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Title: Innovative masonry shell construction in India's evolving building crafts : a case for tile vaulting
Author: Jalia, Aftab
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 9310
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis uses the lens of building technology to examine cultural exchange and its relationship to the building crafts. By focusing on masonry vaulting in India, my research brings together two worlds – one that shines light on the variety of innovative masonry shell construction techniques that exist in the county and another that seeks to evaluate the scope of tile vaulting, an over 600-year old Mediterranean building technique, within India’s evolving building crafts culture. This thesis is organized in three parts: PART ONE Tile Vaulting and Relevance Today | A Brief History of Masonry Shells in India Part one introduces tile vaulting’s unique principles compared to other vaulting traditions while contextualizing its relevance to present day India. A survey of varied masonry vaulting techniques and modules, endemic and imported, practiced across India is presented against the backdrop of what is a predominantly reinforced concrete-based construction industry. PART TWO Modules, Methods and Motivations The second part of this research comprises case studies that include some of India’s most iconic buildings such as the Villa Sarabhai by Le Corbusier, the National Institute of Design by Gautam Sarabhai and Sangath by B.V. Doshi, each of which employed innovative construction techniques for its vaults. The production and use of the enigmatic ceramic fuses in India is examined for the first time alongside their indigenous cousins: burnt clay tubes. Together with Muzaffarnagar vaulting, the case studies reveal cultural motivations for architectural expression and production in postcolonial India. PART THREE Prototypes | Comparatives | Limitations & Extension of Research Part three presents five tile vaulting prototypes in India constructed with local artisans to gain understanding of its cultural reception, assess effective transfer of skills and potential internalisation. Recommendations for tile vaulting’s potential uptake into mainstream architectural production is evaluated by comparing findings against prevalent building methods and by contextualizing current architectural trends and social policy. Limitations and scope for extension of research are also discussed.
Supervisor: Ramage, Michael Sponsor: University of Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Tile Vaulting ; Masonry Vaulting ; Indian Building Crafts ; Ceramic Fuses ; Indian Architecture ; Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana ; Indira Awas Yojana ; Guastavino Vaulting ; Muzaffarnagar Vaulting ; Le Corbusier ; Catalan Vaulting ; Villa Sarabhai ; Burnt Clay Tubes ; Wardha Tile ; Guna tile ; National Institute of Design ; Gautam Sarabhai ; B.V. Doshi ; Bilimora ; John Soane ; Fernand Pouillon ; Ahmedabad ; Bhuj ; Hunnarshala ; Map of Vaulting in India ; Computation and Craftsman ; Traditional Building Methods ; Transfer of skills ; Prototyping ; Architectural History of India ; Monomateriality