Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Geometries of Jaipur

Jaipur, February 3, 2013

I must confess that I know next to nothing about the historic origins or cultural roots of Jaipur's urban layout.  But I can still enjoy looking at the exquisite ways in which the city engages its topography, constructs its geometry and articulates its architecture.

At first glance the early 18th century historic core of Jaipur seems to be a gridded city in the tradition of Hippodamus and the Laws of Indies.  But once you get a sense of the dimensions, it becomes evident that the geometry of the plan is not so much an even pattern of blocks but more of a matrix of large square districts or "superblocks" (sorry, I may still be under the influence of my recent visit to Chandigarh.)  It's half a mile between the major avenues.  There is a small square (choupad) at each intersections. The avenues are wide (more than 100 feet wide) and lined by regular, tall one-story porticoes.  Each sector is further articulated by narrower streets of different and nuanced patterns.  The central square contains palaces, temples and gardens--including Jai Singh's s legendary collection of astronomical buildings, the Jantar Mantar--and extends to the north.  There is a defensive wall on three sides of the city with gates at the end of each avenue.  The remaining side, to the north, is protected by a series of forts sitting up at the edge of the Aravalli Hills.

In a way, Jaipur can be seen as an elaboration of a 9-square grid with the City Palace at the center.  The southern side extends one square to the east taking advantage of the flat terrain and the opposite side loosens up as it encounters the foot of the hills to the north.

No comments :

Post a Comment