Buildings are a big sustainability challenge. And yet, as a value, sustainability is not central to how architects' work is evaluated by their peers and society at large. They are mainly recognised and rewarded for their aesthetic achievements, the benchmarks for which can be traced to the exemplars of unsustainable modernism, including Le Corbusier's Chandigarh. Over the last forty years, however, a broad current of architectural practice has developed many sustainability critiques of the hallowed mainstream and also established new exemplars and principles of building sustainably in India. The social, technical, and aesthetic achievements of the practitioners that form this current are important and have opened exciting new paths for sustainability explorations. But I argue that this current of practice urges us to consider something more fundamental: aesthetic or cultural achievement is a relatively narrow value to center architectural practice on. What matters is the criticality of practice, that forms the basis of creativity. Through a discussion of pioneers of sustainable architecture in contemporary India, then I will present some thoughts on the orienting ideal of 'critical practice' that hopefully has relevance beyond the field of architecture, building on and departing from Rendell's (2007) and Schon (1992).
Architect and Urbanist
Centre for Urban Science and Engineering (CUSE)
Himanshu Burte, an architect and urbanist, is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Urban Science and Engineering (CUSE) at the IIT-Bombay. He has taught at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, and has a Ph. D. in Urban Planning. Burte practiced architecture in Mumbai and Goa for over a decade and a half and has published extensively across professional, popular, and scholarly platforms since 1990. He recently edited a special issue of _Marg _titled _Infrastructure as space: Development and its (Dis)Contents _(2019). His latest book (co-edited with Amita Bhide) 'Urban Parallax: Policy and the City in Contemporary India' gathers diverse disciplinary perspectives to critique urban policy in India. His 2008 book, 'Space for Engagement: The Indian Art place and a Habitational Approach to Architecture, proposes an alternative conceptual framework for architecture centered on the act of dwelling. Active in building critical discourse around architecture and urbanism in India, Burte is a co-founder of Gubbi Alliance for Sustainable Habitat (www.gubbi.org ) a network of architects practicing sustainably in India. His current research interests include urban transformation, critical practice, urban infrastructure, and sustainable urbanism.