Modernism in Indian architecture – interesting things you should know.

The 1930s witnessed the advent of modernism in Indian architecture for the first time. In other words, the 19th century was a time when there was a paradigm shift in the way people started thinking and living, worldwide. Modern architecture in this context has nothing to do with new buildings, but rather, it indicates a revolution in the way people started visualizing and building different structures since the 19th century. The influence of famous modern architects like Louis Khan and Le Corbusier, the exchange of architectural ideas between India and other nations, and industrial revolution, were some of the major reasons why the concept of “modern architecture” received so much limelight.

Paving the way to modernism   

The colonial influence was extremely evident in the architectures of the 19th century, such as the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, the Victoria Station in Bombay, and the government buildings in Delhi. Sleek windows, open verandahs and elegant colonnades were the hallmarks of these.

Later on, Indian architectures started to incorporate neoclassical influences as well as expressionism, classical modernism, and were influenced intensely by the Art Deco movement. Decorative motifs, rounded shapes, geometric motifs and regional influences became apparent, gradually. There was experimentation with materials, colors, symmetry, and sculptural effects. Currently, eco-friendliness, functionality and sustainability are some of the key factors that drive modern architecture in India.

A few impressive modern architectures

British Council Building in New Delhi – Constructed in the year 1992, the British Council building is a simple yet fantastic rendition in red sandstone. The credit goes to Charles Correa, a famed architect and urban planner, known for his love of traditional materials and methods. This particular architecture celebrates symbolism with its façade mural that stands for the “Shadows of Banyan Tree”. The presence of fountains and courtyards helps blend modernism with the Indian spirit here.

Lotus Temple in New Delhi – This Indian Baha’i temple was built in 1986, and resembles a lotus in a magnificent way. As the brainchild of Fariborz Sahba, an Iranian-American architect, this temple signifies purity and peace. Since the number 9 enjoys immense significance in Indian astrology, the temple has 9 each of doors, ponds and bridges. The unique structure boasts of 27 marble petals and is an engineering wonder.

The Secretariat in Chandigarh – This Le Corbusier masterpiece is a perfect example of the modern movement in India’s architectural landscape. Exposed concrete texture lends this building, 42 meters high and 254 meters long, a unique edge. The external ramps and small windows add to the exclusive look as well.

Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad – A creation of Charles Correa, the Sabarmati Ashram is all about open layouts, simplicity, traditional huts and wooden louvers for windows. Brick walls, stone floors, tiled roofs and wooden doors create an earthy feel. The ashram is Vastu compliant, has a central water court and promotes ample ventilation.

Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad – Designed by the renowned architect Louis Khan, this building is a 20th century affair that impresses with its exposed brick structure and geometrical precision. The neat lines and large windows provide the perfect ambiance for modern education too.

Modern architecture in India is a dynamic affair and is now trending towards the use of green materials, for constructing both commercial and residential spaces. Modern architects are dreaming of a future where light, durable, versatile and environment-friendly materials can be used to design incredible structures in a cost-effective and efficient manner.