Exhibit on Indian Spiritual Sanctuary on Display in U.Va. Architecture School

October 17, 2011 — "Golconde: The Introduction of Modernism in India," an exhibit by Pankaj Vir Gupta, Harry S. Shure Visiting Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia, will be on display in the U.Va. School of Architecture's Elmaleh Gallery in Campbell Hall from Oct. 24 through Nov. 18. It is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

A gallery talk will be held Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m., with an opening reception following from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in conjunction with the "Final Fridays" event at U.Va.'s Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.

Golconde, a dormitory for the Sri Aurobindo Ashram located on the coastal edge of the Bay of Bengal in Pondicherry, India, was designed by architects Antonin Raymond and George Nakashima. It is a hand-crafted architectural edifice, seamlessly negotiating between the tenets of early modernist architecture and the pragmatic impositions of a tropical context. Espousing radical economy and uncompromising construction standards, it proposes environmental sensitivity as a foundation for the design process.

Completed in 1942, Golconde was the first reinforced, cast-in-place concrete building in India and celebrates the modernist credo: architecture as the manifest union of aesthetics, technology and social reform.

Funded by the Graham Foundation, Vir.Mueller Architects – Gupta and Christine Mueller – conducted primary source research in Pondicherry, assembling archival records and drawings to document the story of this transformative spiritual sanctuary. Their research has been published as a monograph, "Golconde: The introduction of modernism in India" (Urban Crayon Press, 2010).

U.Va. architecture professor Peter Waldman said, "This exhibit mirrors the exquisite meters of ennobling everyday routines in a modest setting. It offers an alternative way of understanding modernism in India, heretofore dominated by the heroic monuments of post-independence architecture. Golconde whispers a response to Sanford Kwinter's query: 'What can be more modern than the archaic?'"

Gupta is a licensed architect in the U.S. and a registered member of the Council of Indian Architects. He received a bachelor of science in architecture degree from U.Va. in 1993 and a master of architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture at Yale University in 1997. He worked for architectural offices in the U.S. and in India, including Will Bruder Architects, office dA and Joseph Stein, and authors a column for the Wall Street Journal.

Gupta and Mueller established Vir.Mueller Architects in Boston in 2003 and relocated in 2006 to New Delhi. The firm has received awards from the American Institute of Architects, the Foundation for World Education, the George Nakashima Foundation for Peace and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. 

– By Ellen Cathey

Media Contact

Ellen Cathey

School of Architecture