ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Reimagining Housing, Rethinking the Role of Architects in India: Documentary Explorations


Schneider Nadja-Christina - Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany


06 – Housing, Dwelling, Multilocal ‘Home’-Making: Repertoires of Living Together in Urban South Asia and Beyond


 The paper looks at some of the documentary practices that are currently deployed to provide awareness and knowledge about the built environment in a way that is accessible to non-experts and thereby creates a new space for debate. Related to this is the question how architects reflect on their own role and contribution to society. In media portrayals, so-called starchitects are often represented as highly influential actors who conceive and construct new buildings quasi single-handedly. Surprisingly enough, however, architects currently play a rather subordinate role in such a central area as housing in India (Mehrotra 2020), which is of particular interest here. As will be argued in the presentation, recent documentary films open up a different perspective on a professional group that has to rethink its own practice and role in view of a profoundly changed social, political and economic context.