Modern Indian Architecture: Everything you might want to know about it

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai

Indian Architecture is an amalgamation of many cultures. In many examples of modern Indian architecture, we can see the influences of the past, as well as modern principles being embodied as superlative works of art. Indian architects have been able to design buildings which employ ancient technologies in tandem with the modern. Here is a brief history of contemporary Indian architecture, along with the mention of some stalwart Indian architects and some outstanding buildings which have won much acclaim.

Brief guide to modern Indian architecture

History: Architecture pre-independence

Modern Indian architecture is generally considered to have its base in colonial architecture. British architects incorporated elements such as stone eaves and small Chhatris as embellishments on the roofs. The modern Indian architecture designed at that period were symbolic of the times.

In 1911, it was decided that a new capital would be built, south of Delhi. Accordingly, the famed architects of that period Herbert Baker and Edwin Lutyens were commissioned as the architects of the new city. Buildings such as the Viceroy’s House and the Secretariats were designed which leaned more towards the European Classism style, rather than the Indo Saracenic style. Parliament House and the Mughal Gardens of Lutyens stand today as examples of Lutyens style and design.

Indian architecture: post independence

Modern Indian architecture underwent a massive change after independence. Indian architects as well as architects such as Le Corbusier, the French Architect, moved away from European Classical designs and stepped into modernism.

Barkrishna Doshi had trained under Le Corbusier and was one of the leading architects who established modernism in India, especially In Ahmadabad, imparting a complete new character to the city.

There was also an inclination towards the vernacular, and indigenous technologies were adopted, which were thought to be suitable for the residents to be comfortable in the local climate. The architect Laurie Baker was famous for this style, and was respected for designing low-tech designs for the masses, which was suitable to Kerala’s tropical climate.

Contemporary buildings have displayed the evolution of Indian architecture, through the decades, and there are several marvels which have resulted. Different techniques and materials have been used to keep pace with the times, with architects trying to create buildings which are harmonious with the surroundings, and are able to withstand the regional climatic conditions. Local motifs, decorative elements and the reflection of Indian art and culture can be seen in the designs today.

However, the focus is on the requirements of clients and the needs of the project as well as the location. Modern Indian architects follow clean, pure lines, though one can see their imagination being reflected which leads to many architectural marvels.

Here are some architects which have influenced modern Indian architecture:

1.     Uttam C. Jain

The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

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He is one of the architects whose work is rooted in the Indian sensibility yet can stand with any contemporary building in the world. The Bombay based architect, is renowned for the Rajasthan buildings, in which he uses local skilled labor and materials. He is an expert in regional architecture, as The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research shows. This building was inspired by the cave temples of India, and the feelings they evoked as they led one from ‘known to unknown’.

2.     Achyut Kanvinde

IIT Kanpur

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Achyut Kanvinde, who worked with Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus movement, is known for his use of economical shapes, steel frames, geometric proportions and reinforced concrete. His work is practical, expressing the social changes in modern India. Notable among his works are the buildings of IIT Kanpur and Dughsagar – which is uniformly white, signifying the ‘white revolution’ of milk which this dairy cooperative started.

3.     K.T. Ravindran

K.T. Ravindran

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Modern Indian Architecture has been exemplified in the works of K. T. Ravindran who shows concern for local traditional architecture as well as the influence of the architecture of the world, and as a result his works are complex but arresting.

4.     Hafeez Contractor

Hafeez Contractor

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Hafeez Contractor’s glamorous buildings have shaped many private and public buildings. His favour for high rise steel is controversial. But buildings such as the Global Education Centre, Mysore integrate the symmetry, columns and domes of the Mysore palaces with the Doric architecture.

5.     Raj Rewal

Asian Games village in Delhi

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Raj Rewal’s buildings symbolize the fusion of the Eastern and Western. His most famous work is the Asian Games village in Delhi, which was complex, but also repetitive. Modern techniques were used to build in Rajasthan style which were arranged to form a pattern.

Some outstanding examples of modern Indian architecture:

1.     Jawahar Kala Kendra

Jawahar Kala Kendra

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This centre for the arts in Jaipur was designed by Charles Correa in the year 1986. The complex houses an auditorium arts rooms, amphitheatre, library, cafeteria, hostel and also an art studio, apart from two art galleries. It applies Vastu Vidya principles and is considered to be one of the contemporary buildings which merge both the ancient and the modern.

2.     British Council Building, New Delhi

British Council Building, New Delhi

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Designed by Charles Correa, this building represents the three cultures which shaped modern India – Hindu, Mughal and European.

3.     Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur

Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur

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The firm Morphogenesis integrated olden building techniques with contemporary design, keeping energy efficiency as the core principle. The architects worked out passive cooling ways to keep the courtyards and workspaces cool naturally. It is one of the modern architectural marvels, as it also has a stepped well which go underground, and the whole building being elevated keeps the complex cool. Treated sewage water from the on-site plant is able to create a microclimate for the building. Mosaic tiles, local stone and ambient light further reduce the use of conventional energy.

4.     KYMF Clinic, Bangalore

KYMF Clinic, Bangalore

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This amazing building is one of the architectural marvels of India. It draws inspiration from the temple nearby, and the building too creates a visual effect which is awe-inspiring and divine.

5.     Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai

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Inspired by the high pavilions of India, the terminal is spread out in four stories and is one of the most beautiful modern buildings of India.

Indian architecture is comparable to the best in the world today, and though modern, they clearly have roots in Indian traditional design and methods.

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