Reincarnating Cities: Tracing Religio-political Influences on Indian Architecture & Planning
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In this seminar, we focus our attention towards the religio-political influences which have consistently shaped the morphology of our Indian cities at the macro scale as well as carved out a substantial discourse within architecture at the micro scale. Through readings and presentations, we delve into the changing architectural articulations of heritage, nationalism and religiosity in contemporary Indian urban space. The course is structured to investigate three types of linkages, through four main case studies:

We begin by studying the evolution of ancient cities centered around religious activities by looking at Varanasi, analyzing how people’s lives and domestic spaces are connected to the town center.

In the next phase, we take a deep dive into two cities which were predominantly shaped during the colonial / post-colonial era. Political processes and religious riots in New Delhi and Ahmedabad have led to large-scale urban segregation, creating “informal” sprawl which is in continuous conflict with the “formal” city grid.

Finally, for the most contemporary case study, we focus on Amaravati, which became a laboratory for the state government to experiment with a ‘new’ urban design by renowned international architects, while referencing traditional motifs and practices such as vastu shastra.

Participants would be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of religio-political influences in their own surroundings, using the course structure as a lens to unravel the layers of space through maps, analytical essays, photography, walking tours and drawings.

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