Martino Stierli, Anoma Pieris, Sean Anderson


The Project of Independence: Architectures of Decolonization in South Asia, 1947–1985
MoMA, 2022
9.5w x 12″h, 248 pp

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Edited by Martino Stierli, Anoma Pieris, and Sean Anderson. With a photographic portfolio by Randhir Singh and additional contributions from Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Nonica Datta, Prajna Desai, Da Hyung Jeong, Farhan Karim, Evangelos Kotsioris, Saloni Mathur, Rahul Mehrotra, Mrinalini Rajagopalan, Peter Scriver and Amit Srivastava, and Devika Singh

South Asia holds a unique place among the many regions of the world where modern architecture was understood as both a tool for social progress and a global lingua franca in the second half of the twentieth century. Following the end of British rule in 1947–48, architects in the newly formed nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh (East Pakistan until 1971), and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) proposed a novel understanding of modernity, disrupting the colonial hierarchy of center and periphery by challenging modernism’s universalist claims. Architecture offered multiple ways to break with the colonial past. Through the establishment of institutions that embodied the societal aspirations of the period, and the creation of new cities and spaces for political representation, South Asian architects produced a distinct body of work in dialogue with global developments while advancing the theory and practice of low-cost, climatically and socially responsive design.

Anchored by a newly commissioned portfolio of images from architectural photographer Randhir Singh, this richly illustrated and meticulously researched catalogue features essays by the curators and leading scholars in the field on subjects such as the politics of concrete, institution-building, higher education, housing, infrastructure and industry, landscape, and design, as well as presentations of seventeen transformative projects from around the subcontinent. While several of the architects appearing in these pages have in recent years received monographic exhibitions, The Project of Independence: Architectures of Decolonization in South Asia, 1947–1985 marks the first attempt to consider their work within the ideological frameworks of its creation and the political context of the region as a whole. 248 pp.; 230 illus.