Unchartered Territory

Transition of India towards an unrecognised architectural style



An unchartered territory

A shift towards purely symbolic architecture influenced by the west

India, a country of rich diversity: food, culture, religion and arts constitutes a haven of unique architectural styles. Traditional Indian architecture was deeply connected, functionally, culturally, and aesthetically to the immediate context of its region. Early vernacular architecture resonated with the climate, material, traditions of its region and were sustainable built environments for their inhabitants. 

However, under British rule and the transition into the post-Independence period (1947), India witnessed western influence in its local architecture, in terms of urban design, planning and aesthetics. Early adopters of these foreign styles were successful in molding and adopting these new design strategies in the Indian context. 

But, due to the rise of industrialization and globalization, the western influence grew in India in all sectors and developed a “universal global image” that India was and still is striving to achieve as a developing country. This heavily influenced the architecture and it became more of a “statement” or “symbolic” practice to achieve the best result globally than actually being relevant to its immediate surroundings. 

This “universally global image” is more of a representation of facilities available in developed western countries such as state of the art construction, housing facilities, skyscrapers. This need to want these state-of-the-art facilities has led to a mimicking of western modernist architecture which although relevant in Europe is contextually alien or “unrecognized” in India. This “unrecognition” is mainly due to the architecture not being compatible with the Indian climate and its culture and traditions.

This research thus looks into the reasons why this transition towards this “unrecognized” style has taken place and why it is not sustainable in terms of functionality and cultural relevance in the Indian subcontinent.

Keywords: Transition, vernacular, symbolic, urban design, adaptation, culture, style.






Uncharted Territory – Transition of India towards an unrecognized architectural style   is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Master in Advanced Architecture (MAA02) 2020/21 by:

Students: Yash Palshetkar, Siddharth Aryamane

Faculty: Jordi Vivaldi & Manuel Gausa