SAHARA Highlights: Modern Ahmedabad, India

by Jacqueline Spafford and Mark Hinchman, SAHARA Co-Editors | Feb 04, 2021

The Indian Institute of Management’s planned demolition of eighteen dormitories designed by Louis Kahn prompted an outrage in which the SAH and Docomomo participated. The IIM eventually backtracked, but the attention the issue brought to the Indian regional capital city raises a number of issues. Kaiwan Mehta argued that while the world undoubtedly has a stake in the site’s preservation, it would be best if the discussion included the present and future of the buildings within an Indian context.

Ahmedabad is home to works by both Kahn and Le Corbusier; it receives less of the world’s attention because of the prominent South Asian masterpieces by the two that lie in Dhaka and Chandigarh. Le Corbusier did five buildings in Ahmedabad, including two homes. Balkrishna V. Doshi worked for Le Corbusier in Paris and was a logical choice to oversee the French/Swiss architect’s projects in India. He became an accomplished architect in his own right. Harvard graduate Kanvinde ran his firm out of New Delhi. Many of Ahmedabad’s cultural elite made their fortunes in the textile industry. They cultivated a coterie of architects, international and local, who used modernism to transform the city to rival Bombay.

Because of the four photographers of this month’s highlights, we have a respectable collection on modern Ahmedabad, but there are gaps. We need more work by English architect Claude Batley in India, for one. If your future plans include travel to Gujarat, Georgia, Guinea, or you stay closer to home, wherever that may be, please consider contributing to SAHARA.

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Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association
Achyut Kanvinde. Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1949–1953. Photograph by Peter Serenyi.  


hmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association, guesthouse
Balkrishna V. Doshi. Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association, guesthouse. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1961. Photograph by Peter Serenyi. The subject of the photographer’s doctoral dissertation was Le Corbusier.


Ahmedabad Educational Society Housing
Balkrishna V. Doshi. Ahmedabad Educational Society Housing. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1967. Photograph by Peter Serenyi.


Hussain-Doshi Gufa Art Gallery
Balrishna V. Doshi. Hussain-Doshi Gufa Art Gallery. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1993. Photograph by Lauren Soth. The photographer amassed a collection of 4800 slides that he used during his time teaching at Carlton College. After his retirement, he donated them to SAHARA.


Indian Institute of Management, water tower
Louis Kahn. Indian Institute of Management, water tower. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1962–1964. Photograph by Peter Serenyi.


Indian Institute of Management, dormitories
Louis Kahn. Indian Institute of Management, dormitories. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1962–1974. Photograph by Peter Serenyi.


Senskar Kendra Museum
Le Corbusier. Senskar Kendra Museum. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1956. Photograph by Lauren Soth. There are formal similarities between this building and Le Corbusier’s Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 1959.


Villa Shodan
Le Corbusier. Villa Shodan. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1951–1956. Photograph by George Everard Kidder Smith. The photographer was a prominent architectural theorist and photographer. Although at a much larger scale, the villa incorporates many of the features that Le Corbusier first presented in his Pavillon de l’esprit nouveau in 1925.


Villa Sarabhai
Le Corbusier. Villa Sarabhai. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1951. Photograph by George Everard Kidder Smith. The interiors of this sumptuous residential project contained no furniture by Le Corbusier/Jeanneret/Perriand, but several pieces by Charles and Ray Eames, and George Nakashima.


National Institute of Design
Gautam Sarabhai and Gira Sarabhai. National Institute of Design. Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 1961–1968. Photograph by Elisa Alessandrini, 2009. This building sits in front of Le Corbusier’s Sanskar Kendra Museum. The brother and sister came from the wealthy family that made its fortune in textiles. They had multiple interests throughout their lives, and they studied for a time at Taliesen West.


Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

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