Thestreets were very narrow which helped them during attacks by the enemy. All thestreets had sloping roads which lead to the riverfront as a measure of naturaldrainage. Chabutra was a unique pole like structure for feeding birds, usuallyfound under banyan trees in all the Pols, which suggested that the people hadlearnt to live in harmony with nature and other creatures.Duringthe freedom struggle of India, Ahmedabad served as the home of many prominentnationalists like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. In 1947, Ahmedabad was thefocus for settlement by Hindu migrants from Pakistan, who expanded the city’spopulation. By 1960,Ahmedabad had become a metropolis with a population of slightly fewer than halfa million people, with classical and colonial European-style buildings liningthe city’s thoroughfares.
After independence, modern buildings appearedin Ahmedabad as it emerged as a mega city, crazy mix of architectural styles,some bordering on the bizarre, others contemporary and cutting-edge, but allcombining to create a unique urban landscape that included commercial andresidential buildings, from fountains to gardens, under bridges and lakes.Thecity boasts of having four buildings designed by the legendary architect LeCorbusier, including the privately commissioned Sarabhai Villa (1955). Thehouse was sited and designed to catch the winds in summer, but to be penetratedby the sun in winter, thus minimizing its mechanical needs. The brise-soleilcuts off the sun in summers, and the roof garden cools the rooms. The roofgardens were Corbusier’s way of giving back to nature. Another brilliant exampleof this climate responsive architecture can be seen in the Mill Owner’sAssociation building (1954). It is oriented to catch the prevailing breezesthrough its openings on east and west facades with reinforced concretebrise-soleils and adjustable blinds, while the north and south facades areblank with exposed brick work.Nottoo far along, Charles Correa created an amalgamation of old and modernarchitecture.
His newer designs for the museum, of Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, around1964 reflected Gandhiji’s residence ‘Hridaykunj’ and its counterparts from thatera. B. V. Doshi returned to the city from Paris to supervise Le Corbusier’sworks. Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute designed by him has a semicircularceiling and elevation that look remarkable at the first sight. Amdavad-ni-Gufa(1992) is a creation of well-known painter M.
F. Hussain and Doshicollaboratively. It is an underground Ferro cement structure, with optimallystructured roof shells in china mosaic protruding over ground.
Sangath, hisoffice holds abundant passive solar design techniques which reduce greenhousegas emission into the atmosphere. Use of diffused sunlight in the studio, andpartly sinking it into the ground assures comfortable temperatures at alltimes. Construction of vaults and covering it with broken white china mosaic,which is insulating and reflective in nature brings the heat gain through theroof down to zero.Frombeing Shah Jahan’s inspiration to build the Taj Mahal, the city has seen its architectureevolve into the post-modernist form. Take Pelican, a 10-storey tower on AshramRoad, built by N.G. Patel, a leading city builder.
Light maroon in color, it isin the shape of a space shuttle that looks poised for launch. Rivera, anothercommercial building, makes use of aluminum strips to form appealing geometricalforms. The city’s craze for funky design extends to public spaces as well. Theone that literally stands out is the giant fountain shaped like a tap at theLaw Garden crossroads. This installation has the tap spout suspended with no conspicuousconnections or support but astonishingly, an incessant current of water gushes fromit. The brilliant craftsmen have installed the pipe that carries water into thenozzle such that it is concealed in the water flow itself.
Not just in architecture,the city has also witnessed a revolution in building materials. From beingknown for its intricate sandstone jails and marble artwork, to brick and cementconstruction. Thecity has come a long way since the pavement of marble, wooden facades,calligraphies, cunning craft and workmanship, beauty of color and harmony ofform. It had its moment with the internationalism, where architects believedthat simple, unornamented buildings could lead to clean and efficient cities.The roots of architectural revolution in India can be traced back to this city,from beautiful aesthetics to bare walls of highly functional buildings. Whilesome believe that it is the best city to be living in, the fact that it is alsoone of the highly polluted cities in the entire country cannot be overlooked.
Although in the current year, about 70-80 green buildings are at various stagesof certification in the city. What one can hope is that the number increases inthe coming years. With the increasing sensitivity on the pressing global issueof pollution, a fast forward city like this one is bound to change for thebetter. We, being the future architects of the nation are expected to learnfrom the great examples of Corbusier and Doshi and make amendments. As it issaid by Gandhi “be the change you wish to see in the world”.
But we need towake up soon, or else there isn’t going to be a world to change.