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Updated: May 2, 2011 19:47 IST

The fading charm

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REGAL GRANDEUR: A richly embellished archway at the Falaknuma Palace Photo: Nagara Gopal
The Hindu
REGAL GRANDEUR: A richly embellished archway at the Falaknuma Palace Photo: Nagara Gopal

Features that defined Hyderabad's rich architecture in the past are now slowly disappearing

The overarching reach of globalisation as a phenomenon has robbed Hyderabad of its four-centuries-old cultural identity, and architecture is no exception. However, design and architecture being the defining features of any city, their preservation by co-opting them into present day technology becomes important, say experts.

This was one concern expressed by the city-based architect Yashwant Ramamurthy at a media conference organised by the Hyderabad chapter of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers. One among the jury members for the MYK-Laticrete-IIID awards for interior designers, he sought to advise young designers not to blindly leap into the future, leaving all the past behind. Rapid globalisation is leaving its mark on the inner spaces too, leading to loss of identity, he said. “I am not saying the arches and balconies should be retained. A lot can be conveyed through colour and texture to create warmth. But even our personal spaces are becoming increasingly impersonal these days. I can see no difference between Manhattan and Madhapur,” he observed.

Climatology plays an important role in architecture and interior design, a fact being ignored by the starry-eyed designers in their enthusiasm to imitate their western counterparts. Understandably then, very few entries for the award factored in the region's climate.

High ceilings, use of lime and mortar in construction, plenty of cross ventilation and courtyard spaces, which defined the city's architecture for centuries, are now almost extinct for lack of adaptation.

Superfluous lighting

Superfluous lighting and air-conditioning of inner spaces rule instead, Mr. Ramamurthy lamented. Khalid Mohiuddin, a consultant architect, has a slightly different take. Globalisation is an all-encompassing phenomenon, and Hyderabad is no exception, he says.

“Architecture reflects the socio-economic realities of a certain place and time. Like any other city in the present-day world, Hyderabad, too, is globalised and the effects are visible in all aspects of life. Would anybody like to go 20 years back in aspects such as dressing?” he questions. Further, rapid urbanisation has resulted in space being shrunk from square yards to square feet, and the heights and sprawls that marked the bygone era would no more be viable. Design comes last in the order of preference for the middle-class. Nevertheless, Mr. Mohiuddin expects architects to devise a solution by blending the traditional with the contemporary. Using the metaphor of ‘kurta worn on jeans' to drive home the point, he says it will help retain the uniqueness of the city.

Keywords: Architecture


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