“The object in view of both my predecessors in office and by myself has been rather to bring out the reasoning powers of individual students, so that they may understand the inner meaning of the old forms and their original function and may develop and modernize and gradually produce an architecture, Indian in character, but at the same time as suited to present day India as the old styles were to their own times and environment.” Claude Batley-1940; Lang, Desai, Desai, 1997 (p.143).

The article introduces teaching philosophy, content and method of Basic Design I and II for first year students of architecture at the Faculty of Architecture, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad, India. It is framed within the Indian perspective of architectural education from the British colonial times. Commencing with important academic literature and biases of the initial colonial period, it quickly traces architectural education in CEPT, the sixteenth school of post-independent India, set up in 1962, discussing the foundation year teaching imparted. The school was Modernist and avant-garde. The author introduced these two courses against the back drop of the Universalist Modernist credo of architecture and education.

In the courses, the primary philosophy behind learning design emerges from heuristic method. The aim of the first course is seen as infusing interest in visual world, development of manual skills and dexterity through the dictum of ‘Look-feel-reason out-evaluate’ and ‘observe-record-interpret-synthesize-transforme-express’. Due to the lack of architectural orientation in Indian schooling; the second course assumes vernacular architecture as a reasonable tool for a novice to understand the triangular relationship of society, architecture and physical context and its impact on design. The students are analytically exposed to the regional variety of architectures logically stemming from the geo-climatic forces, human and material resources and techniques that satisfy the socio-cultural needs and desires of a given people. Research analysis, large scale model making, simulation, actual size mockups and such engage the students in make-believe world of architectural learning in this course.