Thursday, 30 July 2015


Indian architecture is unique both in its evolution and development. It has absorbed different strands of perspectives in design, utility and style. The interaction and impact from varied cultures were borrowed and incorporated. Some were amalgamated. And some retained their individuality and distinctness. But finally they all formed the captivating mosaic of Indian Architecture.

In the ancient days Kings were great patrons of art culture and architecture. They were magnanimous in allotting funds and spent lavishly for artisans and architects. The architectural arrangements of yesteryears evolved from construction of tents. Residences in olden days were basically small. The daily activities of people did not necessarily happen inside the built area.

The external spaces that are extensions of the house were also used for bathing, cooking and sleeping. They received guests and socialized in the courtyard and terraces. Hence the internal spaces had no specific function and there was no architectural differentiations of these spaces.

Those times the majority of people were predominantly agriculturists and that too in small scale level. The style of living was nomadic in nature. Constructions were simple and just enough for normal life activities and with a basic level of modernity. Daily hygiene, and access to well and water-borne areas acquired principal considerations and some houses had underground water storage facilities. Larger residences housed some administrative functions also.

According to the surrounding climate and materials available, the spaces were designed skillfully. The desert settlements had thick walls and slot-windows to absorb excessive heat and radiate the required warmth at nights which were predictably cool.

The bamboo houses of Gujarat constructed on stilts were flexible to withstand earthquakes and other natural calamities. The old South-Indian houses in temple-towns had big courtyards helping free circulation of air.

Support by Kings

The textual and literary evidences suggest significant and substantial forms, in the evolution of architecture and the various types of buildings only from the Buddhist period. The traditions and practices prevailing in the society and the culture form the boundaries of architecture.

The pool of techniques and expressions got enriched by the contributions from the Aryans, the Dravidians, the Buddhist and Hindu and Islamic dynasties that ruled the country. The craftsmen and artisans of the older times had conceived designs depending on the tastes and needs of the religious cults. This work patterns were passed down through generations.

As per the desires and inclinations of the clients, the architects drew plans on a cloth or parchment or any other convenient material. This was then transferred on the actual site. The Vaastu shastra became an integral part to achieve maximum degree of comfort and peace.

Architectural Diversity

The strong point of the country was the countless architectural diversity. Temples, monuments and palaces bear testimony to the enchanting diversity in all the glorious periods of Indian History. Buddhism brought with it the construction of stupas and chaithya, halls for prayer, the Rajput palaces had more elements of domesticity and the Muslim rulers built numbers of Mosques and Forts.

The Chola Monarchs in the South constructed major complexes and the Gupta period witnessed the peak in art and architecture. Then in quick succession came the invaders such as the Portuguese, the French and the English and they brought in a dash of Esplanades churches and Governmental structures.

The design of structures were primarily determined by social elements such as security and civic growth. The people and the rulers were constantly under the threat of war and destruction. People gathered together to live and this gave rise to cities. Therefore there was only a mild practical approach that was attached to design and construction. More than everything, the rulers were keen in establishing a personal legitimacy to build or to subject existing ones to remodeling.

The completed marvels tell tales of the Kings who constructed them. Exquisite craftsmanship was employed in the walls of temples and palaces through carvings and sculptures. The architecture of those times was entirely people oriented replete with considerable merits and additions.


Whatever may be the expression in architecture, whether it is classicism or modernity, it is shaped by external influences. The gradual development leads the way of life including day-to-day life activities, worship, religious practices observed during celebrations and death. The Mistris and Stapathis worked out the patterns becoming lead workers and engineers who also practiced the art of designing. Today's architecture is a natural corollary of those primitive models but embellished with modern additions.

The vibrancy and experimental tendency associated with design caused a typical upsurge in the practice and demand. City-construction goes by consumerism. Buildings occupy incompatible space arrangements. Managing the space between buildings is very vital. Any building should bear a relation to its immediate environment. Architecture should necessarily remain an art that serves best to the consumers.

Voluminous constructions are bogged down to 'multi-storeyed buildings'- a separate area of design. High-rise constructions come along equipped with suitable facilities like transportation to carry people from place to place. Fire and other safety measures have to be properly installed to help evacuation at times of accidents.


Structuralism in architecture is indispensable. There is a distinct difference between the senses of wellness created by each kind of construction.

In addition to the external appearance, people get attracted by a set of tangibles and intangibles involved in design and construction that has to be accounted for.

'Green architecture' is the need of the day. Long-term development in construction should progress in integration to preservation of the area and conservation of its resources. This is more relevant to India, for India is abundantly rich in energy and resources. Not only power and water, factors such as soil sedimentation and erosion should be prioritized. The life-cycle analysis of building materials gives us sufficient reasons for recycling. Though the topsoil that we use for buildings cannot be recycled, we could think of more afforestation and use of industrial wastes. The effect should be measured in terms of the damage produced by one building to the adjacent one.

Present Scenario

Present day consumers have immense knowledge and awareness. That influences the current trend. Due to urban-economics the demand for housing is constantly increasing. The architect has to be sensitive to the site and possess a consciousness to the Society. 

A design should have a good thermal comfort, simplicity and easy access. A balanced design should have a suitable bit of conflicting parameters comprising of the needs and wants. Though Architecture has its own share of challenges it undergoes its own sphere of evolution.

History is always inspiring. What we produce today, will be the source of inspiration to the coming generations.

No comments:

Post a Comment