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Vernacular architecture the simplest form of
addressing human needs.
Architects are embracing regionalism and
cultural building traditions, given that these
structures have proven to be energy efficient
and altogether sustainable.
These low-tech methods of creating housing
which is perfectly adapted to its locale are
brilliant, for the reason that these are the
principles which are more often ignored by
At the spin of the 21st century, the style of
Indian Architecture took a sharp turn towards
a new contemporary mode with the century.
The nation saw a drastic change in the
modern built environment. The foremost
element of our ancient history of
architecture that characterizes our
traditional Indian architecture and planning
is the use of Vernacular material and
construction techniques and planning
Indian vernacular planning involves planning and designing
a built environment with the informal, functional design of
structures. It is mostly found in rural areas of India, with
structures built using local materials and designed and
planned to meet up with all the needs and requirements of
the local residents. The structures built are not just made
by using vernacular materials but even the planning is
done keeping in mind the necessities of native society and
The builders and planners of these structures are
untrained in formal architectural design. This is reflected
in their work which reflects the rich diversity of India's
climate, the local building materials, and the elaborate
variations in the social customs and craftsmanship. The
rich vernacular tradition of India starts from the natural
settings of the site, and responds to metaphysical
concerns, climate, local skills, construction materials and
The climates in India are divided in 5 climatic zones.
Hot & Dry climate This zone lies in western and central India, namely Jaisalmer, Jodhpur etc. This
region is flat, sandy, and rocky and sparsely vegetated with cacti thorny bushes. Due to low
humidity the climate is dry. During summers, winds blowing are very hot and sand storms are alos
common. Due to low water level and meagre vegetation, the houses are commonly made using
twigs, mud, clay and stone.
Warm & humid climate The warm and humid region covers the coastal region of India. Cities like
Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata all lay in this region. The high humidity encourages abundant
vegetation. The main criterion of designing in this region is to reduce heat gain and provide
Composite climate The composite zone envelopes the entire central part of India. Allahabad,
Kanpur and New Delhi are some of the cities that experience this type of climate. Civil Engineering
and Urban planning.
Moderate climate The moderate climate region experiences mild to warm summer and cool
winters. The need for home heating in winters is greater than summer cooling. Few opening on
external side other than doors are a must. Most of the time cooking and sleeping in rural India is
done outdoors during the summers. The mountains of Great Diving range keep the winters cold
and summers pleasantly warm.
Cold climate The cold climate is characterized as 2 classes: cold and sunny and cold and cloudy.
Ladakh experiences cold and sunny type of climate. This region enjoys very little vegetation and is
considered as a cold desert. The structures are innovative in design uses materials like stone, mud
and clay. The houses are very close to each other. Cities like Kashmir, Sikkim, Shimla and upper
part of Assam hill station from south India all experience cold and cloudy climate. This kind of
climate requires buildings to be heated throughout the year. Thin mud and bamboo are used for
walls on the upper floor and brick or bamboo for upper floors. Roof is made using stone slabs or
country tiles. The roofs hang from all sides, providing protection of core spaces from all sides.
VAASTU SHASTRA- is the science of construction and architecture
that is found in Indian subcontinent, these survive as manuals on
design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, space
arrangement and spatial geometry. It incorporates traditional
Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. The designs are based on integrating
architecture with nature and ancient Indian beliefs utilizing
perfect geometric patterns (yantra), symmetry and directional
VAASTU PURUSHA MANDALA-is a part of Vaastu Shastra and
constitutes of mathematical design. It is the metaphysical plan of
a building that incorporates the supernatural forces. Mandala is
the specific name given to a plan which symbolically represents
MANDALAS - all functions are assigned special spaces.
For example: Northeast for the home shrine,
southeast for the kitchen, master bedrooms in
southwest and the cowshed in the northwest and
grain storage. All other spaces are use for multi
purposes . • MANDALAS FOR CITY PLANNING – the
technique of mandala was also used for city planning.
The first of its kind was Jaipur, designed in 1700s. It
covered the natural features as well as other
functional aspects like military needs, pre- existing
infrastructure and modified the grid according to the
Timber – is one of the most frequently available and natural yet native building materials. Of the
various advantages, it is non- toxic, does not leak chemical vapour into the building and is safe to
handle and touch. It is quite easy to work with, renewable, a very good insulator and readily
available. • Adobe - is a natural building construction material that is made from clay, sand, water,
and a kind of fibrous or organic material (sticks, straw or manure), usually shaped into bricks using
moulds and dried in the sun. • Stone- Stone is another one of the major building materials that is
indigenous for Indian architecture. It is a versatile material and it can be used from the foundation
to the parapet in a building. • Clay- Clay is used for buildings sustainable, traditional buildings.
These buildings are of 2 types: one when the walls are made directly with the mud mixture and
the other being walls built by stacking air-dried building blocks called mud bricks. • Rammed earth
– type of building construction which utilises natural raw materials such as earth, chalk, lime or
gravel. Rammed-earth walls are simple to construct. They are non-combustible, thermally
massive, durable and very strong. • Fly-ash-Sand-lime-Gypsum Bricks – used for residential housing
walls and all other types of building construction as well as boundary walls. They are environment
friendly, excellent strength, dry quickly, and have reduced water absorption and shrinkage. •
Compressed Earth Blocks - energy efficient, eco-friendly with excellent surface finish. It is a cost
effective material with goof thermal insulation. • Clay Fly-ash Burnt bricks – environment friendly,
energy efficient and locally manufactured material. Civil Engineering and Urban Planning:An
International Journal(CiVEJ) Vol.2,No.1, March 2015 42 • Micro concrete Roofing Tiles - MCR tiles
are a cost-effective and extremely versatile roofing material. MCR tiles can be used to make
attractive roofs on villa houses, farm houses, pavilions and gazebos and also used in highway
constructions. In regions with heavy rainfall, these tiles are used at length for cladding material as
it offers both waterproofing and aesthetic appeal. It has been used expansively in cost effective
housing schemes, poultry farms, restaurants and workplaces
JAIPUR- GRID MANDALS
GUJARAT- COURT YARD TYPE
AUROVILLE- The Auroville Earth Institute was created
in 1989, and started a new era in earth and
indigenous architecture. The value of earth and other
indigenous materials as building materials has been
accepted for its economic worth, as well as for its
comfort and quality, which endorses vernacular
development . Maximum of the projects in Auroville
are designed and built with compressed stabilised
earth blocks (CSEB), as this technology has a lot of
benefits. Stabilised rammed earth has started gaining
prominence and a few projects have already
implemented this technique
MAHARASHTRA – WARLI HOUSE
A village is a clustered human
settlement or community , larger than
a hamlet but smaller than a town, with a
population ranging from a few hundred to a
few thousand. Though often located in rural
areas, the term urban village is also applied
to certain urban neighbourhoods. Villages are
normally permanent, with fixed dwellings;
however, transient villages can occur.
Further, the dwellings of a village are fairly
close to one another, not scattered broadly
over the landscape, as a dispersed
Architecture village is a type of mostly self-
contained community, built by landowners,
architects and industrialists to house their
workers. Although the villages are located
close to the workplace, they are generally
physically separated from them and often
consist of relatively high quality housing,
with integrated community amenities and
attractive physical environments. "Model
architecture" is used in the sense of an ideal
to which other developments could aspire.
‘A contemporary architecture can only emerge
from the countryside’
A visit to a building by Uttam Kain makes a fine
complement to a visit to a Gujral building: both
reveal the way in which the criteria can be
applied to create and architecture that is rooted
in tradition yet demonstrably contemporary.
Uttam Jain, based in Bombay, is well known for
his Rajasthan buildings in which determined use
is made of local buildings materials and skills.
Jain also resolved to create a building that is not
only locally apposite, with regard to materials
and design, but also of ‘national significance’
with an ‘image that reflects’ all India. This, felt
Jain, was incumbent upon him because of the
status and national importance of the institute.
This determination to create a building of national significance
while also relying on, and responding to, local building practices
and traditions, permitted Jain a great freedom in choice of
imagery. Thus, arriving at the main entrance is ‘like arriving at a
city gate in a city wall or like arriving at the temple door’. These
likenesses are, admits Jain, perhaps ‘not obvious but are relevant
to India’. Pursuing the temple metaphor, entering the building
one goes from light to darkness, a primary sensation felt on
entering a cave like Hindu temple or, as Jain says,.. from known
to unknown’. The nearby ancient cave temples at Jageshwari and
Elephanta are cited by Jain as inspirations. The route through the
building is also, in a way, a temple-like experience: one’s
progress, towards the inner sanctum of director’s office
orientated toward ‘the higher part’ of the site and towards the
source of light at the open ends of the barrel-vaulted and
colonnaded corridors invokes, says Jain, the vaulted roof at the
cave temples. This serpentine route – the ‘snakewalk’ as Jain
terms it – is utilised by Jain to ‘filter out’ users of the building as
they progress from the entrance court. As Jain puts it ‘the plan is
like a hand – the palm is the common area, the court, with the
fingers branching to different uses’. This analogy is, of course,
inspired by the mandala that ancient Tantric symbol used for
ordering both sacred and profane space to create a series of,
usually circular, concentric courts with only initiates, or those in
power, having access to the inner space or sanctum - in this case
the director’s office.
The mandala is primarily a Hindu and Buddhist image but Jain does not hesitate to
invoke forms from other religions. There is, in the Institute, a reference to Mughal
toplit spaces and to geometric garden (combined with terracing as in Hindu wells
like Modhera) but, as with the Mandala-these references are not too literal or
laboured. ‘Indian-ness comes not from dress but from feeling and sense of thinking’
Respect for the hot climate and the nature of the site (on the very edge of the
municipal area of Bombay and bordered by a permanent and sizeable shanty town)
are major forces in the evolution of the design. Hence the shady spacious verandahs
attached to all the buildings which are linked by the meandering barrel-vaulted
corridors. The buildings themselves are, as Jain puts it ‘porous’ to allow generous
horizontal and vertical cross ventilation. The squatter colony is acknowledged by a
certain blankness in the elevations that look directly towards its sprawling mass. But
the most intriguing and unusual piece of passive solar control is Jain’s two-skinned
facades. This device-‘like’, as Jain says using another physical analogy, ‘eyelids’-
allows the plan and the facade to be organized independently so that the placing of
windows in rooms follows one logic while, externally, the wall is pierced by windows
in places ‘where they look right’. This creation of what is effectively a decorative
screen over a random array of functionally disposed openings does not do much for
the view from some of the rooms but, says Jain, ‘works superbly climatically’, and
is an improvement on the traditional Chhaja or Jaali (overhanging cornice) as it not
only shades the window openings but also channels breezes into the rooms.
Local building materials are not used by Jain just for reasons of visual continuity
with existing structures but also because transportation is very expensive in India.
And even if materials were brought in they would not be greatly different in quality
to those found or made locally. The large scale use of steel is generally just not an
option because of its prohibitive price, and even wood is increasingly scarce and so
too becoming expensive. The usual materials, as at this building, are concrete, local
stone and brick (often made on site). This limited choice can lead to feats of
remarkable ingenuity on the part of Indian designers, architects and engineers. As
the renowned engineer Mahendra Raj puts it, ‘In India most elements are made on
site-anything is possible structurally but is often achieved by extraordinary means.’
At Jain’s Institute, two types of local stone (one quarried as part of the
site excavations) have been used for both structural and facing work. The
facing stone (not that quarried on site) has been applied to a composite
structure of reinforced concrete frame with brick panel infill.
The labour force, as is common in India, is made up primarily of villagers
who have either been forced by crop failure to leave the land or who
have got work on the building site during a nonproductive agricultural
season. The consequence of employing this labour force is that the entire
family lives on site with children being roped in and women labouring at
least as hard as the men. Construction in India is very labour intensive
and it is these people who provide the labour with even basic machinery
rarely used. Here, it seems, a simple financial equation comes into play:
the moment wages rise to a level that makes it cheaper to use a machine
than a gang of labourers, then a machine will be bought. If this happens
not only will many people be relieved of back-breaking labour, they will
also be relieved of a job. The resolution, of this riddle-mechanisation
leads to the release of human beings from excessive physical toil leads to
unemployment-is one of the many problems of nineteenth-century
Europe that India will have to face and solve for itself as it moves
remorselessly towards greater industrialisation.
The more skilled workers on the site, such as plasterers, are usually full-
time members of the building industry although bricklayers and masons
are usually practised if not highly-skilled seasonal workers. Finishing
trades-electricians, joiners-move in a separate world and are invariably
Freshly plastered brick walls are hacked by
the electricians and plumbers installing
conduits and pipes. ‘There is’ says Jain ‘lots
of overlap in our thinking and so in our
working but making good is cheap, certainly
cheaper than trying to organise because
drawings are not used for detailed work.’
Odd practice, but no irreparable damage
need be done to the building. But the lack of
finish and poor detailing can, and does,
cause grave loss of quality. Equally certain is
that this is a problem that the Indian
architectural profession must solve as quickly
These points and approaches can be expanded by reference to the work
of a number of other contemporary Indian architects.
A group of buldings by Raj Rewal in Delhi reveals an ingenious fusion of
Western and Eastern traditions; but it also reveals some of the pifalls in
attempting to apply vernacular forms – that have evolved organically and
in response to particular social and climatic conditions – to a modern
brief and building programme.
The Asian Games village in South Delhi (see p32) was built between 1981-
82 to the designs of Rewal with the detailed design of one portion being
undertaken by Sachdev & Eggleston. Initially the village housed athletes
attending the 9th Asian games. The layout of the ‘village’ is complex
though geometrically repetitive. The units of housing (200 houses, 500
apartments) are arranged to form a pattern of courts inspired by the
traditional courtyard housing and village forms of Rajasthan. There is also
a sprinkling of traditional detail-such as pierced parapets which allow
draughts to waft into shaded exterior spaces.
This courtyard pattern, which traditionally reflected complex patterns of
habitation, is here used merely as a device to make an interesting urban
grain, to allow for the integration of different housing types and to
facilitate a certain amount of cross ventilation and to create shade for
interior and exterior spaces.
The scheme was generally held as a triumph when completed-
and indeed it was, in so far as Rewal had to battle against the
unimaginative and entrenched attitudes of the authorities
which saw, in the deliberate complexity and casbah-like
quality of the designs, only confusion reminiscent of the
squalid and overcrowded old city centre. This official dullness
is particularly hard to understand since the idea of lower-
income housing being arranged around courts and of complex
balconied form had been pioneered as early as 1973 by the
Design Group with their excellent Yumana apartments which
stand near the Asian village in South Delhi. Achieving this
complexity of form also demanded a good deal of dedication
from the architects for the amount of time spent on drawing
details and supervising construction was far greater than that
needed for the usual barracklike form of housing that has too
often been run up by the Public Works Department. Though
far superior in concept and construction to the usual PWD -
designed housing schemes the Asian Games ‘village’ is, of
course, not a village at all. There is no significant mix of uses
and the complexity of form is - despite the sensible hierarchy
of spaces ranging from courts serving clusters of a dozen
dwellings to the single main square ultimately without any
real meaning. The complexity is, after all, only ingenious
urban pattern-making and reflects neither the structure of
occupancy or complex social organisations that led to the
evolution of the traditional courtyard house.
‘As the engineer Mahendra Raj says, everything can be
achieved by the use of ‘extraordinary means’ - even the
similitude of concrete panels’
The method of construction is also revealing. The houses are of reinforced-concrete
frame with brick infill and then finished with aggregate render. The render is
divided into panels with horizontal strips ‘expressing’ the floor slabs and vertical
panels looking, to the architect’s delight, like precast concrete panels. As the
engineer Mahendra Raj says, everything can be achieved by the use of
‘extraordinary means’ - even the similitude of concrete panels. The division of the
render in panels also has the more useful, if mundane, function, of providing
expansion joints and dividing the facade into areas that can be easily rendered in
one go so avoiding cracks and colour change.
Much of the thinking is continued in Rewal’s current chef d’oeuvre-the National
Institute of Immunology (Nil) which forms part of the Delhi University campus (see
p39). Here complexity is achieved by the use of diagonal axes that cut with
geometrical precision through, and link, the different elements of the Institute.
Courts are again used-but larger and, in the case of the court-cumamphitheatre in
the research scholars’ hostel, with really striking effect. Also the craggy site-of
extraordinary grandeur considering its location in the suburbs of south Delhi-has
clearly inspired the architect and allowed him to deploy his axes with maximum
effect. Thus the image from a distance is, in form and profile-though not in detail-
of a Rajasthan citadel. Within the Institute, Rewal displays a sensitivity tb the
potential of vistas and constrasts types, levels and forms of external spaces in a
manner reminiscent of Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur. This is a romantic building-a
romance intensified by the rusty glow of the wall surfaces. The construction method
at the Institute is similar to the Asian Games ‘village’ except that chips of local red
stone have been mixed in with the render used in the horizontal bands marking floor
slabs while stone from the site, was also used for walling. It is an object building,
sitting on an acropolis that, its critics may say, holds no lessons for those concerned
with the pressing problem of how to design in the Indian city. But perhaps the
building’s aloof isolation only reflects the relation an academic institution has with
Indian urban society generally. Two other buildings by Rewal must be mentioned for
the light they throw on two fundamental issues: the potential offered by the use of
local buildings material and the problems of reconciling an overtly contemporary
design with a traditional setting.
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The traditionally multidisciplinary nature of
architectural education is amplified at MICA by a
vibrant collaboration with the College's cutting
edge fine arts programs. Students in
architectural design will be able to interact with
other disciplines and community partners
through a rigorous curriculum that integrates
theory with studio-based research and includes a
variety of community-engaged projects in both
core and elective studio coursework.
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Most of the traditional and modern buildings
built as vernacular buildings are well lit and
well ventilated/climate responsive to reduce
the use of artificial lighting and air condition
systems. There was a strong use of
microclimatic management of making use of
water bodies in forms of canals, pools or
fountains etc in open spaces like the
courtyards. This helped to modify the
unfavourable climatic impacts of hot and dry
climate. The thick walls were used to
introduce time lags in the fluctuating diurnal
It is one of the most important aspects of
architecture both in terms of quantity as
well as in terms of its qualitative aspects like
glare. Most of our buildings had grills and
fenestration/façade work done to control
and manipulate light by means of strategies
like Jalis or double windows with wooden
Louvers etc. Many religious buildings such as
mosques or masjids and temples also used
similar strategies to control light and air
Wind scoops used to allow the entry of cool
breeze in the hot desert zones. Micro climatic
modifications included the beginning of the
system of dripping cool water. This was made
possible by the installation of a pot at the top of
the scoop. Lavish and prolific buildings like
palaces and forts made inventive use of water to
cool the edifice envelope. The walls used to
have water pipes entrenched inside the walls
covered to cool down the masonry walls; the
water was cooled in a natural manner. This was
done by making it run over surfaces and exposing
it to the atmosphere ex. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
The choice we make regarding the materials
used, decides the life cycle of the building. The
buildings which are built of low cost materials
give higher returns as the operating charges are
low. Materials that are seemingly high cost and
more energy and resource intensive in their
manufacturing etc can be used to generate more
benefits over their entire lifestyle as well as
disposal and recycling potentials. This is the
lifecycle approach where the project is looked at
from the point of view of its entire life from
inception, construction phase, operations all the
way unto disposal
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Installing standard electrical receptacles
higher than usual above the floor so they are
in easy reach of everyone;Selecting wider
doors,Making flat entrancesInstalling handles
for doors and drawers that require no
gripping or twisting to operate -such as
louver or loop handles;storage spaces within
reach of both short and tall people.
First year studio space
First year architecture and design students
share a large studio on level one of the
Wigan Street building. Hours for either
architecture or design students are allocated
as per the University teaching timetable.
After hours the studio is available for both
architecture and design students for course
work, completing projects and assignments.
Students using this studio have a work area,
adjustable ergonomic chair and a personal
locker allocated for Trimester one and two.
Years two to four students have their own
large architecture or design studio space.
These are separate, discipline specific studio
spaces, located throughout the Vivian Street
and Wigan Street buildings. They are
furnished with modelling tables, lockers and
storage, CAD/Design computers, and
adjustable ergonomic chairs within a
discipline-specific configuration. They are
good tutorial/ meeting spaces.
The fifth year School of Architecture studios
are equipped with individually assigned desks
and computer workstations, model and craft
tables and storage lockers. These are
assigned to the School’s thesis year students
in the MArch (Prof).
The studio spaces are available during term
time during building access hours.
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Portable A1 Drawing Board.
Large Adjustable Set Square.
Drawing Instruments – Protractor & Compass. When it comes to choosing a Compass
you will be better off buying one with an extension bar (for drawing larger circles)
and an adapter for technical pens and fineliners. This means that you won’t have to
purchase another one later on in the Architecture Course!
300mm Scale Rule With The Following Scale 1:1,1:100, 1:20,1:200, 1:5,1:50, 1:1250,
A Metal Ruler With A Cutting Edge (bevelled).
Black Lead Drawing Pencils in 2H to 4B.
Mechanical Drawing Pencils.
Erasers. A soft eraser and an ink eraser will be useful.
Various Pens For Sketching, Such As Fineliners, Felt Tips & Coloured Markers.
Rotring Rapidograph Technical Drawing Pens In Sizes 0.18, 0.25, 0.35 & 0.5.
A Rotring Rapidograph College Set is also available and works out to be extremely
good value! This set contains 3 Rotring Rapidograph Pens in sizes 0.25, 0.35 & 0.5
and other drawing instruments required for your Architecture Course.
A3 / A2 Detail Paper Pad Or Roll Of Detail Paper.
Sketchbooks In A5, A4 & A3 Sizes.
High Capacity Memory Sticks, CD-Rs, CD-RWs,
DVDs To Save, Store & Retrieve Your Work.
Good Quality Digital Camera With Spare
Memory Cards & Case.
‘Studio Craft & Technique: The Architecture
High Capacity Memory Sticks, CD-Rs, CD-RWs,
DVDs To Save, Store & Retrieve Your Work.
Good Quality Digital Camera With Spare
Memory Cards & Case.
‘Studio Craft & Technique: The Architecture
Workshop resources include two installations providing students with high-quality
Rapid Prototyping and Fabrication facilities. The workshop now includes a space of
20 square metres dedicated to a 60-watt Universal Laser Cutter, a Stratasys 3000
fused depositional modeller, and the computers required to control them. The laser
cutter is used to cut and engrave a wide variety of 18”x31” sheet materials, of
which the most common are acrylic, MDF, plywood, matt card, chipboard, and
styrene. The fused depositional modeller, or rapid prototyping machine, builds
models in three dimensions (10”x10”x10”) in ABS, high impact ABS, elastomeric
material or investment casting wax.
Using fused deposition modelling technology, students can build models from the
following materials : ABS, high-impact ABS, elastomer, or investment casting wax.
The files must be in stereolithographic (stl) format, a common export option in most
Main Shop105.5 sq.mt.Office and Supply Store27.1
Total251.3 sq.mt.The Workshop also maintains a Supply Store which allows students
to purchase materials through the use of student purchase cards. The Supply
Store maintains a stock of the most often used materials for sale to students, while
most common modeling and building materials can be ordered through the Workshop
within a few delivery days.
For information on the X-660 Laser Cutter, click here
MODERNITY IN VILLAGE
MIXTURE OF VERNACULAR WITH MODERN