POST INDEPENDENCE DELHI-in search of an identity
" The question of how best- if at all- India's architectural heritage could be used to self consciously create architectural expressions has always been a complex one.
With political independence in 1947 came a desire for new ways of thinking, which together with the entrenched ways, resulted in a dual set of values that continued to shape the work of architects. One set focussed on the future and the other on the past"
extract from "Architecture and Independence"
For two thirds of the last century India was under British control. Even though most of the landscape was untouched and architecture of rural India was untouched by the British, the urban environment was very different. The major cities founded by the British-Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and New Delhi were developed under the military and economic domination of the British. They reflected the political struggle for the control of the nation. The penetration of British ideas and impact of the industrial revolution on local institutions, ways of life and building processes created situations of conflict between tradition and modernity. Even though the British have left India, the essential conflict still remains.
The post-colonial character is not as strong as that of its predecessor and also not uniform in character. Owing to the democratic set up of our country a single identity is not possible.
"The identity we are searching for is going to be pluralistic, it is not a single mono-centric one"- Charles Correa
When we look at New Delhi or Shajahanabad we realize that there is a strong inherent physical character in these cities. But these were planned and therefore we find certain very distinguishable characteristics associated with them. Post Independence Delhi deviated from this because firstly there is a constant change in the cultural value systems and also there is no centrally controlled development. Moreover there was an urge to create architectural products, "which were new, clean, fresh and complete, totally free from the smallness, pettiness and squalor of the Existing." (Rajat Ray)
Identity is a dynamic process, which keeps undergoing change. Therefore it is premature to curtail development on the pretext that it will hamper tradition and hence our identity. But again it does not imply that we can construct anything and shove it under the carpet of pluralistic identity. That is not feasible since we cannot break away completely from tradition However if we insist on doing so and on starting afresh, then, when we die, we shall be about as Adam and Eve were when they died" (Karl Popper).
Extract form "Architecture and Identity"-
"Buildings and urban pattern also have a fourth dimension-time. The expected sequential organization of the built environment is very much culture bound and it changes over time as a culture changes. The second aspect is that the built environment, at any moment, is a compilation of the change made in it overtime." It is seldom static; it changes as human needs and perceptions of the good life change-as people's aspirations change".
As it is, owing to its large expanse, Delhi is considered to be a aggregation of a number of cities and in turn an amalgamation of varied cultural settings, since the latter depend to a large extent on distances. And to that if we attach the fourth dimension that is of time we find that Delhi's architecture over the post independence period exhibits a kind of multiple imagery that in addition to being conflicting, is equally intriguing. There is constant search for identity.
"As individuals, as social beings, we are affected by the crisis of faith, but as architects, the search is for a sense of identity in built form. This search is being carried out in two planes, the "vertical" or historical and the "horizontal" or contemporary plane.
This search in our architecture lies in creating the buildings of the horizontal (contemporary) plane, which will recognize and develop out of the historical (vertical) plane and not purely out of modernism."- Romi Khosla
What was once considered to be babu city (administrative capital) of the British underwent a serious change in its cultural value systems with the establishment of refugees in areas like Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar. The people gave Delhi a new image that of a business center. Industrial and other such developments took place and a kind of corporate imagery was created in areas like the periphery of Connaught Place and district centers like Nehru place, which came up as a result of the Delhi master plan.
The 60's saw the coming up of RK Puram and Greater Kailash to tackle the issue of housing. In the late 80's group housing phenomena stepped in, in areas such as Rohini.
All this development was not without it’s share of pitfalls. There was an unanticipated development in the form of unauthorized colonies.
The over densification of Delhi resulted in development of Suburbs like Noida and DLF. The rich started moving out from the centre to the periphery. Also with time and globalization there was a change in the attitudes of the common man. For the public, the work centres were no longer considered to be areas for recreational gatherings, as was thought by the planners. Areas like Priya complex and shopping plazas, the result of pop culture, are the areas of common interest now. With the coming of the net there is such a great deal of exchange happening between far off places that there is very little of what can be termed as local, left. The demand is to go global.
Extract from-"The City in conflict"
"The city is a reflection of its community-it is the rich and the poor, the private and the public, the large and the small. The city has conflict built into it-cars and people-views and shadows. The challenge is how to best resolve that conflict at a particular time".
BACKGROUND TILL INDEPENDENCE POST INDEPENDENCE DEVELOPMENTS-PART1