In addition to being a well-known freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi was a social and economic reformer. His nonviolent Satyagraha philosophy is still praised and practised today throughout the world. Gandhi is more than just a name; he is an idea that embodies the feelings of sacrifice, nationalism, and struggle that exist within every person. Gandhi was essential to India’s fight for independence. He is renowned for his numerous Satyagrahas against the British government’s unfair laws.

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Gandhi making truce with all_©AP Photo-James A. Mills

Champaran Satyagraha for indigo planters, Ahmedabad Mill Satyagraha for an increase in mill workers’ wages, Kheda Satyagraha for Patidar peasants, Satyagraha against Rowlett Act, Salt Satyagraha against the tax imposed on salt, and Quit India movement for India’s freedom are a few of the well-known movements led by Mahatma Gandhi. As a result, Mahatma Gandhi’s movement had a significant impact on India’s struggle for independence, and as a result, he can be regarded as the movement’s architect.

 Mahatma Gandhi would have made a great and well-liked architect in a different and hypothetical world. He possessed all the traits necessary to rank among the greatest architects ever. Even though Mahatma Gandhi never forced him to pursue a career in architecture, it is well known that he was constantly looking for modern spirituality in design.

 In light of discussions about modern architecture, Riyaz Tayyibji considers Mahatma Gandhi’s little-known architectural partnerships. Gandhi did make up his mind to reveal the beauty of architecture by weaving in the discussions of phenomenal, material, and the discipline of privacy. However, Gandhi saw construction as a continuation of his early-on fascination with various materials.

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Riyaz Taiyabji_©Danesh Jassawala

He was particularly interested in materiality, the interaction of labour and the human body with material; it is processing and production. Gandhi is undoubtedly one of the greatest modern thinkers, but most people view his buildings as conservative, rural, and vernacular. When Gandhi built the shed to house the printing press for the Indian Opinion at Phoenix settlement in South Africa, it was his first time working with building materials. A few years later, Gandhi moved into “The Kraal,” a home his long-time friend and supporter, the architect Hermann Kallenbach, had designed and built. This home was based on the arrangement of regional African building components and had a thatched roof. Living in a home like that at the time was unusual for a European.

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Gandhi, Sonia Schlesin, his secretary, and Dr. Hermann Kallenbach (1913)_©Good Will Foundation
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The Kraal, where Hermann Kallenbach and Gandhi lived together_©wikimedia

So much so that many architects today have been greatly influenced by his principles, ethics, and methods of operation. One of these architects, Laurie Baker, is a genuine Gandhian at heart. Known as the “master of minimalism,” Baker gave India low-cost building designs with the ideal balance of aesthetics and efficiency. He provided a distinctive architectural tradition that merged human and natural elements. He redefined the idea of housing, bringing it into harmony with the local environment and ecology. He strongly committed to widespread, affordable housing by emphasising local materials and traditional construction methods when building homes.

British-born Indian architect Laurie Baker (granted Indian citizenship in 1989) is renowned for his work on cost- and energy-efficient architecture and designs that maximised space, ventilation, and light while preserving a clean-cut yet striking aesthetic sensibility. He promoted the revival of regional building practices and the use of local materials, influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his own experiences. He combined this with a design philosophy emphasising wise and responsible use of resources and energy. More than his professional practice, Mahatma Gandhi impacted his thought and way of life.

The war had worn him out after nearly four years in China. He was consequently given the go-ahead to return home to rest. On his way to England, he stopped in Bombay and discovered that his return trip had been delayed by three months. Baker participated in the talks and prayer gatherings held then and eventually became friends with Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji was immediately drawn to Baker’s shoes, which he had made out of scraps of waste cloth. According to the legend, after Gandhiji held the “Chinese cloth shoes” and saw Baker demonstrate how they were made, Gandhiji asked Baker if he could stay in India rather than return to his native England.

In Laurie Baker’s own words, “It was also through the influence of Mahatma Gandhi that I learnt that the real people you should be building for, and who are in need, are the ‘ordinary’ people – those living in villages and the congested areas of our cities” or “One of the things he said has influenced my thinking – that the ideal house in the ideal village will be built using material that is found within a five-mile radius of the house.” He also mentions that during his stay in India, he saw several humungous mansions beautifully articulated, but on the other hand, he also saw slums. He met people born with wealth and those who barely made it through. He talked about this same topic to Gandhi, about his urges to stay back in India and help those in need, even though the British were urged to leave India. Gandhi fondly encouraged him to return to India. After the war, Baker returned to England, intending to start a career as an architect.



Deepshikha Chatterjee is a final year student of architecture studying in Raman Bhakta School of Architecture (UTU). Besides from her architectural background, she keeps keen interest in critic writing or writing in general. Her nerdiness is one of her special talents.