You are on page 1of 9




• The ‘Wada’ Architecture, also referred to as Courtyard Architecture is

the residential style of Maratha Architecture which has made a
contribution in Residential Architecture.
• Wadas evolved under the reign of Peshwas.
• A Wada is typically a large building of two or more storey with groups
of rooms arranged around open courtyards.
• There are two types Wadas:
1. One which houses many families, like an
apartment building of recent times or chawls of Mumbai.
2. One in which only one family resided.
(mostly owned by relatives of Peshwa’s and traders).
• Its style was an amalgamation, where features from Mughal, Rajasthan and Gujarat architecture were combined
with local construction techniques.
• Basically , the Wada architecture by Maratha had been developed under the influence of surrounding architecture at
that time, resulting to the most powerful designs yet.


• Settlements developed around the Peshwas residence.

• Land around the Peshwas residence was divided into wards called Peths.
• These were self-sufficient units and they were named after the days of the weeks or the person who had established
• Social life centred around the village community.
• The village communities were economically self-sufficient and self-reliant units, each having its own set of ethics
and residential enclaves, shops, temples, etc.
• The administration was autonomous.
• Town had multinucleated structure.
• The streets and roads in the settlements were narrow.
• Roads were never straight as the growth of the settlement was organic.
• The plots for construction of Wadas were rectangular and lay right next to the streets.
• A Wada never had a garden or vistas leading to it.
• The urban form of the settlement appeared like a maze of two or three storied structures having internal open
spaces, placed along the road network with very little open community space.


• Moderate type of climate.

• The solar radiation is more or less the same throughout the year.
• The total rainfall usually exceeds 1000mm per year. Winter is a dry season.
• The design of a Wada was not influenced by the climatic factors rather it was influenced more by the social and
cultural factors.

• The Wada were planned in harmony with the hot weather conditions of the area.
• They were designed on the principals of the Hindu code of architecture design given in the Vastu Shastra.
• The arrangement is mostly linear.
• Wada are two or three storied tall houses, which are by far the oldest types of houses in Maharashtra.
• Generally, square or rectangular in shape, they have a courtyard in the centre and rooms around them.
• Besides, a central tank or a well is built in one of the courtyards.
• Usually, these Wadas have two to three courtyards with different functional rooms around them which are the main
features of the Wada.
• The courtyard is the principal feature, and all the functions of the household and social activities are oriented
towards the central space.
• The Wada with three courtyard had different spatial functions:
1. The first courtyard was meant for public gatherings,
social activities leading to the rooms accessed by friends and guests.
2. The second courtyard would house the offices called
the ‘Kacheri’, which was accessed by the officers who worked for the aristocrats.
3. The third courtyard was a private area for the ladies
of the house that housed the kitchen, store rooms and ‘Balantini Kholi’ (delivery room). Also the courtyard had ‘Tulsi
Vrindavan’, where ladies would perform prayers.
• The factors that influenced design were, the
construction material available and construction
technique used during the period along with the
time and period of the history.
• Topography plays a major role in design, whether
hilly, plain or coastal.
• The spaces within Wada usually followed structural
• The grid measurements follow the length of the
timber available.
• The columns and beams are of the length of the
trunk of the trees.
• The spaces were multiples of unit bays called
• Compared to modern construction materials and methods, traditional methods in India are adopted by the people due
to the Fundamental nature of evolution of the construction materials based on the strength and quality of materials
available locally. It is a major factor that influences the design elements of the architecture.
• The locally available materials used in the construction of Wada were used in the combination of clay, sand, cow
dung, lime to make bricks called ‘Pustak Vit’ (book brick), which were the size of a book 10”x6”x2”.
• Lime mortar made of lime with sand, jaggery and water was used to bond the construction.
• The structures had exposed basalt stonework up to the plinth level.
• The structure above the plinth level was mostly frame structure of teak wood with bricks and later plastered with
smooth lime plaster.
• The smooth lime plaster was made up of lime, jaggery, clay, and wheat chaff for binding.
• Timber is used as structural member for columns, beams, trusses, brackets, etc.
• Clay tiles are used for the roof of the Wada.
• These were very massive structures with very thick stone, brick or mud walls.
• The wooden staircase was often set in the thick walls.
• Different materials were used in compositions to render the facades of the structures:
1. A mixture of clay, water, cow dung, bajra or wheat chaff to plaster the exterior.
2. Wood of Khejri tree, Peepal tree, Agar tree were used to build the ceiling. It was mostly used to create
plain surfaces false ceiling, which displayed wealth of the family.
3. Gum extracted from Peepal, Khejri, Agar trees was mixed with wet clay which formed a smooth
sticky paste used for plastering.
4. The capitals of columns, balustrades, railings, brackets were constructed of wood and were heavily
5. A mixture of jaggery, juice of cactus, bananas and black grams was boiled till the mixture
reduces and used as coloured plaster.
6. The structures had pitched sloping roofs with teak wood or bamboo purlins and rafters for
trusses supporting clay tiles or terracotta tiles. Wooden rafters were placed inside the wall to prevent vertical cracks.
7. Internal walls and the faces had arched alcoves for lighting lamps or for storage purposes.
8. The corner junctions were built of moulded bricks and relief work was made of decorative
bricks. The base for plaster was made with bamboo frames.

• Changes in the society and lifestyle due to urbanization has tampered with the existence of Wadas.
• Due to industrialization, moving to the larger cities for better lifestyle has brought the trend of splitting joint families
who lived in these Wadas to nuclear families further making it difficult to maintain these huge Wadas.
• Due to the scale of Wadas, it becomes difficult and expensive to maintain them and hence, the owners sell the land
and property to the developers to receive huge amounts in return.
• Few other Wadas are left to decay and leave them in a dilapidated condition.
• Materials from such Wadas like the wooden carved columns and beams are sold in piece as antiques as they were
constructed from expensive materials.
• The timber used in these structures are sold at high prices.
• Lack of awareness about the heritage has led to large scale destruction and made way for concrete structures leading
to the insensitive destruction of once culturally rich character of the old cities.
• The course of time has also damaged the old Wadas, making the residents difficult to live in.
• The sudden and high increase in the land and estate value in cities and towns has been responsible for the
demolition of these beautiful structures and they are replaced by the arbitrarily developed concrete jungles.