The Domestic Regional Architecture of Gujarat:
A Study of Its Socio-Cultural Developments, 1850 to 1947

by Miki Desai

This research report attempts to portray a holistic view of the relationship between man, nature and built form. It aims to study the domestic architecture of Gujarat-tracing its roots from the pre-urban times and to its progress into the era of Independence against a changing socio-cultural background. Laid out in four chapters, the first chapter looks at the rural settlement and house form, while the second chapter studies the process of urbanization and evolution of the rural settlement into an urban type. The third chapter traces the various stages of transformation of the rural house form and its maturity into the urban type, looking at variations in basic typology arising out of social and religious differences. Finally, the fourth chapter concentrates on the colonial era, emergence of the bungalow as the new residential type and its complete divergence from the traditional typology. In this manner, the study traces the progress of domestic architecture, from the simple rural house to the sophisticated and modern house of post-independence.

The interrelationship of socio-cultural aspects, physicality of form and character of habitable areas is the central inquiry of the study. Socio-cultural factors award the built form some characteristics like the aspect of unlabelled spaces and the flexibility within spaces. Among the physical characteristics the most important conclusion is that there is essentially a single typology through the cross-section of the state of Gujarat. In the rural setup the simple spatial configuration based on a minimalist attitude later becomes elaborate and complex, growing from a need to declare one's standing in society. The report is illustrated with numerous plans, measured drawings and sketches as well as photographs.