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History of Architecture (AP313) | Term Paper | 2013

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Modern Architecture in India

Term Paper for History of Architecture (AP131)

Saumya Kohli
Roll Number: 01816901611
Sushant School of Art and Architecture


ABSTRACT
The concept of Modernism in 20th century Indian architectural development
remains difficult to grasp, as it was used within numerous stylistic developments,
following the spirit of the day. Starting with the efforts made by Europeans in the
1920s, the idea of modern architecture as a revolutionary and innovative force
started to make cautious headway in India in the early 1930s. But at that time any
Western thought and practice introduced as a British import was seen as modern,
as India had no uniform independent architectural movement in the early 20th
century. Ideas influenced by the Bauhaus and Le Corbusier and then brought to
India were modern, and the subsequent Art Deco movement, influenced by both
regional and exotic motifs, also counted as modern. Even neoclassical architecture
was still pronounced modern into the 1950s and even the 1960s.
The post-Independence period saw the emergence of three schools of
thought in architecture the Revivalist on a smaller scale, the constructivist
Russia and the Modernist on a larger scale. The Revivalists, who advocated
"continuity with the past", could not break the shackles of the colonial legacy and
left no significant impact on the neo-Indian architecture. The Modernists too
depended heavily on the European and American models and tried to adopt
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them in India without taking into consideration the regional aspirations,
diversities and requirements. The contemporary Indi an architecture was
also beset with p r o b l e ms l i k e p o p u l a t i o n e x p l o s i o n , l a c k o f
v i s i o n a mo n g t h e p l a n n e r s , l a c k o f s u p p o r t f r o m t h e
government and a less than satisfactory standard of architecture education. The
result was that during the initial years after the Independence, foreign
architects continued to play a leading role in Indian architecture.


PAPER
The three decades between 1920 to 1950 were a period of political ferment in india
as the country painfully but inevitably made its way to political independence. So
too in architecture as several streams of thought strove for professional hegemony.
The post-Independence period saw the emergence of three schools of thought in
architecture the Revivalist on a smaller scale, the constructivist Russia and the
Modernist on a larger scale. The Revivalists, who advocated "continuity with the
past", could not break the shackles of the colonial legacy and left no significant
impact on the neo-Indian architecture. The Modernists too depended heavily on the
European and American models and tried to adopt them in India without taking into
consideration the regional aspirations, diversities and requirements. The
contemporary Indian architecture was also beset with problems like population
explosion, lack of vision among the planners, lack of support from the government
and a less than satisfactory standard of architecture education. The result was that
during the initial years after the Independence, foreign architects continued to play
a leading role in Indian architecture. At that time any Western thought and practice
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introduced as a British import was seen as modern, as India had no uniform
independent architectural movement in the early 20th century. Ideas influenced by
the Bauhaus and Le Corbusier and then brought to India were modern, and the
subsequent Art Deco movement, influenced by both regional and exotic motifs, also
counted as modern. Even neoclassical architecture was still pronounced modern
into the 1950s and even the 1960s. But Modernism in India was more like an overall
approach to life. It meant designing the world positively, improving it, doing
better than the required standard, being progressive and inventive, and this
certainly included great visionary minds like Tagore and Nehru.

Nehrus Modern India
Jawaharlal Nehru, decided to build a new city Chandigarh as a capital for the state
Punjab after Lahore was lost to Pakistan. He had envisioned this city to mark Indias
entry into the modern world , would represent Indias clean break from the colonial
rule of the British. When India became independent, it was found that there
were native no trained professionals on city planning. Political leaders hired
American architects- Matthew Nowicki, and Albert Mayer to plan the city. The
project was handed over to Le Corbusier in the year 1951 by Jawaharlal Nehru. Le
Corbusier led a team that consisted of a French architect Pierre Jeanerette,
Englishmen Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew and about twenty Indian architects and
developed a new project.
Le Corbusiers visionary powers, which he proved in urban developments from the
1920s onwards, seemed to be precisely the right person to Nehru, who said that
India needed a slap in the face. Working with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and the
architects Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry, Le Corbusier realised the entire urban
structure, designing himself the government building, the Capitol.
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His bton brut, the unrendered surfaces of the buildings, still showing the marks of
the rough shuttering, and the expressive and sculptural effect made by solitaire
monuments spread over a large area, came as something of a shock to the Indian
architects, who had found a new hero for themselves from now on.
Le Corbusiers messages became the new gospel for the next generation, who
recognised a new intellectual dimension in them. Le Corbusier was commissioned
to build more villas and a museum in . Here he had an Indian at his side who had
already worked for him in Paris,
Balkrishna Vitaldhas Doshi. It was Doshi who in the early 1960s got in touch with
Louis I. Kahn in order to develop the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.
Kahn was impressed by the offer and realised the project during a period of over 13
years. Kahn was the next significant architect for India: his structures built on pure
geometry to illustrate inherent order, his turn to a pictorial language for
architecture that went beyond functionalism and the use of rough brick for the
faade in order to express the nature of the material, added yet another dimension
to Indian architects experience.
Nehrus idea for New Delhi was to build large scale industries, central planning, the
application of advanced technologies and huge capital investment, which was
heavily drawn from the west and the soviet union. During that time, government
authorities like PWDs were the major developing authorities for the cities, which
only provided the capital for construction of the government buildings, but also
designing and executing them. Thus the chief architect of PWDs played a
fundamental and trend setting role for development of any city.
Habib Rehman, as chief architect of New Delhi, had to play a similar role for the
city. He had designed many iconic buildings all across India, especially in New
Delhi. His American roots had brought modern direction to Indian Architecture,
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which was followed by many other architects during that time and also afterwards.
His works range from Office buildings to institutional buildings and low rise row
housing to high rise housing apartments. Emphasis on functionality, minimal
decoration and use of modern materials in the construction were the key features of
his rationalist approach to designing, following this he designed many buildings in
New Delhi. In most government buildings in New Delhi, one can find similar
architectural vocabulary getting repeated everywhere and interconnected between
them. They were built with same idealistic approach and philosophy. Architect
Habib Rehman has contributed a lot in establishing the image of governmental
architecture in the city. Habib Rehman being an MIT student was an architect of
CPWD gave new direction to government buildings of many cities.



New chapter really began in the architecture of the New Delhi after Nehru became
the president and brought his modernist group of architects in the city. European
and mostly American trained Indian architects, for example, Habib Rehman, Achyut
Kanvinde an Mansinh Rana were the architects that really brought modernism to
india.
Their generation was given a responsibility to shape the architecture of he newly
independent india that had no particular identity. They and others like them
returned to india and began to implement their ideas in an indian context; meeting
with substantial resistance from the political quarters., which preferred the insertion
of revivalist, not western, design. Many of them asked to incorporate the indian
embellishments in their designs that we see in some of the buildings like Habib
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Rehmans Indraprastha Bhawan and Rabindra Bhawan and in Achyut Kanvindes
Azad Bhawan. Their architecture became the inspiration for he future generation
that substantially lead towards more rational approach of designing.
Charles Correa developed his work when these two towering 20th century masters
were both building in India. His 1963 memorial for Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad,
which is reminiscent of Kahns design for the Trenton Bath House, marks the
beginning of his mature work. The most important buildings after that were his
Kanchanjunga high-rise apartments in Mumbai, built from 1970 1983, then the
government building in Bhopal, 1980 1996 , and the art centre in Jaipur, 1986
1992 where he discovered the spiritual dimension of Indian thought and integrated
it into his work. Correa is the most important representative of his generation and
still Indias most significant contemporary architect. Alongside Doshi and Correa,
Anant Raje is another major architect of this generation. Raje realised the
Indian Institute buildings as Kahns right hand and added others in the spirit of
Kahn. His work is clearly shaped by Kahns structures, but he interpreted them
independently. Raj Rewal also belongs in this group. Educated in Delhi and London,
he was influenced at an early stage by the Japanese Metabolists, but later found his
own identity in Indias history, pursuing the concept of a Modernism based on
tradition. His parliament library is one of the outstanding Indian building projects
of the last ten years.
Achyut Kanvinde: sought to create buildings that represented modern technology
and the machine age. Walter gropius was an inspiration to many works of Achyut
Kanvinde, who sought to create buildings that represented modern technology and
the machine age.
The ATIRA building has an i=open plan, with clearly separated functional areas
.The administration-cum-laboratory block is a perfect rectangular form
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.Continuous bands of glass are flush with the wall on the north faade.Southern
faade has sun shades running across in a continuous line. Kanvinde pioneered the
use of flexible concrete column and beam grid. He introduced waffle slabs in the
Bank of India building in bhadra, Ahmedabad.
Bibliography
1. Lang, Jon. A Concise History Of Modern Architecture in India. New Delhi :
Permanent Black, 2002. ISBN 81 7824 0173.
2. P.S., Sreekanth. The development of Modernist architecture in India. The Archi
BLog Not Just another
3. The Architect Habib Rehman. [book auth.] Hiralba Jadeja. Architecture of Habib
Rehman
4.Manishaa.Achyut Kanvinde. StudyMode. [Online] 2012.
http://www.studymode.com/essays/Achyut-Kanvinde-1305413.html.
5. The City of Chandigarh Le Corbusier. dwell. [Online]
http://www.dwell.com/modern-world/article/city-chandigarh-le-corbusier.







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