Indian culture, which is one of the oldest & richest cultures, is gradually wiping off due to globalization. The skills and knowledge of traditional cultures contribute not only to global diversity, but also to the well-being of both developed and developing worlds. Crafts are a product of culture in addition to community interaction enabling the craftsperson to produce objects. The production of crafts and many occupations is also intricately linked to the habitat which responds very sensitively to the needs and demands of the processes of the craft where the architecture and its spatial qualities work symbiotically with the craft production and help sustain it.
Vernacular architecture of the several regions of India has occupational needs of inhabitants as the major factor influencing architecture. India is famous for its traditional crafts like bamboo, wood, pottery, painting, metal casting, terracotta and textiles. The sarees from Mahaeshwar and Chanderi are famous for weaving whereas Bagh and Ujjain are famous for printing. The designs are evolved and inspired from the surrounding environment. These patterns of textiles are also reflected in the vernacular architecture. The sculpture and murals in the houses are not simply for decoration but are part of their rituals and beliefs.
The craftsmanship is not only limited to the final product but also in the space in which they are produced. The houses of craftsmen are example of vernacular architecture, where the architecture has evolved over a large span of time. The plan of a craftsman’s house is developed from the livelihood needs of the inhabitants. Built from local materials and available technology, they aptly cater to the needs of the craftsmen. Let us look at 5 examples of this which are as follows:
VERNACULAR SETTLEMENT OF POTTERS (KUMAHAR)
In the dwelling the spaces are required for storage of raw material and finished products, preparation of clay, creation of pots, roof tiles or bricks and firing. In the front there is an open space for working and selling and on the backyard for private space like washing, bathing and other household works. The enclosed spaces are used for sleeping, cooking and living. The toilets are not attached with the dwelling. A separate room for donkey is provided. The walls are constructed by rammed earth or brick masonry with mud mortar. The brick piers or wooden post are the vertical structural members. The attic is made of bamboo matting with mud mortar or wooden planks and is used as storage space. The stone slabs are rarely used because of site condition.
VERNACULAR SETTLEMENT OF BAMBOO WORKERS (BASOR)
They have living and sleeping spaces along the courtyard and the working space is outside the courtyard in front of the dwelling. The courtyard is used for household works, storage space for raw material and a pig house adjacent to the dwelling.
The walls are made of thick bamboo matt covered with mud plaster; thick bamboos are used for vertical support. The attic floor is made of bamboo mating, covered with mud plaster. The roof consists of wooden trusses, rafters and purlins of bamboo and covering of country tile or thatch. The mud is used for plastering; flooring is done by rammed earth, covered with cow dung. The timber doors and window frames with bamboo shutters, bamboo jail used for lighting and ventilation.
MOODAH-MAKERS OF FARRUKHNAGAR
The communities and their occupations in both these settlements have been responsible for the spatial planning and layout of the town. The small-sized dwellings of the craftspersons are the work spaces which are semi-built with kuccha materials and they spill out onto the streets and the community open spaces. Work spaces also include those sections of the streets which are part of the circulation network, chowks and tree shades. There is a shift in the activity pattern of these spaces throughout the day. The daylight hours are spent in moodah-making, while the evening is dedicated to communal recreational activities. The moodahs produced are stored in the temporary sheds of the houses.
In the case of Farrukhnagar, the habitats of the moodah-makers face an inadequacy of basic physical infrastructure like water supply, drainage, toilets and tidy workspaces. Modern planning and development aspirations of communities have led to privatization of common open spaces which has altered the practices of collective activity.
CHANDERI WEAVING, CHANDERI, MADHYA PRADESH
The town of Chanderi is divided into mohallas or residential neighbourhoods. The mohallas of the different communities of the weavers are an important part of the urban morphology. The spatial design of the weaver’s house was integral to the production of the cloth and its quality. The house form of weavers’ houses in Chanderi is determined by the saree weaving techniques and requirements. Platforms built outside the houses provide additional work areas and for stretching yarns. Architecture also serves as an inspiration to the craftsmen. The motifs on sarees are largely inspired by ornamentation on buildings.
Each step in the process of saree-weaving requires a sensitively designed space with appropriate lighting and ventilation. The residences are designed to suit these requirements.
The houses have a front open space where the dyeing and drying of the threads is carried out.
The pit looms are positioned with great care in the ensemble of rooms which constitute the house. The room with the loom is the most public part of the house and is often located directly next to the street to attract customers. The north lighting is effectively used to ensure natural light and ventilation as direct sunlight damages the loom. The quality of the interiors is as complex and attractive as the composition of built volume and open space are a characteristic of the housing mohallas.