Aug 2, 2012

Changing landscape of rural architecture

While scrolling, zooming in to google earth or something you find satellite image of villages across the world very fascinating very different from the urban settlement, it’s almost enchanting to look at their wonderful spatial patterns, their distributed uniformity, their hierarchical cohesiveness in terms of architecture, spatial arrangement and surprisingly it all evolved without any development blueprint, without an preconceived vision, without any kind of architectural bylaws at least in the case of India, but with long sustainable past, at least it was the case decades back and beyond.

Now today when you look at the same villages of India you will find usually two sets of clusters in most of the cases, one organically evolved village settlement with impression of time, with wonderful lively streets, with hierarchy of spaces, driven by family needs, scalable with demand, a symbol of community effort and cohesion, built by local materials, crafted by passionate local hands, using indigenous skills, planned by intuition, nourished by centuries of experience, in the guidance of wise old people, architecture by personal choice and collective regional aesthetics.

Though many of them are financially weak, but they usually have a place they can call home unlike urban poor.

The other distinct set of cluster you will see in the adjacent part of village, which is either a result of recently accumulated wealth by the young generation of villagers who live in metropolitan cities of India for better livelihood opportunities and who bring wealth to their village along with new architectural exposure and experiences, new construction techniques and remote aesthetics of cities when back home. It is architecture in transition from traditional to contemporary from thatch-&-mud to brick-&-mortar and may be its need of time as well, but little confusing at the same time. This new strikingly different grid iron pattern of recently developed cluster of village can also be a result of some development efforts by government, not so surprisingly way different an architecture and planning from the traditional settlement and sentiments. An imagination of planners and architects sitting thousand miles away with their own perception and impression of what an ideal village should be, while being most cost effective replicable, scalable and with speedy construction possibilities, neat and clean imported village with all the amenities. Hundreds of thousands of house arrays being constructed throughout the countries, apparently job done! Similar is the case of several villages and outskirts of cities across the world. 
It’s good idea to provide shelter to poor rural inhabitants, but their traditional architecture and planning needs and sentiments cannot and should not be ignored. It doesn’t cost much to incorporate century old traditional planning and aesthetic of the rural settlement of different regions in the contemporary rural architecture and planning solutions which need to be tailored for specific regions, it’s just demands a little more  communication and careful investigation as well as understanding of spoken and unspoken lifestyle and perceptual needs of rural communities. 
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