As the National Gallery of Modern Art hosts an exhibition of Raj Rewal’s works, the legendary architect talks about smart cities and similarities between Indian food and architecture


Rewal is concerned about the rumours that the government is planning to bring down one of his iconic creations, the Hall of Nations in Pragati Maidan. “I hope it remains a rumour. A minister also made a statement about replacing Nehru Pavilion with something more remunerative. Removing it will be like a self goal because it resembles what Jawaharlal Nehru stood for.” Remind him of the talk of Sardar Patel’s statue in Gujarat and Rewal says he doesn’t believe in such pomposity. “The architecture is not left wing or right wing. It has to reflect human concerns and architecture, urbanism and landscape have to be fused into one whole.”

Like architecture, Rewal says, Indian food is also an amalgamation of elements from regional cultures, “If you look closely Moghul architecture is different from the Persian architecture. It has elements of Buddhist architecture. There is very little use of ceramics which is common in West Asia,” says the veteran architect whose design of Ismaili Centre in Lisbon has withstood the test of time. “Similarly you can found Indian elements in colonial architecture. (Edward) Lutyens talked of supremacy of western arts, science and culture but when he designed Rasthtrapati Bhawan he ended up drawing from Sanchi’s Stupa. When it comes to cuisines there are multiple elements at play according to climate and local concerns,” notes Rewal and gets busy with lamb and naan.