Pattern approach to architectural conservation : a temple town in India

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Date

2009-05

Authors

Venkatraman, Namrata, 1981-

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Abstract

“Can the understanding of the patterns of urban development around a temple complex in India, using Christopher Alexander’s methodology, help better preserve these temple communities and their related temple architecture?” India, a country largely governed by a spiritual culture, draws sustenance and strength largely from religious buildings, thus leading to an emergence of many towns around these religious buildings and events associated with them. The temple acts as the nucleus and the body of life and township shoots from it with the cultural, religious and commercial needs acting as its driving force. Certain groups of people having similar experiential, ideological and sociological backgrounds tend to form a chorus in their pattern generation. The patterns refer to the patterns of relationship between the events that occur in the temple with the various spaces that they occur in. It also refers to the recurring relationships and influences of the temple on the temple town including both the urban development and community which shoot around the temple. The reverse recurring events also forms its own set of patterns. These patterns are seen both in the physical development of streets, shops etc around and in the intangible aspects of the culture, festivals and beliefs of people living in that town. Thus pattern language in this thesis refers to the life, culture and architecture generated by the recurring interactions and interdependencies of the temple communities as a whole. Thus this thesis concludes that the thorough understanding of these interdependencies and interconnections between the structure, its town and community helps preserve the temple architecture as well the town and its intangible culture more effectively. This approach to preservation makes the outcome more holistic and sustainable. This thesis, through its case studies of an existing successful temple town in Puri, India and an ongoing project of the Bindusagar lake, understands this interdependency and develops patterns to be applied in the context of a deteriorated temple village of Kapileswar. They are studied both as sacred places and urban growths where communities thrive. This thesis will focus its final chapters on the application of the studied patterns and its outcome in the form of a preservation model for the Kapileswar temple and temple village based in Orissa, India. However the model in its fundamental framework attempts to suggest that it can be applied on any other setting, location and architecture. This proposed model summarizes the above findings and tries to draw concepts for the preservation process of the Kapileswar temple village based on a pattern approach. The above case studies and their comparative analysis very clearly indicate the various similarities and dissimilarities between their respective settings and approaches. The proposed model for the holistic preservation model of the Kapileswar temple village draws its similarities from the culture, rituals, festivals, commercial endeavors, networks and location of the Puri Jagannatha Temple and the Bindusagar project and its differences from their management structure, devotee following, history, legends and economics. The model includes the proposed management structure and execution structure of the preservation process of the Kapileswar temple based on the above study that will help in the sustainable growth and maintenance of the temple village as a whole. The nucleus of this model is the temple. The model identifies the various elements that when incorporated in the co-operative society management structure and the space allocation diagram form the necessary patterns that ultimately make up for the pattern approach to preservation. The model also includes various charts and diagrams that prioritize and compartmentalize the many small and big items, events and spaces as a part of the above patterns. Hence the proposed model creates a flow of steps that will help preserve the Kapileswar temple and village based on a holistic pattern approach.

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