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Established in 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah and named after him, Ahmedabad in Gujarat is one of India’s
most well preserved medieval cities. Wealthy from its inception, it continued to prosper, and in the first
half of the 20th century became home to a booming textile industry. Ahmedabad was at the forefront of
the nationalist movement, and became the crucible modern architecture and design in independent
India. The city’s culture has responded to the social, political, and economic challenges of each passing
century, creating its multifaceted character.

Bibliography-Ahmedabad 600-Portraits of a city, by Suchitra Balasubhrahmanyan and Sharmila Sagara

Viewing the city

A multifaceted, multivocal view which attempts to capture the city in all its cultural complexity.
Following this approach, the arts and architecture are viewed not in themselves but against the
backdrop of the city elite’s patronage structures; the food and craft cultures are appreciated in light of
Ahmedabad’s entrepreneurial spirit and early encounters with globalization, as well as in the context of
the seemingly paradoxical synthesis and symbiosis between the city’s many communities which are
sometimes unable to live in peace with each other.

Portraits of a City

Ahmedabad’s unique pols, stepwells, mosques and havelis. As the material changes, elements from the
earlier forms persist to find a place in subsequent building forms, albeit with changes and

Revealing the unknown aspects of a city we thought we already knew so well.

2-Architectural traditions of the evolving city-R.J. Vasavada

Houses in Ahmd

The house was conceived as a self contained unit providing all living needs the construction of domestic
building or load the religious philosophy in treating the house is a temple but why varied in its form and
structure. The materials used for domestic building where Timber and brick, which were more
accessible. For this reason the pattern of tiered horizontal construction was commonly followed in
devising the structure of houses. Timber replaced stone in domestic architecture for its flexibility and
affordability while still providing ample freedom for adornment and carving. Perfect balance and
harmony where achieved through the use of standard dimensions in the construction of facades and
supports, composite with masonry construction, with also allowed flexibility in modification of the
structures. Timber was also a humane material suited to domestic settlement and the wooden Street
facade created a very comfortable living environment in the dry, hot climate of the region.
The house which was a constituent of the settlement known as a 'pol’, was seen as an independent self
sufficient unit within the settlement in terms of its form and substance.

A traditional house in the City was designed around a court. Court provided the element of nature
within the tight-knit house. Besides providing natural light and ventilation, the court also had an
underground Storage tank which collected the rain water that ran off the roofs and terraces for year
round usage; this was a common feature of all pol houses. The court was the essential core of the
house, providing the rooms around it exposure to the open air. The various representations of flora and
fauna and mythical stories Virtually created a reflection of the universe within the world of the house.
The house was thus conceived essay reflection of the world outside and the universe beyond, through
the aperture of the court open to the sky. It was one of the most significant expression achieved through
it's design and execution. The house was thus a world within a world.

Evolving traditions

Traditions is an ongoing cultural love always emerge or get strengthened out of the beliefs of the people
and are supported by the increasing know how in an advancing or shifting cultural scenario. In
Ahmedabad this aspect is very evident and operative. Every new epoch of changing leadership has
infused a new amalgam as explained above, a result of newer expression growing out of the existing
context which influences the incoming political leadership. This constant renewal and redefining has
been a strong factor in keeping the traditions alive and pulsating. Considering Ahmedabad history, it's
strength has been in keeping the strong identity of its earlier traditions alive and potent enough to
provide sufficient flexibility and freedom for others to absorb their contents, and to nurture other
cultures without losing its inherent identity.

The generic morphology of the urban fabric in the old

city is called the Pol. It is believed that the Pol housing
sustained itself for almost over two centuries but did not
adapt itself to the rapidly changing lifestyle and
perception of the people of Ahmedabad. The thesis
focuses on developing a model residential cluster which
interprets the Pol to modern needs, for the people
moving out of the old city. The inspiration for this work
largely lies in the essence of the traditional Pols, the
street life, use of outdoor spaces etc. Thus, the proposal
deals with urban issues of comfort in the context of the
hot climate like that of Ahmedabad overlaid by the
cultural background of India.

The Pol, a small residential unit consisting of a single

street (usually a dead end street) with a group of houses
is generally protected by a massive gate at the entrance.
They are densely populated and when put together they
look like a maze with winding narrow lanes forming a
series of micro- neighbourhoods. The character of the
Pol itself is defined by the transitional spaces called
‘Otlas’, a small verandah like space connecting the house
to the street. Individual houses have a deep plan with the
small side facing the street. A pol would get organised
generally by people of the same social group or
community. Thus the city characteristically grew very
organically into a dense built fabric (Fig. 2) reflecting not
only the culture of the local people but also the climate it
was set in.

Figure 1: Contrasting footprint-old & new city, Ahmedabad [

Figure 2: Diagrammatic representation of a typical Pol

housing in the old city of Ahmedabad
The city is considered to have summer all the year round.
It can be described as a hot climate with average outdoor
temperatures between 20°C and 34° C. May is the hottest
month with peak temperatures rising up to an intolerable
42°C and January the coldest with an average day
temperature of 20°C. The city really never faces winters
except a few months (December, January) when the night
time temperatures reach as low as 10-14°C. For most part
of the year Ahmedabad is hot and dry, with tropical rains
for only three months from August to September. Mild
season (November to February) is within the comfort
zone for most parts of the day.
Ahmedabad is marked by strong solar radiation
throughout the year and it is understood that solar control
is the one of the most effective strategies. It is seen that
while the mild season experiences lower temperatures the
amount of solar radiation received is still very high
especially on the south vertical face. With regards to
residential indoor comfort, where the indoor environment
does not need to be fully controlled, ceiling fans offer a
good compensation for coolers and air-conditioning.

At latitude of 22.42°N with a remarkably high incident
solar radiation throughout the year, the streets of the Pol
remain shaded and ensured outdoor comfort. In the
survey done in Ahmedabad during the field study, it was
observed that more than 72% of the people standing in
shade felt comfortable outdoors at a temperature as high
as 31°C even with very little air movement. As aptly
stated by Steemers et al, 2004 (1), in hot climates a
shaded street is always preferred over a street exposed to
direct solar radiation even if temperatures were lower by
a degree or two.

Figure 3: Street hierarchy analysis in an existing pol [5]

Simulations showed how the
street orientation and street canyon affect the percentage
of shading on a street. It was found that for N-S street
orientation and a height/width ratio of 1.2 the % shading
on street was in the same range as a E-W oriented streets
with a height/width ratio of 2.6. As seen in Table 1 this
data has been tabulated and then it is categorized into
three different levels of shaded streets, representing three
street hierarchies.

Table 1: Street hierarchy based on degree of shading which is a

function of street canyon and street orientation