photo series captures the multiple layers that compose the urban fabric of delhi today

photo series captures the multiple layers that compose the urban fabric of delhi today

titled ‘beauty lost in progression’, this photo series examines the evolution of architecture in the city of delhi along with the historical, cultural and social influences that shaped it. discovering and analyzing the multiple urban layers, expressed through the various cultural and architectural characters, invites viewers to understand the city’s true identity, and reflect on this reality by asking some essential questions, such as what is the meaning of development, what role does heritage play in it, and how can heritage play a more active role in the lives of the people.

photo series captures the multiple layers that compose the urban fabric of delhi today designboom
zeenat mahal haveli encroached by illegal commercial developments and open electrical wire defy beautiful facade of the haveli



developed by photographic systems, the intention of the series is to show today’s reality of the complex juxtaposition of old versus current development, evident in the buildings of zeenat mahal, khari baoli, taj mahal hotel, old allahabad bank, khajanchi havelli, and many more.looking back at the history of delhi, it started with the seventh city of shahjahanabad in 1648 by shahjahan, the great mughal emperor,’ mentions the photographer, ‘the planning and character of shahjahanabad were efficiently designed from its inception to execution, however, the colonial reign saw the start of a mass depletion and negligence to its architectural identity. cultural preservation is especially pertinent in post-independence india after the dominance of western influences,’ he continues, ‘the rapid urbanization and infrastructure-based development led to the questioning of the importance of conserving the old; the sad reality is that delhi today is not the same.’

masjid mubarak begum with other juxtaposed current developments which are not in context



today, delhi’s urban fabric consists of layers of ‘alien’ buildings which do not seem to belong together, raising questions of lost heritage and identity. ‘many havellis and buildings have been marked as heritage by authorities and municipalities, but the heritage tag is only on papers,’ notes the photographer, ‘there are no strict urban guidelines to ensure the conservation of the character of the old city.’ elements of the mughal architectural styles such as jharokhas (windows), chattris (umbrellas), small decorative balconies, fluted columns, traditional baithaks (drawing rooms), and marble floors now coexist with high-rise structures, commercial banners, advertisements and illegal parking activities. even if the series seems to argue that delhi’s identity is lost within these newer additions, it still manages to capture an original collage, presenting an authentic portrait of what makes the city today.

photo series captures the multiple layers that compose the urban fabric of delhi today designboom
beautiful entrance archway covered by banners of shops and old dilapidated scooter

chunnalmal haveli encroached by police container on which posters of gods are pasted to avoid urination in public

photo series captures the multiple layers that compose the urban fabric of delhi today designboom
beautiful entrance archway converted to godown

juxtapostion of old allahabad with ACP cladded shop

juxtapostion of old tajmahal hotel with modern ACP cladded facade hotel

ghalib haveli encroached by bike parking inside the premise

beautiful entrance archway converted to godown

beautiful dilapidated archway of khajanchi havelli, overlooking current development which is out of context

khari baoli, one of asia’s largest and oldest spice market with haphazard encroached building development

khari baoli archway overlooking current encroached development, which is out of context



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: sofia lekka angelopoulou | designboom

  • Alas my grandfathers house, bari haveli suffered the same fate. I am now 81 years and regret the passing of time and its effect on so much of our past, be it mughal muslim or old hindu, tolerant of others. Delhi is littered with remnants of its muslim history which is interwoven in its Indian history. With the present Gujrati intolerant uneducated Indian President who wants to ape the intolerance prevalent in Pakistan, we are losing all respect of our past and trying to project an untruthful version of it. Ah Ve.

    Syed Tariq Rafique says:

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