Exploring indian architecture lesson viii
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- 1. EXPLORING INDIANARCHITECTURELESSON VIIIThe Architecture of the BritishRaj, The Architecture ofRepression
2. Last week, we discussed a great empire TheMoghul Civilisation However, after 400 years of fighting, building, conquering andchange, like all empires, the Moghuls had to fall. Anotherlarger, more powerful and incredibly wealthy empire was ready totake its place, and change India forever. What do we know of the British Empire? It affected the wholeworld, and still echoes throughout the planet today. How can wesee it in Hungary? What influences did it have here and elsewhere? 3. The British Empire owned nearly a third of theworld until it began to collapse after the SecondWorld War, and India was perhaps the mostimportant colony 4. And why were the British so interested in India? 5. The History of the British Raj islong, brutal, bloody and complicated. Do worksheet 1 on The History of the Raj and report back to theclass on your findings. How is this so different from the Moghuls, or any other empire? 6. But the differences between India and the UK arehuge, and so the planners and architects who travelledthere to create the English settlements had to think ofmany different things Perhaps the most obvious is the climate. Most of India isunbearably hot for English people. What could town planners do toovercome this problem? Where might we expect the most Rajstyle towns to be? The simplest answer was the most widely used: At high altitudesand on the coast. Here, the weather does not reach such extremes.Indeed, in the Raj fort town of Mahabhaleshwar, the mountaintopsare so mild in temperature, the English even started growingstrawberries there to have with their afternoon tea. 7. The main feature of Raj architecture was tointimidate and frighten the Indian people How could you create frightening or intimidating architecture?What is the purpose of this? They wanted to show the Indian people that they were morepowerful, more technologically advanced, more wealthy andgenerally superior to them in every way. Not only this, but they wanted to re-write history topretend, through architecture, that they had been there forthousands of years. How could you show all of this in a building? Religion is important, too. As with all empires, the British wantedto force their religion on the native people. Architecture is a hugelypowerful and enduring tool for doing just this. 8. There is one architectural style which does all of thesethings it is christian, European, scary, intimidating, oldand technically impressive. What is it? The GOTHIC and NEO-GOTHIC What are the features of a gothic building? What types of buildings do wenormally associate it with? Why? Why would it seem so strange to find gothic architecture in India? What effect doyou think it would have on the people there? The style was chosen for many of the above reasons. But also because it was fashionable in the Victorian era (even though it was already hundreds of years old)and was over-the-top, outrageous and exaggerated enough to try and overtake or engulf Indian culture, architecture and imagery, as if it had never been there. 9. Not only this, but some of the designs seemedso ridiculous, so fantastical, so un-Indian 10. That they went ahead and built them anyway, asquickly as they could 11. The Victoria Terminus Train Station in Mumbai isthe most ridiculous of the Raj buildings Based (although greatly exaggerated) on St. Pancras train stationin London, it is a mad gothic fantasy in the middle of Indias 2ndbiggest city. What is it doing? What is it saying? Why does it look likea medieval building, even though it was built in the 19th century? 12. However, some Raj buildings and icons (whilst still very British)tried to incorporate or include elements or patterns or shapestaken from Indian and Moghul architecture, too. Why would they do this? Can you think of positive or negativereasons for doing so? Look at the Gate of India built for Empress Victorias first visit.What is British, European or Indian about this? 13. How could you do somethingsimilar with HungarianArchitecture? How would atypically/traditionally/strongHungarian style blend with Indianfashion or traditions? Discuss witha partner. 14. For perhaps the most extreme and bizarre examples ofBritish architecture in India, we must go East, toShimla, one of the capitals of the Raj at its mostpowerful 15. Have a look at your building in pairs, and try toanswer as many of the questions as you can. 16. What can we say about Shimla? Should it be treated as a joke, orcan we learn something of the identity of India through it? Arethe buildings here any less valid or Indian than the Taj Mahal? Perhaps the British Empire made India what it was todaymodern, connected, democratic, industrial andpoor, hungry, polluted and ruined 17. What do you think modern Indians think of allthe Raj architecture that still stands in their(now) free country? Should it be saved and restored at great cost? Should it be torn down and rebuilt in a more Indian style? Whatmight be the problems with this?