Postgraduate Research

Rupa Raje Gupta, did her research at PRASADA on "The Wada of Maharashtra, an Indian courtyard houseform". She is working with Rai University as Academic co-ordinator for all programs at the Gurgaon Campus. She did her Bachelor's in Architecture from the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigar and had been teaching as visiting faculty and then full time faculty in Vastukala Academy of Architecture, Delhi. She is married and settled in Delhi with her architect husband who has his private practice. Her interest in vernacular studies led her to pursue research on a topic close to her heart in a region where her roots belong.

The Wada of Maharashtra: an Indian courtyard house form

Abstract of the Thesis (completed September 2007)

The study of the wada of Maharashtra attempts the first systematic overview of the courtyard house form in the present day state of Maharashtra, across its five traditional regions. Between 1700 AD and 1900 AD the wada received royal patronage and proliferated. It was the Marathas first and later their successors, the Peshwas who patronised this house form which was found not only in Maharashtra but areas around as well, where their rule spread.

Previous scholarship has concentrated on small geographical regions, whereas this study attempts to evaluate the similarities and variables across the entire state of Maharashtra. The study documents and analyses the wada in order to develop an understanding of a regional type of the courtyard house form. An attempt has been made to weave socio cultural, historical and geographical aspects which became tools in understanding the development of the wada. Reasons for the development of the plan, its continuity and disruption have been examined.

Regional and social variations have been identified while documenting 75 wadas across the five traditional regions of the state, covering over 30 towns, along with examining determinants of space and form. The sudy investigates the emergence of a new architectural style, the ‘Maratha’ style, which appeared alongside the ‘Delhi’ or Islamic arcuated style and the ‘Gujurati’ or Hindu trabeated style.

The data is organsed in regional and sociological formats from which the variables and similarities become evident, arriving at a classification of images, plans, sections and elevations. The typologies have been studied in relation to the town plan, establishing a link between the wada and the rest of the town. The spaces within the wada are explained as an outcome of the structural grid. Wooden columns and beams formed the grid, and the length of the timber determined the grid dimensions. Spaces were multiples of this grid, emanating from the central courtyard which, in large wadas, was the source of light, ventilation and a hub of social activities.

The research is intended to be a starting point for further detailed work, and for exploration of indigenous design solutions which find relevance in the current context of design.