IIA NATCON 2020 – TRANSCEND, the National Convention of the Indian Institute of Architects, was recently conducted virtually by the Indian Institute of Architects. The two day event was inaugurated by the Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu. On his virtual address, he emphasized the need to strike the right balance between aesthetics and sustainability in any structure. He called upon the architects of the country to adopt and promote Green architecture like the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy in the upcoming building projects.

Lauding the Government’s flagship programmes such as Smart Cities and ‘Housing for all’, Shri Naidu highlighted the need to promote culture and heritage of the respective areas in these projects. He also called for the involvement of local artists and artisans in these projects. “This will not only keep the essence of the culture of the place alive but will also encourage and give employment to the immensely talented craftsmen, who are struggling to keep our culture alive through their work,” he said.

Expressing concern over the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the health and livelihoods
of people, the Vice President said that the construction sector was severely affected due to massive decline in on-site works and called upon the architects and designers to answer the challenge posed by the pandemic. “Architects need to explore new ideas and create a dialogue across design boundaries to help find solutions that can address the pandemic and its aftermath,” he added.

The event was attended by people from across the country and industry stalwarts who spoke on six sessions over two days. The first day’s programme had three sessions– Transcend, Resilience and Innovation. The keynote speaker Ar Rahul Mehrotra (Founder of RMA Architects) talked about the COVID-19 migrant crisis and said, “It was unquestionably inhumane, which is evidence that the biggest design challenge going forward will be to design for ‘flux’.” The first session saw an enthralling panel discussion where the panellist spoke on the connection between the built and un-built spaces, the pandemic playing a role in how the future of architecture needs to shape up and focus, its response to the un-built environment as well as the health impact of the built spaces on the user. The second-panel discussion veered around resilience and the unpredictability that the pandemic has brought about. Architect Mitesh Dixit of Domain averred that architecture is no longer valued by what is done or whom it addresses but what drives it is the profit it offers. The third and the final session for the day saw the idea of innovation through four women architects.

The Day-2 was based on the themes– Inclusiveness, Self-Reliance, Inclusiveness and Innovation.

The panel discussions themed around inclusiveness focused on the challenges and possibilities of building inclusive societies, public spaces and cities and with the role of architects in bringing about this change. Some of the issues posed to the panellists were– How can an architect be a catalyst to facilitate this culture of inclusiveness through sustainable solutions? How do we address an increasingly challenging socio-political environment? This year the sessions surpassed the boundaries of social inequality and inadequate habitat for the needy. Each of the sessions presented a unique perspective.

Few names who were rewarded at the virtual convocation are – Ar. Prem Nath and Ar. S. Gopakumar won Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for their contribution to Indian architecture. Dr. Ashalatha Thampuran and Ar. Pramod Shinde won Madhav Achwal Gold Medal. Ar. Udyan Kulkarani won IIA Best Sub Centre Award (IIA Karad Subcentre); Ar. Saiju Mohamed won IIA Best Centre Award (IIA Trivandrum Centre); Ar. Satish Jagdale won IIA Best Centre Award (IIA Kohlapur Centre); Ar. Mayur N. Gandhi won IIA Best Centre Award Runner-up (IIA Satar Centre), Ar. Manguesh R Prabhugoanker won IIA Best Chapter Award (IIA Goa Chapter) and many more.