Cover Story

The opportunity to build cities that last centuries is available to our current leaders

October 2019
PRATAP PADODE, Founder & Director, FIRST Construction Council,

It has taken us 14 years to reach a time when a smart city event can been blended with an architect and builder awards programme.

Centuries earlier, emperors called talented architects from far and wide to design structures that articulated their vision to last for centuries. Those, like the Taj Mahal, Sun Temple, Nalanda, Hampi, Ajanta-Ellora, etc, are the signature of many a city. Their designers, visualisers and developers left an imprint that has lasted several lifetimes. But the same cannot be said about structures that have come up in the last 50 years. In fact, the need for good architecture has never been as strong as now. Currently, cities are under tremendous pressure of mounting population while there is an insatiable need for natural resources. Infrastructure is crumbling, climate governance has been breached and those who govern have not enlisted the services of those who are talented enough to design. 

The opportunity to build cities that last centuries is available to our current leaders. The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor has planned eight industrial cities. Planned to come up around a radial distance of about 25 km from the proposed international airport at Navi Mumbai, NAINA city will now be developed on just over a 334-sq-km plot. (Greater Mumbai is built on a 440-sq-km plot.) Its development plan was recently cleared. Navi Mumbai was probably the last greenfield city that was planned and it has held its course. China has developed 30 cities in the past 30 years with over 1 million population. India has 53 cities or rather urban agglomerations with over 1 million population while China has over 160. Among the six largest metropolitan cities, Hyderabad saw the biggest inflow of migrants in the 2001-11 period, followed by Chennai and Bengaluru—not Delhi or Mumbai!

The science of architecture for designing cities now not only needs to observe the behaviour of the natural habitat but the commercial and social behaviour of citizens. It is clear from our country’s Budget that cities are the engines of growth and the revenues they bring in subsidise our countryside.

It is time for developers, architects and communities to come together to work towards policies that will pave the path for creating an imprint that will last for centuries. In a small way, we, at FIRST Construction Council and CONSTRUCTION WORLD, have been promoting the cause of India’s Top Architects and Builders, and we hope this motivates all the winners and potential winners to set audacious goals that leave sustainable imprints for the future generation. 

FIRST Construction Council is an infrastructure think tank and works at various verticals of construction in policy advocacy, bringing and promoting best practices in the industry and the cause for capacity building among others. Our next event, India Construction Festival, where we recognise India’s fastest growing construction, steel, cement, tiles, paint and equipment companies, will be held on October 15-16 in New Delhi. Our tie up with New York-based magazine ENR brings the top global engineering firms to the country as they get recognised at the event. The event also unveils a Roads Conference and a Leadership Summit; this year, the theme is ‘Technology’ as this is the year of construction technology.


It is time to recognise the designers of new India. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together and let us hear it for the winners!