Architecture of the newly independent India came with the expectations of having a new identity and development of the nation. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the newly independent nation, took the initiative to develop the architecture in the country and envisioned a modern and functional development. He believed that having a new India would mean having modern thoughts, modern adaptations, and new technologies and so he invited Le Corbusier to develop the nation. This new approach created differences among the people and the then architects of India.
Many architects were sent for training in other countries, whereas the others living in India adhered to the traditional legacy of Indian architecture. Apart from Modernism, Revivalism too grew giving a new identity to modern India.
Here is a list of 10 buildings that were built after independence—each symbolizing the freedom of expression and powerful ideologies for the nation’s identity.
1. Vidhan Soudha, Bangalore
Vidhan Soudha designed by architect B.R. Manickam and built in 1956 displays the revivalist style of architecture in full power since the nation was bound to the historical sentiments after it got independence. Unlike the Modernist style, the Revivalist style was about looking for inspiration from past styles.
Vidhan Soudha is built in the Neo-Dravidian style to sustain the historical identity of the nation. As a tribute to the temple architecture of the earlier period, Vidhan Soudha is designed as a tribute to temple architecture of the earlier period and is seen in the building – the carved pillars, pediments, elaborate arches, and granite construction.
2. IIT, Kanpur
Achyut Kanvide, the architect of IIT Kanpur, was sent for architectural training at Harvard and MIT and was greatly influenced by the ideology of architect Walter Gropius who spread the principles from the Bauhaus movement.
After returning to India, Kanvide’s designs, especially the IIT Kanpur campus (1960), displayed a strong architectural character that followed functionalism and regionalism. He planned the campus according to the functions and designed it to be flexible in terms of connectivity throughout the campus. Kanvide showed the use of the expressionist style in this design by using concrete and regionalism by using bricks.
3. Indian Institute Of Management, Ahmedabad
The architecture of IIMA, built in 1974, strongly shows Louis Kahn’s concern for the hot climate of India. He blended modern style with Indian architecture and used bricks extensively as local vernacular materials, and limited the use of concrete. The massive forms with punctures of geometric shapes, long corridors, and connectivity between the buildings express functionality boldly.
4. Palace Of Assembly, Chandigarh
Le Corbusier designed the Capitol Complex comprising three buildings, the Palace of Assembly, the High Court, and the Secretariat, as Nehru envisioned modern India to be. Nehru believed in modernism not only in terms of materials and design but modernism in terms of thoughts, in terms of functions and light and ventilation. He held a strong belief in leaving behind the elaborate styles in design used in the past for the functional development of the nation.
Corbusier also used the five points of architecture in the Palace of Assembly – pilotis that give the appearance of the structure being above the ground, free façade and open plan because of the grid of reinforced concrete columns, long strips of windows, and functional roof for usable space. He also used colors as a symbol of modernism.
5. Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad
Gandhi too, envisioned the development of India post-independence, by keeping connected to the traditional and vernacular designs. Charles Correa designed the Sabarmati Ashram in 1963 keeping Gandhi’s vision in mind for architectural development of the post-Independence era.
Gandhi, being bound to traditional village communities, wanted to sustain the principles of design, the materials of the traditional era, as he opposed the idea of industrialization and modernism in architecture. Gandhi Ashram reflects the traditional as well as modernist style, which Charles Correa has designed with a blend of traditional culture by using bricks and keeping the structures open and airy having courtyards, but followed the modernist style of functionalism.
6. Rabindra Bhavan, Delhi
Rabindra Bhavan was built in 1963 to mark the birth centenary of Rabindranath Tagore, who was a beloved poet and playwright of India. Architect Habib Rahman, like Achyut Kanvide, was sent for training at Harvard and MIT. He returned to India bringing the concepts from the Bauhaus movement. He designed Rabindra Bhavan just like Nehru envisioned it to be.
Influences from the Bauhaus movement are visible strongly on the façades as well in the interiors in terms of functionality. He tried to blend these lines with the traditional Indian architecture by designing jaalis for natural light and ventilation, and chajjas to block the strong sunlight.
7. National Cooperative Development Corporation, New Delhi
Also known as the Pyjama building, NCDC, designed by Kuldip Singh, is a type of modernist building expressing bold and distinct form having a massive volume. The building is made of exposed concrete and has a central core. This is also a structurally complex building, but it is modern in terms of Nehru’s vision of having modern thoughts, and a desire to represent strength, will, and power. It was built in 1980 under the structural designer Mahendra Raj.
8. Centre For Development Studies, Trivandrum
Laurie Baker too was of the ideology to sustain the traditional architecture of India and continue with the traditional styles and materials—the Gandhian style. He extensively made use of the local materials like bricks and local tiles for roofing in the structures that suited the local climate and harmonized with the environment.
In the Centre For Development Studies built in 1971, he wisely blended vernacular elements with innovative curvy forms and used filler’s slab and sloping roof with Mangalore tiles to reduce the consumption of modern materials like steel and concrete. He designed climate responsive buildings and provided natural ventilation and light throughout the structures by using jalis and courtyards.
9. Kanchanjunga Apartments, Mumbai
A mark of modern architecture in residential buildings is the Kanchanjunga apartments in Mumbai by Charles Correa built in the year 1983. Kanchanjunga features climate-responsive architecture and is designed as a response to urbanization for the current age.
Correa incorporated elements like deep verandahs, an element influenced by traditional Indian architecture, to cover it from the heat and rain. He continued with a similar ideology to mix traditional style with modernism and functional spaces, as he did in Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad.
10. Lotus temple, Delhi
Lotus Temple is another type of expressionist architecture built in the year 1986. Architect Fariborz Sahba designed it wisely for the people of all faith in a modern style. It is inspired by the lotus flower, and the design does not imitate any style. It is based on form, geometry, light, water, and ventilation.