India Journal: Critical Conservation Reports, Day 3

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 heritage city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by India’s third Mughal ruler Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar in 1571.  The imperial compound comprises spectacular red sandstone buildings, each serving distinct programs encompassing Akbar’s profound and inclusive humanism, from pavilions for scholarship, worship and the arts to governance, defense and noble residences.  Of particular note are the women’s quarters, which the imperial wives were permitted to design to their dictates.

Panch Mahal is an elegant 5-story pavilion of asymmetrically layered levels ascending in decreasing scale.  Each open-air floor rises on columns — 84 columns on the ground floor, 56 on the second, 20 on the third, 12 on the fourth; the fifth floor culminates in a domed cupola standing four-square with a column at each corner.  The skeletal anatomy of the tiered trellis structure references the Persian badgir, "wind catcher,” engineered to offer relief to intense summer heat by convection: drawing cool ground-level breezes to the upper stories and exhausting hot air through an array of rooftop towers.

The view from Agra Fort helps establish the visual relationship of Agra's historical riverfront.

Photos: Jane Philbrick
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