Himanshu Burte

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

Himanshu Burte is an architect by profession who has occupied teaching positions at various institutes of architecture in Mumbai and written extensively on art, architecture, and urban design from a markedly liberal and reflective point of view.

Under this IFA grant, Himanshu Burte researched into public places in India and, particularly, public places for art, in order to develop a theoretical basis for their design.

Recognising that traditionally, public places have served as performance spaces among other things (like the temple in Maharashtra which besides hosting kirtans, is also an emotional centre of the village), he undertook case studies of public places in Kerala and Rajasthan, and simultaneously examined how traditional art functioned in such places. These case studies examined public places from varied perspectives including how they are affected by seasonal changes, their involvement in the larger fabric of the society, and the relationship between the architectural facet of a public place and its function in a community.

Taking off from the case studies in Kerala and Rajasthan he turned his attention to contemporary public places in Mumbai which he sees as hybrid in nature and thus offering potential for understanding the various points of contact between the traditional and the modern in function and design.

The results of this study served to consolidate thinking about architecture and design in India as, indeed, contribute to the debate on the notion of modernity in art and in places where art gains access to a wider public. The final outcome of the study, in the form of text, graphics, photographs and transparencies has been placed with libraries of certain architecture colleges in India. These materials have also fed into a series of independent monographs and a book that documents the methodology and practice of certain aspects of design.