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Colonial Eclectism and Regionalistic approach of British architects in India

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During the British intervention in India the mode of Architecture in the presidencies, were initially Neo Gothic, Neo classical, Renaissance, but in the princely states it was primarily vernacular in inspiration making each state differ from each British influenced states which subsequently promoted renewed interests in India’s heritage. This also interested many British architects practicing during that period like Col. Swinton, Claude Bately, R.F Chisholm, Charles Mant and Sir Edwin Lutyens, who felt that adhernig to India’s cultural context plays an essential part in architecture of the Indian subcontinent. And which also led to the formation of ASI ( Archaeological survey of India) by the British Conservationists for preserving the heritage buildings and monument built in India over a period of time.

For the British architects the context was the whole of India, and took references from all over India from monuments in different time and places. This led to a development of certain hybrid styles in several parts of India, with the colonial flavor, which was also looked upon as a favor to the patronage of Maharajas of ruling states.

This change of attitude in architectural temperament usually reflected in the extent to which local decorative motifs have been absorbed with the evolution of architectural styles imported from the home country. The hybrid results of gradual assimilation gave a regionalist approach towards a new paradigm, which raises a contrary view point that they are taken from the pages of Indian architectural history and presents a lexicon of Indian architecture, but without grammer – and the grammer where the buildings has any is Western.

Akshay Anand, May 9, 2009

Written by Akshay Anand

May 9, 2009 at 11:10 am

From War to Cold War by Noorani, A.G – Article Review

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Article : From War to Cold War – A.G. Noorani, Frontline, Sept. 08-21, 2007

Article Review : – by Akshay R. Anand

A Diagramatic, Graphical and Systematic Analysis of the Article,


List of Events in 1939

1. Nazi-Soviet Pact agress to partition Poland.

2. Mussolini & Hitler sign the ” PACT OF STEEL”.

3. Germany invades Poland.

4. Russia invades Poland.

5. Russia troops invade Finland.

6. German chemist Otto Hahn discovers atomic fission.

7. Turkey allies with France & Britain.

List of International Summits – regarding the “the territorial issue”.







References :

1. Gaddis, John Lewis, The United States and the Origin of the Cold War, Columbia University Press, 1972.

2. Colton, John, Twentieth Century, Time life books, 1968.

3. Phillips, World History Encyclopedia, Octopus Publication, London, 2000.

4. The Reader Digest’s ” Great World Atlas”, London,1977.

Written by Akshay Anand

November 17, 2008 at 10:54 am

From Bauhaus to Our House by Tom Wolfe – a book review

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– Wolfe,Tom, Macdonald & Co Publishers, England, 1981.

Book Review
Akshay R. Anand


It’s a sugarfree dialogue between the ordinary man’s world and the world which Modern Architecture assumed, perceived and intended. It revolves around Architect’s own dogmatic approach towards basic human aspirations and needs, camouflaged in a certain style or mode which consequently lead the relation between the two perverse and eccentric.

It is in this eccentricity that the society and people are subjected to witness the experiments and categorization of a certain mode or style which is underlined by certain principles by certain men.
Simultaneously the book observes the principles of Modern Architecture and its origins, which categorises former work classical and bourgeoise.

The whole of Europe in the state of awakening from the flemish bonded logic of classical Architecture. The only weapon for such a colossal way of building was to judge in terms of functions. The functionalists strictly opposed to create a dishonest picture.

Besides this dialectical relationship, the atlas of 20th cent. Architecture and relative events steered its transition to a new era with necessary changes and upgradation with basic premise remained same “In search of purity”. This search was so refined, mystified, rarefied with time that the search for purity – to be non –bourgeoise was not only confined to Architecture but in every faculty of man. ( music, choreography,litreture,Arts etc.)

No applied decoration – functional approach – a pragmatic approach which leads to schematic and a characterless environment.

According to author in pursuit of being Modern and in believing in a Universal paradigm of architecture the world of architects and their architecture shrinked into a cubicle – and calls it “the edge of sensory deprivation” so the work emerged became increasingly international in nature – so much that it is often difficult to determine their place of origin.

The Parts..

1. The Silver Prince
2. Utopia Limited
3. The White Gods
4. Escape to Islip
5. The Apostates
6. The Scholastics
7. Silver-White, Silver-Gray.

1. The Silver Prince.

Walter Gropius – The Silver prince named by Paul Klee (painter at Bauhaus). The founder of the Bauhaus School, in Weimar, the German capital in 1919.Gropius sought to bring all the arts together “under the wing of Architecture” – making it the business of entire people.
The school’s approach of “starting from zero” was fundamental and subsequently brought down to functionalism. Although the underlying principles in which school is defined – it’s a commune, a spiritual movement, a radical approach to art.
The primary focus of the school was to produce original and innovative ideas, theories – something unconventional which they found initially in the assessing the classical way of building against function (devoid of applied decoration) – And defined purity as the outcome of the approach.

Which many if not schools but various movements sought at that time. But Bauhaus soon found out that existing methods and practice applied to certain class of people, not everyone could afford it. So it invited technology to form a new unity “art and technology”.

2. Utopia Limited

American psyche was dovetailed with the ‘colonial complex’ with the emergence of artists and architects from Europe which brought an avant-gardism across the globe. American architects with ‘The Skyscrapers’ couldn’t compare them with the broad sociological justification that existed for worker housing in Europe.

The Museum of Modern Art, – ‘a colonial complex inflated to prodigious dimensions’ puts the author. Because it aimed at introducing the work of Gropius and other architects of Bauhaus and thought that only Corbusier, Gropius, Mies, Oud were the great European functionalists creating architecture while others were producing buildings !.

The International Style – Henry Rusell Hitchcock, Philip Johnson defined a distinction between building and architecture.

3. The White Gods

Due to war in Europe, many artists and architects of Bauhaus migrated to America. The Gropius, the other Bauhaus architects and artists placed themselves in the architectural universities starting from zero. Their original Bauhaus methods were adopted – the universities became the American version of the Bauhaus and completely changed the notions of young minds as whole country passing through depression.

The Bauhaus principles soon became the central nervous system of American universities. But an intellectual weakness of American students was that they could not find comfort in ideology and logics and dialectics.

The similar method and approach gave identical results – universities soon got struck in that cubicle – ultimate reductionism.

4. Escape to Islip

The Worker housing, was developed with a socialist attitude by compound architects, amid the rubble of Europe in the early 1920’s but here social attitude was mild. The later half of the century saw the full – blooded development of the country which raised her as super power with wealth that reached down to every level of population. So here, the idea of housing transformed as apartments for the rich.

And even the housing concepts like streets in the air, connectivity with multiple walkways were not accepted by the people and in some cases it turned out to be complete catastrophe where it was misused with brothels, bars, and criminal tendencies.

5. The Apostates

When a movement, mode of working or a style started with certain System of Principles, when applied to constantly changing equations of people and society consequently transits into its scholastic phase or is apostatized by its own or by others. Also strictly adhering to it and making it a – the only and sole doctrinaire will lose its magnitude where the people and society are the guiding factors.

6. The Scholastics

Robert Venturi – Complexity and Contradiction

With a state of Modern Architecture undeniably missing the identity and originality of place & people – Robert Venturi with his Complexity and contradiction urged to restore it to the familiar, appealing to ordinary people, compromising, inconsistent but nevertheless rich terrain of real life.
Venturi didn’t dispute the underlying assumptions but redefined it and explained that people are perfectly entitled to have in their buildings the sort of familiar and explicit symbols that applied decoration can provide.

There were also a next generation of followers of Modern movement and still thought that returning to the original ideas was the only way of building. Their understanding of purity became refined aesthetically with all the buildings with white.

7. Silver-White, Silver-gray

The groups of architects started to have their version of Modern movement and its principles for the benefit of one another – categorized as Neo-corbu, Rationalists, Pop Architects, Post-modern etc. Charles Jencks catalogued and analyzed all new currents. But the Architectural debate was to triumph with producing theory and practicing it.

There were firms that combined the two tracks of modern architectural competitions – building buildings and theorizing about architecture. It became a necessity to have a architectural theory or ideology to remain in competition.


It emphasizes the dynamics of Modern movement and the architectural principles for being ‘modern’. From the origins of the movement to people who acted as catalyst through their work in creating an avant-gardism which spread across the globe.
The Modern movement which took the path from architects – institutions/compounds/firms – relative events left the ordinary man and society just as observer. The book narrates each of this architects their role with schools/institution and with events that took place with utmost detail with immediate references.

The book is the critique on the staunch believers of the Modern Architecture the movements that further followed. Identifies voids in the fundamental principles of the movement and how it had been filled with time by architects who thought to have redefined the original principles and established new ‘isms’.

Modern Architecture went through different phases of transition but the basic premise remained the same in ‘search of purity’. The World War II acted as a catalyst in transforming Modern Architecture and American Architecture and acquired a scholastic world vision of Architecture.

But this book cannot be considered source of architectural theory, because the author don’t explain the buildings in detail, but when he explains building the purpose is of ironical reference –in understanding the persons role in projecting or suppressing/redefining the movement.

When a movement, mode of working or a style started with certain System of Principles, when applied to constantly changing equations of people and society consequently transits into its scholastic phase or is apostatized by its own or by others. Also strictly adhering to it and making it a – the only and sole doctrinaire will lose its magnitude where the people and society are the guiding factors.

Largely it’s a viewpoint towards Modern Architecture which allows a person to establish a point of view towards Modern Architecture. In contrary to conventional eulogistic view of Modern Architecture.

Written by Akshay Anand

November 17, 2008 at 10:25 am

Ahmedabad City woes

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In ahmedabad, nowadays there a surge in using glass panels as façade of any new corporate or office buildings, but the architects/designers unfortunately ruled out the negative aspects of using glass as major cladding material. As glass allows light it also invites heat, and so it requires conditioning of the environment.

The internal environment is solved by conditioning – in external environment the glass radiates the heat depending on the reflectance of the glass used and hence tremendously increasing the temperature in the immediate precincts. In office areas where building standing opposite reflect each others radiation increases the temperature of the road. The temperature difference can be clearly understood if our city is seen through thermal imaging cameras.

This is the day-scenario. In the evening the material ‘concrete’ which runs parallel in the usage in building industries, after absorbing enough heat during daytime it radiates its heat energy in the environment. Climatologists have long been studying this phenomenon by measuring ambient air temperatures, describing it as the urban heat island effect.

Written by Akshay Anand

November 7, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Destruction in the name of development

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Destruction in the name of Development

The people in old Ahmedabad are witnessing another earthquake, but this time it is man-made and has its epicenter in AUDA. AUDA is planning to broaden the Astodia Road because of congestion by traffic. But it seems that it’s a blind’s March towards a superficial vision of a Megacity even avoiding environmental issues. Our AMC has a Heritage Cell which talks on Conservation of the POLs, and latter does the contrary.

The 400 year old façade is only a memory for the people of Astodia road and remain documented in the books. Not only on the heritage side but also authorities are neglecting our natural heritage.

Written by Akshay Anand

November 6, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Understanding Phenomenology..

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Compiled by : Akshay anand

Martin Heidegger.
For Heidegger dwelling is the purpose of life, guarding and nurturing the fourfold. The fourfold can be interpreted as the concept of man as a part of nature. Thus, dwelling entails guarding and nurturing this relationship. This can be done by building: nursing and nurturing the things that grow, and constructing things that do not grow. For Heidegger, this preserving of nature is not about saving it from danger; it’s about setting it free into its own essence.
It can be inferred that that’s the concern of architecture: to construct things that will allow dwelling, that is, that will allow for the essence of this relationship of man as a part of nature to be (in Heidegger’s words) unfolded, that is, established, enhanced, perfected. Heidegger develops this idea by defining some concepts:

• Space = place cleared or freed for settlement and lodging, with a boundary
• Boundary = that from which something begins its essential unfolding
• Location = determined by a thing that gathers the fourfold and allows a site for it
• Fourfold = earth, sky, divinities, mortals. Representation of man as part of nature
• Dwelling = purpose of life, guarding and nurturing the fourfold
• Building = giving form to dwelling and thus letting the fourfold unfold, creates localities by bounding spaces

“The existential purpose of architecture is therefore to make a site become a place, that is, to uncover the meanings potentially present in the given environment.”
The implications for architecture would be:
• an ethical obligation of constructing things that will allow for a relationship of man and nature
• the architectural object should be developed from the space it’s going to inhabit, in order to discover it’s essence and enhance it.
“a school of philosophy whose principal purpose is to study the phenomena, or appearances, of human experience while attempting to suspend all consideration of their objective reality or subjective association. The phenomena studied are those experienced in various acts of consciousness, mainly cognitive or perceptual acts, but also in such acts as valuation and aesthetic appreciation. “
“a systematic investigation of consciousness and its objects”
Edmund Husserl


There is contradiction between concepts of Pallasmaa & CNS: CNS urges a return to things as objects as opposed to abstractions while Pallasmaa states phenomenology should operate in the dimension of consciousness – a level of abstraction, not as material objects. Other architects have referenced phenomenology in their writings:
• Herzog & De Meuron: “other design aspects become effective according to each place, and ultimately give the buildings their special character. It is important to us to find the right architecture for each place, which, if possible, is then completed by the city. We have no desire to set up new establishments, but on the contrary, we want to pursue existing inceptions in order to complete the city, so to speak”

Phenomenology in architecture has included two specific themes: the sense of place or engagement of the site, and tectonics
A responds to site and a connection to nature by framing views. But when its built in the city,we can’t frame ‘natural’ views. Then it resorts to creating views, a tree, a fountain, etc

on Modern architecture and the definition of place.
A method that urges a “’return to things’, as opposed to abstractions and mental constructions”

“the functional approach”…”left out the place as a concrete ‘here’ having its particular identity. “functionalism is a pragmatic approach that leads to a schematic and characterless environment”
What is the difference between space and place and how is a place made. Norberg-Schulz states that “the problem of place is regaining its true importance.
Space = place cleared or freed for settlement and lodging, with a boundary (Heidegger)
Place: “a totality made up of concrete things having material substance, shape and color.
Together these things determine an ‘environmental character’ which is the essence of place”… “environmental totalities that comprise the aspects of space and character.”
Place is defined by nouns, space by prepositions.

Phenomenology as a reaction to postmodern architecture.
“Phenomenology strives to depict phenomena appealing directly to the consciousness as such without any theories and categories taken from the natural sciences or psychology. Phenomenology thus means examining a phenomenon of the consciousness in its own dimension of consciousness.”

Pallasmaan calls Phenomenology “a postmodern collage as superficial formalism”
“Postmodernism’s return to ancient themes lacks emotive power because these collages of architectural motifs are no longer linked with phenomenologically authentic feelings true to architecture.”
“the phenomenology of architecture is thus “looking at” architecture from within the consciousness experiencing it, through architectural feeling in contrast to analysis of the physical proportions and properties of the building or a stylistic frame of reference. The phenomenology of architecture seeks the inner language of the building”.
“If a building does not fulfill the basic conditions formulated for it phenomenologically as a symbol of human existence it is unable to influence the emotional feelings linked in our souls with the images a building creates.”

A Graphical Representation and Diagramatic Analysis by – akshay anand


References :
1. Calculative Thinking and Essential thinking in Hiedegger’s Phenomenology – John Haynes.
2. Phenomenology – Henry Lefebvre
3. Concept of Intentionality – Franz Breton
4. Heidegger’s critique of Husserl – Dermot Moran, Unversity college,Dublin.
5. General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology – Edmund Husserl.

Abstraction of Originality in Architecture – a view point

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Abstraction of Originality in Architecture

A world of superficial abstraction, where everything is being mystified, stupefied, has lost the charm of the its originality.

Abstraction has gone transcending towards the new definition of space and experienced. The communication is implicit.

The understanding of abstraction is itself abstract and thought to be communicated holistically.
The holistic nature and experience cannot be achieved at the highest level of abstraction though it is expected.

Architecture…… is a powerful psychological tool to educate/facilitate, the people around it..
A designed building is still incomplete, because it cannot give the complete picture of the architect’s idea. It is still a exercise with form and functions. The ability of the architecture to reach one’s mind, apart from objective reality and subjective association.

It should evoke the emotional self.

Each and Every element in the building should have its task assigned towards the phenomenal and holistic experience of the building.

To include sculptures and paintings which exhibit architects interpretation and also which can act as a catalyst for the chain reaction.which consequently becomes a complete dossier of the design exercise. Otherwise it’s a cut paste, made by any artist in different time in alien context.

The holistic understanding of experience of the building should somehow come out!

Written by Akshay Anand

November 6, 2008 at 10:55 am