The culture and climate of a country are the main determinants of its architecture, and South Asia is rich in both of these elements. As a result, South Asia has distinctive architectural styles as opposed to the western world’s strict adoption of modernism. This region’s architectural creations are heavily influenced by tradition, religion, or more precisely “indigenous” thought processes. Here, the unusual environment and the variety of locally accessible materials have given rise to a wide spectrum of architectural styles. Miscellaneous weather also presents additional design difficulties for building designers. But South Asia has been endowed with several gems that have developed a distinctive artistic style for this region. This essay will discuss 10 such legendary architects and their extraordinary works.
The most famous Indian architect and urban planner Charles Correa was born in 1930 in Hyderabad. He was the pioneer of modern architecture in post-Independent India. He was praised for his awareness of the requirements of the urban underprivileged and for using conventional techniques and materials. Early works by Correa fused traditional architectural principles with the Modernist material choices made famous by individuals like Le Corbusier, Louis I. Kahn, and Buckminster Fuller. These traditional architectural principles were embodied in the bungalow with its veranda and outdoor courtyard. The use of dramatic concrete forms by Le Corbusier in particular had an impact on Correa. The significance of the location remained a constant in Correa’s strategy. Some of his notable projects are- Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Belapur Low-Cost Housing, Kanchanjungha Apartment, etc.
A prominent Indian Architect was born in 1927 in Pune. He is the first architect from his country to receive the prestigious Pritzer Prize (2018). Throughout a career that lasted almost seven decades, Doshi finished over 100 projects, many of which were public institutions with roots in India, such as schools, libraries, art centres, and affordable housing. His modest structures applied the concepts he discovered while working with Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn to the requirements of his native country. Doshi created buildings that provide shelter from the elements and spaces for gathering while taking into account Indian customs, lifestyles, and the environment. Some of the well-known projects of this architect are- Aranya Low-Cost Housing, Life Insurance Corporation Housing, IIM Bangalore, NIFT Delhi, CEPT University, etc.
Raj Rewal, one of the most well-known architects in India, was born in 1934 in Punjab. He is renowned throughout the world for creating structures that sensitively address the complicated needs of rising urbanization, climate change, and cultural diversity. Rewal’s work combines cutting-edge technology with a sense of history and context that is imparted not only by design but also by local material, such as ochre and rose sandstone, evoking the great Mogul monuments, in a nation that is both developing and industrialized, whose architectural inheritance is both ancient and recent, and whose society is conservative and pluralist. He created some amazing designs such as the Asian Games Village, CIDCO Housing, Central Institute of Education Technology, French Embassy Staff Quarters, Indian Embassy, Beijing (China), etc.
Most people recognize Muzharul Islam (1923–2012) as Bangladesh’s most significant architect. His innovative work, which began in the 1950s, not only heralded the arrival of modernism in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) but also swiftly introduced a new architectural culture to a scene that had previously been dominated by less impressive instances of global design. Islam was a teacher, architect activist, and politician who helped to advance architectural education in the nation in addition to setting the standard for architectural practice in the nation. Without an understanding of Muzharul Islam’s abiding concern for and dedication to societal change as well as the strength of practice ethics, it is impossible to summarize his body of work. Some of his masterpieces are- from Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, Central Public Library, Charukala Institute, etc.
Bashirul Haq, born in 1942, was an architect, urban planner, and educator from Bangladesh and is regarded as one of South Asia’s most important architects. He was an architect who also wrote poetry. His poems were written in a language of brick, green, light, air, and tactility. Many of his brick constructions in the years that followed are regarded as national architectural treasures, representing a beautiful contemporary abstraction of Bengal’s natural surroundings. Since Bangladesh’s independence, indigenous and modernist influences have coexisted in its architecture, and Bashirul Haq’s design is the best example of this. While finally transcending the needs of the area, he aims to merge an architectural archetype with a keen awareness of temporality and Bengal’s spatial sensibility. Training Center for Nijerakori, Chhayanaut Bhaban, Bhatshala House, and Cyclone resistant Housing are some of his eminent projects.
Geoffrey Bawa, a Sri Lankan architect, is widely recognized as one of the most significant and influential Asian architects of the 20th century. Bawa entered the field of architecture late, earning his degree in 1957 when he was thirty-eight years old, but he quickly made a name for himself as Sri Lanka’s most prolific and creative architect, creating an entire library of building prototypes for the post-independence era. Sensitivity to location and context is a hallmark of Bawa’s work. His creative output is sustained more out of instinct than self-consciousness. His designs blur the lines between indoors and outdoors, between structures and the landscape, and he is known for weaving together a complex network of spaces—rooms, courtyards, loggias, and verandas—with far-off views into a unified scenic composition. For instance- Kandalama Hotel, Lunuganga, Parliament Building, and Anne De Silva House can be named.
British-born Indian architect Lawrence Wilfred “Laurie” Baker (22 March 1917 – 1 April 2007) was famous for his efforts in energy-efficient architecture and designs that maximized light, ventilation, and space while maintaining a clean, eye-catching aesthetic sensibility. He advocated for the rebirth of regional construction methods and the use of native materials and paired this with a design philosophy that stressed the responsible and judicious use of resources and energy. He was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his own experiences in the distant Himalayas. He was a pioneer of organic and sustainable architecture, incorporating ideas like rainwater collection, reducing the use of energy-inefficient building materials, minimizing damage to the construction site, and seamlessly blending in with the surroundings into his designs as early as the late 1960s. Some of his notable works are- The Hamlet, Fisherman Village, the Laurie Baker Centre, etc.
Minnette de Silva
The Sri Lankan architect Minnette de Silva was born in 1918 in Kendy. She is recognized as a pioneer of what she dubbed Modern Regionalism—later to be known as Critical Regionalism—and is regarded for being expressive, bold, and ahead of her time in ecological and participatory architecture. De Silva worked to adapt the minimalist International Style of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier to a non-Western setting. This style is characterized by its systematized, modular proportions that are based on the Swiss architect’s anatomy. Even though her arguments for incorporating native crafts, materials, and traditions into modernist structures had a significant impact, just a few of her buildings were still standing in 1998, when she passed away in relative obscurity. Karunaratne House, Pieris House I, Daswani House, A. G. De Silva House are some of her amazing works.
Architect Yasmeen Lari was born in 1941 in Pakistan. She was the first woman in Pakistan to earn a degree in architecture, worked as a commercial architect, and is now devoted to creating low-carbon projects, such as housing options for those affected by natural disasters, through the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, a nonprofit organization she cofounded. Lari has been promoting a different sort of “barefoot social architecture”—one that uplifts underprivileged communities while stepping softly on the environment—since she retired and shut down her practice in 2000. This entails switching out costly, emissions-intensive materials like concrete and steel that must be shipped to the construction site with affordable, low-carbon local elements that have been utilized in vernacular builds for thousands of years. Some of her renowned projects are- Naval Officers Housing, Angoori Bagh Housing, Taj Mahal Hotel, etc.
Indian architect Nariman Dossabhai Gandhi was born in Surat on January 1st, 1934. He is well known for his approach to organic architecture. He had a remarkable way of thinking despite leading a very modest existence. His architectural designs look to nature for inspiration. The surrounding environment and culture had an impact on the form. He was dubbed the “Howard Roark of India” by the general public. The notion of “flowing spaces” proposed by F. L. Wright had an impact on Nari. He did not have an office and hardly ever drew anything for his projects. He spent a lot of time on his job sites, collaborating closely with the craftsmen, and frequently getting involved in the building process. To help his craftsmen better comprehend the design, he drew on the floor. Gobhai Mountain Lodge, Korlai Bungalow, Jain Bungalow, and Revdanda House can be named as examples of his amazing works.
Charles Correa (no date) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Correa (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Balkrishna Doshi (no date) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Balkrishna-Doshi (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Raj Rewal – Biography (no date) Raj Rewal:: Company profile. Available at: https://www.rajrewal.in/biography.htm (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
(no date) Muzharul Islam Archive. Available at: https://www.muzharulislam.com/ (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Morshed, A.Z. (2020) Adieu, architect Bashirul Haq, The Daily Star. Available at: https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/tribute/news/adieu-architect-bashirul-haq-1889878 (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Biography – Geoffrey Bawa Trust (no date) biography – Geoffrey Bawa Trust. Available at: https://geoffreybawa.com/biography (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Laurie Baker (no date) Architectuul. Available at: https://architectuul.com/architect/laurie-baker (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Minnette de Silva: Essay (2022) Gagosian Quarterly. Available at: https://gagosian.com/quarterly/2022/08/12/essay-minnette-de-silva/ (Accessed: November 27, 2022).
Jennifer Hahn |1 July 2021 Leave a comment (2021) Using “Ancient wisdoms and techniques” can lead to carbon-neutral buildings says Yasmeen Lari, Dezeen. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/07/01/carbon-neutral-architecture-yasmeen-lari-interview/ (Accessed: November 27, 2022).