Project of Independence. Image credit: MoMA
“Independence brings in the greatest opportunity for a nation to express its thoughts, talent, and energy…. Now, we the architects can construct the right and distinct kind of architecture for an independent people,” said Bangladeshi architect Muzharul Islam.
Architects in the territories of today’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka embraced the language of modernism following the end of British rule in 1947/48 as a means of proclaiming their autonomy, articulating their national identities, and enacting social progress.
With a focus on work conceived and realized by local, rather than international, architects, designers, and planners present more than 200 works that showcase South Asia’s groundbreaking modern architecture in The Project of Independence in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
New approaches to architecture offered a break from the British colonial past presenting the concrete governmental complexes of Dhaka with the climate-adapted houses of Colombo. With new capital cities rising up in Chandigarh and Islamabad, the region’s craft traditions were leveraged by local architects to produce innovative and experimental buildings.
Key figures highlighted in this exhibition include Indian architect Balkrishna V. Doshi, the only South Asian winner of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture; Minnette de Silva, the first woman architect of Sri Lanka; and Yasmeen Lari, the first woman architect of Pakistan, among many others.
Photographer Randhir Singh and models constructed by Cooper Union students feature original sketches, plans, photographs, audiovisual materials, and films.
The curatorial team organized by Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art; Anoma Pieris, guest curator, and professor, University of Melbourne; and Sean Anderson, former Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art; with Evangelos Kotsioris, Assistant Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art consulted with leading scholars of modern architecture from the region, many of whom also contributed to the accompanying exhibition catalog.
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