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Re-creation and self-creation in temple design

Hardy, Adam ORCID: 2022. Re-creation and self-creation in temple design. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly 26 (1) , pp. 14-29. 10.1017/S1359135522000082

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The article discusses an approach taken for the design of a new temple in Karnataka, India, to be built in the medieval ‘Hoysala’ style, which followed the Karnata Dravida tradition of temple architecture. This style is unfamiliar to present-day traditional temple builders in India. The design needs to be based on research into architectural history, of a kind that aims to relive the processes through which temples were designed, assimilating the architectural language and its principles. This kind of architectural history involves re-creation, and this kind of design can contribute to architectural history as ‘design research’. An application of such research is the reconstruction of temple designs from ruins. The temples can potentially be rebuilt, or they can be reconstructed graphically, and presented meaningfully on site. Re-creation of temples through drawing is also a key for understanding canonical Sanskrit texts on architecture. These texts are not illustrated but call for interpretation through drawing. Temple types are typically presented in sequences of evolution from simple to complex forms, one type emanating from another in way reminiscent of how the architectural traditions themselves develop. Texts provide a framework for a design, demanding interpretation, improvisation, and invention. The results are only partly determined by an individual architect, and the framework can stimulate creations that an individual would never have thought of, as if such temples are svayambhu, or ‘self-creating’. A ’svayambhu’ approach has been taken in the design of the new Hoysala temple. No texts survive from the Karnata Dravida tradition, but the surviving creations of that tradition display the emanatory logic of its unfolding. A ‘self-creating’ design for this temple can be achieved by exploring formal possibilities inherent in the tradition and extrapolating a new form, while accommodating ritual and iconographic requirements, and being open to the unexpected.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1474-0516
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 May 2022
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 11:37

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