A glimpse into architecture and its allied industries in India during the pandemic – Suhasini Ayer – Guigan, AvDC

Suhasini Ayer

Suhasini Ayer

Curated and Edited by Varun Kumar

Architect Suhasini Ayer - Guigan , principal of Auroville Design Consultants, Auroville, shared insights on how the industries associated with Architecture practice were already facing a recessive market. The pandemic, hence, was not a fresh disaster to our practice, and perhaps possessed opportunities for youngsters to improve their interpersonal skills. Architect Suhasini also shares insights on how Indian manufacturing is deeply connected with global production cycles, thereby causing a chain of shutdowns to Indian work. Additionally, she also shares the significance of the shifting thought and behaviour patterns of the general Indian working population toward more efficient practices, from being disorganized and spontaneous.

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Highlights from the discussion

 

“The problem with developers has been showing since June 2020. But the commercial sector already had cash flow problems and foreclosure of projects, affecting developers’ work. The lockdown did not bring the construction market down as it already was. Neither did it promise to improve. When the lockdown hence began, the construction labourers, of course, were impacted most.”

 

“In India, production machine parts are mostly imported. The manufacturing sector that makes these parts slowed down too. The cost also shot up forcing these players to avail loans to continue manufacturing. Development occurs within a chain of these manufacturers in addition to the network of urban services and governance. All being halted, developers were unable to open new sites.”

 

“One positive from this pandemic is that with digitized meetings, we all feel necessary to stick to the matter, as it’s inconvenient to spend longer durations on a call. Discussion is concise and short and does not necessitate travel. It reduces our carbon footprint and our time is used effectively. Hence, in terms of coordination and decision making in our planning, the pandemic period has been fantastic for us.”

 

“The way we work in India is like the way we drive in India. Half the people do not know the rules of the road, and most of them don’t care about it. Everybody wants to get ahead of the game, Regardless of whether or not there is one. We cannot see values such as team-work, organization, ethics, rigour, discipline and more, with today’s way of working in India. We only see them spoken of in presentations.”

 

“As a country, we are yet to learn how to communicate effectively and how to strategize and focus. We take pride in the number of hours we work in this country, and the output loses importance. Women are obliged to go home early to their families besides concerns of public security. This side-lines women’s involvement as work patterns seems inefficient until the evening. Secondly, the men who want to be with their families can’t do so as other employees stretch into late working hours. Furthermore, if you aspire to grow up the food-chain of decision making, staying late is an obligation. “

 

“We talk of energy efficiency in this country, but we’re consuming twice the capacities we have installed. Besides, there are client-related challenges, as they assert on changes in our design schemes that aren’t sensible. To the client’s eyes often, knowledge of the interconnectivity of design components in a drawing with our functions are hardly paid heed to. Most other sectors too experience such issues with clients.”

 

“Our education system forces one to pretend that they know even if they don’t. It makes one appear in a bad light to say that they don’t know something. Getting to know what we’re unaware of isn’t a part of our cultural education. One can’t learn if they never admit to ignorance, and they miss out on the skill of learning to learn. Passing examinations is the only skill we end up possessing.”

 

“There has been a section of our population which became richer by about 20% to 30% during the pandemic. But they were not the ones who were poor before the pandemic. This section of people has only added around 30% to 35% to their core value of asset holdings. In our population, the top 10%’s asset value is equivalent to the holdings of 67% of the remaining 90%. Why would the top 10% then want to change the game? They have been the ones who have made decisions, alongside money, during the pandemic.”

 

“The lockdown has provided us with a perspective to show that about 40% to 50% of the expenditure incurred in our office or domestic set-ups are not essential for life. Most of them are associated with recreation, entertainment and excessive Purchasing as can be observed with urban dwellers.”

 

“The lockdown has also shown how imitative consumerism, in which the middle class is being forced to feel like they are transcending towards possessing more disposable income, is a dying idea. Visiting new places and posting updates on one’s Instagram profile, is a behaviour pattern being forced on us by a global economy to profit off of whatever we could earn.”

 

“People have realised that there was more time to get to know their families better. The lockdown has transformed the attitudes of the younger generation too. Especially with running an office like I do, where most of the team are under thirty years of age, I witness a longer attention span develop.”

 

“It has always been out of the scope of architects to understand subjects like Environment and Ecology, Sociology, and Politics. We have narrow channels of thought such as environmental issues being a subject surrounding “green buildings”. I think the enforced lockdowns have perhaps made the youngsters look beyond their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, to understand these concepts more.”

 

“The recent vaccination drive has not been claimed to be served first to the poorer sections of society, after the frontline health workers. Therefore, the Pandemic has also shown us the economic divide in a clearer light. This has caused an apartheid like the situation where one section of people does not sense, feel or think about the poor. We hence cannot change anything unless the Capitalist economic patterns keep us at our survival levels. Furthermore, most of us are kept at a survival level so that we seldom protest against it.”

  – Suhasini Ayer – Guigan

2 Replies to “A glimpse into architecture and its allied industries in India during the pandemic – Suhasini Ayer – Guigan, AvDC”

  1. Very well expressed and detailed observations about the plight in our country, particularly the last paragraph drawing the attention on the market driven capitalism

  2. there is many many errors in the above high lighted text, I suppose it not easy to transcribe from a zoom interview with the sound quality being what it is. But it does make some sentences meaningless – sigh!

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