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Thesis Proposals 2012 Osma Dossani

Introduction: How can architecture become a problem-solving mechanism for religious tension? This project attempts to analyze how architecture and urban planning has played an integral force in creating tension between political and religious affiliations, and hopes to find if this process can be reversed and generate cultures and societies of strong individual colors as well as shades of coexistence. For hundreds of years now, there has been tension between Muslims and Hindus in South Asia. These tensions have been created by political acts, but matters of urban planning and architecture have also been utilized as key players. Latent Politics: The history of religious tension in this area is still very apparent today--the blood has not dried yet--and continues to be problematic in rural communities as well as big cities. Culturally, there is a huge divide between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians, although the intensity of this division is based on if it is in a metropolis or a village. Understanding how the populous regards architecture is an integral part in understanding its religious contentions. Part of this project will attempt to define what religious architecture is, how it is regarded, and the flaws in understanding architecture this way. For instance, a developer might feel the tendency to incorporate aspects of “Hindu” architecture, and completely attempt to disregard “Muslim” architecture, but is this even possible? Colonial architecture has also become part of the urban fabric, and what does this mean for the culture? How has the modernist movement, like Le Corbusier’s involvement with Chandigarh, affected culture in the city? And finally, how should South Asia build for the future? Can there be an architecture that incorporates cultural aspects of the variety of demographics in the area, and be specific to a region? Can one look at something new that is built now, and call it “Indian architecture” that has no specific tendency to be either Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or anything? While this project might focus on South Asia as an area of interest, it is meant to glean information and understanding from other areas that have the same problems. Examples of such areas are Israel / Palestine, BosniaHerzegovina / Serbia / Croatia, Afghanistan / Tajikistan / Pakistan, Iran / Iraq, Europe and England, South Africa, to name a few.

Interior of Village Palace

Jain Temple

Humayun’s Tomb

Volatility: Religious tension is an extremely volatile aspect of South Asia. Suicide bombers, airstrikes, surprising explosions happen frequently in Pakistan, and occasionally in India. During major political holidays, like Independence Day, stores and shops all close up in fear of riots. How are cities used as guerilla-scapes, and what are the elements of hiding and secrecy that permit such action to take place? Some have designed college campuses where protests and assembly are not allowed to perform, but does creating this invite the creation of a guerilla atmosphere? Can a city be designed in a way to invite community, instead of segregate it? This project looks at different cities in South Asia to pin-point areas of political and religious tension. Once these areas are defined, this project will look into the history of these areas to see how the master planning and architecture has evolved, and how it has affected the current situation today. Once it is clear why certain areas have developed, whether it be through government influence or selfassembly, an argument will be formed as to how this has contributed to religious tension and volatility in the area, and what elements and steps must it take to remedy the situation. The final product could be a building, a set of buildings, a master plan, or all of the above.

Riots in Mumbai after Babri Masjid Demolition

Protest in Delhi

Extreme Environments: India’s cities are developing to be extreme environments in that there is a huge population of rural communities moving into the cities, and therefore an interesting melange of cultures, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. This melange is an environment unlike many others because it comes with a clash of identities. A critique of new architecture in the area is that it has no connection to the culture present in India. The “international” style in itself belongs to no culture, and therefore is devoid of any emotional attachment by the population. This project will define the different elements of architectural styles belonging to the variety of cultures present in the city of Mumbai, and see what commonalities they possess, the different reactions they have developed to each other throughout history, and attempting to pave the way for a new environment that harkens to the various cultures present in India. This project will respond to Kenneth Frampton’s concept of critical regionalism and take it a few steps further by incorporating the history and more culture into its formal and spatial tendencies. Art Deco Apartments in Mumbai

Jama Masjid in Mumbai

Hindu Temple in Mumbai