Topic for Debate
Is the role played by Ar. Hafeez Contractor in contemporary Indian architecture similar to the role Kerry Packer played in revolutionizing cricket in Australia in 1970s AND 80s ?
Is the role played by Ar. Hafeez Contractor in contemporary Indian architecture similar to the role Kerry Packer played in revolutionizing cricket in Australia in 1970s AND 80s with references to instances of �pastiche� and the �sensibilities towards understanding the need of the hour�.


This paper will bring to light the major characteristics and show the relationship between the Architecture Profession and other professions and the revolution brought about people like Kerry Packer and Hafeez Contractor in their respective fields.

I am studying similarities in roles played by Hafeez Contractor and Kerry packer in their respective fields and their impact on outcome of the practices being followed in their respective contexts. The contexts being commercialization of contemporary modern architecture in India and the state of affairs by which cricket was being run in Australia in the late 1970s and the 80s.

I am doing this topic because I want to find out how people like Hafeez Contractor and Kerry Packer have redefined the importance of architecture and cricket to the masses and have been successful in getting the deserved acclamation and accolades for the profession from the people itself. The ambiguity being that whether the practices being followed by these individuals are confined within the limits of the worshipped modern doctrine and decoration and thus have a shock appeal attached to them.

Conceptual significance of this topic: In order to help the reader understand how both of them have used elements of popular culture or �pop culture� (we will refer to the instances of pastiche,and globalization) to advance their methodology of design and innovativeness in their respective fields of architecture and marketing and globalization of cricket.


From a different point of view , one may say Hafeez Contractor has really improved the developers point of view about the perception of buildings .He is a good artist and a businessman. His eye for detail and his formal proportions are to be learnt from ,yet his architecture does not fit into the definition of our architecture.

�There is lack of permanence,which is difficult for a certain generation to accept because our education has told us that architecture is complete and finite in its thinking, its all encompassing. That architecture today is not like that. There is a new urban vernacular,which is somewhat reflective of todays may not last through long period of times,it might not last too long as our thinking is changing but its one of the most interesting and exhilarating period of history where we are not burdened by one kind of idea or style and architecture today is using it to its advantage�.
Within the controversy of his success , the architecture community in india seems to be taking two sides,one which does not agree with the very idea of populist and hence disagrees and ends up incorporating his policies when client approaches. But this poses as a good opportunity for all of us Indian architects to take an honest stand about building vocabulary. Few do think that his architecture is worth a try, and believes that we shoul authenticate it with intent behind it rather than to refute it in words but pursue it through design. It is relevant to give Hafeez Contractor accolades for understanding the market forces mass aspirations to such an extent.

Going through the context in contemporary modern architecture in India, architecture has gone through a significant transformation through the last 10-15 years in the name of globalization A lot of architecture seen today is two-dimensional in its quality, which is like a billboard serving a particular function and its announcement is reflective at every major aspect of the society .

The achievement of Hafeez Contractor is the admiration given by the people for the profession or architecture on a large scale basis for the very first time in independent India , all due to the communicative nature of his architecture
. He has urbanized and commercialized the business of architecture and has the other architects gaping at him in revelation. While trying to analyze him for the intentions with which he has conceived his projects, the intervention opens up a Pandora�s Box of dialectical arguments about architecture. In his case the explanations given are not subtle and stand tall just as his buildings.
The biggest plus point of his architecture is that he is the only Indian architect who has been able to hit the chord with the masses. It is so because his architecture is very strong in elevational qualities rendered to the public in a way that the public has never experienced through modern architects in India in any given period after independence. His architecture is an amalgamation of symbol and forms which refer to the west vehemently. The issue raised is that why the symbols are used in his elevation are universal and not indigenous to the context in which he is designing his buildings.

The criticism received by him from the architectural academicians is that by using the symbols on many typologies of buildings , he has nullified the values of symbols attached. But his architecture is also daring and follows �experimental formalism� such as the Nestle building Gurgaon, Spaghetti housing , Mumbai.

�I convert ideas into built reality in a distinctive, trend setting and innovative style.
I design for the people.�
Hafeez Contractor on designing

His projects explore a form and structure that most of the architects would not even dare try. His detail at every level, from the plan to the elevation is highly articulate and precise. Thus he has become a brand in itself in the industry. He is one architect who has openly greeted the globalization process in architecture in India. His type of architecture practices modern construction technologies with the latest materials available in the market.

Going through the context of cricket in 1970-80�s , it was still being run by a traditional body called the Australian Cricket Board . At that period it was not a commercialized sport but rather a traditional one.
Cricket-loving multibillionaire Kerry Packer wanted to show cricket on his commercial TV stations. He hoped to sell advertising during games and fill in the long summer non-ratings period with a popular sport that was cheap to televise.
But Australian cricket officials wouldn't sell him the broadcast rights, partly because his stations didn't cover the whole nation. So in 1977 Packer set up a rival competition, hiring many of the world's best players at better pay rates.
One-day cricket had been played at the top level before, but Packer's World Series Cricket competition was livelier and more colorful. Thus came the birth of the WORLD SERIES CRICKET.

�The fact that I have entered into ENTERTAINMENT business is proof that businesses have to evolve and keep with time. One has to re-invent continuously.�
I don't want to be left behind. In fact, I want to be here before the action starts.
Kerry Packer - Action - Opportunity - Technology -

World Series Cricket,1977

One day cricket games redesigned for TV Cricket-as loving multibillionaire Kerry Packer wanted to show cricket on his commercial TV stations. He hoped to sell advertising during games and fill in the long summer non-ratings period with a popular sport that was cheap to televise. IN 1977, Kerry Packer, when he couldn't get exclusive television rights to Sheffield and Test cricket he made up his own teams with the best players in the world and started World Series Cricket in Australia. The series had its genesis through a combination of two main factors - the fact that players were not paid sufficient amounts to make a living from cricket, and that Packer wished to secure the exclusive broadcasting rights to Australian cricket, then held by the Australian CRICKET BOARD. He was an astute thinker with brilliant business acumen. Packer's aim was to secure broadcasting rights for Australian cricket, and his ploy was largely successful.


Hafeez has kept culture in his mind in many of his projects. Following are the features used by Hafeez to depict culture in his designs:
1. Imagery.
2. Traditional elements.
3. Interactive spaces.
4. Communicative architecture.

His architecture is creative and most important of all adaptive. The adaptive nesses of his designs have made him the pioneer of experimental architecture in India. This Pop architect is aggressive, individualistic, highly Creative and adaptive and his favourite species, the chameleon, which allows him to acquire new colours with each change of season, fashion or fad. His mantra of survival and success has made him singularly responsible for the ground shaking changes that have taken place in the department of contemporary Indian modern architecture. The flip side being is that we find highly creative buildings in the context that they don�t adhere to and these buildings could be placed anywhere in the world. Thus we see him as a populist architect who just designs for the masses. Expression seems to be the key word in his designs. Thus this �shock appeal� gives him the freedom to communicate on a massive scale and this type of architecture has created the linguistics of commercialization on the lines of global language in India.

The name Hafeez Contractor is a brand in itself. He is the brand icon of contemporary architecture in India with the skyline of Mumbai, suburbs of Delhi and other metros talking for him. Projects are just not designed in his office but also but packaged, marketed and sold to his prospective clients. His projects are thus sellable entities. All the advertisements of the new housings and malls are printed under a wide caption of his name, which thoroughly amplify his being a brand rather than an individual.

After three years of bitter division between establishment and rebel players, cricket officials quietly gave in and Packer's TV stations now showed tests as well as one-day games. The total existing roots of cricket there had been replanted as the very basic notions of the game had been changed by the onset of the 'the pyjama game'.


Hafeez loves splaying with new forms and to achieve this he uses technology extensively. He essentially uses technology to create an image, as image is of the prime importance. He is considered to be the pioneer of revolutionizing the Indian construction scenario. Referring to some statements made by him:

�Even today, the construction textbooks have not been updated. It is again time to make a change; to embrace contemporary methodologies; to experiment and in doing so to rejuvenate the profession.�

�The average Indian architect cannot compete successfully in the international market. The reason behind this being obvious : insufficient knowledge of the latest technology and innovations in the building�.

Examples of some of his technologically advanced buildings are as follows:


They have continued to innovate: there are now on-field microphones to catch players' comments, and stump cam to give a ball's eye view of the action. Another innovation that was introduced at around the same time was the Albion cricket helmet. Bowlers started bowling express bouncers, aiming for the head. But wearing an obvious protective helmet �just wasn't cricket'. In 1978 Tony Henson (chairman of Albion sports) made a molded cricket helmet from glass fibred -reinforced plastic. Cleverly, he disguised it with a cloth cover and sun visor to make it look like a traditional flannel cap. He also designed a face guard of clear polycarbonate that could not be seen from a distance. WSC changed the game in many, many ways. It brought instant replays, a wider variety of camera angles, but most notable was the placement of a camera at each end of the pitch so no matter what end the bowler was running in from, the batsman�s shot was always visible - an innovation of Packer himself who insisted he did not want to see "batsmen's bums�.� Drop-in" pitches were used for the very first time.
These types of technological innovations were revolutionary and never had been used so consciously for the improvement of the game before


Pastiche refers to the blending of different styles resulting in the creation of an illusionary environment debarred form the original context. This trend was followed by architects such as Michael Graves and now it�s followed by Hafeez in his buildings. In his designs the building typologies wear masks and as per the client and the design brief the skin changes and so do the styling, irrespective of the context (referring to the built surroundings at a regional level). His methodology of design catalyses the process of �stimulation� by placing within the urban context bits and fragments of surreal quality, the best example being the Project Beverly Park located on the MG road, gurgaon which typify this notion.
For example, corporate offices wear a steel and glass contemporary look while residential apartments wearing a historical mask with elements from different places and periods of history depicting culture.
�Pastiche� then refers to this contemporary urban condition, which provides the basis for the emergence of Hafeez Contractor�s architecture.

Packer introduced day-night games - and a white ball that was easier to see at night. Instead of wearing whites, the players wore tight fitting coloured clothes to contrast with the ball (earning it the nickname 'the pyjama game'). He also improved the TV coverage, with coloured graphs to bring boring statistics to life. This type of surreal environment had never been experienced by the cricket loving audience and by doing just that Kerry packer hit the chord of the cricket loving masses.Moreover the colored uniforms added to the spectacle for television.
Hafeez creates illusion and converts them to reality. His architecture has this surreal, movie like feel to them. His architecture is to please and not to preach or impart knowledge. His architecture has a appeal like commercial cinema. His projects like the lake castle, Beverly park, DLFcorporate tower e.t.c. remind us of fantasy cities.

Hafeez has no fixed style and in turn he is known as the global architect. As his buildings can be placed anywhere irrespective of the context, by just changing the construction technologies suiting to the existing environment. His buildings are highly articulated and functionally very well resolved. The symbols used in his buildings are not at all Indian but they help his buildings become a landmark for the mnc�s he is working for. Two opposing forces affect architectural globalization.
Two opposing forces affect architectural globalization/the McDonaldization of architecture.
One force seeks to safeguard and promulgate established indigenous architectural traditions, forms, decorative motifs and technologies. It advocates historical continuity, cultural diversity and preservation of geographic identity, all symbolized by a particular architectural vocabulary, just as spoken languages and local dialects impart identity.
The other force promotes invention and dissemination of new forms using new technologies and materials in response to changing functional needs and sensibilities. It places a premium on systematization, flexibility and interchangeability. As commerce, transportation, communication and information become globalize, it argues for internationalized, innovative architecture transcending local conventions and constraints.

World Series Cricket drastically changed the nature of cricket , and its influence continues to be felt today. Packer brought in elements from different spheres to create a surreal environment which no one had imagined before and thus he made cricket a game of the masses.


To understand the evolutionary change brought about by Kerry Packer and Hafeez Contractor , its significant to analyze the scenario of their respective fields in their respective times , and the context in which they are being practiced.

Both architecture and cricket (predominantly) have become brand names and advertising media packages. The buildings and cricket both are used as global expressions to cater to the masses as well as the corporate and the elitists.
Both the persons discussed above seem to address mass culture and media rather than the dialectic regional arguments raised by both the professions in India and at the international level .Every thing should adhere to its roots theoretically , but that isn�t the case so in today�s world. Architecture should connect to the biological and physiological identity is required for everyone, as without it one is faceless- u don�t know who u are, but then if we go deep then there is nothing like �Indian� as the Indian architecture from past history has many effects due to attacks and wars, and it has a mixed kind of architecture, and there is no refined India architecture, which proves Hafeez right on his part too, and his adoption of globalization as a theme of practice.

Globalization is hardly a new force affecting India. To think so is to ignore a diverse and pluralistic long-standing civilization that was shaped by a long list of �invading� (globalizing) cultures that became what we now know as India. The previous globalizes of India include the Aryans, Hindus, Dravidians, Greeks, Buddhists, Turks, Afghans, Scythians, Muslims and most recently, the Europeans, Portuguese, French, Dutch and finally the English. One has to understand that as India has been globalized it has also been a globalizer too, with millennia of colonialism across Southeast Asia, with temples like Angkor Wat left behind as a reminder of India�s one time presence. But if go deep down our history then there is nothing like �Indian� as the Indian architecture from the past history has had many major influences due to attacks and wars from the invaders, and it has thus propagated a mixed kind of architecture, and there is no refined Indian architecture, which proves Hafeez on his part, and his adoption of globalization as a theme of practice.

But the question raised is the degree to which architects are compromised by the demands of clients, questions how far ethical considerations permeate architecture as a profession, and asks whether architects are compromised in their ability to intervene in broader debates about urbanity and society. A similar discourse is seen among the present day cricket where whether the game has been reduced to more professional , efficient , lucrative and manifolds profitable circus.

To me both architecture and cricket are a celebration of life. To me it means joys, sorrows, memories, growth, history, culture, society, economics, tradition and amalgamation of the above featured points.

The achievement or the thrust given by both Hafeez and Kerry Packer in the eyes of masses, through a communicative quality of their professions gives a new found admiration for both cricket and architecture, which the professions have strived for the last 50 yrs. They seem to have open up a plethora of opportunities for the architects and the cricketers to bask under, glorifying the profession by appealing to the masses. Even though the traditional loyalists might argue with the methodology they have chosen to do so, it would be an act of denial on our part to discard the success they have had in improving the value of the professions in an overwhelming manner.
Prashant Banerjee
Is the role played by Ar. Hafeez Contractor in contemporary Indian architecture similar to the role Kerry Packer played in revolutionizing cricket in Australia in 1970s AND 80s ?
Apparently Hafeez is the most controversial architect in India not only because the way he designs and sells his building but the way his architecure is more about packaging than introspection .
Prashant Banerjee


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