POST INDEPENDENCE ARCHITECTURE OF INDIA
ALCHEMY OF TIME, PLACE AND PEOPLE
Architecture is alchemy of time and place, people and politics, era and ethos. Architecture is not only the resolute response to the user needs, or responsive to site and locale context, but as such architecture remains to be the manifestation of the collective thinking shaped by the nuances of time and place. They being, the critical thinking, political visions, emergent policies, world views, course of events and etc. Therefore building should not be seen as an object but rather an integral synthesis of the cultural, climatic and constructional context. In such a light the post independence architectural responses can be classified in several phases of their approaches and thinking.
1947 – 1957 Euphoria of Political Freedom: Post independence there was euphoria of the political freedom and the sentiment to consciously refute its past and leapfrog into modern world and create utopia. To be in the league of other developed nations. It is in such a light nation sought out for the best of the world to help create skyline that signals the world that India has arrived and is no less than the rest. Le Corbusier – not only the creator but the thinker of the time to envision the Modern worldinvited to design new capital was the about proclaiming to the world about emergence of a young democratic nation. 1958 – 1971 Following the Masters Path: What world masters endeavoured to create continued in India with its aspiring professionals getting trained as well as apprenticed overseas. Groomed into similar thinking their architecture sub consciously- or shall we say consciously echoed the grammar of the Masters.
1972 – 1985 The Age of Introspection: Two and a half year’s journey of
“ARCHITECTURE IS NOT ONLY THE RESOLUTE RESPONSE TO THE USER NEEDS, OR RESPONSIVE TO SITE
AND LOCALE CONTEXT, BUT AS SUCH ARCHITECTURE REMAINS TO BE THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COLLECTIVE THINKING SHAPED BY THE NUANCES
OF TIME AND PLACE”
independent nation had tri prong conditions converging. One it realised that looking for solutions from outside had not solved the fundamental problems of poverty, economy and quality of life as envisioned in euphoria of freedom. It realised that it had to look within for its answers. Also combined with it was the fact that the institutions and infrastructures created soon after independence had matured and had started paying dividend. Twenty five year hence India could also no longer latch on to its slavery phase for an excuse. It had to have its own identity and ideology. This led to introspection. It chose to have closed economy, socialist outlook for development and indigenous solutions and style.
1986 – 1991 Search for Alternative Indian Idiom: This phase of search for an alternative Indian idiom in many ways proved to be renaissance for Indian art as well as architecture with its pluralism and idea of multiple truths. Hero worshipping and master’s discipleship gave way to many different paths.
Even though low key they became acceptable and admirable. This was true of cinema, music as well as art. Folk art got its dignified status. In architecture reinterpreting traditional Indian became the new slogan. Even Indian masters, leaving behind their modernist hangover, created spatial syntax interpreted from traditional architecture. Some in spirit, some elementally and some figuratively.
1992 – 2006 Probing Identity in the World Market: This phase marks the opening of Indian economy towards market economy resulting into globalisation and privatization. With opening of floodgates to Indian market plethora of products, industries and consultancies entered India. Glamourised by the overseas products and sustained exposure to marketed products, lured Indian consumers. Developers and development patrons moved to marketability and packaging rather than image and ideology. This in many ways reversed the swing of the pendulum again in favour of external / world influences. However, it did not have the vision of independence phase of utopia and modernity and hence only remained
focused to packaging and marketing.
2006 – 2015 Resurgence within Global Village: With market getting saturated and euphoria of imported wearing out markets started getting mature and consumer demanding for the performance and affectivity. Increased awareness for environmental sustainability globally, as well as the new patron and architects trained in the prior generation of Indianism raised the bar for scholarship and also with modern tools and digitization increased the skill base. Indian companies started becoming world players and Indian came to place itself as important and integral player in the global village.
In this climate of true freedom, today’s architects have resorted to varied directions for design and architectural responses. However their responses and approaches can broadly be classified into about six meaningfully diverse strands.
Architecture as a continum of vernacular
Architecture reinterpreting past as indian identity
Architecture in pursuit of energy efficiency and resource management. Architecture that reposes faith in advanced construction and materials Architecture with a universal vocabulary
Architecture as commodity in the globalised market economy.
Ar Yatin Pandya, while delivering his inspiring presentation
Suneet Paul addressing the audience
Ar Charanjeet Shah felicitating Ar Pradeep Sachdeva and Ar Lalita Tharani
Suneet Paul felicitating Ar Yatin Pandya