The Central Garden at Model Town
The most ambitious idea in the plan of Model Town was the Central Garden, which as proposed was nothing short of the reminiscence of a hill station resort. The focus of this garden was a central hill 50 feet high on top of which a reservoir for the supply of drinking water to the town was to be located assuming that by doing so the reservoir would remain comparatively cool. The hill was to be covered with evergreen plants and flowers. Winding paths would lead to the top of the hill where a promenade was proposed round the reservoir, with four pavilions providing for shade and shelter and thus be a delightful place in hot summer evenings where it would be possible to get breath of cool fresh air. A few springs from the hill would water the plants and as well as provide water for a ‘couple of’ gold fish pools.
The proposition did not end here, as a cave restaurant was also proposed inside the hill by providing ‘a few rooms’ which were to be well-lit and well-ventilated and constructed of reinforced concrete construction. Round the hill, a 100 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet deep lake was proposed for fishing and boating but ‘not enough for a man to drown in’. Surrounding the lake were proposed lawn flanked by a flower garden. The lawns and gardens were to be watered from the Bambawali-Ravi-Bedian Canal through a lake by means of syphon tubes which were to help in keeping the water in the fishing and boating lake in motion.
from Civil and Military Gazette Lahore
Religious Buildings at the Lahore Model Town
Left: Gurudwara (Sikh temple) B Block, Centre: Mandir (Hindu temple) D Block, Right: Mosque A Block. All photographs © Shama Anbrine.
The model town was not just an urban morphological experiment, but a unique social experiment as well. In a time when all the major sections of Indian population were thinking of freedom and possible independent states based on religious majorities in different areas, a small segment of people from all these sections were willing to live together in an ideal co-operative garden town. Therefore, during planning of the Model town, eight identical sites were reserved for religious buildings with one in each residential block. However only three of these were actually built: Sikh and Hindu temples and a Mosque.
The temples were abandoned in 1947 due to mass exodus of Sikhs and Hindus (who formed the majority of the population) after independence of Pakistan. The Sikh temple is now being used as a residence while the Hindu temple is now part of a girl’s primary school. The interior of the Sikh temple has been radically altered by the residents, and many portions of Hindu temple have been demolished or are in ruins. The Mosque, on the other hand, is quite well maintained and well preserved in its original condition, the only alteration being the introduction of modern electrical equipment.
Research Student Seminar
Today some nice images from a forthcoming presentation by Shama Anbrine on the Lahore Model Town, to be held at the Liverpool School of Architecture on 13th February 2013. Please do get in touch if you are interested in attending the seminar.
Top left: Mosque in ‘A’ Block
Top right: Hindu Temple in ‘D’ Block
Centre: Inscription on the original foundation stone
Bottom left: ‘A’ Class house
Bottom right: House of Hafeez Jullundhry National Poet of Pakistan before refurbishment.
Photographs © Shama Anbrine, apart from bottom right image. Thanks to Jawad Ahmed Tahir and Muhammad Saad Khan, project architects for the refurbishment of Hafeez Jullundhry’s house, for supplying the image prior to recent work.
The Co-operative Model Town Society: History, Planning, Architecture and Social Character of a Middle-Class Utopian Suburban Residential Development in Colonial Lahore
The aim of Shama Anbrine’s research is to investigate and analyze the building of the Co-operative Model Town Society in Lahore. Popularly known as Model Town, it was conceived by Diwan Khem Chand, a British-qualified local Barrister in 1919 and has strong inspirations from Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City, Modernist and the Co-operative Movements. It elaborates upon an ‘Ideal Self-contained Garden Town’; ‘a town with all the conveniences of modern times’ where ‘middle class men, whose incomes were fixed and who by their better training, education and social position desired to live a better life’ were to be provided with ‘cheaper, cleaner and more comfortable houses’ where they would be able to lead ‘better, healthier, happier and longer lives’.
The idea was propagated through personal networking rather than formal advertisements and quite contrary to Chand’s expectations, it was strongly welcomed by the educated classes and was approved and appreciated by the Government. As a unique collaborative project between the British rulers and the local Indians, with a plan finalized through a design competition, a variety of house plans available to suit individual and monetary needs of a family, options of choosing neighbours and grouping of small and large plots in such a way that rich and poor relatives could live near each other make it stand out from its contemporary local urban developments which are usually seen as distinct ‘British’ and ‘Native’ towns.
‘A’ Class House in ‘G’ Block, Model Town, Lahore.
By investigating and analysing Model Town, the objective is to investigate how ‘hybrid’ forms in planning and architecture resulted due to amalgamation of foreign ideas and the influences of local cultures, religions, traditions and economies; a style which became a hallmark of post-colonial urban development in the region.