by Meghna MehtaFeb 08, 2020
Austrian architect Chris Precht, who had earlier set up his architecture firm Penda in Beijing, China, has now moved to the countryside of Austria to downsize his practice, now known as Precht. The architect recently visited the Nehru Centre Auditorium in Mumbai to address the students of architecture, among whom he is very popular. The annual talk was hosted by Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture. On behalf of STIR, Arjun Malik, partner at Malik Architecture, spoke with Precht in an engaging interview about all things that affect contemporary architecture, especially in countries such as India, China and Austria.
In the dialogue, Chris Precht discussed various inspirations from nature and an immense gratitude for natural resources that he experienced after moving to the countryside from the city. "Cities are becoming smarter; we are losing the sense of community in the city and what it means to be a good neighbour," he says in the interview.
Precht delved into the differences between city life and country life, and how the fast pace of the former disconnects people and makes them isolated. “In a city, one loses what essentially makes us human,” he mentions to Arjun Malik. He discussed his time in Beijing where architectural execution and construction processes are fast-tracked vis-a-vis a democracy such as India where due to more part-takers, the process may be much longer to execute.
In a deeply creative profession as architecture, how does he manage processes? Chris Precht further discussed the collaboration with Mamou-Mani for Sandwaves, a 3D printed sand pavilion in Saudi Arabia. He observed that once goals are set, it is easier to together decide on a solid approach.
Their discussion further moved to sustainable materials and the value of abundant resources of techniques, heritage and art in both India and China. He said that ever since the Pritzker Prize was awarded to Wang Shu in 2012, there has been an eagerness amid younger architects in China to find their place in architecture by looking at the vernacular narrative and transporting it into the larger, contemporary context with technology and new ways of prototyping.