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Modern Indian Architecture

Architecture is an integral part of culture. The construction and design of both secular and religious architecture often incorporates many of the symbols, motifs, and icons characteristic of a culture. India has a long history of creating unique architectural structures. The Taj Mahal, for example, is a beautiful mausoleum built by Shah Jahan in Agra in the mid-17th century. The use of minarets, domes, arches and white marble reflects all aspects of traditional north and central Indian architecture. Due to the strong influence of British culture during its colonial days, India has long been exposed to cultural and artistic trends from Europe. In the early 20th century, modern Indian architecture emerged in response to these European influences, particularly the work of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. From the 1920s and 1930s, architects in India began combining elements of traditional Indian architecture with modern European influences to create unique architectural structures. A key component of modern Indian architecture is its consideration of the environmental and social conditions related to population growth in India. This modern era of Indian architecture has continued into the 21st century. The history, role of the architect, and characteristics of modern Indian architecture will be further explored as part of this lesson.


The history of modern architecture in India reflects both the features of traditional Indian architecture and the influences of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Due to the vast geographic area that encompasses the Indian subcontinent, three traditional architectural styles have been identified in India - Nagara, Vesara and Dravida. The Nagara style is associated with northern India and often incorporates a blend of elements drawn from Persian, Turkish, and Amerindian cultures. These influences include the use of domes, minarets, intricate latticework, and calligraphy. The Dravidian style, on the other hand, is associated with southern India, where large, elaborate temple complexes were built. The Vesara style is a mix of North and South Indian styles. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bauhaus movement in Germany, which integrated handicrafts into the fine arts, and Le Corbusier ushered in the era of modern Indian architecture. The shift towards a modern Indian style of architecture was halted by India's independence from Britain in 1947. However, the growth of trained architects in India soon ushered in a new era of architectural growth in the major urban centers of India. Le Corbusier was a proponent of urban planning and dealing with the concerns of a growing population. Its architectural style reflected the importance of designing comfort, rational living, work activity and free movement of residents in both areas.


Le Corbusier's focus on urban planning was significant in India due to the country's growing population. Due to the large population in urban areas of India, land is very valuable, forcing architects to make full use of the little space available. Before gaining independence from Britain, India had fewer than 300 trained architects. However, following independence and the growth of new schools of architecture in India, the number of modern architects has increased significantly. Influenced by the contributions of Le Corbusier, architects such as Christopher Charles Benninger have played a central role in integrating architecture and urban planning. As a result, India's modern architectural buildings are designed to meet the needs of the country's residents. while attempting to incorporate sustainable features. An example of this trend is the National Smart Cities Mission, a project supported by the Indian government that aims to create sustainable working and living spaces by retrofitting buildings and constructing new green structures.

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