December 2022 Yojana Magazine: Architecture

Yojana Magazine is an important source of material for the UPSC exam. The monthly magazine provides details of major government schemes and programmes in various domains. Moreover, coming from the government, it is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Yojana, exclusively for the IAS Exam.

Chapter 1: Restructuring Urban Galaxies


  • India has unique characteristics with a hierarchical network of varied sizes of urban settlements like metropolises, cities, and towns.
  • They appear like ‘urban galaxies’ – with naturally developed scales between entities, interconnected and located within easy reach.
  • These networks have their unique lifestyles, and unique patterns of habitat based on local resources, climate, and available characteristics of the land.
  • The connections and the spread of the developments appear like a ‘biological’ growth, with adaptation, mutation and replication.

Sustainable development of Indian cities and towns:

  • Due to our development focus of concentrating around one place/city, all the institutions and employment opportunities, we are denuding the smaller towns in the region of their small-scale crafts and industries, encouraging migration and overburdening the mega-cities.
    • Expansion means larger distances, and more time and energy to commute for living, working, or cultivating the mind and the spirit.
  • Sustainability ensures long-lasting development without becoming unduly centralised.
  • By improving the infrastructure, the functioning of megacities and metropolises can be greatly improved.
  • Organically developed sustainable interdependent habitats will necessarily have characteristics like empty tracts between entities, shorter movements linked by locally-developed transport systems and a few access points to heavy motorised traffic.

Important lessons for planning in traditional lines:

  • Planning is not merely about physical growth, but also about spiritual and cultural growl which depends on the availability of resources.
  • Several studies reveal that each area had specific culturally-oriented rules which defined their needs and regulated the consumption of resources for that purpose.
  • One can notice the unique and virtuous skills of the local population across the country. This is achieved by decentralisation and by allowing self-discovery for the human energy to find particular avenues of exploration within the regional context of resources and values.
  • Planning must look at multi-nodal conglomerates, and not the single-large banyan trees that can expand infinitely, absorbing smaller entities on the way and obliterating their strengths.
  • Planning must focus on conserving and developing a natural network of important water bodies with a water supply and irrigation systems, forests and animal life.
  • Non-motorised transport encourages greener, quieter, and less polluted habitats.
  • ‘Appropriateness’ therefore, has been a virtue that has guided scales and life-fulfilling characteristics of each habitat in India. This is the secret of their survival over centuries, in spite of floods and famine.
  • Developing smaller towns of around one lakh population as growth centres and developing them as magnets will give other villages and smaller habitations the chance to learn, earn and develop without sacrificing their time and energy in communication and travel — preferring to stay nearby our parental region means enrichment in a community for family and individual life.

Chapter 2: Central Vista Redevelopment Project


  • The Central Vista Redevelopment Project intends to construct a triangular-shaped Parliament building next to the existing one, construction of the Common Central Secretariat, and revamp of the 3 kilometres long Rajpath from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
  • It also includes the conversion of the North and South Blocks into museums and the development of the Central Vista Avenue. Read more on the Central Vista Project.
  • To accommodate the offices of various ministries, 87 storied buildings will be built for the Common Central Secretariat.

Chapter 3: Development of Historic City Centres


  • India’s monuments are irreplaceable and significant assets for the nation and its people with associated emotional, religious, economic, historic, architectural, and archaeological values amongst others.
  • Their conservation efforts require craftsmen to use traditional materials, tools, and building techniques and can also become significant employers.
  • India’s craft traditions have survived to the present times, and it is recommended to give an emphasis on a craft-based approach to conservation as well as modern public buildings.

Conservation Approach:

  • The Indian approach to conservation allows leveraging our historical assets to improve the socio-economic conditions of residents of our historic cities.
  • The residents of our numerous historic city centres can benefit from greater integration of preservation and conservation efforts with public policies and schemes for development measures.
  • For instance, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in partnership, with the Archaeological Survey of India, the Central Public Works Department and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has undertaken a 15-year urban renewal project at the Humayun’s Tomb—Nizamuddin area in Delhi.
    • Here, conservation efforts have incorporated local area development through employment generation, boosting local crafts and arts, the building of infrastructure, environmental conservation, and landscaping.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India is taking several steps to ensure long-term, sustainable preservation of our nation’s heritage in a manner that is based on increased awareness amongst the public of the significance of our heritage and increased involvement of civil society in the preservation effort.
  • Conservation efforts have incorporated local area development through employment generation, boosting local crafts and arts, the building of infrastructure, environmental conservation, and landscaping.

Community-Based Conservation:

  • India’s monuments are under threat from the pressures of urbanisation.
  • To achieve conservation and development objectives, different agencies of the government need to partner with academic institutes/civil society and local communities.
  • It has already been demonstrated that any resources invested in such an endeavour lead to multiple returns as well as fulfilling multiple government objectives.
  • Several of our monuments stand amidst dense urban inhabitation in our many historic cities. Also, often the communities residing around monuments in these dense urban centres are poor and often deprived of even the most basic urban infrastructure.
  • The success of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal project has demonstrated a model approach for community-based conservation.
    • Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti underwent conservation and this conservation effort has been coupled with providing education, health services, and vocational training to create economic opportunities for local youth and women, sanitation, urban improvements including landscaping neighbourhood parks and street improvements, the revival of a 700-year living culture centred around Sufism and Qawwali amongst other aspects.
    • It is hoped that the community of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti will now play a pivotal role in the preservation of the built heritage that stands amidst their neighbourhood and that conservation/culture can be used as a tool for development in several other similar historic urban areas of India.
  • Conservation and development should go hand-in-hand, but conservation interest must remain paramount if any such development is to be sustainable in perpetuity.

Chapter 4: Brihadeeshwara Temple-A Stand Alone Marve


  • The Brihadeeshwara Temple (The Big Temple) of Thanjavur is a stunning monument that speaks volumes about the architectural mastery of the Chola era.
  • This Shiva temple is home to one of the largest Shiva Lingas in the country. A majestic Nandi (bull) stands guard over the temple. This is the second largest Nandi in India and is carved out of a single stone.
  • It is located on the south bank of the Cauvery river in Thanjavur.
  • It is also called Dakshina Meru. The temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, along with the Chola-era Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple.

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Image Source: Indian Express

Thanjavur (Tanjore):

  • The ancient city of Thanjavur is the cultural capital of the Kaveri delta region. The city and its cultural legacy are the end product of three vibrant kingdoms that have ruled this part of Tamil Nadu over the past millennium– the Cholas, the Vijayanagar and the Maratta kings.
  • The Cholas take credit for identifying the town as a potential political capital when it was captured by Vijayalaya Cholas early in the 9th century.
  • Rajaraja-I, who was engaged in several military expeditions, was inspired by the fine temple architecture patronised by the Pallavas, other predecessors and his ancestors, who have been devout Saivites and have contributed to the development of many popular temples of Siva.

The architecture of the big temple:

  • The Brihadeshwara Temple was built by Rajaraja I in 1009 CE for worshipping Lord Shiva.
  • The temple complex measures about 244 metres on the east-west and 122 metres north-south and is placed inside what is referred to as the ‘Sivagangai little fort’.
    • This fortification is an addition taken over during the renovation by Sevappa Nayaka around the 17th century.
  • There is also a moat (Long wide Channel) running around this fortification which should be crossed to enter the temple complex.
  • There are sub-shrines built in between cloistered halls housing shrines for the ashtadikpalakas (deities guarding the 8 directions), Lord Ganesha, and the temple yagasalai.
  • On the southwest corner is the shrine of Ganesha, built during the times of Sarabhoji II.
  • The shrine built during the times of Rajaraja, mentioned in the inscription as Parivara-Alayattu Pillaiyar was vandalised and hence the Maratta king built a new structure for him.
    • This is an extremely ornate sculptural gallery that houses Subramanya along with his consorts Valli and Devasena.
    • The door guardians of this shrine, sculpted out of a very shining granite stone, and the stone tub installed to collect ablution water are noteworthy for their workmanship. The pillared hall in front of this shrine has portrait paintings of the royal members of the Maratta kings.

Read more on the Chola temples of Tamil Nadu in the linked article.

The Vimana:

  • Inside the temple, there is a temple tower famous as Vimana which has an elevation of 66 metres.
  • This Vimana is one of the tallest temple towers on the earth.
  • The Vimana stands on a square base measuring 29 metres. The proportioning of the successive tiers of the Vimana is the reason behind the visually appealing appearance of the structure.
  • The pyramidal Vimana is corrugated with appropriate motifs, design features, and sculptures of various deities. The pinnacle is a spherical dome-like shikhara, on which sits the 12-foot tall gold-plated kalasam.
  • Epigraphic evidence says that Rajaraja I had presented a gold-covered finial to be fixed on the Vimanam on the two hundred and seventy-fifth day of his twenty-fifth regnal year, ie., 1009-10 CE.
  • According to the agamas, the Vimanam on top of the sanctum sanctorum is supposed to represent sookhmalinga.
  • It is considered a sacred mountain and hence Rajaraja describes this Vimana as the ‘Dakshina Meru’, the revered Meru mountain of the south. Hence, the topography of Kailasa has been recreated as a stone bas-relief on the eastern facade, decorated with the daily scene at Kailasa, representing the divine family of Siva with Devi, Ganesha, Muruga, Nandi, the rishis, and other celestials.

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Image Source: Tamil Nadu Tourism

  • The sanctum sanctorum is approached by a series of mandapams from the eastern side.
  • The antarala is accessed from a fleet of stairs on the north and south sides. This is where devotees stand to offer their worship in front of Sri Rajarajeshwaram Udaiya Paramaswami, as the deity was called by Rajaraja himself.

Nandi Pavilion:

  • An equally interesting feature of the temple is the huge monolithic Nandi, the sacred bull, in front of the main shrine. The pavilion on which the Nandi sits is by itself a later-period addition.
  • The monolithic Nandi from the Nayaka period was brought in to replace the old Nandi installed by Rajaraja.
  • The mandapam was also constructed by them and the ceiling of this mandapam was painted with frescos carrying European influences.
  • The Nandi installed by the Cholas is now placed on the south side of the cloistered hall running around the compound wall.

Chapter 5: Statue of Unity

Key Details:

  • The Statue of Unity is built in honour of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • It was dedicated to the nation on October 31, 2018, which also marked the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
  • It is located on the Sadhu Bet island on the Narmada river, which flows between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges.
  • Sardar Patel is credited with uniting over 560 princely states in pre-independent India to build the Republic of India, hence the statue is christened the ‘Statue of Unity’.
  • It is the tallest statue in the world with an impressive height of 182 metres and can be seen from space.
  • The statue is capable of enduring wind gusts of over 220 km/h while enduring earthquakes 6.5 or greater on the Richter Scale.
  • The statue is a three-layered structure. The innermost layer is made of reinforced cement concrete (RCC), comprising two towers 127 metres high that rise to the statue’s chest. The second layer is a steel structure and the third is an 8 mm bronze cladding on the surface.

Chapter 6: Universal Public Designs


  • In a heterogeneous society, the goal of every state is to provide equal access to its citizens. Inclusion stands for giving freedom for access to all and building commonalities.
  • Infrastructure for persons with disabilities is a significant dimension of architecture. It has certain implications from the special-need quotient of demography, and disability as an asocial construct.
  • India has initiated Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan as a credible step towards sustainable goals in universal designs.
  • When administrators consider people with all kinds of abilities and their accessibility issues while building public utilities and spaces, it can be coined as universal design. The universal or inclusive design provides a holistic approach to designing public spaces and utilities.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) inspires and focuses on universal design. It highlights the sovereign government’s responsibility to make improvements since accessibility is a right.
    • Member States are responsible for systematically removing obstacles and creating inclusive solutions for everyone, irrespective of their functional capacity, characteristics and preferences.
  • In Nordic countries, for instance, universal design is a good example of the vision for inclusive growth.
  • There are three crucial aspects of inclusive designs in any situation.
    • Social responsibility or commitment of the entity that evolves strategies for inclusion.
    • The reward to such organisations which initiate such changes.
    • The sustainability of such initiatives.


  • A major challenge in implementing such changes is on emphasising the value of such initiatives at the policy level and at the execution level.
  • Inclusive design is about creating buildings and spaces, streets, public parks, gardens, etc., that are really comfortable and easy for all of us to use.
  • Another challenge in providing inclusive architecture is construction workers’ lack of knowledge about the whole structure, and issues of accessibility fail to bring those minute changes for universal designs.
  • Sugamya Bharat has been formulated by considering all possible lacunae. A country with such a diverse structure demands a systemic strategy to tackle the existing challenges.

Approaches and Principles:

  • A piece of architecture should provide an equitable use for every person irrespective of their differential ability.
  • A piece of architecture should possess the quality of flexibility in use.
  • A piece of architecture must have quality-simple and intuitive use.
  • A piece of architecture should have perceptible information about its layout.
  • A piece of architecture should possess the quality of tolerating errors if people commit mistakes due to their disabilities.
  • A piece of architecture should possess the quality of usage or access and should demand low physical effort.
  • A piece of architecture should possess adequate size and space for use.

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Image Source: Yojana


  • In all the domains of public work, an integrated approach by incorporating the end users’ feedback can deliver a quality of governance to people with differential abilities.
  • An accessible physical environment benefits everyone, not just persons with disabilities.
  • Accessibility eliminates obstacles and barriers to indoor and outdoor facilities including schools, medical facilities, and workplaces.
  • Universal design will also indirectly help the state in soliciting the global community to enjoy the iconic tourist spots in India.

Chapter 7: Architecture for Health and Well-Being


  • People are spending a great amount of time indoors, which is in contrast to earlier times. Our routines were aligned to the rising of the Sun and our circadian rhythms were matched to the Sun’s.
  • In our current lifestyles, we are fast dependent on the building amenities and utilities that power us on a day-to-day basis. This includes artificial lighting and artificial means of ventilating space.
  • The indoor-based lifestyle should most definitely be optimised to take care of our health and well-being.

Perspectives on Holistic Well-being:

  • According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.
  • Architecture and city planning are closely linked to the reduction in non-communicable diseases if proper thought is put in place.
    • The proximity of spaces for work-out and recreation including parks, integrated with our urban texture, hold the key to a healthy life.
    • Bicycle tracks, availability of bicycles, no-car zones, green spaces, and other measures in cities form the basis of a more active lifestyle.
    • The use of interior products that are non-carcinogenic in nature like paints, furniture finishes, and upholstery in buildings is necessary for the prevention of the building of volatile organic compounds which are proven to be carcinogenic on longer exposures.
    • A well-designed building is an antidote to the daily humdrum of office work and provides a release from stress.
  • All India Sanitary Conference that was held in Lucknow in 1914 laid the foundation of the current paradigm of building and city planning, by including the concepts of health and wellbeing.
  • The concept of having appropriate lights on the streets was introduced and the width of the abutting streets was made in accordance with the light to ensure adequate sunlight supply to the interior spaces of the buildings.
    • This forms the basis of all urban bylaws and city plans made later in India.
    • Sunlight, along with natural ventilation was considered as the remedy against many ills of the time like tuberculosis.
  • A wide spectrum of health encompasses preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care.
  • India has taken steps in this direction under Ayushman Bharat with the opening of Health and Wellness Centres which shifts the Indian healthcare approach from selective, curative healthcare to one which includes concepts of well-being embedded into it.
  • The victory of the civilisation lies in the provision of good quality housing to the commoners with the same intensity with which buildings of national importance are planned and built.
  • A civilisation with great monumental buildings for the government along with world-class housing for the poor will result in a balanced development of a great nation.
    • The Union government’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is an initiative to provide affordable housing to the urban poor.
  • What is most required is that our pre-existing focus on health and well-being must be given a renewed vigour so that each and every building is designed for health and well-being. This will have a multiplier effect on the overall well-being of the nation as a whole.
  • India must incorporate state-of-the-art building codes and standards that the Bureau of Indian Standards publishes to design buildings for health and well-being.
    • This includes the National Building Code 2016 along with other sub-codes like SP-41 or the Handbook of Functional Requirements of Buildings and the National Lighting Code which deals with visual comfort in spaces.
  • Architecture and City Planning are the mainstays and key ingredients of health and well-being for the building inhabitants and city dwellers. This fact must be reinvented with each new building and each new city plan.

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