By Ar. Hydr M.I
Ghazanfar Ali brother of Nayyar Ali Dada has been associated with NADA since 1975. He has been involved at the most initial, conceptual stages. Gradually it became habitual to share and participate almost thoroughly & completely, all major projects & jobs of NADA. Work became his teacher – he hardly spends a day without an environment of sharing the concept & ideas with people, students & colleagues. His studio is like an Architectural workshop – a forum to communicate.
His major responsibility nowadays is conceptual characterization, inclusive of the thorough participation at various stages of the design process in concert with the architect colleagues at Nayyar Ali Dada & Associates. The philosophical direction & evolutionary process of design is normally based on Nayyar Ali Dada’s ideas, such as Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore as one example. He believes he has come a long way in harmonizing the ideas & concepts at Nayyar Ali Dada & Associates, which he regards as a creative institution itself.
Archi Times had a conversation with Ar. Ghazanfar Ali to get an insight into the various roles he has performed over the years and bring forth the issues and challenges he has faced.
ARCHI TIMES (AT): Before we begin talking about your architecture, it would be good to know you as a person.
Ghazanfar Ali (GA): I was born in Lahore city in December 1952, lived in Lahore throughout, graduated from NCA 1976, 77 in Architecture. Since 3rd year, I joined Architectural practice at Hashim Khan & Associates, Mr. Nayyar Ali Dada, being the Principal Architect at that time, as a part time job. I have also the experience to design the competition project for Zaheer ud Deen Khawaja. Since 1973 or 1974, I have remained in practice till today, almost four decades except my travelling period.
Surprisingly I had natural talent for visual Arts, I was friends at NCA with the teachers like Zahoorul Akhlaque, Mr. Ahmad Khan, & Mr. Saeed Akhtar, primarily the Fine Artists of the country & a lot of understanding & communication with late Askari Main Irani, Principal Skakir Ali, ceramist Mr. Salah ud Din, and above all I continuously shared the amazing influence of Mr. Nayyar Ali Dada.
As we had progressive writer’s movement, I think simultaneously we had the origin of creative Architecture at NCA.
AT: Also tell us about your professional career experience, its ups and downs since you have been working for many years.
GA: NCA + my interest in the creative process in various sources in Pakistan & abroad shaped my direction today. The direction to work hard, to be consistent, to think & be creative, be useful positively, relevant to the time & space for human life phenomena – throughout my professional years, I enjoyed the best possible practice. I remained committed to NCA as for any call like, lecture, discussion & Jury, I had continuous discussions with clients, the office team, and the contractor to deal with responsibilities, apart from the advantages of being one of the main architects at NADA, I remained consistent to self criticism. I can say I had the most comprehensive institute to grow up in the shape of NADA. I am, as an individual, satisfied and happy with the creative process at NADA.
AT: Can you identify the three most pressing problems to practice in the field of architecture?
GA: The influences absorbed and practiced like, for example Dubai, & adaptation of this model of architecture here in Pakistan & elsewhere.
In spite of absolute evolutionary & historical architectural inheritance richest history of architecture & archeology (subcontinent) being core of our culture & environment, I found majority of teachers, students clients in inferiority complex rather than being proud and cultured enough to practice the realistic inspiration. Naked commercialism, lack of awareness, (crowd-thinking client) lack of character.
AT: What is the meaning of Architecture to you?
GA: Caring for human environment in context of ecological balance.
The way Stephen Hawkins defined space, probably we can feel the vastness of the concept, unbelievable scope of research, yet we as architects should focus on the ideas to grasp the practical & moral obligations & responsibilities. I think because of skill & arts involved in the field of Architecture, we can give essence, shapes & forms, character to the individual space, as well as mega space system; yet we must know that the earth as a planet is going through emergency period of its life. Our time & the future need to end exploitation by ruthless misuse of the world’s resources; wounds should be healed only by caring. Our entire creative process should consider the fact that life has no choice or alternate other than earth. They are looking for water elsewhere, keep looking for water, but not at the cost of life on earth. This is exactly what I mean by human environment & ecology we must care. It is the most logical responsibility of the architects.
AT: How would you describe your design style? Is there a common thread that connects all your projects?
GA: Things you like; the way you feel, define your personality, your nature. If you retain your compatibility with your mind & heart, your thinking and your natural self, we should develop the unity of the self by elevating the awareness.
If you have purpose, direction, self integration, characteristics, values, awareness, if you are familiar to the philosophical thinking, I believe you will be at home with your work & style, your expression can become part of your personality. That ‘s my style, my work, my expression. I fully enjoy the creative process with original expression, appreciate nature, reason & human values. I may define my design, style, as classical with the parameter of time like past, present and future – like a museum.