Lahore Model Town

The Transnational Architecture Group Blog is 5 Today!

It’s five years since our first tentative blog post. Since that day we’ve posted over 200 articles, calls for papers, and general research updates on all things architecturally transnational.

One of our major research interests has of course been the work of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, with the publication of the monograph in 2014 and international conference. But that was just the start. Since then we’ve covered Shama Anbrine and Yemi Salami’s PhD work in Pakistan and Nigeria respectively, as well as Cleo Robert’s PhD work in India. Rachel Lee tested and developed our Timescape App in Bangalore and also published a wonderful monograph (with TAG Press) on Otto Koenigsberger. She was also responsible for a major heritage symposium in Dar es Salam. Ola Uduku has been our most prolific ‘commenter’ as well as providing many research updates on our findings in Ghana and organising numerous workshops on the Architecture of Africa. Our current research project has been sponsored by the British Academy and we’re delighted to be collaborating with Rexford Assasie Oppong (KNUST) and Irene Appeaning Addo (Legon University) on this work.  There is going to be a lot more research stemming from this initial project, not least the cataloguing and archiving of the major drawings collection at KNUST, with Łukasz Stanek from Manchester University.

Other forays have taken us to Thailand and the work of Nat Phothiprasat, as well as to Sri Lanka and the plans of Patrick Abercombie.  We’ve posted abstracts and links to many other papers and projects, not least Johan Lagaes and Kathleen James-Chakraborty’s papers. Killian Doherty and Edward Lawrenson’s film on Yekepa promises to be one of the highlights of 2018.

More recent posts have revealed the rich architecture of the Middle East, including Levin’s paper on Ashkelon, William A. Henderson‘s work at Little Aden,  Ben Tosland’s research into Kuwait, Alsalloum’s moving paper on Damascus and Jackson’s paper on the PWD in Iraq. There’s surely a lot more to investigate here.

It’s been great fun, and here’s to the next five years of exciting research, difficult questions, dusty roads and even dustier archives, and of course new discoveries that make everything worthwhile.

We’d like to thank all of the blog contributors (please do continue to send us your updates, research findings and short articles). Thanks also to our committed readers and for all of your kind comments and emails.

Iain Jackson.



Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative at MIT

How do we teach the global history of architecture? What should we include in our classes and where can we gather the information, knowledge and sources that enable meaningful narratives to emerge? Is the global survey course even possible, or should we be utilising distinct and precise case studies to discuss the global condition instead?

These are just some of the questions that Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative is attempting to answer as well as to create a community of scholars who will share and exchange knowledge to change the way we think about the history of architecture.. The GAHTC has been established by Mark Jarzombek and Vikramāditya Prakāsh with funding provided from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, see for more information.

Grants are available for teaching teams to develop new teaching material and modes of teaching that deal with global history, from the beginning of time to the modern. This is a major challenge, but very exciting. In the current round of grants 9 teams have been accepted with the following ambitions:


Panorama of the participants (photo by Rachel Lee)
  • Architecture and Climate in a Global Perspective – Team Daniel Barber
  • Sites and Networks of Global Modernity – Team Bob Cowherd
  • Globalizing a Humanities Approach to Architectural History – Team Ann C Huppert
  • Scales of Modernity – Team Jonathan Massey
  • The Architecture of Global Modernity, 1000-2000 CE – Team Kenny Cupers
  • The Global Turn: Architecture and the Built Environment Since World War Two – Team Michelangelo Sabatino
  • Technologies of Movement and Communication – Team Shundana Yusaf
  • East Asian Architecture from A Global Perspective: Cultural Transactions and the Development of Traditions – Team Shuishan Yu
  • The Modern Metropolis – Team Eric Mumford

At the first workshop, held in MIT (9th and 10th October 2014), each group gave a presentation that outlined their position and ambition. Most also proposed a distinct module of lectures/seminars and a discussion/critique followed. Day two was composed of a number of workshops that discussed ‘Deliverables and Digitisation’, ‘Pedagogy’, ‘The problem of teaching architecture made before 1800’, and ‘future ambitions’. A digital resource has been developed that will contain some of the data:


Vikram Prakash addressing conference.

Team Daniel Barber became known as the ‘Climate group’  – which is a perfectly accurate and succinct way of describing us, with the caveat that climate is not the only factor to determine the architecture we’re interested in.

We are proposing six themes/lectures, each to be lead by one team member:

“Architecture without Architects” and the Timeless Climatic Type [Albert Narath]

Colonial Architecture and Climate in Africa and Asia [Ola Uduku]

Sanitation, climate and statecraft in colonial societies [Iain Jackson]

Modernism, Climate, and Post-colonial development [Rachel Lee]

Universal Science and International Architecture after World War II [Daniel Barber]

Air Conditioning Takes Command [Jiat-Hwee Chang]


Panorama of the Participants (photo by Rachel Lee)

TAG will continue to track the developments of GAHTC and to report on future developments…

The Central Garden at Model Town

The most ambitious idea in the plan of Model Town was the Central Garden, which as proposed was nothing short of the reminiscence of a hill station resort. The focus of this garden was a central hill 50 feet high on top of which a reservoir for the supply of drinking water to the town was to be located assuming that by doing so the reservoir would remain comparatively cool. The hill was to be covered with evergreen plants and flowers. Winding paths would lead to the top of the hill where a promenade was proposed round the reservoir, with four pavilions providing for shade and shelter and thus be a delightful place in hot summer evenings where it would be possible to get breath of cool fresh air. A few springs from the hill would water the plants and as well as provide water for a ‘couple of’ gold fish pools.

The proposition did not end here, as a cave restaurant was also proposed inside the hill by providing ‘a few rooms’ which were to be well-lit and well-ventilated and constructed of reinforced concrete construction. Round the hill, a 100 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet deep lake was proposed for fishing and boating but ‘not enough for a man to drown in’. Surrounding the lake were proposed lawn flanked by a flower garden. The lawns and gardens were to be watered from the Bambawali-Ravi-Bedian Canal through a lake by means of syphon tubes which were to help in keeping the water in the fishing and boating lake in motion.

from Civil and Military Gazette Lahore

Religious Buildings at the Lahore Model Town

13.1.28 collage

Left: Gurudwara (Sikh temple) B Block, Centre: Mandir (Hindu temple) D Block, Right: Mosque A Block. All photographs © Shama Anbrine.

The model town was not just an urban morphological experiment, but a unique social experiment as well. In a time when all the major sections of Indian population were thinking of freedom and possible independent states based on religious majorities in different areas, a small segment of people from all these sections were willing to live together in an ideal co-operative garden town. Therefore, during planning of the Model town, eight identical sites were reserved for religious buildings with one in each residential block. However only three of these were actually built: Sikh and Hindu temples and a Mosque.

The temples were abandoned in 1947 due to mass exodus of Sikhs and Hindus (who formed the majority of the population) after independence of Pakistan. The Sikh temple is now being used as a residence while the Hindu temple is now part of a girl’s primary school. The interior of the Sikh temple has been radically altered by the residents, and many portions of Hindu temple have been demolished or are in ruins. The Mosque, on the other hand, is quite well maintained and well preserved in its original condition, the only alteration being the introduction of modern electrical equipment.

Research Student Seminar

Today some nice images from a forthcoming presentation by Shama Anbrine on the Lahore Model Town, to be held at the Liverpool School of Architecture on 13th February 2013. Please do get in touch if you are interested in attending the seminar.

13.1.25 collage

Top left: Mosque in ‘A’ Block

Top right: Hindu Temple in ‘D’ Block

Centre: Inscription on the original foundation stone

Bottom left: ‘A’ Class house

Bottom right: House of Hafeez Jullundhry National Poet of Pakistan before refurbishment.

Photographs © Shama Anbrine, apart from bottom right image. Thanks to Jawad Ahmed Tahir and Muhammad Saad Khan, project architects for the refurbishment of Hafeez Jullundhry’s house, for supplying the image prior to recent work.

Locating the Model Village

The location of the site was crucial for the success of the proposed co-operative Model Town. Like the English garden suburb from which it took inspiration, the site was to be located close enough to the city so that the middle-class residents might easily commute to work, yet maintain a distance to avoid the congestion and pollution of Lahore. Accordingly, the designer Khem Chand proposed a distance of six or seven miles from the city.

The site finally selected was part of Rakh Kotlakhpat, a rich forest plantation of mulberry and shisham trees, south-east of Lahore adjacent to the Ferozepore Road. It was at an accessible distance from Lahore, located just 1½ miles from the nearest railway station and 5½ miles from the Lahore District Courts, where many of the residents worked. As the following image shows, the Model Town was planned with a low density to provide a serene and healthy environment. According to Government sanitary reports of 1919–20, the locality was the healthiest in the Punjab.

13.1.16 SA Plan

This plan is taken from Towns and Villages of Pakistan, A Study by Grenfell Rudduck (July 1961), a publication from the papers of the British town-planner and architect William Holford (1907–75), held at the Liverpool University Archives & Special Collections.