture. With the unprecedented flux of construction, the idea of ‘innovative’, ‘modern’ and ‘green’ architecture is emerging more and more.

When we look at India, which celebrates a rich repository of culture and history, we find that most of the contemporary architecture is no longer part of any urban tissue. As our note on the theme states, within this diversity, we find a consistent struggle by individuals and groups to anchor ideas to their appropriate roots. The fundamentals of ‘context’, ‘values’, etc are often ignored. In a profession that remains stubbornly divided between nostalgia and a blind faith in the new global economy, we believe that an intrinsic introspection is required which looks past a superficial reading of the issue of identity the world over; a praxis that neither rejects history nor ignores contemporary truths. In these times, which will define an epoch wherein cities like Shanghai are on the rise, the quest is to establish introspection for each architect or practice. In a campaign such as this, it is very important to investigate the process and its minutiae and as with each year, we hope that the delegates will take back with them, the momentum of discussions raised at the conference and imbibe into their practice.

361° Conference 2014 will be held from 19 February – 21 February 2014 at Nehru Center, Mumbai, India. Visit 361degrees.net.in for more information and to register for the conference.


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