ARCHITECTURE IN INDIA
doubt we have a great architectural heritage of temples, mosques,
palaces and forts. So much so that whenever architecture is
thought of in conjunction with India, images of the Taj Mahal,
Fatehpur Sikri and South Indian temples are conjured up in
question that comes to our mind is:
we have anything today as representative of Modern Architecture
which could be compared with our old buildings? Or in even
simpler terms - 'what represents Modern Architecture in India'?
question which is difficult to answer - demands more than skin
deep analysis of modern architecture in the context of India.
answer to this question also depends on the spirit behind it.
If the curiosity behind the question concerns the quantum of
construction done in post-independence years, the answer can
be one impressive list of statistical figures, a fine achievement
for building science and technology.
if on the other hand the questioning mind is concerned about
new architectural and planning thought generated in the same
post-independence years, which have resulted in buildings and
cities suited to our socio-economic, cultural and climatical
circumstances, our achievements are not very impressive so
far. But considering the fact that formation of thoughts and
ideas, in this relatively young field, has been going for only
the last quarter of century and with the limited resources
that we have, it is evident that we are on the verge of making
is not out of context here to go into details how things have
been happening in the field of architecture in years preceeding
the following independence.
Chaitya Hall, Bhaja, Maharashtra
North and South Block, Delhi
traditionally, i.e., before the arrival of British on the Indian soil,
was from the social point of view, a creation of spectacular sculptural
forms hewn out of stone. Architectural material was stone; tools, chisel
and hammer, and the aim was glorification. In contrast, the every-day
needs of a common man were ruthlessly neglected. Then the British arrived
on the scene, it was through them that the first introduction to elementary
modern building construction and planning was introduced into India.
Their aim, however, was to house their organisations, and their people
and whatever was necessary to control an empire as big as India. Apart
from self-serving military cantonments and civil lines, they also left
the basic problems well alone. It was no intention of the British to
educate Indians in the art and science of architecture. Consequently
Indian minds, during the British reign, were completely out of touch
with the progressive thinking taking place in the rest of the world.
The most significant architectural phenomenon that took place during
the first half of this century in this country was building of Imperial
Delhi. This was an anachronism of the highest order, because, while
at that time contemporary Europeans were engaged in most progressive
thinking in architecture, Sir Edward Lutyen's was a masterpiece in
high renaissance architecture, the result of a way of thinking typical
of the early nineteenth century in Europe. It is interesting to note
that at the same time as the construction of Delhi, Europe was having "Heroic
period of modern architecture" in such schools of thought as "Bauhaus".
woke us to a changed situation. "Time had moved on. In place
of religion or royal concern with architectural immortality, this
situation demanded attention to those problems that had so far been
ruthlessly neglected. The ordinary man, his environment and needs
became the centre of attention. Demand for low cost housing became
that was to follow in India, spawned its own problems of townships
and civic amenities for workers. Fresh migration from rural areas to
existing cities also strained already, meagre housing capacities of
existing cities. The very scale of the problem was and still is unnerving.
8,37,00,000 dwelling units needed throughout the country and the demand
rises annually at the rate of 17,000 dwelling units, not to mention
rural housing. To face staggering problems of such magnitude, twenty-five
years ago, there were few Indian architects in the country and practically
no planners. There was only one school of architecture in Bombay. But
there was the will to build, with the limited resources and technological
know-how at our disposal.
marched ahead and built an impressive number of houses and other
buildings of utilisation nature. In the process we made mistakes
and learnt from them. Each fresh attempt was a step closer to building
of forms more suitable for the Indian climate and socio-economic
conditions. In this process, architects also became aware of the
need for a certain amount of research work in new ways of building
and planning if we were to face the problem squarely as they say.
Since government was the agency with the largest resource, it had
to carry the heaviest responsibility for construction. Need for various
kinds of organisation on the national and regional level was felt.
Following is the list of governmental bodies that we have today,
which in some way or the other are responsible for building industry
CENTRAL PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT (C.P.W.D.)
is a national organisation with affiliated bodies at state level
called Public Works Department (P.W.D.). It looks after all the construction
of government office buildings, residential accommodation for government
employees, institutional buildings like the I.I.T., hospitals, public
auditoriums, conference halls like Vigyan Bhavan, and hotels such
as "The Janpath" and "The Ranjeet". etc. A number
of other buildings, like Libraries, research institutes, airports,
radio and T.V. Centres, Telecommunication building, factories and
workshops are also looked after by the C.P.W.D.
of the C.P.W.D. are not restricted to building construction alone.
The department also looks after engineering, construction of granaries,
warehouses, bridges and canals that have helped the country in its
fight against food shortage.
Horticultural wing of the department has involved itself with the
creation of environmental comforts, like Parks such as Buddha Jayanti
Park and Mughal Gardens.
of the department at present have extended beyond the borders of
the country. The Sonali-Pokhra road project in Nepal has been completed
and a hospital for children in Kabul had just been completed and
the department had been appointed as consultant for work of the Mahatma
Gandhi Memorial Institute at Mauritius.
Rashtrapati Bhawan, Delhi
Counnaught Place, Delhi
TOWN COUNTRY PLANNING ORGANISATION
planning organisation is responsible for physical and land-use planning
on a national scale and then detailed land-use planning on regional
scale. In other words this organisation is responsible for earmarking
National land for various uses, such as Towns, cities, industry etc.,
considering factors like economy, ecology, communication etc. thereby
ensuring balanced and planned physical growth of the whole nation.
Apart from this the organisation is engaged in preparing development
plans for existing cities such as Delhi to ensure controlled growth
of these cities.
HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION :
was set as a fInance operating body to deal with a revolving fund
of 200 crores.
Its main objectives are :
To finance Urban Housing.
To undertake setting up of new or satellite towns.
CENTRAL BUILDING RESEARCH INSTITUTE
conducts research into various methods of economical construction
and various other aspects of the building industry. It is a research
NATIONAL BUILDING ORGANISATION :
is an organisation which acts as interface between all incoming technological
information and practising architects and builders.
HINDUSTAN HOUSING FACTORY :
concerns itself in encouraging the technology of prefabrication throughout
STATE HOUSING BOARDS TO DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITIES :
from all these, are state housing boards in all the mentioned above
bodies which are responsible for implementation and designing of
the housing needs, and general controlled growth of the existing
cities according to drawn up master-plans for development. For financial
help they depend on agencies like HUDCO.
with the help of all the organisation, by no means an exhaustive
list, government performs various roles, from public works to deployment
of financial resources, from research to distribution of fundings
to building industry. Much has been done, much remains to be done.
the architectural horizon today find us with a new generation of
architects and planners. Today we have nearby fifteen architectural
schools throughout the country and certain equipment and knowhow
of naturalized building science and technology and a growing experience
with new material and methods and large scale planning. All this
had not been easy.
it was not huge, building institutions, but individuals that have
been responsible for evolving a new aesthetics bridging the hiatus
between traditionalism and modernism. Painstakingly these individuals
have worked, over the years, learning both from abroad and our experiences
with traditional architecture, to bring about various schools of
thought responsible for the spirit of modern Indian architecture.
The emphasis now lies not on awesome monumentality, but factionalism
with accompanying virtues of economy, simplicity and utility.
is relevant here to go into the development of these ideas. As a
matter of fact some ideas of modern architecture were not to come
to us until 1950, when Le Corbusier at that time was a leading figure
in architectural circles created Chandigarh, one of his most ambitious
had a tremendous impact on the mind of Indian architects, who had
so far only seen-either glorious temples or forts of the past or
the Imperial British capital of New Delhi in the name of modern architecture.
Overwhelmed, they found this expression of modern architecture quite
acceptable. It was grand and sensational and at the same time was
based on rational basis of climatic analysis and planning freedom.
In the years to follow, buildings spring up all over India which
had similar expression and the same materials. But ideas of Le Corbusier
had to be crystallized before they could be adopted in India. Some
realized that concrete and plastic forms were after all not the solution
for all Indian architectural problems, howsoever sensational they
was another parallel phenomenon going on at the same time which was
to influence the course of modern architecture in India to come. Indian
architects were going to Europe and America to seek higher education
and cultural inspiration. The Indian architectural community took its
inspiration from ideas developed in the western world. During the sixties
these architects who received their education in the western countries
commanded high positions as professionals as well as teachers. They
taught, practiced and experimented with what they had learnt in the
west against the harsh realities of India. The process of fermentation
of ideas was turned on. There were many realizations that were to form
the rational basis for architecture to come.
of these realizations was that if we have to do anything worthwhile
in India for Indians under Indian socio-economic and climatic conditions,
the west was no place to look for inspirations or solutions. We will
have to evolve our own patterns of development and physical growth,
our own methods and materials of construction and our own expression
of foregoing. This realisation created a sense of vaccum and because
of the poignancy of the feeling of vaccum, the search began, and
architects started looking in different directions for various answers.
In each direction partial perception of truth was declared as the
total truth. The fact however, remains that in each direction we
have moved closer to rational basis of modern architecture. One of
the first places where Indian architects looked for inspiration for
expression of total architecture of India, is our own village and
folk architecture. Architects studied with keen interest the way
people solved problems long before western influence was felt in
India. From desert settlements of Jaisalmer, to village developments
of hills, plains and sea-coasts, all became the focus of study. Complex
planning were analysed and looked into for inspirations. There are
some daring architects who have gone as far as to study the human
settlements in the heavily populated areas of existing metropolitan
cities, built without the help of architects, looking for solutions
of high density, low rise economical housing; a challenging problem
for India. It is the contention of these farsighted architects, with
a hard nosed realism, that in such kinds of dense developments, with
simple methods of construction and conventional low cost materials,
when laid out in a planned manner, that we will find the answer urban
housing for our really poor masses. While some of these architects
were busy looking for answers in what we already have in our traditional
settlements, others were exploring how industry can be made use of
in solving the aspect of building problems. Prefabrication has potential
in large scale housing, large span structures and industrial buildings
on anywhere were repetitive units can be employed. But so far in
India, industrialization of the building industry has not made great
headway for lack of technological infrastructures to support it,
therefore its influence is only limited to fascination of imagery.
However, one aspect of technology that can be successfully applied
in architecture is invention and manufacture of new building materials
from industrial waste to replace the traditional building materials
like steel and cement of which there are tremendous shortages.
Supreme Court, Delhi
is the growing realization among architects that just to build visually
beautiful buildings will be useless, unless it is backed by infrastructure
of services, such as water supply, electrical supply and communication
system of rapid mass transit, etc. In other words it is not an individual
building but the total environment that matters. All this calls for
serious attention on patterns of physical growth that will take care
of layouts of all these services in an organised manner.
the aegis of Ministry
Government of India
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Centre for Cultural Resources and Training