With the purpose of expanding the built infrastructure in their colonial empire the British imparted technical training to Indians since the mid nineteenth century. These construction related courses initially focussed on assistant, supervisory and executive tasks but evolved into the training of civil engineers. Half a century later, in 1913, a handful of British architects in Bombay took the initiative to develop an existing drafting school for architectural assistants into India’s first school of architecture. Through such schools, and the gradual employment of Indians at higher ranks in Indo-British firms or the Public Works Department, Indian architects and engineers acquired British methods of working and construction. While construction practice during the British Raj (1858-1947) has gained scholarly attention recently (Chopra 2011), less is known of how construction was practiced after India’s independence in 1947. Analysis of the profiles of professional firms has shown to be a fruitful means of gaining insight in the workings of the construction field (Saint 1983, Ferguson and Chrimes 2014, Bertels 2008). In order to understand how construction practice was carried forward, this paper will therefore study the first Indian architect-entrepreneurs, who established their firms after Independence.
The study is built on data collected from interviews and office archives of three Indian architectural and entrepreneurial offices, which were based in Pune and active in the period 1947-1982. The paper analyses the type of projects these firms were working on, the procedures and organisation of design and construction, and the prevailing construction techniques of the period. As such this contribution will shed light on how, in a post- colonial situation, western models of construction practice were translated into the Indian context.