Posts tagged with "New Delhi":

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India flattens its iconic Hall of Nations building in New Delhi

On August 15, 1947, India became an independent state, free from Britain's colonial rule. In 1972, to mark the 25th anniversary of this momentous occasion, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unveiled the Hall of Nations, designed by Indian architect Raj Rewal. A further twenty years on, however, the landmark building which once occupied the Pragati Maidan site has been demolished. Officially known as the Hall of Nations and Industries, the building was made from concrete cast in-situ and used a tesselating triangular structure to form a capped pyramid. It echoed the modernist manifestations of Chandigarh—a master planning project from Westerners Le Corbusier, Jane Drew, and Maxwell Fry. In 2016, Corbusier's Chandigarh Capitol Complex was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Speaking to the Quint, Rewal, an architect who studied in Delhi, said his work was "symbolic of an achievement by young architects in a newly-independent India, creating a style which could be constructed with limited means, yet be uniquely Indian." Rewal is a revered figure in India. In 1989, he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Indian Institute of Architects and his Hall of Nations building is considered to be his magnum opus. However, the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) maintained its ruling that only buildings older than 60 years can be considered for heritage status. These guidelines came into place just this February and the committee argued that because of this, Rewal had no legal right to preserve the building. Subsequently, the India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) decided the flatten the building and its neighboring Nehru Pavilion. As of yesterday, Rewal's work is now rubble. Attempts were made to save it, even in New York. Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, said:
The Hall of Nations and the Nehru Pavilion are outstanding representatives of Indi’s post-independence architectural heritage and for this reason must be preserved. The Museum of Modern Art is fully committed to helping in any way we can to ensure the preservation of these important monuments of modern architectural culture.
Meanwhile, an IPTO official told the New Indian Express: "the buildings were not categorized as heritage by the Heritage Conservation of Committee (HCC) as those are only 45-years-old. So, we have demolished those for the new project. Demolition of the Nehru Pavilion is still going on." Why does a trade promotion organization have agency in demolishing a building, you wonder? IPTO, it turns out, is backed by India's ministry of commerce and industry and is charged with promoting global trade. International expos and trade fairs used to be held at the Hall of Nations. Now IPTO has deemed the building surplus to requirements as it seeks a new venue, due to come in the shape of the Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC). You can view those plans here. "The layout plan of IECC, which inevitably involves demolition of these structures, has already been approved by statutory authorities concerned, like the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and the National Monuments Authority," the IPTO official added. To find out more about the Hall of Nations, watch a short documentary on the building below:
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Land Crisis Puts Pressure on Lutyens’ Housing Quarter in New Delhi

Indian officials have proposed that high-rises be built on the site of Edwin Lutyens-designed bungalows dating from the 1920s and 1930s, threatening Delhi's colonial era architecture, according to the Guardian. Lutyens’ Delhi, a 3,000-acre zone containing the Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhavan, has endured monsoons, riots, and acid rain, but now many of the area’s government buildings, parks, and homes have met a new menace: a scheme to loosen planning limitations to permit construction of high-rise structures. The early twentieth-century bungalows were built for civil servants who governed millions of Indians under the British Raj. The British relocated India’s capital from Calcutta to Delhi, the historic metropolis of the Mughal emperors, and worked with Indian architects under Edwin Landseer Lutyens to design 1,000 neo-classical bungalows surrounded by large gardens. A protected zone, expanded in 1988 and 2003, comprises some of the country’s most precious land. Conservationists assert that the zone is at risk and since it occupies less than two-percent of Delhi, the high-rises should go elsewhere. Adversaries suggest that preserving Lutyen’s Delhi would be erroneous when millions sleep in the city’s crowded slums. Writer and historian Sohail Hashmi point outs that imperialists planned the bungalows to emphasize authority. Hashmi’s solution is to preserve one street within Lutyens’ Delhi to demonstrate what it looked like and to build new homes on the remaining land. Hashmi also recognizes that the bungalows have become symbols of power. In fact, particular properties in Lutyens’ Delhi are worth astonishing amounts of money. One such edifice, the president's official residence that was built to accommodate 100 mid-ranking military officers, has a projected value of £600 million. Conservationists hope UNESCO will give the area world heritage site status, consequently making major alterations nearly impossible.