Over the centuries, the style of vernacular architecture has kept on changing and evolving. Also, with time, Religion and cultural practices eventually shaped the styles in architecture.

Many new concepts and elements got introduced in the process. Some of the elements are described below: –

1. Water Bodies

The water body near a temple is one common things in most of south Indian Temples. A pond or lake is the most common thing. Temples or any religious place was always built near a River, Lake, Pond. The reason for this was before entering the holy place, the devotees would wash their hands and legs before entering the Temple. Basically, water bodies were needed so as to suffice the needs of water facilities of the temple staff and the devotes on the days of festivities when large number of people would gather. Also, during good olden days and even today the religious places act as community centre. Also, water holds a holistic healing importance as it affects and soothes our mind and body immensely.

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Image Source
Water Body @Krishna Temple, Udupi, Karnataka ©Image Courtesy Harshini Aithal

2. Courtyards

In most of the traditional Indian houses one can find courtyards as a way to respond to climate. From Gujarat’s Pol houses to Maharashtra’s Wada’s and Kerala’s Naluketta houses. This special common traditional element works wonders to escape summer heat: convection removes warm air out of the rooms around the courtyard and rooms are sheltered from hot summer wind called loo. In Winter they are places to bask in winter sun, sheltered from cold winds.

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Courtyard of Imambara, Lucknow, India ©Journal of Building and sustainability 2017

3. Pitched Roofs With Verandahs

Pitched roofs covered with Mangalore tiles of red baked clay are a common thing in Indian Villages and towns. They are easily available and are climate responsive and their execution in design has been done from traditional times as a result they are very popular. This type of roof, clubbed with a verandah is a traditional warm and welcoming culture of India. A verandah is an intermediate space that opens the home to outside world. Even religious places like temples shared similar concepts. This philosophy aligns with Hindu philosophy of being hospitable to guests. It comes from a Sanskrit saying “Atithi Devo Bhava” which means “Guests are like Gods” and is widely practiced even today.

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Image Source
Verandah of Krishna Temple, Udupi, Karnataka ©Image Courtesy Harshini Aithal

4. Jharokha Style Balcony

It is a form of balcony, known as a jharokha, highly used in the ancient architecture of Rajasthan. It was also used in Indo-Islamic architecture of Rajasthan. Traditionally Jharokas were used in palaces by ladies of court to keep an eye on the day proceedings without themselves being seen. This type of balcony has found many current adaptations across India in various materials like wood, marble, brick and concrete.

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Jharokha Balcony, Maharajas Palace, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan ©Image Courtesy Harshini Aithal

5. Jallis

According to Quran, light was one of the first creations. Light is the representation of the divinity of God, so natural light is an integral important design element in Islamic architecture. This element controls the amount of sunlight that enters a space. Jaalis are functional, they not only ventilate the space but also filter out sunlight. The jaalis works on principle of contraction of hot air while passing through the small holes of the jaali, which comes out in form of cool air. They create a Venturi effect.

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ImagJharokha Balcony, Maharajas Palace, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan ©Image Courtesy Harshini Aithale Source

6. Geometrical Patterns

The second most common element of Islamic art after jaali involves Geometric Patterns. The artists used geometric patterns for two main reasons, the first reason was that it provided an alternative to the prohibited depiction of living creatures. Abstract geometrical forms were particularly favoured in mosques because they encourage spiritual contemplation. Thus, geometry became prime focus to the art of the Muslim world allowing artist to be more creative and imaginative. The reason for evolution of geometrical art was sophistication and popularity of science of geometry in Muslim World. This geometrical art has a link to famous concept of the arabesque, which I defined as “ornamental work used for flat surfaces consisting of interlacing geometrical patterns of polygons, circles and interlocked lines and curves”.

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Image Source
Geometric patterns in Taj Mahal © www.pinthemapproject.com

7. Arch

Arches can be traced earliest in the history of Egypt and Greece. During Roman times the Arch was fully exploited in bridges, aqueducts and large-scale architecture. New exotic forms and uses were found in medieval and particularly in Gothic architecture and Baroque architects develop a vocabulary of non-circular forms for expressive reasons. Steel, concrete and laminated wood arches of 20th century changed all together the mechanics and concept of architecture. This innovation provided a greater freedom to design and helped in covering great spans without massive substructure.

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Image Source
Colosseum, Rome ©www.timeout.com

8. Dome

The history of domes can be traced back to India and Mediterranean regions but only as solid mounds or techniques adaptable to smallest buildings. They started becoming more and more significant once Romans started using it in their large-scale structures. Domes evolved from arches. Dome may be simply explained as a continuous series of arches with same centre. Therefore, the dome exerts thrusts all around its perimeter and earliest monumental examples required heavy walls. Eventually evolution also happened in Domes in 20TH Century giving way to

Geodesic Domes:
Geodesic Domes are hemispherical thin shell constructions based on a geodesic polyhedron. The dome compromises on triangular elements which are structurally rigid and thus distribute the structural stress throughout the structure, making the dome to stand tall even after withstanding very heavy loads.

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Image Source
Dome of Florence Cathedral, Italy ©www.howstuffworks.com
Harshini Aithal
Author

An optimistic Architect, loves to understand the impact of nature on human minds and interpret it with her architectural abilities making her an avid blogger, which is  about sustainable cities, bio-philic holistic design philosophy and built environment. She is currently pursuing her diploma in Horticulture and Landscape Design.

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