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RMA Architects / 1990 - 2020© RMA Architects

Introduction to the project

RMA Architects, established in 1990, recently completed 30 years of a robust practice that has not only designed and built architectural projects across India as well as abroad, but has also been a practice involved in various research projects in areas such as architectural as well as urban conservation, design, planning and policy formulation for the built environment, etc. Rahul Mehrotra, who founded and leads RMA Architects has himself been a figure in contemporary India’s architectural scenario playing multiple roles besides running an architecture practice - a public figure involved in various public institutions, platforms and projects, he is also an academic and a historian with an impressive line-up of lectures and publication.

About the project

The exhibition

The exhibition is conceptualised across three registers to propose and communicate the biography and journey of a practice as it navigates changing scenarios and contexts, the making and shaping of a building in all its spatial, visual, and material expressions, especially in the context of the former, as well as the crucial aspect of how intellectual formulations are proposed through building-making decisions and processes.

These registers are proposed at two levels – first, the specific story of RMA over 30 years, and second, through the story of RMA to reflect on a broader set of questions such as the shape of a practice in the context of India, the roles and propositions an architect brings into the public sphere as a professional, and the relationship between the crafting of an idea into a building and the material manifestations set in an ongoing intellectual landscape.

The exhibition is proposed in three components:

  1. An annotated biography of RMA Architects
  2. Reflections and arguments around the most recent projects and ongoing projects at RMA Architects – as a way of reviewing the directions shaped over and across 30 years as they stand today
  3. Research and publications at RMA Architects and their interwoven journeys with the practice

The content and design of the exhibition will express these three components as independent, yet inter-contextualised with each other.

The recent publication Working in Mumbai by Rahul Mehrotra based on the journey of RMA Architects will be the crucial reference for the exhibition; the biography of the practice as presented in this book will now be further discussed and annotated. The exhibition will extend the book by showcasing projects that have been finished after the publication of the book and hold crucial stories about the issues and practice discussed above – all projects being selected for the exhibition are important engagements with public-ness, institutions of local and national value, as well as urban engagements where urban built fabrics are not only fast reformulating but also moving across multiple challenges. The third component – of books and publications, will shape the crucial question of how a practice thinks, how a practice engages with the public sphere, beyond and with its buildings, as well as the architect’s multiple ‘ways of seeing’.

Podcast Series

Episode 1 - Part 1 | Making of a Practice

RMA Architects - Episode 1 © RMA Architects Kaiwan Mehta, and Rahul Mehrotra, Founder Principal of RMA architects, Mumbai + Boston deep dive into various aspects of architectural, urban and institutional engagements within the scope of the exhibition - Architecture of Practice (curated by Kaiwan Mehta), a mid-career retrospective of RMA Architects, spanning 30 years, 1990-2020, on view at Gallery MMB, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai till 31st December 2021. 

The podcast is produced by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai and the Architecture Foundation, India.

@ Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

Episode 1 - Part 2 | Continuity and Context

Continuing the conversation on the formative years of RMA Architects, Kaiwan Mehta speaks to Rahul Mehrotra about the themes of Continuity and Context. The conversation focusses on the city and architecture in India. This episode touches on two seminal books, Bombay – Cities Within that Rahul Mehrotra co-authored with Sharada Dwivedi and The Critical Mosaic, South Asia Volume 8 edited by Mehrotra for the World Architecture series by Kenneth Frampton, Mehrotra explains how research and writing are a tool for him to contextualise as an architect, urbanist and educator.

@ Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

Episode 2 | Early Projects

In this conversation, Rahul Mehrotra speaks to Kaiwan Mehta about some early projects by RMA Architects in Mumbai and how they influenced the ideas and thoughts of the studio, specifically about the three most recent projects in Ahmedabad, a city Rahul has closely been involved with since his years at CEPT. These three projects, all institutional buildings designed by RMA Architects in Ahmedabad are Lilavati Lalbhai Library at CEPT University, School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University and School of Public Policy at IIM. 

@ Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

Episode 3 | Mumbai

In this concluding conversation in the four-episode podcast series, Rahul Mehrotra reflects on his 30 years journey in the city of Mumbai, from early years of setting up a studio, discussing the history as well as the urban conditions of this city through his writings, to his most recent encounter with the city where the studio is currently working on two public buildings. In the episode Mehrotra and Mehta discuss the instruments of advocacy can be deployed by an architect and collaboration with the civil society act as a bridge between the citizens and the makers of the city. The episode also touches upon the most recent publication by Rahul Mehrotra – Kinetic City and Other Essays, a compilation of essays written by Rahul Mehrotra from 1990-2020. 

@ Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai

About Rahul Mehrotra

Rahul Mehrotra is the founder principal of RMA Architects. He divides his time between working in Mumbai and Boston and teaching at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he is Professor of Urban Design and Planning and the John T. Dunlop Professor in Housing and Urbanization.

In 2012-2015, he led a Harvard University-wide research project with Professor Diana Eck, called The Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Mega City. This work was published as a book in 2014 and extended in 2017 in the form of a book titled Does Permanence Matter? Mehrotra’s also co – authored a book titled Taj Mahal : Multiple Narratives which was published in Dec 2017. His most recent books, titles Working in Mumbai (2020) is a reflection on his practice evolved through its association with the city of Bombay/Mumbai; and Kinetic City and Other Essays (2021) which is a compilation of his writings over the last thirty years and illustrates his long-term engagement with, and analysis of, urbanism in India.​


Architecture Foundation - logo © AF Architecture Foundation, initiated by RMA architects, is an organisation with a focus on the creation of awareness of Architecture in India.