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  • Modern Architecture and 14 influencing examples in India

    Modern architecture, also known as contemporary architecture, is a design style that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a response to the rapid technological advancements and changing social, cultural, and economic contexts of the time.

    The introduction of modern architecture in India was largely driven by the country’s quest for independence from British colonial rule and the subsequent pursuit of nation-building and modernization.

    It is characterized by a departure from traditional architectural styles and focusing on functionality, simplicity, and innovation. In India, modern architecture has had a significant influence on the built environment, shaping the country’s urban landscapes and transforming the way people live and work.

    Evidently, one of the key figures who brought modern architecture to India, was the renowned Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.Tthe first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, invited him to India to design the city of Chandigarh, which became a symbol of India’s vision for a modern, progressive, and planned city. In addition, Le Corbusier’s design principles of using reinforced concrete, open floor plans, and the concept of “breathing spaces,” significantly impacted Indian architecture and urban planning.

    Also, another influential figure in the development of modern architecture in India was Charles Correa, who was an Indian architect known for his innovative designs that integrated local culture, climate, and traditional architectural elements with modern sensibilities. Compared to Corbusier, Correa’s works, such of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Museum in Ahmedabad and the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, are considered even more iconic examples of modern Indian architecture.

    These architects have provided a platform for artistic expression and experimentation and to create spaces for social interaction, public gatherings, and community engagement. Also, modern architectural landmarks in India, such as the Lotus Temple in Delhi, the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, and the Infosys Campus in Mysuru, have become symbols of India’s modernity and progress.

    The following are the most iconic modern architectural building examples in India:

    1. The Parliament Building, Chandigarh – Le Corbusier 
    2. The city of Chandigarh – Le Corbusier
    3. Asian Games Village, Delhi – Raj Rewal 
    4. India International Centre, New Delhi – Joseph Allen Stein
    5. Indian Institute Of Management, Ahmedabad – Louis Kahn
    6. The Lotus Temple, New Delhi – Fariborz Sahba
    7. Jawahar Kala Kendra, Rajasthan – Charles Correa
    8. St. John’s Cathedral, Tituvalla – Laurie Bak
    9. Indian Coffee House, Trivandrum – Laurie Baker
    10. Matrimandir, Pondicherry – Roger Anger
    11. Malabar Headquarters, Calicut – Stapati
    12. Rajkumari Rajnavati Girl’s School, Jaisalmer – Diana Kellog Architects
    13. Amdavad ni Gufa, Ahmedabad – Balkrishna Doshi
    14. The Naga Tower, Gandhinagar – ECADI 

    1. The City of Chandigarh – Le Corbusier

    After the partition of India and Pakistan, Nehru; the president of India wanted to create a city that represented itself as a symbol of the nation’s new future. At the time, Le Corbusier was the popular architect who developed and planned Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab. It was the earliest planned city in India, representing the nation’s faith in the future. Le Corbusier designed numerous buildings and infrastructure in the city of Chandigarh, which is some of the major touristic sites. 

    2. Palace Of Assembly, Chandigarh – Le Corbusier

    Le Corbusier was one of the pioneers when it came to Modern Architecture in India. Among many of his works in India, the Palace of Assembly has acquired quite a popularity for that time. The city of Chandigarh became a vital capital after partition and the assembly door became a highlight to represent modern India. 

    3. Asian Games Village, Delhi – Raj Rewal

    Asian Games Village, the first of its kind, was a site developed by Raj Rewal for the 1982 Asian Games. Raj Rewal was one of the very well-renowned architects of modern architecture at that time. The site was a giant establishment consisting of 853 flats of which 793 house top PSU officials, bureaucrats, public servants, and union ministers. 

    The site is considered one of the finest examples of modern architecture in India, in terms of clean lines, formations of the buildings, linear detailing on walls and railing designs, and periphery planning.  

    4. India International Centre, New Delhi – Joseph Allen Stein

    Enthused by the idea of an International House in Japan, India’s Vice President, and Rockefeller commissioned Joseph Allen Stein to create a similar one for India. Joseph was keen on designing the project utilizing natural and local materials rather than marble. Also, he wanted the building to represent relationships instead of things. Resulting in a brilliant modern architectural example. 

    5. Indian Institute Of Management, Ahmedabad – Louis Kahn

    IIMA is the best example of how modern architecture developed over the years in India. Louis Kahn has developed this 102-acre giant university in locally sourced exposed brick finish elevations. Kahn’s architecture is characterized by red bricks, the use of all types of arches, wide corridors outside of the classrooms, and other vernacular elements. 

    6. The Lotus Temple, New Delhi – Fariborz Sahba

    The Lotus Temple is in New Delhi with the inspiration of the Indian national flower. The architect designed the temple in 3 different leaf structures, where each leaf is a marble-clad free-standing structure. The 9 entrance leaves mark 9 sides of the complex. Outer leaves are used as roofs for the ancillary spaces. The inner 9 leaves are the worship spaces, which seem to be opening up from the top. 

    7. Jawahar Kala Kendra, Rajasthan – Charles Correa

    The Jawahar Kala Kendra is a multi-arts center in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan. Charles Correa, the admirable architect of his time, designed this from 1986 to 1992. Charles Correa has used Vastu principles to create the Jawahar Kendra. The plan explores nine similar-sized squares that each represent grahas. 

    8. St. John’s Cathedral, Tituvalla – Laurie Baker 

    St. John’s Cathedral makes the list as a unique modern architectural example. Designed by the iconic architect, Laurie Baker, the cathedral has a temple-like exterior. Aspects of traditional architecture elements from Kerala and temple architecture influenced the design. 

    9. Indian Coffee House, Trivandrum – Laurie Baker

    Part of the Neo-vernacular architecture of India, the Indian Coffee House designed by Laurie Baker showcases the change in modern architecture splendidly. During British rule, the Indian Coffee House restaurant chain began and established over 400 outlets. Here adapting the context of the city, Laurie Baker had to transform his way of thinking about architecture and interpret modern architecture in a new way. 

    Baker used perforated walls in bricks for light and ventilation, where the structure revolves in a spiraling shape with inbuilt seating spaces. Surprisingly, the perforation helps in keeping the street noise lower for its visitors. 

     10. Matrimandir, Puducherry – Roger Anger

    The Matrimandir, meaning the mother in Sanskrit, is a space for yoga practitioners in Auroville, holding spiritual significance. It took 37 years to build since the first foundation stone because of the entire structure being in the form of a geodesic dome with twelve petals around it. Where, the exterior façade design has golden discs that reflect the sunlight to generate a radiating surface. 

    Subsequently, the dome and inner meditation hall sit on top of the main four pillars, each symbolizing aspects of the mother, described by Sir Aurobindo. 

    11. Malabar Headquarters, Calicut – Stapati

    Malabar Headquarters is in Calicut, on a tough sloping site. The designer did a splendid job utilizing the contours and creating the design in a sloping manner. Not only the slope but the building also utilizes vegetation from the surrounding context into the front facade as well as in the interiors of the building. 

    12. Rajkumari Rajnavati Girl’s School, Jaisalmer – Diana Kellog Architects

    Progressing further into the modern architecture of India, one of the viral projects of recent years has been the Rajkumari Rajnavati Girl’s School in Jaisalmer. Designed by US-based firm, Diana Kellog Architects, the school has become an architectural marvel regarding space for economically challenged, geographically remote, and marginalized communities in the world. 

    The building is in an oval form with a courtyard in the center and the classes in the periphery. Interestingly, the entire structure is monolithic of locally sourced sandstone. 

    13. Amdavad ni Gufa, Ahmedabad – Balkrishna Doshi

    Amdavad ni Gufa is an underground exhibition space by a renowned Indian architect, Balkrishna Doshi. The design resembles a cave-like structure, depicting M.F. Hussain’s paintings on the ceilings. The structure is a fine example of contemporary architecture and a unique construction method. Being underground, the dome structures help in keeping the harsh summer heat low inside.

    14. The Naga Tower, Gandhinagar – ECADI 

    The Naga Tower is a vital cultural and technological advancement addition to the thriving GIFT city in the state of Gujarat. Talking about modern architecture in India, the Naga Tower inspiration comes from the word ‘naga’, meaning snake in Indian culture. The towers depict a snake formation in their main structure formation. 

    It is quite evident that modern architecture has profoundly influenced India’s built environment, urban planning, and cultural identity. And, it has brought about innovative design principles, sustainable practices, and a platform for artistic expression into shaping India’s architectural landscape and contributing to the country’s ongoing journey of modernization and development.

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