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Lahore Model Town

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 http://gahtc.org 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:

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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: http://www.timescape.io/login

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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]

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Panorama of the Participants (photo by Rachel Lee)

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

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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

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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.

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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.

The Co-operative Model Town Society: History, Planning, Architecture and Social Character of a Middle-Class Utopian Suburban Residential Development in Colonial Lahore

The aim of Shama Anbrine’s research is to investigate and analyze the building of the Co-operative Model Town Society in Lahore. Popularly known as Model Town, it was conceived by Diwan Khem Chand, a British-qualified local Barrister in 1919 and has strong inspirations from Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City, Modernist and the Co-operative Movements. It elaborates upon an ‘Ideal Self-contained Garden Town’;  ‘a town with all the conveniences of modern times’ where ‘middle class men, whose incomes were fixed and who by their better training, education and social position desired to live a better life’ were to be provided with ‘cheaper, cleaner and more comfortable houses’ where they would be able to lead ‘better, healthier, happier and longer lives’.

The idea was propagated through personal networking rather than formal advertisements and quite contrary to Chand’s expectations, it was strongly welcomed by the educated classes and was approved and appreciated by the Government. As a unique collaborative project between the British rulers and the local Indians, with a plan finalized through a design competition, a variety of house plans available to suit individual and monetary needs of a family, options of choosing neighbours and grouping of small and large plots in such a way that rich and poor relatives could live near each other make it stand out from its contemporary local urban developments which are usually seen as distinct ‘British’ and ‘Native’ towns.

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‘A’ Class House in ‘G’ Block, Model Town, Lahore.

By investigating and analysing Model Town, the objective is to investigate how ‘hybrid’ forms in planning and architecture resulted due to amalgamation of foreign ideas and the influences of local cultures, religions, traditions and economies; a style which became a hallmark of post-colonial urban development in the region.