Noor Boushehri, Maria Letizia Garzoli, Elad Horn, Yunjie Li, Marcus Goodwin and Jane Philbrick, all first-year Masters of Design Studies Critical Conservation students, joined the Loeb Fellows and GSD colleagues in Agra, India, for Rahul Mehrotra's Extreme Urbanism: Planning for Conservation option studio. The LOEBlog is featuring their impressions from the trip.
The threshold of the Taj South Gate marks the climax of symbolism in Mughal urbanism. The outer urban fabric, its messy energy and formal exuberance, powerfully contrasts with the heavenly order of the quadrants inside the Taj perimeter, its pleasure gardens and the mausoleum’s white perfection. South Gate synthetically expresses the contradictions inherent to garden ecology.
The approach by stone pathway to the east of the iconic central axis offers views of the Taj through a canopy of trees and floral groundcover. The Taj appears to float above the earth, achieving the intended illusion of the site as a Garden of Paradise.
The British modified the original garden design during their occupation, raising the sunken gardens to ground level. Formerly orchards had been planted below grade so the fruit ripening on the branches of the trees were an effortless arm’s reach for the Emperor to enjoy as he toured the garden grounds.