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20 Art Deco Architecture Illustrating India’s Rich Heritage

Art Deco architecture in India is a captivating fusion of Western design elements with Indian influences, prevalent during the 1930s and 1940s. This architectural style gained popularity, particularly in Mumbai and parts of South India, as it embodied the progressive and cosmopolitan spirit of the time. Apart from characteristic features like geometric patterns, sleek lines, and intricate detailing, Art Deco structures often feature vibrant pastel colours and ornate motifs.

Art Deco blends modern and traditional materials such as stucco, terracotta, glass, chrome, and steel. It adorned facades with ornate geometric motifs, maintained consistent detailing inside and out, utilised bold colour contrasts, featured fragmented, angular shapes, decorated windows, and embellished corners with tower-like parapets. These elements collectively shaped iconic structures celebrated for their timeless elegance. Listed below are some of the best-known examples of Art Deco architecture in India.

New India Assurance Building

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Shapoorji Pallonji
Image Credits: Pit Spielmann (Flickr)

Constructed in 1936, the New Assurance building is a classic example of the Art Deco wave that swept through Mumbai pre-independence. The building achieves its modern yet decorative appearance through its use of concrete and bold artwork. The ribbed projections shade the windows and add a strong geometrical design replete with Art Deco style.

Taraporewala Aquarium

Location: Mumbai

Art Deco Architecture
Image Credits: Pratick Soni/ Travel Brainy (Instagram)

The Taraporewala Aquarium in Mumbai is a popular marine attraction with an art deco aesthetic that combines sleek lines, geometric motifs, and intricate detailing. The elevation is magnificent, with sea horses and other sea creatures. With its ziggurat-like massing, the aquarium stands out for its imposing, stepped elevation.

Stephens College Tower

Location: Delhi

Image Credits: St. Stephen’s College (Twitter)

St. Stephens is a magnificent brick and quartz structure. The rectangular openings on the first floor contrast beautifully with the arch openings. The central tower, in particular, incorporates art deco elements. The recess detail on the tower reminisces about the tower built by George Gilbert Scott at Cambridge University Library.

Shiv Shanti Bhuvan

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Google Arts and Culture

Known for its distinguished Art Deco architecture, Shiv Shanti Bhuvan is a prominent landmark in Mumbai. This beige and green structure comes to life with its ornate facades, intricate carvings, and vertical ornamentation.

Ram Mahal

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Hindusthan Times

Ram Mahal in Mumbai is a splendid architectural gem that seamlessly integrates Art Deco features into its design. Bold curves, geometric motifs, and ornamental detailing are characteristic features inspired by Art Deco elegance from the West, creating a unique and captivating structure.

The Imperial

Location: Delhi

Art Deco Architecture
Image Credits: Luxury Lifestyle Magazine
Image Credits: Luxury Lifestyle Magazine

While primarily colonial in style, the Imperial also incorporates Art Deco elements. The all-white structure with minimal ornamentation contrasts with the peach-painted entrance portico, focusing on simplicity and modernity. Marble-wood crystal chandeliers, for example, add a touch of opulence to their interiors.

Empress Court, Vile Parle West

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Empress Court’s Art Deco design is well-known for its distinctive use of geometric shapes, sleek lines, and decorative motifs. With intricate patterns, ornamental reliefs, and symmetrical arrangements, the building’s facade emphasises form and function. The minute decorative works, such as the iron gates and railings, stand out against the sober beige architecture.

Dhanraj Mahal, Apollo Bunder

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The Dhanraj Mahal in Colaba is one of the most expensive and imposing architectural structures of the Old Bombay era. The distinctive pink stone cladding used for the vertical ornamentation highlights classic Art Deco design elements. The soft pastel walls contrast beautifully with the sleek ascending projections that add scale to the design.

Ahmedabad Town Hall

Location: Ahmadabad

Art Deco Architecture
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Ahmadabad Town Hall, designed by British architect Claude Batley, is one of the city’s few Art Deco structures. While it is inspired by Gujrati architecture, its modern facade incorporates elements of art deco architecture such as bright colours, banding details, and stepped elevation that culminates in a dome.

Eros Cinema, Churchgate

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Eros Cinema, a Mumbai landmark, is an iconic Art Deco masterpiece. Built in 1938, its striking facade features geometric patterns and vertical lines, exemplifying the Art Deco architectural style, and continues to be a cultural and architectural treasure.

Dare House

Location: Chennai

Image Credits: william-madras.blogspot

The Dare House in Chennai is a prominent structure with minimalistic Art Deco architectural elements. Clean lines simplify and streamline the decorated motifs, giving the appearance a more uncluttered and sleek look. The corners of the property are curved near the road junction, giving a feeling of movement and energy.

Soona Mahal, Marine Drive

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: New York Times

At the intersection of Churchgate and Marine Drive, there is another famous building. It has deep balconies arranged in a structured way. The balconies shape the design and stand out with contrasting horizontal bands. The structure features a curved corner and a circular turret that serves as its focal point.

Tower House

Location: Kolkata

Image Credits: Tathagata Neogi/ ArchaeoNomad (Twitter)

In the late 1930s, Sudlow, Ballardie, and Thompson constructed Kolkata’s first skyscraper, a monolithic structure on the Esplanade. The Tower House, like many early skyscrapers, emphasises verticality. It has a tall and slender structure, which is characteristic of the changing skyline at the time. As the name suggests, the Tower House incorporates towers into its design, which serves as a distinguishing feature of the structure.

Industrial Assurance Building

Location: Mumbai

Image Credits: Walkitecture

The new insurance building in Mumbai showcases exquisite Art Deco architecture, blending sleek lines and ornate detailing. Its grand facade and geometric motifs pay homage to the city’s iconic heritage, adding a touch of timeless elegance to the skyline.

Umaid Bhawan Palace Indoor Pool

Location: Jodhpur

Art Deco Architecture
Image Credits: Nicole Iizuka

The Umaid Bhawan Palace, located in Jodhpur, boasts an exquisite architectural design that combines Art Deco and traditional influences. The pool, also known as the zodiac pool, has bright blue walls that blend perfectly with the shimmering water. The blue walls not only represent the city’s colour but are synonymous with the Art Deco style. Additionally, gold tiles and motifs that represent the zodiac adorn the pool.

Ram Roop Clock

Location: Chennai

Art Deco Architecture
Image Credits: decoindelhi.com

The impressive tower incorporates classical, Egyptian, and Art Deco elements. The tower design incorporates multiple recesses, with jaali work featured at the centre of each face.

Kota House

Location: Delhi

Art Deco Architecture
Image Credits: thehardcopy.co

A symmetrical low-rise structure culminates in an imposing tower in the centre. The Rani Mahal, with its spacious deck, breaks the tower’s verticality. The decorative details on the Kota house include recesses, projections, and jaali work. The windows on the lower floor are rectangular, while the upper floor windows have intricate jaali work. The tower, too, features longitudinal jaali work that emphasises its height.

Amrut mody School of Management

Location: Ahmadabad

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Amrut Mody School of Management is one of Ahmadabad’s few Art Deco structures, built in 1937. They highlighted the regular spacing of windows by creating horizontal lines through repetitive plastering work. The historical structure represents the university’s commitment to preserving Art Deco in education.

Vijali Ghar

Location: Ahmedabad

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

As it is in the corner property, the structure adopts a sweeping curve, responding to its immediate context. The plain facade has windows positioned in a grid-like pattern. The only thing that breaks up the monotony is a deep overhang.

All India Radio

Location: Delhi

Image Credits: AkashvaniAIR (Twitter)

The All India Radio building is a prime example of Art Deco architecture in Delhi. The use of materials such as concrete and stucco facilitates an emphasis on sleek, geometric forms and ornate detailing. Certain portions of the structure use curvilinear elements to create movement and sophistication.

Art Deco architecture is significant in India’s architectural history. The structures, which date from the early to mid-twentieth century, are more than just structures; they are living works of art that reflect a sophisticated and modern era. These landmarks are important historical symbols that preserve our cultural heritage. Art Deco buildings in India are not just architectural marvels; they also reflect India’s evolving identity. By preserving them, future generations will be able to appreciate the aesthetic and historical richness of Art Deco architecture and connect with our past.

Content Writing And Research By: Ar. Rochelle Dayal

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