Miki Desai Publications|Madhavi Desai Publications

Architecture in Gujarat, Indien

Regional diversity present in the traditional Indian architecture is of immense value and character. It has largely remained hidden from the rest of the world. This was, perhaps, the first international exhibition on traditional architecture of the State of Gujarat in Europe. It was held at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich in 1991. The architectural contribution of Gujarat is unique and wholesome from the viewpoint of genesis as well as cross-cultural influences. There is temporal continuity and progress of architectural thought.

The exhibition was a comprehensive overview with a focus on the domestic genre. It attempted to portray architecture in a rather scientific manner taking account of time, culture and dwelling/settlement complexity of the region. It focused on the traits, flavors, and genesis of the house form as well as the built environment therein. The idea of rural traits/attributes and its growth were demonstrated through several examples. Its transformation and manifestation in the urban typology was an important hypothesis developed through the process of conceptualizing the exhibition. Socio-cultural and behavioral aspects were treated as inseparable entities while viewing the house form.

The exhibits were examples from nearly all its sub-regions of Gujarat with the medium being drawings, photographs, large-scale blow-ups and models. The drawings contained settlement layouts, cluster formations, dwelling plans, sections and elevations including some details in wood. It provided a review of landscape, people and objects. Special attention was paid to community spaces and courtyards. The intention was to put forth a modest but visually rich and academically geared display that focused on the people and architecture of Gujarat.

Seven models were made at various scales served to highlight the points being brought up by the exhibition, they were intended as actual illustrations of miniaturization. A team of non-model making carpenters made them. Three typical houses from different regions were selected for the purpose of comparing courtyards as a space-making component of the house. A few elements were made at larger scales to highlight different aspects-a typical entrance door as an architectural element, a water place or paniyaru in a Bohra house as a culturally evolved element and bird feeders used in the central community spaces as landmarks and representatives of the non-violent philosophy of the people of the region. Through the articulation of the models, a commendable knowledge of house elements, joinery and structural elements was demonstrated.