Ahmedabad 600 Book Review

Environment, Ecology, Compliance, Reviews

Ahmedabad 600 Book Review

Chatterjee, Ashoke

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(Marg Foundation, Rs2800) is a significant addition to the emerging literature on our urban heritage, capturing a(Marg Foundation, Rs2800) is a significant addition to the emerging literature on our urban heritage, capturing as perhaps few other cities do the complex challenges of transition in India. The volume brings together the perspectives of a range of scholars, commenting on the city’s cultural traditions as well as its position as a catalyst for Indian modernism. Although last year marked 600 years of the founding of Ahmedabad, official recognition of the milestone was subdued --- remarkable perhaps only as another indication of the political forces that have been hard at work to deny an Islamic heritage that dates back to Sultan Ahmed Shah who established the city in 1411 in the proximity of the Sufi saint who lived in Sarkhej --- the site Le Corbusier placed alongside the Acropolis in its significance. The absurdity of saffron denials becomes more evident as Ahmedabad seeks Unesco recognition as a World Heritage city, its case wonderfully reaffirmed in this volume that calls for affirmation in place of schizophrenia. Ahmedabad perhaps initiated the importance of the urban heritage concept, of which the   heritage walks pioneered here (with the support of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation that now christens itself ‘Amdavad’ to avoid pollution!) have set a trend many cities have followed. These walks define the synthesis of cultures --- Hindu, Jain and Islamic --- that provide the thread uniting the expressions celebrated in this book. They include an expiration of architectural idioms that begun with the extraordinary fusion of medieval traditions at Sarkhej and extend all the way through Corbusier’s four buildings (perhaps the most important concentration of the master’s work in any city of the world) to Kahn’s iconic campus for the Indian Institute of Management and seminal work by Correa, Doshi and others. Himanshu Burte suggests that the city h...

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