Musing – Development in NCR – Learning from Las Vegas

By thedesignvillage, November 26, 2014

Musing: Development in NCR – Learning from Las Vegas.

Bringing development in NCR  in comparison with building Las Vegas.

My school days reading of the book by Venturi and Brown caught my attention while cleaning old cupboards and the readings of ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ were too interesting and relevant not to be shared.

The builders of the modern India, are shaping our new cities and the book attempts to study afresh the current social scenario and its architectural ideologies.  It tries to explore the role of symbolism in today’s architecture, also highlighting the paradoxical means and ends of the modern movement in doing the same in the past.

To prove its case, the city of Las Vegas is taken for an analytical documentation.  The theory thus implied, is a derivative of these facts and figures, emphasizing the value of ‘symbol-scape’ in architecture. It is further clarified that Las Vegas is not the primary subject of the book.

The book condemns the philosophies of the modern movement and argues- “it is all right to decorate construction but never construct decoration”.

The modern movement defends its rejection of methods of analogy, symbolism and imagery by propagating the rationality of ‘form follows function’.  The text debates this as a paradoxical vision and that the functional justification is merely to legitimize the conceived forms and their preferentiality.

The study of the commercial strip of Las Vegas challenges the architects to fundamentally envisage the tolls of this ‘loud’ architecture as a new vernacular.  This new language is rooted on complex programs, time and motion propagating the values of communication and connection.  The city has ‘jet scaled’ unbuilt and built mass.  The contradictions of negating day in the cool, dark interiors and night by blazing exteriors prevail.  Parameters of traffic, frontage, accessibility, visibility, context and services govern the underlying built form.  The built language is a literal hybrid of various architectural references juxtaposed by hi tech infrastructure.

A new spatial scale, with its intensity measurable in watts.

Architecture needs to address this obvious plasticity of the environment and the acceptance of this temporal voluntary disillusionment and utopia of the society.

This is one of the most relevant and parallels I can think of as I drive through Gurgaon or go through the newspaper adverts in the morning of projects in Noida which represents development in NCR. A phenomenon that was written in the 70’s and read in 90’s is experienced even more strongly twenty years later, in suburban growths of all our cities. The book successfully urges a deep sensitive review of every architectural thought for India today.

-Sourabh Gupta- Design Dean & Founder- TDV