If we view unbuilt architecture as a photograph of the inner turn of the architect, what is revealed in this photograph will demonstrate whether architecture is captured by an ideology of arrogance or an ideology of humility.
In the span of the last two decades, the nature of competitions has changed dramatically. With increasing politics, strong lobbying by bigger firms and restrictive approach, architects are increasingly becoming ambivalent about entering competitions in India. Emerging winner can bring prestige and business to a firm, but losing can also mean financial loss and profound disappointment after months of effort.
The buildability of a design is the fulcrum on which its valuation as unbuilt design often turns. Every buildable unbuilt design sustains the contradiction between ‘pure design’ and the messiness of reality that produces it, which it must navigate and alter, and which may defeat it too.
In many ways, a project remains unbuilt because most of the time it has challenged the normative, the status quo, the acceptability of 'populist taste'. This is what a reading of history tells us - and why this is important as it inspires future generations of architects to be edgy and provocative.
The discipline of architecture has had a long tradition of generating material that challenges the status quo, in pointing out the absurdity of what is normalised as the ‘real world’.
In its purest form, the ‘unbuilt’ project is devoid of the collaborative inputs by the other agencies that make a building come together. In it we see a formal spatial and tectonic composition as the architects ideal, the architects utopia.
As imagination recedes in the built environment, unbuilt architecture can be seen not just as creative incompletions but rather as the space for birthing of radical ideas free from the constraints of the built.
Buildings stand for much more than the immediate intent of the project, often entangled in the simple equation of articulating and solving a problem. A project, most importantly, represents an ideological position. The work thus produced by any office contributes to the culture of shaping the built environment.
There are as many (if not more) unbuilt designs in an architect’s archive as there are built ones; the
unbuilt ones bear the advantage of not having passed through the heartbreak of implementation, where
most of the idealized characteristics of the design are compromised.