Our history has a significant impact on developing our lives. The historic technologies that our forefathers used are exceptionally iconic. There has been an environmental balance maintained between the human and natural environments in the early periods. They believed in intertwining nature and architecture to create a spectacular scene that did not detract from the natural features of the surrounding. Natural integration has long been a feature of all ancient cultures, including India. This is evident in the numerous religious, social, and ancient traditions, ceremonies, art and sculpture, and folk stories that prevail in multiple forms in Indians’ everyday life.

1. Arches

Indian architectural style has used both false and true arches, although structural arches seem to be notably absent from Hindu temple architecture throughout all times. Arches are enchanting design elements that are rarely seen in modern homes. Arches have a great charm to them because of their smooth curves, which are a nice departure from straight lines and right angles. They have the added benefit of being structurally stable due to their design. This implies that they can be built without the use of a lintel, which is typically utilized to support all door and window openings. Arches can be built out of bricks or stone, reducing the quantity of concrete needed for the lintels. In corridors and verandahs, arches are particularly charming.

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Arches in Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan_©Aman Ravi on Unsplash
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Arches in Mysore Palace_©Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash
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Bibi Ka Maqbara Arched Window_©Setu Chhaya on Unsplash

2. Wind Catchers

Hyderabad’s unusual skyline, occupied by wind-catchers, was once its most notable feature. These wind catchers, or Manghu in Sindhi, were installed on housetops to capture the south-westerly wind during the sunny days and evening hours. They consisted of a tower opening with a scoop on their upper end that directed the wind inside the house. This ancient Indian technique can lower the temperature and supply fresh air to building users while also lowering CO2 concentrations.

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Wind catchers in Hyderabad_©www.insideflows.org
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Wind catchers in Hyderabad_©www.insideflows.org

3. Courtyard

Ancient Indian architecture is credited with building pleasant indoor environments through the use of strategic natural ventilation. Courtyards are built into several traditional dwellings in India. This is partly because of the Indian courtyard’s adaptability and ability to perform numerous wonders. It works as a heat sink, promotes evaporative cooling, and allows for c

ross ventilation. It is transformed into a meeting place for celebrations. It becomes a location for secondary culinary tasks such as drying pickles and grinding spices. It becomes a gathering place for ladies to sit and talk. It is occasionally used for gardening, while other times it is used to keep cattle.

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Wadas of Maharashtra_©www.busnumbergyaarah.com
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Nadumattam of a Kerala house_©www.favouritehomes.com

4. Verandah

A verandah is a lengthy raised area that spans more than one of a house’s exterior walls and is usually used for outdoor activities. It is a transitory space that integrates the interior and exterior, removing the abrupt and harsh shift from the openness of the exterior world to the closed interior spaces. This helps the breeze spill in through the veranda flowing freely through the living areas. A naturally cool house does not require environmentally unfriendly cooling methodologies, making a veranda a rather sustainable alternative.

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Sunaparanta, Goa Center for the Arts_©www.tripadvisor.com
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Verandah with pond from south Indian house_©www.arjuna-vallabha.tumblr.com

5. Built-in Furniture

Some furniture in traditional Indian architecture was built while the house was being built. The front verandah in several Kerala and Goan homes used to have built-in seating. Moreover, they also housed niches, alcoves, and shelves for storage, displays, and lanterns. The built-in furniture was extremely durable and also helped to save money on woodwork.

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Pinto Villa in Santa Cruz_©www.joinpaperplanes.com
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Interiors of Bhunga house with niches_©www.dsource.in
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Lamp Niche, Qila-e-Kuhna Masjid, Old Fort, New Delhi_©www.commons.wikimedia.org

Conclusion

While our predecessors did not suffer a crisis of natural resources in their time, it is inspiring to see the efforts they made to preserve them for upcoming generations. With the arrival of the Industrial Era, however, overexploitation of natural assets began, resulting in a complete collapse of traditional ethos for building a sustainable environment in which humans could live in peace with nature.

Yet, millennia-old architectural principles are still in use and will be for a long time to come because of their spiritual and cultural foundations. Contemporary Indian architecture‘s multi-ethnic nature makes it an intriguing field for future investigations and breakthroughs. Socio-cultural determinants are “Indianizing” contemporary and universalized architecture, assisting in the evolution of a modern Indian architectural character. India is destined to become Asia’s epicenter of modern sustainable architecture.

References:

  1. Erika Alatalo/ Field Study of the World (2016). Searching for wind catchers in Hyderabad [online]. Available at: https://www.fieldstudyoftheworld.com/searching-windcatchers-hyderabad/ [Accessed date: 16/12/2021].
  2. Favorite homes. The Traditional “Nadumuttam” House Designs [online]. Available at: https://www.favouritehomes.com/nadumuttam-house-designs/ [Accessed date: 16/12/2021].
Author

Shirley is an architecture student with an interest in sustainable design. She believes that as designers we must not only wisely design for people, but also share our ideas, thoughts, and vision with the community to make the beautiful nuances of architecture accessible to all.

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