Visions of Modernity: Architectural Vignettes and Modern Living in Urban India 1975–1990

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This article examines the discourse of housing and urban planning between 1975 and 1990 in India. It approaches this subject within the context of international and national development agendas, which aimed to improve living conditions of the poor. Architects Balkrishna Doshi and Charles Correa, commissioned to design houses and towns during this period, are the focus of this study. Their studios produced a body of visual material: drawings, serigraphs, watercolours and photographs for publications, presentations and exhibitions, sharing utopian visions of modern living. They also published essays and interviews, which, along with the visual material, have been instrumental in the shaping of the modern housing discourse. This article undertakes an inter-textual analysis of this material and applies Doreen Massey’s approach to space ‘as a product of interrelations’ to examine the geopolitics of the houses and towns they designed during this period. While the architects’ ambitions were rooted egalitarian ideologies of clean and open spaces for all, this study highlights that in reality, they were constrained by development agendas and the market, and their designs reproduced social hierarchies. The outdoor space became a focus of debate during this time. It was controlled and regulated by the architects and the developmental agencies, alike.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Design History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Design History following peer review. The version of record Megha Rajguru; Visions of Modernity: Architectural Vignettes and Modern Living in Urban India 1975–1990. J Des Hist 2017 epx025. doi: 10.1093/jdh/epx025 is available online at:


  • architecture
  • regional development
  • urban design
  • modernity
  • Charles Correa
  • Balkrishna Doshi


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