Architecture is purely a reflection of regional traditions, cultures, and lifestyles put together with a vision. India’s distinctive architecture that began with the Indus valley civilization and expands today up to parametric designs is nothing but a transition that represents today’s developing India.
With the stories that India has to offer through its diverse background and its secular architecture; despite being communally separated by regions, religions, and its 28 official states, its secular architecture is that “dark horse” which will play a major role in shaping the Republic of India as a developed nation one fine day!
Need to know more? Check out the article Secular Architecture of India; a perfect pocket edition that explains everything about secular architecture.
The transition towards Secular Architecture
The different architecture styles India has today altogether, may that be the traditional and vernacular ones or the contemporary and modern styles; major accountability behind this variety goes to the fact that a lot of foreign invaders who set up their trade first and later their entire colonies reflected their lifestyle into the architecture that we witness today.
You may as well see the transition between architecture styles when you move from one Indian state to another. All of which is the result of India’s inclusive secularism, where we have accepted the diversity within architecture as well.
But, that’s all history!
Post-independence, India has tried to depict a whole new image that isn’t just inclusively secular but also thoroughly. To figure out what it is, let us check a couple of examples; shall we?
The Parliament House (Sansad Bhawan)
The temple of democracy, where the nation takes shape, metaphorically as well as literally. Although constructed during the British rule; The Parliament House, today mirrors as an architectural gem of India, where under one roof the elected legislative members from all over the nation share their respective visions in the national interest. Its colossal nature, circular shape, and even the exterior appearance that monochromes in brown color symbolize the Indian soil. All in all, the Parliament House is architecturally and socially the pride of India.
One of the most patent examples of biomimicry in contemporary architecture; the Lotus temple is a nine-sided circular structure consisting of twenty-seven “leaves” i.e. marble-clad free-standing concrete slabs. Other than its marvelous architecture that has welcomed over 70 million visitors since its completion, this Baha’i House of worship is open to all practitioners regardless of religious affiliation and beliefs. A temple without an idol of a deity you may pray to; isn’t that intriguing? To me it is!
A place to believe in the oneness of God, the oneness of religions, and the oneness of mankind. You are also free to chant or read scriptures of any faith you believe in and in any language of your choice. It can’t get any further to secularism than this!
Lotus temple is also the global face for India’s secularism, which attracts more than 10,000 visitors daily within the country and from abroad.
Architects who have and who will build a developed India
Architecturally speaking, the people who contribute the most to shaping a country’s infrastructure are the architects. So, here are just a few among those many who are shaping today’s modern India towards a developed nation.
1. Nari Gandhi
Before we jump on to modern and complex architecture, here’s a tribute to the man who believed in his vernacular practices and love for nature while working it in his designs. Nari Gandhi was a bit of an unorthodox architect who majorly worked with stone and wood himself while sketching out his designs right onto the floor to make his workers understand the design effectively.
Another Gandhi who shaped India, not through ‘Satyagraha’ but via ’Architecture’!
2. Raj Rewal
An architect who blends surrounding scale, and rhythm with geometry; Raj Rewal is one of the most leading Indian architects and an urban designer who understands the core responsibility of an architect in shaping a society. As is he quoted saying, “Urban planning is a civic responsibility”.
He has also contributed to shaping the vision of a lot of aspiring architects while being a professor at the School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi.
3. B. V. Doshi
It would be a crime to not mention the legendary B.V. Doshi while talking about Indian architects who have shaped today’s India. The only architect to have won the prestigious Pritzker Prize (2018) from India; he has designed schools, libraries, art centers, low-cost housing, and much more in a career spanning about seven decades.
The “Hussain-Doshi guffaw” was made in collaboration with the magical M.F. Hussain is one of a kind structure amongst the list of more than 100 projects Doshi has done to date.
4. Shabir Unwala
Maybe a little lesser known persona compared to the above-mentioned names in terms of popularity but by no means in terms of work! A graduate from the Rachna Sansad, Mumbai, in 1986; Unwala has some out-of-the-box creations under his name and is a believer that architecture resides in the relationship between a man and nature. A distinguished speaker about how architecture shapes our life, Unwala while speaking about his award-winning design ‘The Machan’ says it to be a diet building.
Just try googling this man’s work and you will know what’s so fascinating about him.
Although this list can go on to be an everlasting one, what’s common amongst all the above-mentioned names is the fact that all those considered architecture as a religion first and then the other factors.
That’s exactly how you create a modern, secular, and developed nation through architecture!
Who all will build a developed India?
The transition from a developing nation to a developed nation is as close as it gets to the transition India has overseen to the communally influenced architecture to today’s secular one; the question is who will do it?
Is it the responsibility of the architects shaping it, the government that molds it, or is it upon us? The simplest answer would be we all together!
Architecture isn’t bound in religion, it is we who do it!
Imagine this, when a foreign tourist looks at the Taj Mahal as one of the structures amongst the 7 wonders, he considers it as a phenomenon of Indian architecture and does not associate it with some religion or community. Maybe the marble flooring of ‘Ram Mandir’ whose foundation stone has been laid recently will be done by a Rajasthani Muslim worker, you never know! We need to represent what we are and not discard it.
Taking colors from nature and not from religion, inspirations from our traditional beliefs and vision from the very own soil of our mother nation; tomorrows developed India will be built by us!