TML. As a member of the Jury, what do you think is the significance of the process and recognition that The Merit List represents?
HB: The two stage process is rigorous in many ways. Jurors are not told the identity of competing architects. The combination of individual short listing and discussion to determine finalists in the list covers most of the ground for decision making. Moreover, there is no fixed categorisation of projects, which enables the jury to develop a system appropriate to the selection at hand. All of this provides credibility to the recognition as does the avoidance of artificial ranking.
TML. What was your reaction to the spectrum of work you saw as submissions to The Merit List? Were you happy with the cross-section or do you think that a lot of it was missed out on?
HB: I was happy overall, but thought the weekend house was overrepresented and industrial architecture less so.
TML. While looking at this work through the process of shortlisting and selection, what were the key concerns or issues that you thought we must address through the TML process?
HB: I think you should put out a rule prohibiting parts of submitted projects as separate projects. Also take a decision on whether you will allow incomplete projects. The load on individual jurors will also increase with time so you may have to split first round loads across groups of jurors.
TML. How do you think The Merit List process can engage with a larger architectural culture like Academic and Pedagogic Practices, Critical Writings and Publications, and Exhibitions of critical relevance? What can we do to make this more rewarding and engaging?
HB: Depends on your bandwidth. First, you could start a separate stream of tml for research and writing. But more importantly, perhaps you could do more than just judge, and actually organise student or research seminars and workshops. Synergies with your website are possible.
TML. Any other critique / comment / suggestion on the idea of The Merit List, the process and the initiative?
HB: A very good initiative, but the crucial point is how distinctively you insert it into the culture of architecture in India. With a non-ranking list, you have taken one step. Your next steps need to extend the fundamental values implicit in the first step. Marrying this with financial sustainability will be a challenge but we must believe that it can be done.