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Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City

Hosted online across two days in March 2021, the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational and Liverpool School of Architecture’s “Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City” seminar investigated 20th century identities for postcolonial and post-independence cityscapes in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.

Convened by Iain Jackson, Professor at the Liverpool School of Architecture, Clara Kim, the Daskalopoulos Senior Curator for International Art at Tate Modern and Nabila Abdel Nabi, Curator for International Art at Tate Modern; the seminar explored stories from these ‘highly charged moment[s] in the history of city making or shaping’.[1]

The seminar specifically positions cities as incubators for the generation of national identity and for ‘Modernity’. However, were individual cities sufficient for such grand objectives, or were they more isolated and fragmented sites for local, yet innovative gestures? Presenters demonstrated examples where both centralised urban contexts (including major urban planning initiatives and more piecemeal developments) and wider networks proved valuable in creating or indeed reasserting national and regional identities.

The destructive process of creating mid-century urban environments defined many global contexts. Whether in response to the need for new national identities in postcolonial contexts, reconstruction and housing following the devastating effects of war and a baby boom or strategies to address perceived ‘blight’ and urban flight, urban renewal, with its top-down, Bauhausian, car-focused, and federally funded backbone epitomised Modernity.

Some cities benefitted from a relatively early reconsideration of the blank slate approach to city planning. Lukasz Stanek described how Miastoprojekt, a Krakow-based state planning office of designers envisioned the future of post-revolutionary Baghdad through their experiences with reconstructing historic Warsaw after the Second World War.[2]

Using architectural and design services as a politically and financially motivated form of state aid during the Cold War, the Miastoprojekt plans rejected key aspects of Baghdad’s first modern city plan, including the demolition of the city’s Ottoman era historic and vernacular architecture, and tripling the size of the city at a local level without consideration for expansion through regional developments.[3]

Miastroprojekt’s legacy continued beyond the Baghdad planning commissions through design work and education with Polish and Czechoslovakian architects teaching Polish perspectives of Modernism in Iraqi universities. By the 1990s, with the fall of communism, Polish designers reversed Miastroprojekt’s strategy and were thinking Warsaw through Baghdad to revitalise their cities.

Big plans were not constrained to single urban environments. Fahran Karim’s ‘archaeology of the future’ presentation explored the role of a foreign designer in creating Pakistani nationalism; Greek architect and planner Constantinos Doxiaidis. Karim asks, “How do you represent a country without a past. Fractured geographically into East and West wings… 1000 miles of India between it?”[4]

Doxiaidis preferred stark Modernism, justified through statistical analysis and designed without classical Islamic aesthetic details. He utilised plan forms, practical details and building types that he believed (or presented) to be essentially Islamic.[5] Doxiaidis planned refugee settlements and Islamabad to include ’gossip squares’, souks, Dochala huts and central mosques.

Despite conducting ethnographic fieldwork and survey (aerial photography), Doxiaidis imported his understanding of Islamic community planning and architecture from his research in the middle east and projected the needs and traditions of widely dispersed refugees on narrow local contexts. Unsurprisingly, the communities adapted or removed many of Doxiaidis’ design features or simply did not use the spaces created for them, preferring to adapt their homes or build vernacular sites suited to their cultural preferences instead. While in practice, many of these adaptations and rejections were practical, Doxiadis’ technical expertise and foreign perspective failed to deliver built environments that suited and sustained the needs and preferences of Pakistan’s new citizens.[6]

Considering what was happening between East and West Pakistan, Ram Rahman shared a richly illustrated and personal view of the cultural and political context for his father Habib Rahman’s contributions to the ‘Nehruvian post-independence renaissance of Delhi.’

Habib Rahman, a young MIT-trained Bauhausian architect, was recruited by Nehru to work in Delhi, where he organised an international low-cost housing exhibition in 1954, including plans and a model for his own design for low-cost housing. Rahman’s house design was reproduced across India 100,000’s of times to address a critical housing shortage.

Rahman was a prolific designer and his work, including the World Health Organisation headquarters building of 1963 (demolished) and later designs for three monumental tombs epitomised Indian modernity.

Professional training and architectural education were key vectors for transnational exchange and development in postcolonial contexts. However, as Patrick Zamarian described in his presentation, the development of the Department of Tropical Architecture (DTA) at the Architectural Association (AA) in London was related as much to the independent administrative structure of the AA and its struggling economic position in the 1950’s as it was to meeting the challenges of Modern design in foreign contexts.

Zamarian recognised the problematic and homogenizing term ‘Tropical Architecture’ and then described the global networks of designers, patrons and educators who delivered training for a generation of British and international students, with a curriculum based on technological solutions for climatic design and a Modern design aesthetic that disregarded local aesthetic and cultural traditions.[7]

When the department visited Ghana, “these ideas for Tropical Architecture fell apart. [The curriculum] shifted from a generic science-based approach to a local and sensitive one, focused increasingly on housing, planning and eventually sustainable development.”[8]

Ola Uduku’s exploration of Modernist Lagos focused on the cumulative impacts of the DTA trained architects, engineers and Italian contractors who contributed to the rapid development of the marina district for independent Nigeria’s first capital city.[9] Although Lagos benefitted from major infrastructure improvements, the architecture described in Uduku’s presentation was piecemeal and demonstrated the evolution and intensification of development for the district from colonial centre to financial district.

Examples include Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew’s Co-operative Bank Lagos (1959) and the Architects Co-Partnership’s Bristol Hotel.[10] A Lagos building that encapsulated the international design collaborations for the time is the James Cubbitt and Partners’ Elder Dempster Lines building (1961), which introduced sleek modern lines, natural cross-ventilation, engineering innovations (pile foundations) contributed by Ove Arup and a distinctive funnel-shaped top structure alongside a notable collection of Nigerian artworks in the lobby. Nigerian designs for the time include Oluwole Olumuyiwa’s Crusader House (1955) and elegant villas outside Lagos by Obi Obembe Associates.

In other contexts, a national approach to recreating identity was accomplished through the redevelopment of pilgrimage networks and tourist destinations, including hotels and museums.

Talinn Grigor introduced the Society for National Heritage (SNH) and the role of the Shah’r in asserting the hegemony of the ruling class and Iranian elite (and recreating national identity) through the demolition and reconstruction of over 40 historic mausoleums to encourage secular and cultural tourism.[11] Examples include the mausoleums of Ferdawsi (1934) in Tus and Hafiz (1938) in Shiraz. Grigor argues that these new Modern mausoleums were integral to the creation of an aspirational middle-class culture in Iran, becoming a network for national tourism that remains today.

The Shah’r and the tremendous wealth generated by the Iranian oil industry funded the design and construction of avant-garde Modern environments and later more traditionally inspired art and architectural contexts, culminating in the uniquely Iranian expression of modernism inspired by traditional wind towers for the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (Kamran Diba, 1977).[12]

Lahbib el Moumni and Imad Dahmani’s presentation on post-independence Moroccan architecture included a second example of state-sponsored activities to promote tourism with Modern architecture. This was developed through hotels constructed outside urban centres in the country’s dramatic landscapes. Examples of exquisite and richly contextual forms from architects Abdeslem Faraoui and Patrice de Mazieres include the Hotel Les Gorges du Dadès (1974) and Hotel at Taliouine (1971-72) were shared, both to demonstrate the value of these sites and to explore the challenges of engaging communities with their recent past. [13]

The expressive and contextual Modernism of Morocco was certainly not isolated for post-colonial contexts. Amin Alsaden’s presentation demonstrates how urban renewal programmes in Baghdad in the 1950s created a sense of cultural and heritage loss, which predicated a culturally specific interpretation of Modern art and architecture for the city. He focused particularly on the work of architect Rifat Chadirji who merged globalism and regionalism in his designs.[14]

Alsaden described Rifat’s earliest buildings as somewhat derivative but noted that through the 1960’s his designs evolved to incorporate traditional shapes and plan forms, marrying social needs to social forms, and incorporating the narrow round arch form, in both elevation and plan.

Anna Tostoes’ presentation on the work of Amâncio (Pancho) Guedes in Mozambican cities clearly demonstrates how the architect’s designs coupled global technical, aesthetic, and cultural movements for the time with traditional and vernacular forms to create unique buildings for Maputo which continue to engage with local communities, including the Saipal Bakery (1954), Smiling Lion Building (1954-55) and the Abreu Santos and Rocha Building (1953-56).[15]

These Guedes landmarks remain relevant to 21st century contexts, but many other postcolonial buildings have been heavily altered or demolished. In my experience as a built heritage professional, architecture of the recent past, whether in postcolonial contexts, Europe, or the Americas is especially vulnerable to inappropriate alterations and loss.

Coupled with the experimental, academic, inefficient and sometimes foreign or dehumanising aspects of mid-century Modern architecture and urban renewal, it can be difficult ‘to love’ and costly to restore for sustainable 21st century purposes. Outside losses from the traumatic impact of military conflict or political maneuvering, it comes as no surprise that the architecture that has sustained and remains relevant to local communities is the architecture that originally engaged with its local context and traditions.

These landmark buildings need champions like Mémoire des Architectes Modernes Marocain’s (MAMMA) and DoCoMoMo to promote their value against ever greater development pressures. “Crucibles, Vectors and Catalysts” moved the discussion forward, but there are clearly collaborative opportunities for research and advocacy to be progressed.

Heather McGrath Alcock is PhD researcher at University of Liverpool’s School of Architecture studying the global development of planned company towns. Heather returned to academia after twenty years as a built heritage practitioner based in New York City and later London and the Wirral. Heather had the opportunity to work on landmarks of the Modern movement, including the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, a thematic survey of mid-century modern houses in New Canaan, Connecticut started by “the Harvard Five”, and the former Pan American Building at 200 Park Avenue, Manhattan.

References

Daechsel, Markus. 2011. ‘Seeing like an expert, failing like a state? Interpreting the fate of a satellite town in early post-colonial Pakistan.’ in Marcel Maussen, Veit Bader and Annelies Moors (eds.), Colonial and Post-Colonial Governance of Islam (Amsterdam University Press).

Talinn, Grigor. 2004. ‘Recultivating “Good Taste”: The Early Pahlavi Modernists and Their Society for National Heritage’, Iranian Studies, 37: 17-45.

Uduku, Ola. 2006. ‘Modernist architecture and ‘the tropical’ in West Africa: The tropical architecture movement in West Africa, 1948–1970’, Habitat International, 30: 396-411.


[1] Jackson, Ian. “Introductory remarks for Crucibles session” from “Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City”. Online. 2nd March 2021.

[2] In his presentation, “Rupture, Transition and Continuity in Baghdad’s Master Plans: From Minoprio to Miastoprojekt” on 2nd March 2021, Stanek noted that the Iraqi coup which toppled the monarchy in 1958 instigated a new era of collaboration with Eastern European architects and planners; networks established to “compete with and confront Western European and American hegemony to establish a new independent Iraq through its capital city Baghdad.”

[3] Baghdad’s first modern city plan was completed in 1956 by the British architect and town planner Sir Charles Anthony Minoprio, Hugh Spencley and Peter Macfarlane for the country’s Western aligned Hashemite monarchy.

[4] Karim, Fahran. “Archaeology of the Future: Constantinos Doxiaidis in East and West Pakistan”, from Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City seminar, Session 2, Vectors; 2nd March 2021.

[5] Ibid. According to Fahran Karim, Doxiaidis’ patron Ayub Khan “subscribed to a social theory of development but weakened democracy to validate his authoritarian rule because he felt that the poor, uneducated [masses] couldn’t participate in democracy.” 

[6] According to Markus Daechsel in his 2011 contribution ‘Seeing Like an Expert, Failing Like a State?

Interpreting the Fate of a Satellite Town in Early Post-Colonial Pakistan’, in Colonial and Post-Colonial Governance of Islam, ed. by Marcel Maussen, Veit Bader and Annelies Moors (Amsterdam University Press, 2011), p 159-160, there were many problems associated with the rapid and uneven development of the refugee settlements (lack of basic services (running water, electricity, sewers) and infrastructure (storm sewers), unfinished civil engineering works and the relatively poor refugee communities could not afford rents for the shop spaces, so were not used.

[7] Including Michael Pattrick, Director of the AA in the 1950’s who saw the new department as a way to improve the Association’s finances and academic standing, to Maxwell Fry who supervised the first few years of the department and then culminating in Otto H. Königsberger’s (1908 – 1999) leadership. From Zamarian, Patrick. “Global Perspectives and Private Concerns: The AA’s Department of Tropical Architecture”, from Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City. Online. 2nd March 2021. 

[8] Ibid. 

[9] Lagos was the original capital city for independent Nigeria. However, it is now the capital of Lagos State since the Nigerian capital city moved to Abuja in 1991.  

[10] Ola Uduku, ‘Modernist Architecture and ‘the Tropical’ in West Africa: The Tropical Architecture Movement in West Africa, 1948–1970’, Habitat International, 30 (2006), 399.

[11] In ‘Recultivating “Good Taste”: The Early Pahlavi Modernists and Their Society for National Heritage’, Iranian Studies (2004), Talinn Grigor noted that “For the modernists, therefore, the control over the physical and conceptual “heritage” enabled them to erase the immediate past to construct the “progressive” future. Destruction of building-as-representation [traditional sites of religious pilgrimage] proved central to the construction of the pending utopian future. Architecture was imperative to the success of the [Society for National Heritage] SNH’s modernizing agenda.”

[12] The Museum opened months before the revolution started which saw the monarchy overthrown and exiled from the country.

[13] While more ancient histories and built heritage are preserved and underpin 21st century cultural identity in Morocco, the architecture of the mid-twentieth century has been over-looked, inappropriately altered or destroyed. Mémoire des Architectes Modernes Marocain (MAMMA) was created in 2016 by young architects concerned with the loss of these sites. 

[14] Alsaden noted in his 9th March 2021 presentation “Syntheses Across Disciplines: Rifat Chadirji and Art-Architecture Liaisons in Modern Baghdad” for Crucibles, Vectors and Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City, Chadirji was part of the elite bohemian culture of Baghdad, which included artists and architects who were educated in Europe and America. Against the backdrop of political turmoil, they created a vibrant, creative society that embraced Modernism ‘as an act of rebellion against the legacy of British architects who had used Neo-classical designs with orientalist tropes’. 

[15] Tostoes, Ana. “Correspondences, Transfers and Memory: Maputo’s ’Age of Concrete’”, from Crucible, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City seminar, Session 2, Vectors; 2nd March 2021.

This congress calls for papers that will examine the movement of people and things around and across the Indian Ocean Rim and reveal instances or patterns of transfer that may complicate assumed centre-periphery dynamics, or correspond more closely to the idea of South-South cooperation. It looks to engage new political framings like the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) or the Group of 77 (G77) and the resulting New International Economic Order (NIEO) that would reconfigure the transfer of construction materials and labour, and consequently architectural knowledge, across this region. But it also hopes to discuss the potentialities for greater solidarity that emerged from broader philosophical notions of ‘neutralism’ ‘human dignity’ and ‘justice’ and how these have affected the ethics of construction in the Global South. Finally, it is expected that all these considerations will find a place in the discussion of migrant populations and their negotiations with these constructed political and cultural categories, living across and beyond them in a constant state of liminality. 

Abstracts (300 words) for proposed papers are invited to be submitted to camea@adelaide.edu.au by 20th June 2021. Congress will meet on 7th-9th November 2021.

Please see the attached Call for Papers for further details:

On behalf of co-convenors: Peter Scriver, Katharine Bartsch and Amit Srivastava

Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning The Modern City 2nd March Part 1

https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/architecture/events/filmarchive/

Here are the recordings from the Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning The Modern City, event from 2nd and 9th March 2021. Thank you to all of our excellent speakers, and for the interesting questions and discussions.

PROGRAMME: Session 1: Crucibles, 15:00-16:30 (UTC) Building the Modern City: Expressions of Identity, Change and Power, Moderated by Iain Jackson

This panel will explore state-sponsored programmes, planned cities and masterplans in cities such as Lagos, Tehran and Baghdad. It will examine architecture as expressions of nationalism and nationalist political agendas as well as its relationship to big business, corporations and mercantile ventures.

Speakers:
  • Talinn Grigor (University of California, Davis)
    • Building a (Cosmopolitan) Modern Iran
  • Ola Uduku (Manchester School of Architecture)
    • Lagos International Metropolis: A city’s adventure in tropical architecture as an expression of dynamic modernism and growth in the mid 20th century
  • Lukasz Stanek (University of Manchester)
    • Rupture, Transition and Continuity in Baghdad’s Master Plans: From Minoprio to Miastoprojekt
Session 2: Vectors, 17:00-18:30 (UTC) Connecting the Modern City: Networks, Alliances and Knowledge Production; Moderated by Clara Kim

This panel will explore the practice of modern architecture through colonial-postcolonial networks and geopolitical alliances. It will explore cities in Mozambique within the context of other Lusophone countries, post-Partition East & West Pakistan, as well as the dissemination of knowledge and technical expertise through pedagogy.

Speakers:
  • Ana Tostões (University of Lisbon)
    • Correspondences, Transfers and Memory: Maputo’s “Age of Concrete”
  • Farhan Karim (University of Kansas)
    • Archaeology of the Future: Constantinos Doxiaidis in East and West Pakistan
  • Patrick Zamarian (University of Liverpool)
    • Global Perspectives and Private Concerns: The AA’s Department of Tropical Architecture
TUESDAY 9 MARCH Session 3: Catalysts, 15:00-16:30
  • Fragments of the Modern City: Memories, Echoes and Whispers Moderated by Osei Bonsu

This panel will explore the collaborations, connections and entanglements that developed between art and architecture during a dynamic period of building in Morocco, India and Iraq. It will examine the legacy and afterlives of these projects through the investigation of under-recognised figures and narratives in art and architecture.

Speakers:

  • Lahbib el Moumni & Imad Dahmani (founders of MAMMA, Mémoire des Architectes Modernes Marocain)
    • Initiatives toward saving modern heritage of Morocco
  • Ram Rahman (Photographer/Curator)
    • Building Modern Delhi, The Nehruvian Post-Independence Renaissance
  • Amin Alsaden (Independent Scholar)
    • Syntheses Across Disciplines: Rifat Chadirji and Art-Architecture Liaisons in Modern Baghdad

This event was organised by Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational and Liverpool School of Architecture.

Explore modern cities and architectural production in the blurred era of the independence and postcolonial period

Join us for three sessions which will bring together scholars, researchers and curators to explore architectural production in the blurred era of independence to the post-colonial period of the mid-20th century, focussing on cities in Africa, Middle East and South Asia. 

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crucibles-vectors-catalysts-envisioning-the-modern-city-tickets-138966892717

Whether driven by socialist agendas (Nehruvian in India and Nkrumah in Ghana), monarchies (Pahlavis in Iran and Hashemite in Iraq), quasi colonial protectorates, or pan-continental aspirations, architecture (and especially Modernism) was a key apparatus for nation-building, for re-imagining identities and a means to project and invent a new image of the future. The seminar seeks to explore the use of architecture as both physical infrastructure and symbolic expression, as well as its vulnerability to the vicissitudes of changing politics and policies of the times.

The role of cities as crucibles, vectors and catalysts for developing new expressions of identity, change and power is key. Cities in this period saw the emergence of schools of thought, dynasties and collaborations were formed, networks and ideas were shared and publications were disseminated. While the desire of a newly independent nation was often to consolidate a single national collective identity, it was through the urban centres that strands of coherent, yet often multiple identities were formed. The role of figures such as Rifat Chadirji, Mohamed Makiya, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry were important as they often operated within multiple cities and cross-cultural contexts that spanned the colonial to postcolonial divide. 

These urban centres were either newly built, or they were remade and reimagined through city infrastructure, government buildings, universities, cultural institutions and national monuments. Architecture schools, state sponsored projects and external agencies feed into the discussion and warrant further exploration. The seminar explores the transnational connections, diverse political agendas and complex allegiances which informed architectural development in this period. 

Seminar convenors:

  • Iain Jackson, Professor of Architecture and Research Director, Liverpool School of Architecture
  • Clara Kim, The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art, Tate Modern
  • Nabila Abdel Nabi, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern

PROGRAMME
TUESDAY 2 MARCH

Session 1: Crucibles, 15:00-16:30 (UTC)

  • Building the Modern City: Expressions of Identity, Change and Power
    • Moderated by Iain Jackson

This panel will explore state-sponsored programmes, planned cities and masterplans in cities such as Lagos, Tehran and Baghdad. It will examine architecture as expressions of nationalism and nationalist political agendas as well as its relationship to big business, corporations and mercantile ventures.

Speakers:

  • Talinn Grigor (University of California, Davis)
    • Building a (Cosmopolitan) Modern Iran
  • Ola Uduku (Manchester School of Architecture)
    • Lagos International Metropolis: A city’s adventure in tropical architecture as an expression of dynamic modernism and growth in the mid 20th century
  • Lukasz Stanek (University of Manchester)
    • Rupture, Transition and Continuity in Baghdad’s Master Plans: From Minoprio to Miastoprojekt

Session 2: Vectors, 17:00-18:30 (UTC)

  • Connecting the Modern City: Networks, Alliances and Knowledge Production
    • Moderated by Clara Kim

This panel will explore the practice of modern architecture through colonial-postcolonial networks and geopolitical alliances. It will explore cities in Mozambique within the context of other Lusophone countries, post-Partition East & West Pakistan, as well as the dissemination of knowledge and technical expertise through pedagogy.

Speakers:

  • Ana Tostões (University of Lisbon)
    • Correspondences, Transfers and Memory: Maputo’s “Age of Concrete”
  • Fahran Karim (University of Kansas)
    • Archaeology of the Future: Constantinos Doxiaidis in East and West Pakistan
  • Patrick Zamarian (University of Liverpool)
    • Global Perspectives and Private Concerns: The AA’s Department of Tropical Architecture

TUESDAY 9 MARCH

Session 3: Catalysts, 15:00-16:30 (UTC)

  • Fragments of the Modern City: Memories, Echoes and Whispers
    • Moderated by Nabila Abdel Nabi

This panel will explore the collaborations, connections and entanglements that developed between art and architecture during a dynamic period of building in Morocco, India and Iraq. It will examine the legacy and afterlives of these projects through the investigation of under-recognised figures and narratives in art and architecture.

Speakers:

  • Lahbib el Moumni & Imad Dahmani (founders of MAMMA, Mémoire des Architectes Modernes Marocain)
    • Initiatives toward saving modern heritage of Morocco
  • Ram Rahman (Photographer/Curator)
    • Building Modern Delhi, The Nehruvian Post-Independence Renaissance
  • Amin Alsaden (Independent Scholar)
    • Syntheses Across Disciplines: Rifat Chadirji and Art-Architecture Liaisons in Modern Baghdad

This event is organised by Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational and Liverpool School of Architecture.

Call for Participants: Writing Group on Architecture and Empire
Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain

https://www.sahgb.org.uk/news/architectureandempire

With a formal existence spanning early modern to contemporary history, the British Empire supported complex networks of trade, war and settlement. It intervened in land-based expansions as well as maritime worlds and prefigured a global architectural history. Yet research that seeks to critically address the empire and its legacy poses complex challenges for the architectural historian: the mental-mapping of bureaucratic systems across multiple continents, finding evidence of buildings and landscapes for which little documentation exists, sitting with a complex past and present of race, gender, religion, nationalism and capitalism.

This writing group is formed as an empathetic structure for scholars writing books and dissertations on imperial and colonial histories. We seek to create a space for researchers to share resources on chapter writing, structuring and revision. Writing is often an isolating activity, particularly for emerging scholars with non-Eurocentric specialisations that are underrepresented in the academy. To this end, we especially encourage applications from early-career researchers and those whose primary field sites are located outside of Great Britain. This project is among the first within the society’s new Race and Ethnicity network, a new effort to foster greater equality, diversity and inclusivity within the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

The group will meet for two hours every two months, with participants alternating between workshopping their own draft chapters and that of another in the writing group. Participants must commit to reviewing and presenting once every four months. To mitigate time zones and geographies, all events will be held over Zoom.

HOW TO JOIN

To join, please send a one-page cover letter and a brief project abstract to info@sahgb.org.uk with the subject line ‘Application: Writing Group on Architecture and Empire’ by 15 January 2021. The cover letter should state why you would like to be a part of the group and your general meeting availability, and the abstract should address the dissertation or book project you hope to work on as part of the writing group. All interested participants will be notified by 31 January 2021. The group will meet every other month beginning in February 2021. The meeting times, format and specific group expectations will be refined amongst participants during the first meeting and reviewed on a regular basis.

This writing group is convened by Sonali Dhanpal (Newcastle University), Sben Korsh (University of Michigan) and Y.L. Lucy Wang (Columbia University).

Rachel Lee, ‘Engaging the Archival Habitat: Architectural Knowledge and Otto Koenigsberger’s Effects
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2020) 40 (3): 526–540; https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-8747502

Drawing on experiences of researching India’s architectural history, this article explores the affect generated by architectural archives as a source of knowledge. It traces the affective life of the archives and practices of a singular historical figure: Otto Koenigsberger, the chief architect and town planner of the princely state Mysore, the architect of Jamshedpur (a.k.a. Tatanagar, the “Steel City,” India’s first planned industrial town), the first director of housing of the federal government of India, cofounder and director of the Department of Tropical Studies of the Architectural Association in London, and architecture and planning consultant at-large to the United Nations.

Arguing that the affective archive has disruptive historiographical potential, the article posits that it exists fundamentally beyond the architectural object and archival documents themselves, and indeed fully in discourse with its users. The article argues for a more expansive and inclusive understanding of what constitutes an archive, designating the “archival habitat” as a place of active scholarly engagement.

We are delighted to offer researchers at select partner universities an opportunity to apply for one of University in Liverpool’s Virtual Fellowships.

The Fellowships are open to researchers working in the field of heritage and are open to early career as well as established researchers.

The Fellowships provide an opportunity for selected candidates to gain collaborative research experience in an international research environment with the aim of publishing or co-publishing a specific piece of research in an international journal or equivalent venue and fostering long-term collaboration.

The Fellowships are fully online and travel to the UK is not required.

Successful candidates will have the opportunity to collaborate virtually with a research group or designated individuals at the University of Liverpool.

The Fellowship will offer:

  • one to one research mentoring, including support in analytical and interpretive methods in heritage research: this will be delivered at a distance through zoom or similar platforms
  • relief from teaching and other duties to pursue the completion and write-up of a piece of research for publication
  • access to online research resources and training including GIS training; Photogrammetry; AutoCAD and visualisation (3D Max); 3D scanning; Fieldwork/ documentation methods support and guidance with academic writing in English
  • opportunities for research collaboration through “virtual” participation in relevant research group activities in Liverpool.

Full details on how to apply here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/humanities-and-social-sciences/research/training-and-support/virtual-fellowships/

Call for Papers: British Architecture in the World

As part of its long-running series Twentieth Century Architecture, the Twentieth Century Society is planning a journal for publication on the relationship between British architecture and other countries of the world, particularly those beyond Europe.

Pansodan Street, Yangon, including Chartered Bank, Palmer & Turner, 1939–41.

Pansodan Street, Yangon, including Chartered Bank, Palmer & Turner, 1939–41.

The nature of the relationship may take a number of forms, such as British-based practices working overseas, British architects establishing offices in other countries, architects coming to Britain for training before returning home, or more general issues of how the profession in Britain set standards for education and validation elsewhere, in particular through the RIBA. We tend to favour actual buildings as subject matter in Twentieth Century Architecture, but on this occasion the field may be wider, including town planning, cultural responses, climatic adaptation, administrative histories, professional formations, and relationships to the later period of colonialism and its ending. Accounts of the scope of archival resources could be of interest, and we might also include reports on the current state of buildings, including threats and conservation projects.

Jane Drew, housing in Sector-22, Chandigarh, c. 1954.

Jane Drew, housing in Sector-22, Chandigarh, c. 1954.

The scope outlined above is larger than usual for what is a relatively small collection of published pieces – the journal usually contains about ten articles – but it seems preferable not to place limitations until we are aware of what might be available. Recently, research and publication in this area have grown rapidly, and our aim is to bring together articles that complement each other, but with a spread of periods (anything from 1914 to around 2000), styles and locations. The journal will be the sixteenth in the series, and will probably be published in 2023.

In the first instance, please send your ideas by 01 July 2020 in the form of an abstract of up to 300 words, along with a brief CV and list of publications to date, to elain.harwood@HistoricEngland.org.uk, who will also answer any queries. Abstracts will be reviewed by the editorial committee of the journal, drawn from members of the Twentieth Century Society Publications Committee, and selected for full submission. Completed texts will be peer-reviewed.

Following commissioning, delivery would be 1 March 2022, the length of articles should be between 2,000 and 5,000 words, with up to ten images per article. Contributors are expected to provide and pay for images of publishable quality.

Tania Sengupta, “Papered spaces: clerical practices, materialities, and spatial cultures of provincial governance in Bengal, Colonial India, 1820s–1860s”, Journal of Architecture, vol 25, issue 2, 2020

British colonial governance in India was built upon global technologies of writing produced through European mercantile colonialism; the extraction of the embodied Mughal administrative knowledge from a Persianette (or Tamil-proficient, as in Southern India) Indian clerical class, and its materialisation into official paper-based forms, as shown by Christopher Bayly; and a scribal-clerical ‘habitus’ as described by Bhavani Raman. This research focuses on the architecture, spaces and material culture associated with the paper-bureaucracy of the colonial government of Bengal that Jon Wilson calls one of the world’s earliest modern states.

A provincial administrative town in colonial Bengal. George Francklin Atkinson, Our Station, Plate 1, lithograph, from Atkinson, Curry and Rice (On Forty Plates) Or the Ingredients of Social Life at Our Station in India (London: Day & Son, 1859), © British Library Board, 1264.e.16

A provincial administrative town in colonial Bengal. George Francklin Atkinson, Our Station, Plate 1, lithograph, from Atkinson, Curry and Rice (On Forty Plates) Or the Ingredients of Social Life at Our Station in India (London: Day & Son, 1859), © British Library Board, 1264.e.16

It argues that this paper-/ writing-oriented habitus also mandated a chain of materialities and spatialities (paper-records, furniture, spaces, and architectures of colonial governance). Focusing on the colonial cutcherry(office), the nerve-centre of Bengal’s zilla sadar (provincial administrative) towns, I analyse such ‘papered spaces’ as record rooms and clerical offices. The work is conceptualised around paper as a key agent of colonial governance, including the expanding spheres of its logic, which profoundly permeated the cutcherry’s material-spatial culture and experiential ‘lifeworld’. I also reflect on how colonial paper-practices intersected with other more immaterial and mobile circuits of knowledge and information spread over the town and country, and how such paper-governance was fed, for example, by spatial geographies of paper supply and printing. For the research, I combined extensive on-ground documentations of the material fabric of the buildings with archival research (governmental papers, period literature and art) in India, Bangladesh and Britain.

 

 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13602365.2020.1733861 

‘The architectural production of India’s everyday modernism: middle-class housing in Pune, 1960-1980’ in Architecture Beyond Europe Journal, no.16, 2019.

Sarah Melsens, Inge Bertels et Amit Srivastava

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Architects United, Freestanding Bungalow for Mrs. Shroff, Pune, 1966

The large-scale appropriation of modernist architectural features in everyday housing projects in postcolonial India is remarkable. This article examines how regional architects adapted their engagement with architectural modernism to the evolving circumstances of architectural production within the context of the developing world. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s “field theory”, it presents a detailed case study of two decades of residential work by Architects United, a medium-scale architectural practice founded in the Indian city of Pune in 1961. While the architects’ earliest projects demonstrated an opportunity and desire for architectural innovation, this approach became increasingly restricted as new patterns for housing provision emerged, resulting in a more subdued and hybrid form of modernist architecture. The paper makes use of the architects’ previously undisclosed archive and oral history to demonstrate that these architectural adaptations were the indirect result of governance practices and societal change, particularly the government’s stimulation of co-operative housing initiatives and the emergence of a postcolonial middle class with distinct housing expectations. As such, this “peripheral” case exposes some of the processes that have been overlooked in the rhetoric of Architectural Modernism as a Western import in India, which is primarily centered around the discussion of exceptional public building commissions by “global experts” or their Indian disciples. The paper further highlights the need to investigate the processes of architectural production, in addition to the built product itself, so that a pluralistic rather than romanticized understanding of architectural practice may emerge.

The full article is freely available here: https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.7011