It was in the year 1947, towards the midnight of 14th August, the inaugural Prime minister of newly Independent nation India came and gave one of the most memorable speech of the century called “Tryst with Destiny” which announced the grand entry of a newly born nation, coming out of an old era towards a modern one with new hopes and Identity. This also reflected on the struggle the nation will face for the basic need for infrastructure and development.
In the grand history of the nation we always found our heritage in either Temples, mosques, or other religious monument or in palaces, forts, etc., unlike a city like New York where administrative structures such as Railways, colleges, public gardens, bridges, and canals are part of the heritage and have been given equal importance, were developed just like the historical monuments.
The new India had a requirement from government institutions like CPWD and education institution such as IIM’s and IIT’s, to develop modern cities for the future such as Chandigarh, Bhuvneshwar, and Gandhinagar, and the responsibility to carry out such huge infrastructure challenge were given to architects and designers from India and all around the globe.
And in this article, we will look into those great designers from India that molded the shape in which our nation was built.
Battle of Architectural Ideologies
To move forward, a basic question was meant to be answered that what should be the tools and principles that were meant to be followed as they were separated on 3 major ideologies and that was – Continuity, Revivalism, and Modernism.
- Continuity of ideology would mean to carry on the principles that were left by the British that includes the local techniques and design ideology such the Indo- British ideology whose example is the Supreme Court of India located in New Delhi, designed in this way by the chief Indian architect, Ganesh Bhikaji Deolalikar,also the first Indian to head the Central Public Works Department.
He also designed the National Museum of India while heading the CPWD.
- Revivalist ideology is to bring back the old legacy of the architectural principles which had deep sentimental roots with the people of that region like the Vidhan Soudha in Bangalore, which revived the Neo- Dravidian style of architecture to revive the history and claim regional Identity of the people. It was designed by B.R. Manickam and the First and Second Chief ministers of Karnataka started in 1951 and competed in 1956.
- Modernism, the most influential and popular Ideology, not just in India, but all around the world originated from the west. The principle it contained breeds the new and most successful generation of architects in India. Not just architects but the leaders themselves were heavily influenced by modernism and were skeptical about modernism being the right identity for India, Then the prime minister’s vision for cities and infrastructures of urban India, modernism was the most preferred choice for which he invited architects from around the world.
Some of those great Indian architects which then shaped the face of new India were:
1. Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi
The name that needs no formal introduction in the field of architecture, the most influential figure in the whole architectural movement in the country; honored with many prestige awards including Padma Shri and the Nobel Prize of architecture – The Pritzker Prize in 2018. His major project came after working with Le Corbusier in many projects, when he was invited to design the new IIM Ahmedabad building with American Architect Louis I. Kahn, after which he designed many other institutions and housing projects.
2. Achyut Kavinde
He was a modernist and followed a brutalist style of architecture, He was influenced by Walter Groupies during his masters in Harvard University and that’s where he got to learn and flow principle functionality and regionalism. Awarded with the Padma Shri award, he is famous for his works in IIT Kanpur campus, National Dairy development board Office, and National Science Centre in New Delhi.
Another pioneer figure in the field of architecture, whose contribution to the heritage of modern architecture is second to none, after working and gaining experience from major firms in London and Paris. He came back India to provide from his vast experience and knowledge known best for the Hall of Nation (which was demolished in 2017), State Trading Corporation in 1976, and Asian games village in 1982.
3. Shiv Nath Prasad
Referred by many as the Le Corbusier of India though couldn’t match up in fame, but in works, he spoke the exact same language as of Le Corbusier. His work was based on his principles and reflected a strong corbusier design language known for his buildings such as Sri Ram center of Art and culture, Akbar Hotel in 1969 in Delhi, and Central Library in Srinagar in 1973.
4. Charles Mark Correa
The First and biggest Urban planner of modern India whose significant work can be seen in action even today with a wide variety of capability. As an architect, he had a portfolio filled with the various projects, each one different and with its own unique problems, which he solved with his design and approach. After graduating from MIT and University of Michigan where he got to learn from Buckminster Fuller, he came back to India with Mahatma Gandhi Memorial as his first significant project; he went on to design the National Craft Museum in New Delhi and was the Chief architect of New Bombay.
5. Ranjit Sabikhi
Studied architecture from SPA, Delhi. After working under Achyut Kavinde, he and his friend Ajay Chowdhury started their own firm and made a name for themselves with various projects. Most famous of them is the YMCA staff housing in New Delhi, though now as much popular as their other contribution is significant to the modern philosophy of design, giving emphasis to open area and green spaces as much as built spaces.
6. Kuldip Singh
He is a modernist and exemplary urban Architect known for his structural complex building, an unconventional design approach for buildings such as the Palika Kendra 1965, NCDC building in 1980 for which he worked closely with the structural engineer Mahendra Raj because of its structural complexity.
7. Habib Rahman
His works and design philosophy were the reflection of what PM Nehru wanted the people to see as the new modern India. Learning under Walter Groupies in MIT, he was highly influenced by the Bauhaus Movement and its ideology. When he returned back, he worked on various significant projects such as the Gandhi Ghat in 1949, Rabindra Bhavan in 1961, and World Health Organisation in Delhi in 1962. He headed the CPWD in 1970 and has designed memorials for Zakir Husain, and Abul Kalam Azad.