On May 31, the creator of Dilli Haat, said farewell to us all, after a short illness. He was 62.

Pradeep Sachdeva played a unique role in the history of Independent India as the first architect who rediscovered our roots through village craftspeople and natural, indigenous construction materials.

He did this first at Dilli Haat, where a city – cluttered with colonial ideas, Western socialist Public Works Department architecture and faux modern junk – for the first time saw the Indian ethos formally enter the public realm. Along with crafts expert Jaya Jaitly, he linked the Haat with the craftspeople of India’s villages. This was not a faux “barefoot architects” stunt as we had seen before, but a genuine integration of urban design with a people-centric experience.

With this, he recaptured the urban site – with a sewerage drain running through it and trash strewn all over – and gifted the people of Delhi a new cultural experience.

The day he graduated from IIT-Rookie in June 1980, he boarded a train and came straight to Pune, not even stopping to see his family in Delhi. I reached my studio early on the morning of his arrival, and none of our other team members had arrived.

I saw a boy, maybe 22 years...

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