Archive

Tag Archives: India

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

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.

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

img-5

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

Herbert Baker, New Delhi and the reception of the classical tradition

by Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, Sagar Chauhan, in The Routledge Handbook on the Reception of Classical Architecture: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315171104 

This chapter assesses the work of the British architect Sir Herbert Baker (1862–1946) for the imperial capital of New Delhi, a role he shared with Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944) very much as an equal partner over more than a decade. This assessment is undertaken in the context of the reception and rereading of the classical project and the wider classical tradition among not only the imperialists, but also the colonised in India.

Herbert Baker: corbelled arch in New Delhi

corbelled arch in New Delhi

The reception of the classical tradition in India assumed a character distinct from other British colonies as a result of a long-standing history of interaction with the classical world, as well as the sheer immensity of its diverse historical, literary and material culture traditions. With the consolidation of the British Empire in India, European classical traditions assumed attributes and resonances they did not possess in Europe.

Otto Koenigsberger & Global Histories of Modernism by Vandana Baweja

Thursday 28 November 6pm – 7.30pm

Room 106 – Birkbeck School of Arts
43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Koeningsberger_global_modernism_1-724x1024

Otto H. Koenigsberger (1908–1999) was a German émigré architect who worked as the state architect in princely Mysore in British India in the 1940s. Upon emigration to London in 1951, he subsequently became an educator of Tropical Architecture (1954–1971) at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.

This presentation by Vandana Baweja (University of Florida) examines how Koenigsberger’s career can illuminate “global” as a paradigm in modernist historiography.
Book Tickets (free)

‘I need 30 minutes to meditate before giving the lecture’ stated Balkrishna Doshi, ‘and a quiet room in which to do so, and, oh, some tea please’.

I’ve always been somewhat taken by this, my first (and only) meeting of Doshi. This was not the request of an architectural tyrant making petty demands, but an essential aligning of thoughts, removal of distraction, and focusing on how he might respond to the audience. It was a process he mirrored in his architectural work – bring forth a determined idea, eliminate any confusion and put the ‘audience’ or the ‘user’ at the centre. Doshi was in Liverpool to give a lecture to coincide with a Le Corbusier exhibition arranged as part of the European Capital of Culture year. The lecture covered parts of his biography such as his time with Le Corbusier in Paris (and surviving on a meagre subsistence) working on the monuments of Chandigarh, as well as his work with Louis Kahn at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmadabad. Had his career ended there it would have been remarkable but he would go on to make significant advances in both formal and social aspects of architecture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mill Owners Association Building by Le Corbusier

On 7th March Doshi was awarded the Pritzker Prize, the first Indian to receive the award, and we send our hearty congratulations.

Together with his studio he has designed well over 100 projects in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad and many more throughout the rest of India. He has chosen to focus on India rather than developing an international portfolio of work, and he has contributed much to low-cost housing provision and town planning.

sangarth

Sangarth

Ahmadabad, with its wealthy merchant class, has proved an eager patron of architecture and the city is astonishing for its quantity of bold design. They readily embraced Corbusier’s work and he received three commissions in the city. Doshi’s own work emerged out of this context. He wasn’t a mimic or somehow bound by Le Corbusier – on the contrary, he developed his ideas further and pursued the playfulness that is rarely discussed in Corb’s later commissions.

Working out of his self-built studios ‘Sangarth’ for the last 40 years, Doshi created a series of half-round concrete parasols clad with ceramic.  These vaulted spaces were quick to construct, eliminate complicated details and components, and offer flexible enclosures that can easily be extended. The vaults offer protection from the intense heat of the Gujarati summer as well as channeling the monsoon rains into a series of pools. The landscaping is equally important with large scale planting, shade trees, and a small amphitheatre carved out of the terrain. The campus is a lesson in how to design with care and beauty whilst minimising materials and maximising spatial impact.

CEPT1

CEPT

Although more sculpted and at a larger scale similar themes were explored at the Centre for Environment, Planning and Technology [CEPT].  Here there is an encouragement of procession and movement through the various structures and landscapes. Gathering spaces open up amongst the strong, yet simple brick masses. The climate here permits few enclosures and the building envelope is perforated and rarely defined. Wandering through the campus exposes the students to the work of others, and one stumbles upon critiques, exhibitions, models being tested, and class discussions. Circulation is no longer a corridor or a staircase. There are elements of Kahn’s IIM, but the CEPT campus is more compact, more urbane and less of a‘set piece’ than IIM – whilst both use the humble brick and deep shadowed reveals to great effect.

CEPT2

Critique at CEPT

There are of course many more projects that we could discuss (see William Curtis or James Steele’s monographs for more on the work), but two that immediately spring to mind are Premabhai Hall (1972) and the Tagore Theatre (1963-65).

premabhai1

Premabhai Theatre

Premabhai was a brave project, situated in the heart of old Ahmadabad’s Badra, a large public square lined with historical works and old city gates. The theatre seems to leap up and cantilever out over the square.  It confidently dominates the space, rewarded for its quirky form, and the blank gables acting as a foil to its ornate neighbours.

th-img-Hall.jpg

Tagore Theatre, Vastu Shilpa Foundation 1967

The Tagore Theatre is a rigid frame, folded plate structure, and achieves an impressive 33m span enabling the interior to remain free of columns (as well as containing all of the services). At first sight it appears too much  – the scale and lack of surrounding context makes for a foreboding approach. But the delicate folds of the concrete and precision casting seems to soften and give the theatre a more starched-fabric feel upon close contact – plus it’s impossible not to smile at the acoustic clouds that line the interior.

Inside the Tagore Theatre

Inside the Tagore Theatre, Vastu Shilpa Foundation, 1967

 

hall-of-nations-demolished_a3308b4a-2908-11e7-bd89-19cc2c5d765e.jpg

We included an article on these structures exactly one year ago today – and were still hopeful that the Indian Government would see sense and agree to retain these important pieces of architecture. Alas, they made a terrible decision and sent in the wrecking ball.

There was no real justification for this act of cultural vandalism. It is a disgraceful destruction of modern heritage, not to mention the environmental waste.

Next month the AHRC and Indian Council for Historical Research will be sponsoring a workshop on ‘Cultural Heritage and Rapid Urbanisation in India‘ in Delhi. Its too late for the Maidan but let’s hope the workshop can provoke some much needed change.

asia-72-exhibition_0f931730-290e-11e7-bd89-19cc2c5d765e

Read and see more at the Hindustan Times.

Architect-entrepreneurs in post-independence Pune (India)

Sarah Melsens, Priyanka Mangaonkar-Vaiude, Yashoda Joshi
Department of Architectural Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), BelgiumDepartment of Architecture, BRICK school of Architecture, Pune, India

Abstract

With the purpose of expanding the built infrastructure in their colonial empire the British imparted technical training to Indians since the mid nineteenth century. These construction related courses initially focussed on assistant, supervisory and executive tasks but evolved into the training of civil engineers. Half a century later, in 1913, a handful of British architects in Bombay took the initiative to develop an existing drafting school for architectural assistants into India’s first school of architecture. Through such schools, and the gradual employment of Indians at higher ranks in Indo-British firms or the Public Works Department (PWD), Indian architects and engineers acquired British methods of working and construction. While construction practice during the British Raj (1858-1947) has gained scholarly attention recently, less is known of how construction was practiced after India’s independence in 1947. Analysis of the profiles of professional firms has shown to be a fruitful means of gaining insight in the workings of the construction field. In order to understand how construction practice was carried forward, this paper will therefore study the first Indian architect-entrepreneurs, who established their firms after Independence.

Architecture graduates from JJ School of Art

Architecture Graduates from J. J. School of Art formed the nationwide Indian Institute of Architects in 1929. Top Left: G. B. Mhatre, and Bottom second from Left: C. M. Master with council members of the Indian Institute of Architects, Bombay, 1936-1937

The study is built on data collected from interviews and office archives of three Indian architectural and entrepreneurial offices, which were based in Pune and active in the period 1947-1982. The paper analyses the type of projects these firms were working on, the procedures and organisation of design and construction, and the prevailing construction techniques of the period. As such this contribution will shed light on how, in a post-colonial situation, western models of construction practice were translated into the Indian context.

keywords

Construction practice, architects, post-independence, India, Pune

You may read the rest of this fascinating article here: TNAGblog_architectenterpreneurspune