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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013


Term Paper for History of Architecture (AP131) Ishant Anand
Roll Number: 01016901611 Sushant School of Art and Architecture

Indo-Saracenic architecture represents a synthesis of Islamic designs and Indian materials developed by British architects in India during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The hybrid, combined diverse architectural elements of Hindu and Mughal with cusped arches, domes, spires, tracery, minarets and stained glass, almost playful manner. lndo-saracenic architecture found its way into public buildings of all sorts such as railway stations, banks and insurance buildings, educational institutions, clubs and museums. Chepauk Palace in Chennai designed by Paul Benfield is said to be the first Indo- Saracenic building in India, referred to as builduing incorporating elements and motifs of Hindu and Islamic precedents. Influences of the Indo-Saracenic wave can also be seen in Lutyens design for the viceroys residence (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi where also a combination of Mogul and European styles was employed. lndoSaracenic architecture is often called a stylistic hybrid (Michell) architecture. It combines traditional Indian architectural elements, like scalloped arches and onion domes, with traditional British architecture.

PAPER Heading 1
Indian colonial architecture evolved in three distinct phases. To better understand the third phase, the drastic shift in the architecture at New Delhi, the architecture prevalent in the colony before the transfer of capitals. Many factors influenced the buildings designed and constructed by the British; chief among them was the projection of power and control. It is with this mindset that British architects began dominating the visual landscape of India. In 1873, T. Roger Smith concluded:

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

As our administration exhibits European justice, order, law, energy, and honour and that in no hesitating or feeble way so our buildings ought to hold up a high standard of European art. They ought to be European both as a rallying point for ourselves, and as raising a distinctive symbol of our presence to be beheld with respect and even with admiration by the natives of the country.[1] [2] The idea of using a European style was preferred by both administrators and architects, most notably in Bombay and Calcutta. Yet, this was not the only argument in relation to defining the architecture of India. William Emerson an architect in the Indo-Sarcenic style suggested, It was impossible for the architecture of the west to be suitable to the natives of the east. [3] Take for instance, Calcutta and its abundant examples of Neo-classical architecture. It has some of the earliest monuments to British rule. Government House (Raj Bhavan) at Calcutta (Fig. 1) was built in 1803 by Captain Charles Wyatt (of the BengalEngineers).[4]

Figure 1: Government House at Calcutta Ref :

Built in the Palladian Classical style, this residence of the Viceroy of India and later, the Governor of Bengal, is a testament to English control over the province of Bengal.[5] At the time, it would be the only European style building towering over the landscape of Calcutta. The Corinthian columns, portico-ed faade, the Classical pediment, and the Pantheonic Dome, all of these architectural elements reek of a foreign design style, transplanted onto the colony, much like British rule after the Battle of Plassey. Thomas Metcalf suggests that the design for the Calcutta Government House is modeled on the country residence of Lord Scrasdale, Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire (1760) (Fig. 3).[6]
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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

Figure 2 : Lord Scrasdale, Kedleston Hall Ref :

Metcalf also proposes that the Calcutta design was not: simply reproduced intact.[7] The design was enhanced to project an image of grandeur and growing English power on the sub-continent. Clearly, the argument furthered by T. Roger Smith in 1873 was the same ideology followed by the directors of the East India Company. This building perfectly represents the early phase of the Raj, when the English had little or no information of the country they were expanding their rule over. This lack of colonial knowledge would lead to the Mutiny and thereafter, would begin the most ambitious building program any British colony had ever seen.

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013


Figure : Victorial memorial hall Ref:

Victoria Memorial Figure designed in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture incorporating Mughal elements is a memorial dedicated to Queen Victoria then Empress of India. The foundation stone was laid 1906 and completed in 1921. The massive structure, almost 18 storeys high made of white marble stands on 64 acres of sprawling gardens as a tribute to success of the British Empire in India. The Royal Gallery is a store house of some of the finest oil painting collections in India. There are some rare paintings of some of the earliest glimpses of Calcutta.There are also some rare books in the Library dating back to the 17th Century including collection of plays by William Shakespeare, The Arabian Nights, Rubaiyat's Omar Khayyam etc. Even today these books are consulted by costume designers while designing for Shakespearian plays in Calcutta. An army of gardeners have kept the gardens blooming and lawns finely manicured.

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

Figure : Plan of victorai memorial hall Ref : 1.

Feature Architect

Victorial memorial hall Willian Emerson

Gateway of india George Wittet


Architectural style

Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture

Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture


Plan form

The Victoria Memorial blends the best of the British and Mughal

Indo-Saracenic style of architecture is followed that combined Gothiclike flamboyance with Muslim-

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013


Indian architectural features.

[1] T. Roger Smith, Architectural Art in India in Journal of the Society of Arts XXI (1873): 286. [2] See also Thomas Metcalf, Forging the Raj: Essays on British India in the Heyday of Empire (New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2005), 105. [3] Ibid. [4] Thomas Metcalf, An Imperial Vision, 12. [5] Ibid. [6] Ibid., 12. [7] Ibid., 13. [8] Calcutta: The Living City, Sukanta Chaudhari, Oxford University Press,1990

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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

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