Books are the best way to document a period of time in history and preserve pertinent information for posterity. A recent book I came across which does this admirably is the coffee table book ‘Five Decades of India’s Built Environment’ by Dikshu C Kukreja and Arunima Kukreja, published by Roli Books. In it, the authors, who have long been associated with Delhi-based CP Kukreja Architects (CPKA), have recorded the most important projects undertaken by his firm over the last five decades, which have been instrumental in shaping a young and newly independent nation.
As a passionate architect, urban planner, environmentalist, and the Managing Principal of the firm, Dikshu has plenty of experience in the field. He worked in the US and France before returning to India and joining the firm in 1997. He says, “We design built environments across scales and typologies, from residential and retail to hospitality and institutional projects. Our work is rooted in contextuality and driven by a sustainable approach reinforced through innovative technologies.”
Rooted in the firm’s noteworthy projects, the book focusses on the evolution of Indian architecture over the last 50 years. It is a showcase of CPKA’s landmark architectural projects undertaken from the post-independence era, moving along with a post-liberalised society before coming to the present. Dikshu’s wife Arunima, who is a passionate writer, interior designer, and philanthropist, was instrumental in shaping this book along with him. He explains, “As we were approaching our company’s golden anniversary, we went through our archives to look at our firm’s vast repository of projects that have contributed significantly to our growing nation. We felt that writing this book would be a great way to bring together all that hard work to be known and cherished by all.”
The compelling subject chosen and aesthetic handling of the book have garnered excellent reviews. As a further mark of appreciation and a showcase of its success, the book was launched at the Jaipur Literature Festival by His Excellency Ambassador of Norway, Hans Jacob Frydenlund.
When asked about the process of compiling the book, Kukreja says, “While we were going through our archives, we were astonished to see the magnitude of the work carried out by our firm over the last five decades. At the same time, we were also intrigued by the significant transformations that have taken place in India’s architectural vocabulary and building landscape during this period. Thus, we decided to document our firm’s work and share it with the world, portraying the profound changes that have taken place in the urban environment in cities across India through the lens of our fifty-year-old architectural practice. Led by Arunima, the book is the result of a rigorous effort over two years in the midst of the pandemic.”
CPKA is commemorating 50 years in the industry in many ways. They have collaborated with the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA) and instituted a design competition and scholarship for students of architecture through the CP Kukreja Foundation for Design. The team is also travelling across the world exhibiting their most prominent projects done over the last five decades. They have already been to Dubai and Seoul in 2021 and will be part of the London Festival of Architecture this month.
They are also continuing their work through many ongoing noteworthy projects. Dikshu shares, “Our team has just completed the master planning of Ayodhya city, and we are looking forward to its implementation. The ongoing East Delhi Hub, which will be India’s first and largest transit-oriented development project, is another one of our endeavours. It will be home to Delhi’s tallest building. A number of other projects are also in the works. Besides this, we are also working on some exciting international projects in countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Kenya.”
If buildings could speak, they would have many stories to tell. Fortunately, now we can hear the stories of CPKA’s many fascinating projects, first hand through this interesting book.
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.