Rural areas are frequently defined as the heart of the nation for the significant activities they engage in. A lot of elderly tend to retire and move back to rural areas for the slow lifestyle, comfort and community life it offers. However, as the world is advancing at an accelerated pace, the rural areas are left behind and hence the people. Particularly, in developing countries; to bring absolute development, the focus must be turned to rural areas. This is because the urban areas have developed and are moving ahead and the rural areas are left in the same position. However, what exactly does rural development entail? Rural development is concentrated on advancing the quality of life, facilities, infrastructure, equality, access to fundamental necessities and economic wellbeing of the population.
Rural development and the use of architecture in it
According to Charles Correa (1988), the architect has to act not only as a prima donna professional but as one who is willing to donate his energy and ideas to society. We have seen how architects restrict their centres to the rich and powerful areas of the urban areas and disregard the needs of the actual population. Be it the huge hospital to the development of community toilets, Rural areas are far behind. We are not saying these areas don’t need these facilities, an equal distribution of services can be helpful to all. The villages of India and other nations have numerous deficiencies other than just the poor infrastructure. This is where architects can help. The role of architects is not just limited to the development of aesthetic infrastructure, but to bring about or act as a catalyst in other development as well. The rural areas face the issues of illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, inequality, crime, violence, poor transport and communication to name a few. While architecture cannot solve all the issues, it can at least try to solve some issues and help in development.
The development takes place after you provide the basic amenities of water, electricity, education, transportation etc. Poverty eradication should be a central objective for development. At a local level, efforts are required to promote rural art and crafts through local resources. The shelter is a major problem for the villagers on account of its shortage, lack of services, improper planning etc. Architecture can be serviceable for some of this.
How Can Architecture Help In The Development Of Rural Areas?
The development of villages depends on physical, social, economic and political development. Architects can help with Physical development by providing the needed infrastructure. This is a basic need and we still see villages and people living not even in bare minimum circumstances. The houses seen do not have proper ventilation, no proper comfort while some do not even have proper toilets. It is known that owning a home can be a pocket wrenching process, however with the use of local materials and adopting technologies and materials that reduce the overall cost of the structure. With better infrastructure, the people in villages can have a better standard of living and a better lifestyle. Infrastructure in architecture is a very ubiquitous term. Here we just discuss the housing and shelter of the rural areas.
Case study – Belapur Housing, Aranya housing and other low-cost housing projects along with Pradhan Mantri Yojna
Development Through People Participation
Although Development through people participation has not earned much momentum, it has proved to be indispensable in growth. The involvement of local people in design is necessary to ensure that the work is according to the obligations of the user. According to Henry Sanoff (1990 b), the process of public participation increases people‟s awareness of responsibility for decision making. He suggests how the initial involvement in the process of design can help the users to manage, maintain and adjust the changes when needed. Hence, the participants feel gratified and take care of the work. This helps in development as the users know their needs and the infrastructure is created as per the local standards and usage.
In the case study of Boladawadi – A housing unit of 105 units in hingoli, Maharashtra, it was observed that the people were not involved in the design process and all the work was left for the Architects. It was seen that the users were not comfortable using the houses and hence were negligent for the maintenance and management of the buildings. This has left the structure secluded and the people are back to square one. Hence even with all the hard work put in, the infrastructure development is negligent there.
By Helping In Improving Tourism
Tourism can be a great helping hand in the economic development of a place. While the new infrastructure for people is necessary, some heritage spots are best if left unattained. This does not mean a good infrastructure and conservation of heritage cannot go hand in hand. Using tourism, there can always be employment and also the government can be compelled to bring in development due to the popularity of tourism. This can be very well illustrated through the case study of Rajasthan. How architecture acts as a catalyst in development by conserving the heritage structure there. Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Udaipur among other places in Rajasthan that are known for tourism due to the restoration of culture and conservation of the ancient architecture.
Urban planners along with the government have always suggested policies for the betterment of the mass. This has helped in the development and progress of rural society. The policies suggested by the urban planners should help the community and must be affordable and should not come along the lines of personal favour and loss of the masses. Various schemes have been approved by the government along with urban planners regarding the housing crisis in rural areas.
Eg – Sustainable development policies, Pradhan Mantri Yojana.
Hygiene and health
Health and hygiene is a basic necessity that should be accessible to all. We can see this is still not available in most of the rural areas and after the terrible second wave that hit the whole nation and collapsed the entire healthcare facility, the rural people had nowhere to go but come to cities. While government plays an important role in this, architects can help too. As far as hygiene goes, going for concealed sewer lines and proper disposal of waste can be helpful. The main problem still a lot of Indian villagers have is the lack of toilets for the people and especially women. We have come a long way and the lack of basic toilet facilities shows the lack of development in our nation.
While talking about health, we do not just talk about hospitals and clinics; although they are necessary too. The lack of basic facilities leads to the migration of the younger population to the cities and hinders the development that they could bring. Basic facilities like this can at least give the people some hope of improvement. Architecture is also set to improve health by basic things like aesthetics, the use of greens in the house, creating walkways and much more.
Employment and promoting local practices
Employment is necessary for the evolution of any region. Without this, people tend to migrate in search of better possibilities and the development becomes stagnant. Architecture can be useful in this area. With the onset of construction, architecture can provide employment to workers and along with that use local materials for the construction. This not only helps the environment but also the local community. Rather can ushering artists from different regions, local artists can be used to do the needed work. This can help in expanding the work and motivate them for their works.
Inducing ways to educate
Illiteracy is one of the major impediments in rural areas. While a lot of people have age-old thinking of depriving girls of education, others do not empower girls to go to different regions and study; which is not the case with boys. Changing everyone’s thinking is difficult. However, providing facilities for education is something architecture can help with. Having institutes that help people gain knowledge should not be challenging for any country. We know that education is the key feature for development and the rural areas are stripped of them. Measures have been taken to incorporate more institutes in rural areas. One such example of this is the Rajasthan school by Sanjay Puri in Ras. Another example is the Community Canvas school in Sawarpada. These have paved the way to create commendable structures for students in villages.
After all these instances, it is apparent that architecture helps in development or at least acts as a catalyst in the process.
Noah Akhimien, Isiwele A.J, January (2017). Architect’s role in Rural Community Development. Available at –
Accessed – 23/7/21
Ar. Anamika Vishal Jiwane, A. J. Sanyal, 2013. Redefining the Role of Architects in the Rural
Development. Available at –
Accessed – 22/7/21
George Vangelatos. How Does Architecture Impact Society? A High-Level Look. Available at –
Accessed- 24/ 7/21
Martha Thorne, Paloma Duran, 5/5/16. The role that architecture can play in the development agenda. Available at –
Accessed – 20/7/21