Colonial Architecture

by Mustansir Dalvi

My comments

My class notes

Summary from the Program

British Architecture in Colonial India reflects two major themes: the evolving notions of authority in the development of a colony, and the efforts to construct a 'self' in the context of the Empire. The presentation shows slides of important colonial buildings exhibiting early attempts at adapting the classical idiom in an Indian context, the rise of the prodigious Neo-Gothic style secularized for the buildings of the state and the many attempts to create an 'Indian' imperial architecture. However, the main aim of the presentation is to provide a way to look at the architecture of colonial India in its context and its meaning in the course of empire building.

My Notes

Colonial Architecture - Prof. M. Dalvi

- British believed that the power of a civilization was reflected in the 
  grandeur of their structures
- East India company was precursor of the Raj
- E.I. would separate themselves from the locals
- wrap-around porches common
- outlying houses (servants, etc.) common
- straight sloping roofs
- early Raj stuff is neo-classical
	- imitating Classical Greek style, Italian, Roman
- several town halls
- started adapting to hot climate, incorporating shade devices
- much of early design done by military engineers rather than architects
	- they often used "pattern books"
- stylistic revivals in Europe considered a response to the Industrial 
  Revolution
- revived styles were what came to India
- engineers were on cutting edge of technology, which architects tended to shun
- neo-Gothic buildings fronting rail sheds - sheds using new materials - seen 
  both in England and India (Victoria Terminus)
- some street arcades - allows shade and protection from rain
- Jain temple in Calcutta really sucked up the Raj influence
- in 1857, uprising was suppressed, last Mughal emperor exiled, E.I. disbanded
- Gothic style very widely used
- common in cathedrals in Britain, secular buildings here
- George Gilbert Scott (architect) - university buildings, gorgeous 
	- British architect
	- patron was Indian (for the library)
	- period 1869-78
	- Convocation hall looks very like a church, again Indian patron
- the university libray looks _so much_ like the University of Toronto 
  University College building (~1864) (detailing more than outside structure)
- the British documented everything about the Indian empire very well, 
  _lots_ of photographs, details of physical arrangements, etc., but not 
  context (ie. who cares about the religion and its iconography...)
- Gothic and neo-Gothic in India was attacked, and eventually supplanted 
  by "Saracenic"
- "Saracenic" in quotes because the British used it rather widely
- some Saracenic was built in Britain - cobbled together Islamic -> Brighton 
  Beach House
- British architects started building in "Indo-Saracenic" style, a collage 
  of Gothic, Islamic, many other styles
- Central Post Office in Mumbai a spectacular example (relatively attractive 
  to me, as opposed to others we saw)
- Prince of Wales Museum another example and Gateway of India (1911) 
	- Wittet did both
- by 1920s, Indo-Saracenic was dying, Wittet (as example) went back to 
  neo-classical

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