Architecture Digest – Rural India Edition

With the dawn of modernization and urbanization, the rural art of architecture has started vanishing slowly from our vocabulary. Understanding the very concept of rural architecture in India is similar to excavating the missing threads of our own existence. It is often a very surreal and intense process, as the more you notice, the more is left to discern.

Interestingly, designing a home in rural India, even today, is not originally planned out on sheets or graphs. Instead, it takes place after intense conversations among the family members, deciding how the space needs to be created and utilized. The measurement is done particularly by using hands, a process that has been followed in states like Chattisgarh since times immemorial.

The main boundaries inside the house are designated for kitchen, sleeping, animal shelter, granary and courtyard. Even today, most of the rural homes do not envisage building a washroom within the common space, as it is located mostly outside, towards the farm. Homes in Chattisgarh, often do not have windows, owing to the climate condition and hence, the ventilation is ensured through large wooden doors embracing the living spaces. Also, the entire idea of community living is narrated by the courtyards designed in such a manner, no matter how large or small, as a place where women can cut vegetables, children can fondly play and mean and eventually rest on their ‘charpai’ after a tiring day of work.

Tribal huts in states like Tamil Nadu are built in a more traditional sense. The construction process normally takes 60 days. Rock boulders, bamboo as well as wooden rocks and lemon grass are used to construct the huts and endow them the local flavor. The most commonly used material for constructing huts in tribal areas is definitely sand, as it is inexpensive and easily available. The manners in which these traditional huts are constructed further enhance their longevity.

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In villages of Karnataka, the concept of single room along with a thatched roof is quite prevalent. Normally, the construction of such homes is either done by villagers themselves or local masons are employed for the purpose. Interestingly, more than the urban style construction, the rural vernacular homes have a much more sustainable model. Instead of adorning the homes with expensive facades, the model is more inward looking, progressive and unidirectional. The focus here is to create the well being of people who occupy the space along with the community.

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Thus, in every village of India, depending on the state, the style and rural architecture is nothing less than story-telling. It is a very integral process revealing how the villagers look at the spaces around them. Their culture gets vividly represented through their rural designs, often giving an idea that the particular home’s construction is still under process, an act that hasn’t completed, still in search of a closure.  Thus, the raw and nascent history of this vernacular art needs to be preserved, within the limited span of time, so that it’s not obliterated from the sands of time.

By- Shubhda Chaudhary

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