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Arjun Mukerji
Dr. Sanghamitra Basu
[Published in: ABACUS, Vol.6, No.1, Spring 2011. pp.11-20. ISSN: 0973-8339]
In 1870, the English painter John Watkins Chapman used the term post-modern to
mean more modern than modern (Jencks, 1991, p.20). The meaning remains
preserved when looked strictly from a chronological point of view, and modern
translates to contemporary, but stylistically, post-modernism is not a double-dose of
modernism. In fact, it is in its reaction and opposition to modernism that postmodernism best expresses itself, be it in literature, art, architecture, or social theory.
Post-modernism signals the emergence of a period of multiple changes in society,
involving information advances, consumerism, the omnipresence of simulations, and
the rise of a post-industrial order (Brooker, 1999, Featherstone, 1991, as cited in
Bloland, 2005, p.123). In social theory, post-modernism is a reaction to grand
narratives on the nature of the universe, and offers no vision of theory beyond many
voices in continual play (Allan & Turner, 2000, p.364).
In literature, post-modernism is a reaction to the unity and primacy of narrative, often
playfully denying the possibility of meaning, and eradicating the distinction between
high and low culture with the employment of pastiche, the combination of multiple
cultural elements, including subjects and genres not previously deemed fit for
In the visual arts, postmodernism was a rejection of the grand narratives of artistic
direction, eradicating the boundaries between high and low forms of art, and
disrupting the conventions of genre with collision, collage, and fragmentation. Postmodern











therefore irony, parody, and humour are the only positions that cannot be overturned
by critique. Pluralism and diversity emerge as other defining features.
Several of these attitudes are shared by post-modern architecture. However, the
commonly assumed distinction of modern as artistic autonomy and post-modern as
mass culture does not hold good in architecture as it does in some other fields
(McLeod, 1989/1998, p.681). Also, it is worthwhile to remember that modernism and
post-modernism remain inextricably entwined, and often have a fuzzy boundary as

opposed to a clear binary distinction (Bloland, 2005, p.138). The significance of

post-modernism in architecture has to be sought both in the theories professed and
the paradigms refuted.
Post-modern architecture is the architectural style which evolved from middle to late
twentieth century, as a response to the perceived failures of the modern movement in
architecture. It is worthwhile to look at the international experience of postmodernism in order to understand the post-modernist architecture in India, which
parallel those elsewhere in the world because, at a generic level, the architectural
problems of India are not unique. Their specific solutions may be (Lang, 2002,
It is always difficult and reductive to define a growing and complex movement like
post-modern architecture, and understandably, a number of different theories and
perspectives have arisen while attempting to do so. Sections 2.2 to 2.4 outline the
various attitudes and try to identify the common ground, but at first we analyze
modernist architecture as the springing board of post-modernism.
2.1. Modernist Architecture
Modern refers to the core values of Enlightenment - the centrality of reason, the
belief in progress, the virtues of individualism, and faith in the scientific method
(Bloland, 2005, p.122). Modernism in architecture may be understood as a direct
consequence of the industrial revolution. As if as a homage to the invention of new
materials and the advent of new technologies, the modernist paradigm was to frankly
expose and showcase these materials and techniques of construction. Function and
efficiency were the primary inspirations for design. Uniformity and a rationalist
approach were considered a necessity to cater to an industrialized and urban society,
and mass construction and industrialized building systems provided the necessary
support. The resultant machine-aesthetic was minimalist, sans ornamentation,
employing platonic geometrical forms and planer surfaces. Classical or historical
references were consciously avoided, even though they might have been inspirations
for some architects like Le Corbusier (Curtis, 1987, p.108). The general attitude is
well expressed in oft-quoted maxims like: Form follows function, A house is a
machine for living in, and Less is more.

By the 1960s , an increasing sense of monotony of uniformity, apathy, insecurity,

lack of belongingness and ensuing social problems became serious concerns
(Jacob,1961), which led to renewed introspection by civic societies, sociologists,
urban planners and designers, and post-modern paradigms emerged. When the late
modernist Philip Johnson dismissed the Crutch of Utility (as) poppy-cock
(since) all buildings work, as well as the Crutch of Structure, it clearly undermined
the very paradigm of utilitarian modernism (Johnson, 1954/2006). Widely publicized
images of the demolition of the Pruitt Igoe Housing Complex were, as if, the final
blow to modernism.
In view of the above, post-modernism may be understood as a challenge to the
rationalization of space and the imposition of a strict and systematic order on daily
life; and, in its place, some postmodern architecture makes space more personalized
through the use of pastiche, the blending of styles, and the inclusion of historical
references (Allan & Turner, 2000, p.364). The development of post-modern
architectural theory is briefly discussed in sections 2.2 to 2.4.
2.2. Early Theories of Post-Modern Architecture
Early post-modernism developed through a criticism of modernism, for being
abstract, formal and inaccessible for having lost the traditional communicative
role of architecture. In advocacy of post-modernity in architecture, Paolo Portoghesi
placed emphasis on presence of the past and historical continuity (Portoghesi,
1980/2006). Robert Stern supported the idea of historic continuity, together with
pluralistic communication, context and ornament (Stern, 1980, as cited in Jencks,
1991, p.13), and Heinrich Klotz stressed on the importance of narrative (Klotz, 1988,
as cited in Jencks, 1991, p.15).
Charles Jencks identifies post-modernism as having a double-agenda which
criticises Modernism and Traditionalism while, at the same time, selecting elements
from both of them (Jencks, 2006b, p.6). He elaborately charts and analyses the
different tendencies and characteristics of post-modern architecture: the historicism
which included straight revivalism to neo-vernacular and abstraction, the radical
eclecticism rich in ornamentation, juxtaposition and layering, the use of metaphor
and symbol for communication or expression, the employment of humour, and the
evolution of kitsch as culture (Jencks, 1991). In his 13 propositions for post-modern
architecture, Jencks recommends complexity and multi-valence in architecture,

intended to be communicated to a pluralistic audience through symbols, metaphors,

reference to the past and classicism (Jencks, 1996/2006a).
There are other theoretical viewpoints advocating cultural diversity and
experientialism, while at the same time emphasizing the communicative role of the
built environment through meaning. Christian Norberg-Schulz suggests perception
of form has a cultural basis, and these forms need to be ordered to evolve a formal
language of architecture (Norberg-Schulz, 1965/2006). Jane Jacobs urbanism calls
for interconnection, symbiosis, ecology, diversity and difference leading to an
organized complexity (Jacobs, 1961, as cited in Jencks, 1991, p.11). Complexity in
such cases may result from diversified perceptions, reflection of multicultural
associations, as well as through a repertoire of past traditions. Robert Venturi,
another protagonist of the theory of complexity and contradiction (Venturi,
1966/2006), also emphasizes the communicative role of architecture when he
advocates the use of the decorated shed, i.e. symbol, instead of the duck, i.e. icon
(Venturi, Brown & Izenour, 1972/2006).
It is important to note here that there were other responses arising out of the
disillusionment with modernism which paralleled early post-modernism. Most
notable of these was Kenneth Framptons idea of Critical Regionalism, which takes a
middle course between Enlightenment idealism and New Historicist materialism,
seeking to cultivate an identity-giving culture as well as to employ universal
techniques. Frampton recommends a concern for nature over culture, and the tactile
over the visual, and speaks against the ever-present tendency to regress into
nostalgic historicism or the glibly decorative (Frampton, 1983/2002, p.22). This
approach may be better understood as a reformed modernism rather than a new
architectural style.
2.3. Late Post-Modern Architecture
Schismatic post-modernism or deconstructivism, spearheaded by Peter Eisenman,
developed through a celebration of the disintegration of communication and the
impossibility of postulating any meaning or cultural consensus. It is in essence poststructuralist, denying structuralisms search for underlying scientific rules of
discourse that organize social life (Best & Kellner, 1991, as cited in Bloland, 2005,
p.122). This strain avoids historicist imagery, contextualism and humanism, and

instead exhibits a technological imagery full of fragmentation, dispersion, and

Deconstructivism may well be understood as a reaction to early post-modernism. In
its preference for the abstract and hi-tech, and its rejection of tradition,
deconstructivism may even appear similar to modernism, but the rejection of
fundamental ideologies like functionalism and structural rationalism makes it postmodern. Ironically, it may be observed that deconstructivism also looks to the past
for developing its rhetoric, only now the search is centred on a more recent past
that of constructivism, structuralism and modernism.
2.4. Unity in The Post-Modern Pluralism
The diversity and pluralism of the post-modern movement poses a challenge to
defining it. Early post-modernism, in the variety of all its tendencies, remains united
in its objective of architectural communication and cultural identity. The justification
is not in programme, structure, or function, but in meaning. The deconstructivists,
dialectically opposite, celebrate the decomposition of meaning. However, what is
immediately apparent is that the territory of the post-modern debate remains:
meaning and its dissolution (McLeod, 1989/1998, p.681).
In view of the international experience, we intend to seek post-modernism in Indian
architecture. However, in order to provide an understanding of the attitudes and
tendencies which give rise to the Indian experience, it is essential to have an
overview of the evolution of contemporary architecture in India.
While charting the growth of contemporary Indian architecture, Jon Lang identifies
four distinct phases of modernism in India as: early modernism, first generation
modernism, second generation modernism, and post-Nehru modernism (Lang, 2002).
Each of these phases may be briefly discussed, and their contribution towards the
evolution of post-modernism is analyzed, as follows:
3.1. Early Modernism in India
Galconde House (1936-48), Pondicherry, designed by Antonin Raymond, is
generally considered as the first modernist building in India. However, Indian
architectural practice continued to experience a constant tussle of looking back into
the past for cultural relevance and looking forward to a rationally designed future.

Surendranath Kar, under the influence of Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan, and

following ideas of the swadeshi era, came up with explorations of nationalist
design, but it failed to garner the attention of major architectural firms. From about
the first quarter of the century, the contemporary art deco and streamline moderne
styles started to capture the imagination of Indian architects, and were profusely
employed till as late as the 1960s (by which time they were already considered pass
in the western world). A parallel evolution, with integration of indigenous cultural
precedents, was the eclectic Indo-deco style. The modern Indian architectural
movement, spearheaded by Sris Chandra Chatterjee in the 1920s and 1930s, was
reactionary to art deco and essentially revivalist, representing a belief that the past
can give order to the present and be a source of identity and pride for the people who
see it as part of their culture. However, in execution, it was considered pastiche and
retrogressive. The colonial heritage of neo-classicism continued to influence Indian
architectural practice well into the middle of the 20th century.
Though the style of international modernism, which thrived in the west from the
1920s to 1960s, was familiar to the Indian architectural fraternity, there was limited
evidence of it being employed, other than in the isolated rationalist works of foreign
architects, like Muthesius, Dudok, Raymond, and Koenigsberger, unconnected with
the Indian architectural firms. It was the political independence of India that signalled
a desire to create a new world, much like the World War II did in Europe, and
international modernism started gaining ground as the architectural vocabulary for
the purpose.
The modified classicism of Claude Bately gradually gave way to early modernism.
Architectural firms like Ballardie, Thompson and Mathews sought simplification of
the art deco exuberance to meet modernist demands, and Walter George tried to
adapt the norms of modernism to the climatic nature and construction process of
India. The synthesis of these two approaches gave rise to the utilitarian modernism
that characterizes a major part of contemporary Indian architecture (Lang, 2002,
Early modernism was also a result of the designs of the Public Works Departments:
notably, the CPWD in New Delhi, the Orissa PWD in Bhubaneswar, and the Mysore
State PWD. Architecture of this generation was characterized by modernist principles
in planning and construction, with a mixture of revivalist elements. Interestingly, the

Iconography of the chandrashala in the Vigyan Bhavan, by CPWD, New Delhi, is

not worked into the fabric of the structure like most revivalist elements, but stand out
as an iconic exclamation point, conforming to much later approaches of Venturian
of post-modernism (Brown, 2009, p.63).
What is noteworthy is the continual shift in attitudes experienced before the
international modern style gained a strong foothold as the predominant architectural
style. These early aspirations of achieving a relevant architectural vocabulary may
well be considered as a precursor to the post-modernist experience in India. This
quest received renewed impetus after the rise and fall of late modernism as discussed
in the following section.
3.2. Late Modernism in India
Post-independence, the architecture of the British was politically unacceptable,
though its adaptation to Indian regional climates was grudgingly appreciated (Lang,
2002, p.58). Inspired by the Nehruvian vision, Indian architectural thought sought
inspiration from the United States and Europe. The influence of Frank Lloyd
Wrights empiricism and, more significantly, that of Gorpiuss Bauhaus paradigm of
rationalism is noteworthy in architecture of this era.
India witnessed individual works of a number of foreign architects like the Reserve
Bank of India, Kolkata, by John Ritchie, the Tata Centre, Kolkata, by Holabard &
Root, and the United States Embassy, New Delhi, by Edward Durrell Stone.
Moreover, several young foreign architects started practicing in conjunction with
Indian professionals, notable amongst them being Joseph Allen Stein, Benjamin
Polk, and Bernard Kohn, and there association proved instrumental in dissemination
of modernist paradigms. Also, a significant number of Indian architects received their
training abroad and started employing the new approaches learnt from their
international exposure. This new generation included Habib Rahman, Achyut
Kanvinde, and Charles Correa, to mention only a few.
Other architects and craftsmen soon picked up the patterns and forms of the first
generation of modernists. Reinforced concrete structures, with large glazing, flat
roofs, freestanding stairs, cantilevered porches, and cubistic massing soon became
the hallmark of the modern Indian building. However, it should be noted that several

modernist works went beyond the puritanism of modernity, and continued to display
a respect to the cultural context, like Steins India International Centre, New Delhi.
The second generation of modernism emerged with the coming of Le Corbusier and
the rise of the rationalist Chandigarh school on one hand, and on the other, the more
empiricist work of Louis I. Kahn. Functionality, pragmatism, and modernist
vocabulary were complimented with an expressionist vision, a concern for climatic
and social context, and a brutalist image. The influence of the masters was carried on
and evolved by Indian architects like B. V. Doshi, who is now considered a master in
his own right. The structural innovations of Pier Luigi Nervi and Felix Candela also
served as inspirations and gave rise to the architecture of structural dexterity as
illustrated by Raj Rewals exhibition halls in New Delhi.
It is interesting to note that within Corbusiers abstract sculptural forms, and
interplay of solids and voids, several Indian references are carefully woven in (e.g.
the Assembly Halls roof is curved like a cows horns), and Kahns use of brick
almost resonates with the post-modern neo-vernacularism of the west.
The Post-Nehru modernist generation saw the emergence of many important Indian
architects. Their works are rich in variety and ingenuity, and a discussion of these
would be beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is worthwhile to note that there
was a rising disillusionment with the utopian paradigms of modernity, and while
many Indian architects, and especially the PWD, continued with rationalism and
utilitarian modernism, there were important instances of departure. Treatment of
architecture as symbolic sculpture is observed in projects like the Lotus Temple, New
Delhi, by Fariburz Sahba, and the Matrimandir in Auroville, by Roger Anger. Again,
brutalism evolved from being a puritan aesthetic to a frugal ethic, and embodied a
search for Indianness, as in the works of Kanvinde and Raj Rewal. Also, vernacular
architecture regained ground as a valid inspiration, like in Uttam Jains design for
Jodhpur University, where traditional materials are presented in a modern expression.
All of these remain modern in their paucity of added decoration, avoidance of direct
or abstract elements for historical reference, and lack of flamboyance, but a nascent
quest for meaning, identity and context cannot be denied.

The search for a contemporary Indian identity existed from much before the rise of
international modernism in India, as discussed in section 3.1, and continued to
manifest itself right through the period of late modernism. With the global
disillusionment with modernism, and the international rise of post-modernism as the
architecture of meaning and context, the quest found new directions.
Jon Lang identifies three distinct tendencies which characterize the post-modern
experience in India. These are: (1) the use of past elements or form in an abstract
manner, (2) a drawing on the vernacular past to indigenize architecture, and (3) a
recognition of the variety of problems that exist in a society and an attempt to address
them directly (Lang, 2002, p.121). However, only the first two may be considered
as morphologically evident post-modern architecture, though the last is also a
response to the post-modern world.
The following sections illustrate evidences of the first two approaches, as well as
other traits of post-modernism (as reviewed in Sections 2.1 and 2.2), identifiable as
parallels to the International repertoire.
4.1. Abstractionism
Historicism often found its expression in post-modern architecture through the use of
abstracted traditional forms. Stanley Tigermans use of Ionic silhouettes for the
Pensacola Place Apartments, Chicago, is a classic example of western
abstractionism. Similar use of abstracted historic forms as cultural references in
contemporary Indian architecture actually started long before the international postmodernist debate, and this strain continues to thrive in agreement with the
international development.
Several instances of Indian abstractionism have religious associations. In the Mazhar
of President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, designed by Habib Rahman, the architect uses
an abstraction of the silhouette of the Taj Mahal. In the Dakshin Delhi Kalibari
Temple by Sumit Ghosh, we witness abstracted forms of a Bengal Roof in the
garbha griha, and a temple shikhara fused with a multiple conoid base which
represents the traditional Kalibaris. The Prarthana Mandir of the Ramkrishna
Mission Vidyapith in Purulia, West Bengal, by Sunil Pal and Ramananda
Bandopadhyay, employs a mushroom-like dome atop a tower, decorated with
abstracted leaf forms, to symbolize the Panchavati. By their very nature, religious

structures probably demand cultural references in order to convey continuity in

meaning to the lay-people. However, these references were not mere copying of
historic shapes and forms but a creative response through abstraction and
transformation which makes them post-modern, in contrast to the earlier IndoSaracenic works of British architects in India.
The use of abstractionism is also evident in some non-religious buildings. In the
School for Spastic Children in New Delhi by Romi Khosla, the form of rock-cut
caves of Ajanta symbolize protection and shelter. Again, in the Oberoi Hotel in
Bhubaneswar by Satish Grover, the plan form of the Hindu temple and the Buddhist
vihara evolve to create an interesting sequence of spaces.
4.2. Ornamentation
Ornamentation re-emerged in postmodernism as a noticeable shift from the
modernist paradigm of minimalism. The employment of sculptures and murals was
an integral part of traditional Indian architecture, and understandably, it became one
of the key features adopted in the Indian experiments of post-modernity. The ISCON
Temple, New Delhi and the Lake Kalibari, Kolkata, designed by the first generation
modernist master Achyut Kanvinde, show elements of ornamentation which may
well be identified as post-modern. C. P. Kukrejas buildings at the IIM Lucknow
campus are notable examples of employing decorative elements in post-modern
Indian building faades. Several instances of graphic elements may be noted at
Charles Correas Jawahar Kala Kendra, which, though metaphorical, are also
decorations in their own right. The relief murals in concrete at the Mahindra College
Campus by Christopher Beninger, and the painted murals in the style of the Kalighat
Patachitra, employed by Charles Correa at The City Centre, Kolkata, also exemplify
the same trend, though they are rather understated and may also be paralleled to Le
Corbusiers use of murals in Chandigarh.
Hafeez contractors design of Hiranandani Gardens, like many of his other works,
employs a profusion of decorative elements inspired by western classical
architecture, and is reminiscent of the works of Ricardo Bofill. A number of
commercial developments all over India follow this trend of decorative pastiche
faades fixed on to utilitarian modernist plans, in line with Robert Venturis concept
of a decorated shed.

4.3. Neo-Traditional and Modern Indian Vernacular

The use of pitched roofs, chunky detailing, picturesque massing and brick was the
hallmark of a neo-vernacular post-modernism in the western world (Jencks, 1991,
p.81). But the inspiration from traditional Indian building practices came in various
forms: materials, building technology, shilpaic canons, settlement patterns, and
aesthetic values. While some of the resultant architecture is visually identifiable as
having vernacular inspiration, some appear rather modernist despite being rooted in
traditional empirical knowledge. The fuzziness between modern and post-modern is
most pronounced while examining this trait.
Nari Gandhis residences, Gerard da Cunhas Nrityagram, and Laurie Bakers works,
like St. Johns Cathedral, Tiruvalla, display the use of traditional building forms,
vernacular technology, and materials like stone, bamboo, brick, mud and thatch.
Appukuttam Nair and Narayan Raos Kalakshetra Theatre in Chennai, and Charles
Correas Crafts Museum in New Delhi are excellent examples of interpretation of
vernacular architecture in a modern typology. While The Craft Museum draws
inspiration from the Indian village, the historic cities of North India serve as models
for a large number of housing developments like Raj Rewals Asiad Village, and
Charles Correas Tara Housing. In these designs, the streets, chowks, and the
courtyards regain their importance as important living spaces. The Hotel Mughal
Sheraton, Agra, by Arvind Gupta and Associates, employs patterns derived of
Mughal architecture, while B. V. Doshi draws his inspiration from Fatehpur Sikri in
his layout of IIM Bangalore. Darshan Kumar Bubbars Methodist Centre in Mumbai
is based on the Chandita Mandala, and is articulated through an indigenous system
of proportions, yet remaining utilitarian and modernist in appearance.
4.4. Humour
Tigermans Hot Dog House is said to find justification in its attempt to make his
client laugh (Jencks, 1991, p.94). Though it would be difficult to cite such striking
examples of humour in contemporary Indian architecture, it has been well employed
in the designing of interior spaces. Charles Correas use of Mario Mirandas cartoons
of theatre-goers in the Kala Akademi, Goa, reflect an underplayed wit, while the
graphics and installations at the MTV Office, Bangalore, by Khosla Associates, are
examples of the frivolous and kitsch. Correas use of trompe loeil and stage set

decorations in Hotel Cidade de Goa, Panjim, creates an interesting and humorous

interplay of the real and unreal.
A very different variety of humour, albeit unintended, is aroused by the pastiche
faade decorations, which Gautam Bhatia sarcastically refers to as Punjabi Baroque,
Bania Gothic, Marwari Mannerism, Anglo-Indian Rococo, etc (Bhatia, 1994).
Though the grotesque may not always qualify as humour in architecture, it is
important to note these as valid post-modern tendencies. Also, these may well have
been the architects attempts to humour their clients, just like Tigerman.
4.5. Juxtaposition and Layering
Post-modernism, by its inherent eclecticism, fosters the concurrent use of culturally
dissimilar elements. The two opposing approaches to this would be in seeking
harmony in the variety, and in the celebration of the juxtaposition through
highlighting the contrast. Hafeez Contractors design for the Global Training Centre
at Infosys campus, Mysore, is a particularly stunning example of juxtaposition where
a Parthenon-like classical faade is flanked by wings of minimalist modern blocks on
either side. A similar juxtaposition is evidenced in the utilitarian block and the fortlike entrance structure of the Radisson Ffort Resort by Prabir Mitra, where the latter
forms an outer layer to the interior modern space, and is somewhat comparable to
Frank Gehrys own house. The richly decorative faades attached to the otherwise
utilitarian commercial blocks, as already discussed in section 4.3, are also valid
instances of post-modern layering.
4.6. Metaphor & Symbolism
Symbols and metaphors become increasingly important elements when architecture
intends to convey meaning. As already noted, in the School for Spastic Children,
New Delhi, by Romi Khosla, the metaphor of the cave is interpreted as a symbol of
protection. This is reminiscent of the Hillington Civic Centre by Andrew Derbyshire,
where the pitched roofs coming down almost to the ground are a symbol of
protection overpowering the walls, which are symbolically defensive and hostile.
In Hafeez Contractors design for the Russy Modi Centre for Excellence,
Jamshedpur, free standing columns and pyramidal forms become symbols of
classical civilizations, eliciting comparisons for the achievements of the house of

The employment of metaphors may time and again be observed in the works of
Charles Correa. In the British Council Library, Delhi, the abstract imagery of the
giant tree in the faade becomes a symbol of India, and may well be interpreted as a
metaphor: the tree of knowledge. An axial progression through three nodes with
elements representing the Hindu axis mundi, the Muslim Charbagh, and the
European inlay depicting the age of reason, symbolizes historic interface between
cultures. The cosmological references for Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, and the Interuniversity Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, also rely on the use of
metaphors and symbols.
4.7. Narrative
The post-modern sense of concept, context and continuity is reflected in the building
up of narratives, real or concocted, through architectural spaces. Charles Correa
designed Cidade de Goa as a city with virtual imagery and real dwellings, narrating
the life and culture of an Indo-Portuguese town. The layout of dwellings along a
street is reminiscent of Kresge College. In the Radisson Ffort Resort, Raichak, Prabir
Mitra recreates a British naval fort which relays a fictitious narrative as to its
antecedents. The Belgian Embassy complex, by Satish Gujral, depicts a colonial
vision of India as a ruin and relates a reconstructed Indian history of disparate
temporalities Harappan, Mauryan, Gupta, and even the Kahn-influenced modern
(Brown, 2009, p.90).
4.8. Cosmology
Historically, architecture of various cultures has attempted to present a model for the
cosmos. The Indian Vaastu-shilpa tradition was intrinsically linked to Hindu
cosmology, astrology, and mythology, and was considered superstitious and
retrogressive by the modern architectural fraternity, until post-modernism rendered it
with a patina of avant-garde and intellectualism. The layout of the Vidhan Bhavan,
Bhopal, and the Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, by Correa, were inspired by the
Navagraha Mandal: the archaic Indian notion of the cosmos. At IUCAA, Pune,
Correas attempt is to express more contemporary notions of the Cosmos with
metaphors of expanding universe and centrifugal energy. The layout of the Mahindra
United World College Campus, by Christopher Beninger, again draws parallels with
the Jambudweepa in a Mandala, and the () rings of sacred islands spread out in
the oceans of salt-water, ghee, milk and honey. (Naidu, 2004)

4.9. Deconstruction
Charles Correas Hindustan Lever Pavilion is an early example displaying a striking
fragmentation of space, and the Tillany Museum, Bangalore, by Inform Architects,
may be cited as a conscious effort at deconstruction, but otherwise, built examples of
deconstructivist architecture in India are rare. Building technology and skill available
in India is probably not favourable to such architecture; indeed, very few designs
have been realized even in the affluent western world. Also, it may be conjectured,
the absence indicates that fragmentation, disorientation, and alienation are yet to
become predominant realities of Indian society. Some of the gravity-defying
structures by Hafeez Contractor at Infosys Mysore may indicate that deconstruction
has finally arrived, but how much of the styling arises out of the theoretical paradigm
is questionable. However, several un-built design competition entries and students
projects do reveal the contemporary Indian architects fancy for this strain of postmodernism. It is also witnessed in the design of interior spaces, like that of the
AVLC Building, Lonavala, by Sanjay Puri.


Undoubtedly, the most important paradigm of post-modernism is meaning, and

especially, multiple coding. Jawahar Kala Kendra may be taken as a suitable attempt
at multi-valence, where Correa presents parallel references to ancient Indian
cosmology and shilpaic traditions, Indian visual culture, the context of the city of
Jaipur, as well as to Jai Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru as individuals who were both
traditional and modern. Again, B. V. Doshis Hussain-Doshi Gufa reveals multiple
references: the cave, the forest, the circle, the mountain, the breast, and the Buddhist
stupa. It is as much architecture as an object of art in itself, much like Gehrys
Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao.
5.0 Conclusion
In the preceding sections, several traits have been identified in contemporary Indian
architecture, which can be identified as post-modern when compared to the
international repertoire. However, two important questions arise, which may be
discussed as follows.
5.1. What Happens post Post-Modernism?
Brown points out: It is not that the question of how to be both modern
[contemporary] and Indian has been resolved (Brown, 2009, p.162); the search for

an Indian identity continues. A small group of critics has put forth a range of theories
that aim to describe culture and/or society in the alleged aftermath of postmodernism,
which include performatism, hypermodernity, altermodernism, and digimodernism
(Bulley, 2010). None of these new theories and labels has so far gained widespread
acceptance, and post-modernism remains the most relevant paradigm for the
continual quest.
5.2. How Post-Modern is Indian Post-Modern Architecture?
Richard Bernstein states: "There are moments in history when, because of all sorts of
historical accidents a new set of metaphors, distinctions, and problems is invented
and captures the imagination of followers" (Bernstein, 1992, as cited in Bloland,
2005, p.124). Did India witness such a moment which may give rise to a new set of
architectural aesthetic? Advanced capitalism, which has been often identified as a
major stimulus for post-modernism (Allan & Turner, 2000), is only nascent in India.
Might this mean post-modern architecture does not have the necessary catalyst to
emerge as a critique of socio-economic realities, and is experienced only because of
formal influence of international trends?
Also, Indian modernism itself was often a modified expression: a regional third
world modernism, at times bordering on some of the very attitudes of postmodernism. For example, neo-traditionalism emerges as the most predominant postmodern tendency in India, whereas the traditional had continued to influence Indian
modernism throughout its growth and development. Thus, can Indian post-modern
architecture be interpreted as a revolution in reaction to the modernist practice or a
progressive evolution of it? Further studies may confirm the suggestion of a
possibility of arriving at the same solutions through two very different paths.

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