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Tradition And Innovation

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At the outset, one must credit The Nabha Foundation for the initiatives in the historic city of Nabha in Punjab and the Nabha Fort. It is always interesting to return to the roots and learn lessons which have validity for our times. The typology of the fort based on courtyards and roof terraces is typical of many similar buildings in Rajasthan. It shows how traditional buildings solved concerns of climate and modulated light.

It was also interesting to note that steel girders were employed in the 18th century fort along with stone masonry and stone slabs in an innovative manner. This construction technique was different from the earlier Mughal palace complexes. Craftsmen and architects have to reinterpret tradition taking into account the rational structural systems, the practical realities and the functions to be fulfilled.

Vernacular architecture of a nation or a region can be compared to its language. The grammar of building and space-making has a few things in common with the structure of a language. Architecture like linguistics has taken a long time to evolve. It is rooted in the cultural traditions, religious beliefs, moral values and life style of people.

Vernacular architecture in the past had responded to functional requirements based on climate and community needs and evolved a method through centuries of modulating space and light. Building crafts and social requirements were interwoven with symbolic concerns to create both temples and simple rural houses.

Building techniques are changing quickly. The pattern of living is in the process of evolution and a global culture inspired by media is eroding traditional values. Does this imply that architectural heritage has no future? Some would like to equate regionalism with backward fundamentalism and others would argue that globalization and market economy would promote a new kind of brutal banalisation. In fact contemporary societies have to fight on two fronts. They have to confront fanaticism going back to the medieval times as well as the mindless attitude inspired by the market economy that form follows finance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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