Modern Indian Architecture

By Avinash Kumar|Updated : February 24th, 2021

This article is about Modern Indian Architecture, which is one of the important topic of Art and Culture in BPSC Mains exam. The aspirants can use this article for both revision and answer writing. Almost all the important points has been covered in this article, which can help the students to fetch more marks in Mains examination.


Modern Indian Architecture

Cultural influence has been central to India since ancient India. Invaders since then have filled all the dimensions including food, dresses, architecture. The same is true for the European invasions like Dutch, Portuguese, Brits etc.

The architecture that developed after the decline of Mughals, mainly led by Europeans since the late 18th century came to be referred to as Modern Indian Architecture.

The Europeans mainly came here for the purpose of trade. They established settlements at various places building European style houses, factories. After getting stronger day by day, they constructed structures like forts and imposed places of worship like Church etc.

Although read under one-dimension, European architecture, several forms like Iberian architecture led by Portuguese, Victorian or Gothic architecture by Britishers etc. came to emergence.

Iberian Style

 The Portuguese get themselves busy in imposing the religious faith and conversions and hence built impressive churches. They used bricks as the main material. The roofs and stairs were made of wooden. They didn’t evolve and re-interpreted the western style. Plaster carvings were among the prominent feature of these styles. They also built a trading post and warehouses and brought the concept of “Patio houses” and Baroque churches of Iberian style. A prominent example of this style is St. Cathedral in Goa and Castella de Aguada in Mumbai.

French Influence

The urban city planning concept was bought by French. It can be seen in the cities of Pondicherry and Chandernagore. The concept of cartesian grid plans and scientific architectural designs were used. They were credited with the anonymous architecture which is an important feature of Modern architecture. The buildings were demonstrated as imposing power by them. Church of the sacred heart of Jesus in Pondicherry is a good example.

British Influence

Britishers were the longest ruling European power in the country and hence have naturally contributed most to modern architecture. They introduced Gothic architecture however it merged with Indian to become Indo-Gothic Style. Also, Post-1911, New Roman architecture emerged.

Palladian Style of architecture

This was sought to be introduced in India by some other British officers in the 18th Century. Constantia, a building erected by General Martin at Lucknow, is the best specimen of this style in India. A great central tower rising from a succession of terraced roofs is a characteristic of it.

Indo Gothic Style:

This amalgamation of Indian, Persian and Gothic style, is also called as Victorian architecture. This includes extremely large construction. The executions are very elaborate. Thinner walls than in the Indo-Islamic constructions. It used red sandstone and coarse limestone, unlike bricks in Iberian style. Indian motifs and styles were amalgamated in the construction. Large windows and pointed arches were made. Public and government buildings, such as clock towers, courthouses, municipal buildings, colleges, and town halls, were often rendered on an intentionally grand scale, reflecting and promoting a notion of an invincible British Empire. The construction used advanced structural engineering standards of Britishers. Steels, iron and poured concretes started being used.  This is also called as Indo Saracenic Revival architecture.

New Roman Style

The constructions that were taken primarily by the colonial governments after 1911, to accommodate government offices etc. are called Neo Roman or Neo-Classical Style. The finest example of this architecture is the New Delhi Government complex designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. This is often described as “Rome of Hindustan”. This architecture had anonymous features. The confluence of all styles made this style congested. This cramped the space of artistic expression. Buildings were mostly circular. The hybrid nature cramped the space of artistic expressions and also simplicity, modernity and utility were highly compromised. The concept of the upturned dome was introduced in this phase as can be seen in Rashtrapati Bhawan, and Supreme Court.

Famous Architects

  1. Laurie Baker: He was responsible for the mass housing concept in Kerala. The constructions were environment-friendly made by locally available material. Filler slab construction was used to reduce the consumption of steel and cement. Emphasis on ventilation and thermal comfort were very high. He was said to be the architect of the poor.
  2. Charles-Correa: This Goan architecture played a pivotal role in post-independence. Madhya Pradesh Assembly hall, British council building was among the prominent architecture of him. He did great work in urban issues and developing low-cost shelter in the third world.
  3. Le-Corbusier: He was a French architect. Bringing the concept of a planned city, he designed the city of Chandigarh on the pattern of a well-ordered matrix. The idea of sectors in India was introduced by him. The sectors were a self-sufficient green belt. Regular grid for fast traffic was taken care of.

After Independence, two schools of architecture emerged, Revivalist and Modernist. Both the schools, however, could not break away from the colonial hangover. This has caused a decline in the standard of the architectural traditions of India.


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