Contemporary Architecture

Lotus Temple, New Delhi – Fariburz Sabha

About the Project:

  • Location: New Delhi
  • Total Site area: 24 acres
  • Climate: Tropical with great variations in temperature
  • Building Type: Worship Place
  • Architect : Fariburz Sabha
  • Time of Construction: 1979-1986
  • Cost of Project: Rs 10 000 000

Design Challenges:

  • Generation of form
  • Engineering Challenge
  • Climatic Challenge
  • Bahai Faith
  • Financial restriction

Bahai Temples:

  • Nine sides
  • Nine entrances
  • Dome
  • Walk ways and Gardens
  • Design should relate culture and environment


  • Form plays the major role
  • Light and Water are the only elements of ornamentation

Light in interiors

  • The whole superstructure is designed to function as a skylight.
  •  The interior dome is spherical and patterned after the innermost portion of the lotus flower. Light enters the hall in the same way as it passes through the inner folds of the lotus petals.
  • The central bud is held by nine open petals, each of which functions as a skylight.
  •  The interior dome, therefore, is like a bud consisting of 27 petals, and light filters through these inner folds and is diffused throughout the hall.

Need for Passive Cooling Techniques:

  • The climate in Delhi is very hot for several months of the year, and the degree of humidity varies,
  • It seemed as though the only solution for the ventilation problem would be air-conditioning
  • But it requires involves large amount of energy to maintain it . For a temple in India it is not favorable

Cooling method adopted:

  • Building as a chimney
  • The central hall of the temple is designed to function as a chimney, with openings at top and bottom (stack affect) This ensures a constant drought  of cool air to pass over the pools in basement and hall
  • Cool air  (heavy) is drawn from the bottom openings and hot air (light) is emitted out from the top
  • This process is reversed in humid days
  • The natural slope of land is used in creation of certain large basement at the level of pools . The floor of auditorium is lowered by five steps so that they act as lovers for cool air entering
  • Two sets of exhaust fans complement this system .
  • The first of dome cools the concrete shell and prevents transference of heat
  • The second set funnels air from the auditorium to the cold basement for cooling and recycles it back.


  • Problem of glare
  • Problem of acoustics
  • Undesired identity


  • First Honour award from the Interfaith Forum on Religious Art and Architecture, Affiliate of the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., in 1987
  • Special award from the Institution of Structural Engineers of the United Kingdom in 1987
  • The Paul Waterbury Outdoor Lighting Design Award-Special Citation, from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America in 1988
  • Recognition from the American Concrete Institute as one of the finest concrete structures of the world in 1990
  • The GlobArt Academy 2000 award for “promoting the unity and harmony of people of all nations, religions and social strata, to an extent unsurpassed by any other architectural monument worldwide”

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Contemporary Architecture

Raj Rewal – Indian Parliament Library, New Delhi

There was scarcely a more prestigious new building commission put out to tender in India in the last 15 years than the one for a site near the parliamentary buildings from the colonial past. Just like the client, the government, the competition winner, Raj Rewal, was aware of undertaking a historical commission that demanded to be addressed in a way that was up-to-date and could live up to its dominant neighbours. It was essential not to waste the opportunity to present a modern India in this building still aware of its mighty history. The particular difficulty was now to develop an architecture whose credibility hung on a harmonious synthesis of tradition and modernism, that had to be neither historical, nor uncompromisingly modern. The kind of approach that Nehru had intended 50 years ago as a “slap in the face” for India, would not have worked here. Urban development, genius loci and complete respect for the parliament buildings demanded a high degree of subtlety in the treatment of the new building stock. The imperial breath of a not so distant past could still be felt in the place the British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker had shaped as New Delhi in the early 20th century with their large-scale planning and impressive buildings. Derived from European cities planned under monarchies, but also influenced by the American design of the capital of Washington, Lutyens and Baker developed geometrical strategies for an urban street plan based on ceremonies and grandeur, the climax presenting the former viceroy’s palace, two symmetrical administrative wings and the actual parliament building as a gigantic circle. An important element of the planning was that large areas were to remain free, so that the width and magnificence of the axes should not be impaired.

Lutyens tried to harmonise Western classicism and historical Indian features in his buildings, while Herbert Baker’s parliament remained in its structure a purely classical import. An enormous pedestal storey, colossal columns with bases and capitals and a projecting roof level evoke European classical-ancient models. But the building itself, in its sheer size and monumental stereometry turned out to be definitely “modern.”

One of the important questions for both the jury and the architect was how to cope with the close proximity to the immense breadth of this colossus. The library site is a triangle adjacent to the parliament, which also has a triangular ground plan, so that it was impossible not to respond to the parliament and indeed to include it in the new plans. Raj Rewal solved this difficult problem magnificently. He did not try to outdo the parliament or confront it with a boastful competitor. He was concerned not to detract from the dominance of the historical and highly esteemed ensemble of buildings, but to retain that dominance, indeed to enhance it if possible in order to create a new weighting. So Rewal transfers the parliament’s monumental gesture only in the form of a strictly axial quality running through both centre points and creating the first main link. He further chooses the square as a basic geometry, which equals the circle as an archaic element, and also contains its concentricity, with the diagonal of the library square corresponding to the diameter of the parliament’s circle. The figures of both buildings draw life from this centre, where the most important things happen. The architect shows self-confidence by choosing a geometrical figure with a double axis allowing the new building to assert itself emphatically vis-à-vis its neighbour. But one quality in particular concerns him that the parliament does not have, and that is the typological feature of a typically Indian continuity.

In contrast with the mass of the parliament as a unit and an entirety, illustrated in the building’s exterior by the infinite curve of the circle, the mass of the library is a multiple, consisting of curved individual building sections, but tied together in a rigidly fixed ordering structure. The parts of the library are assembled like satellites around an interior that is also structured. By choosing this motif of an “active” concentricity, by allowing exterior and interior to communicate like this, Rewal is trying to derive his design directly from the historical context of India’s most important buildings. Millennia- old Hindu temples vary this motif in a multitude of ways, Mogul architecture like the Taj Mahal, the city of Jaipur in north Rajasthan or also the ideal cities in south India are all based on this concentric structure. The form is seen as a spiritual motif alluding to a cosmological dimension, a “cosmogram.” Largely divided into nine parts which indicate seven existing and one imaginary planet of the solar ecliptic, the centre as the axis mundi, the axis of the universe, the source of all creation. Architecture as an image of the cosmos is a primeval motif of Indian building, and is interpreted here in a new context as a “house of growing knowledge.”This is a simple but highly abstract motif, and with its pure geometry it contains a timeless dimension. Yet its very real differentiation also suggests the complexity of the secular element of the building commission. In this way the library design emancipates itself completely from the predominance of the parliament and retains its own identity.

One external dimensional aspect in particular underlines this intention: Rewal does not allow his building to rise any
higher than the base floor of the parliament, it retains a pointedly humble horizontal quality, with only the internal
roof superstructures attaining any greater height. Two additional storeys are buried underground, thus creating a low, pavilion-like group of buildings. With this basic concept, the architect achieves a successfully subtle solution to the parliament building and the need to integrate his work into the prominent urban structure. The main entrance is thus placed on the parliament side, and its hall leads visitors and users into the centre or the wings that form the ring. The administrative section is placed on the outside, and departmental functions like press centre, digital library and large auditorium are at the nodal points. The centre is made up of the parliamentarians’ reading room, research area and archive, and the committee room. But the junction point in the centre remains empty, the axis mundi becomes a multi-storey hall, with a glass dome and flooded with light as it is the only hall, symbolising growing knowledge and consciousness to the point of “enlightenment.” Because of the presence of an existing grove of trees, one corner of the powerfully symbolic square remains empty, the essentially rigid and austere figure of the library is broken up and changes into an asymmetrical, incomplete fractal geometry. Here Rewal is following an entirely modern structural idea of axiality, symmetry and the disturbance of symmetry as a component of our thinking today. The whole that is entirely complete as such, absolute and fixed, in equilibrium, does not exist as an ideal, the break suggests change, development, growth, it symbolises the relative and includes the unpredictable. Courtyards are created between centre and ring, also a classically Indian motif from a hot climate, offering protection from heat, dust and noise, but also making spiritualisation and concentration possible. This produces charged, changing spatial sequences as one moves through the building: halls as centres of sectional areas with vertical connections, corridors with adjacent horizontal outer spaces that open up, and introverted zones for reading and work.

Rewal’s choice of materials for his wall claddings emphasises come close to the atmospheric quality of a historic spatial
sequence: all the façades are covered with red and beige sandstone, left rough outside and polished inside. Of course this seems like a reference to the building’s neighbour, as the parliament is also built in this particular stone combination, but the link with Indian history is more in the forefront of Rewal’s mind. He contrasts massive piers with slender columns, articulates the exterior walls with a decorative structure and grades the building in transitions from circle to square to create deep areas of shadow. And yet concrete and other modern materials remain visible everywhere, and the honesty of the structure adds to its enduring presence. But the architect goes further, stepping up his structural design elements in an unusual way. The halls at the junction points inside the structure and the special spaces like the great reading rooms, the central research and archive areas, but also the cafeteria, are given dome structures made of prefabricated lightweight concrete segments fitted together in a hexagonal and octagonal honeycomb structure. Rewal braces these domes with tubular steel systems that are also hexagonal and octagonal, acting as a substructure. The forces are dispersed via enormous tubular circles on piers. Here the architect employs classical Indian elements from Mogul architecture in particular, as domes were important features of Muslim rulers’ buildings. These great models are quoted in the hatlike protrusions of these domes, but above all in the almost full openings in the circular hearing zones which indirectly control the light. Thus light is admitted to the space below the dome, which is then reflected by the dome as a kind of light trap, and the dome itself is placed “in the right light.” But Rewal emphasises the interpretative character by his choice of construction method, thus wishing to see the historical model transported into our day. It is only the steel connections of contemporary technology that make this multiform material symbiosis possible. At the same time they evoke European models that Rewal must have got to know on his working visit to France, Henry Labrouste and Viollet-le-Duc.

Seen from the Western European point of view, the new library building for the Indian parliament perhaps slightly
overemphasises the classical-historical interpretation. But for Indians the library seems to have the right expressive quality at the right point. Its form symbolises an implicit and diverse democracy, integrating the spiritual dimension that is rooted so deeply in the Indian soul and thus showing the neighbouring government buildings from a different era in a new light: the government quarter has become truly Indian.

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Klaus-Peter Gast Contemporary Architecture in India Modern Traditions

Contemporary Architecture

Charles Correa – Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya and Jeevan Bharti

Gandhi Smarak  Sangrahalaya:

Material used:

  • Tiled roof
  • Brick wall
  • Stone floor
  • Wooden floor

Light and ventilation by operable wooden louvers

These elements combine to form a pattern of tiled roofs which are grouped in casual meandering pattern, creating a pathway along which the visitors progresses towards the centrality of the water court


  • Successfully  shows the life of Gandhiji
  • Minimalist  architecture
  • Material honesty
  • Contemporary  architecture
  • Glow of spaces


  • This office complex of LIC is situated on the outer road of Connaught circle and acts as a pivot between the colonnades of CP and new generation of high rise towers that now surround it . Thus the building is both a proscenium and a backdrop:  a 12 storey stage set  whose faceted glass surface reflects  the buildings and trees around CP.
  • Two lower levels of the complex consists of shopping decks  and restaurants while upper level are offices located in two separate wings . A pergola connects the two buildings .
  • A city proposal for an elevated pedestrian walkways if constructed will pass through the two blocks , allowing pedestrians to traverse the building as the great darwaza  ie gateway defined by a portico form.

Charles Correa:


  • 1946-1948 inter-science. St. Xavier’s college, university of Bombay
  • 1949-1955 B.Arch., University of Michigan.
  • 1953-1955 M.Arch., Massachusetts institute of technology.

Professional Experience

  • 1955-1958 partner with G.M. BHUTA associates
  • 1958- to date in private practice.
  • 1964-1965 prepared master plan proposing twin city across the harbor from Bombay.
  • 1969-1971 invited by the govt. of Peru
  • 1971-1975 chief architect to CIDCO
  • 1975-1976 consultant to UN secretory-general for HABITAT
  • 1975-1983 Chairman Housing Urban Renewal & Ecology Board
  • 1985 chairman dharavavi palnning commision

About him:

  • Born into a middle-class Catholic family in Bombay
  • Became fascinated with the principles of design as a child
  • At Michigan two professors who influenced him the most – Walter Salders and Buckminister Fuller.
  • Kevin lynch , then in the process of developing his themes for image of the city triggered Correa’s interest in urban issues
  • ‘India of those days was a different place, it was a brand-new country, there was so much hope; India stimulated me.’
  • —Architect, planner, activist and theoretician, an international lecturer and traveler.
  • —Correa’s work in India shows a careful development, understanding and adaptation of Modernism to a non-western culture. Correa’s early works attempt to explore a local vernacular within a modern environment. Correa’s land-use planning and community projects continually try to go beyond typical solutions to third world problems.
  • —India’s first man of architecture has a very simple philosophy: “Unless you believe in what you do, it becomes … boring,”


  • 1961 Prize for low-income housing early
  • 1972 Correa was awarded the PadmaShri by the President of India
  • 1980 Correa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Michigan
  • 1984 He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal          Institute of British Architects
  • 1985 Prize for the Improvement in the Quality of Human
  • Settlements from the International Union of Architects.
  • 1986 Chicago Architecture Award.
  • 1987 the Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Architects
  • 1990 the Gold Medal of the UIA (International Union of Architects)
  • 1994 the Premium Imperial from Japan society of art.
  • 1999 Aga khan award for vidhan sabha, bhopal


  • In Bombay – Salvacao Church at Dadar ; Kanchanjunga Apartments
  • In Goa for the Cidade de Goa Hotel and the Kala Academy,
  • In Ahmedabad – Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya ; Ramkrishna House
  • Delhi – The LIC Centre; British Council Building
  • Kerala – Kovalam Beach Resort Hotel
  • Andamans – Bay Island Hotel in Port Blair

Architectural utility and grandeur spread over the subcontinent


  • Few cardinal principles in his vast body of work;
  • incrementality
  • pluralism
  • participation
  • income generation
  • equity
  • open-to-sky space
  • disaggregation.

Belapur housing being the one project where he has literally used these principals

Correa and Corbusier

Like most architects of his generation he has been influenced by Le Corbusier , but by his response to the Mediterranean sun with his grand sculptural decisions he believes that Corbusier’s  influence in the colder climates has not been beneficial because these heroic gestures had to withdraw into defensible space, into mechanically heated (and cooled) interiors of the building.

On way back to Bombay in 1955 – saw the Jaoul House (le Corbusier)  in Paris under construction

‘I was absolutely knocked out . It was a whole new world way beyond anything being taught in America at that time .then I saw Chandigarh and his buildings in Ahmedabad . They seemed the only way to build.”

Correa and Gandhi

  • Gandhi’s goal for an independent India had been a village model, non-industrial, its architecture simple and traditional
  • In these early works Correa demonstrates uncompromising execution of an idea as a powerful statement of form

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