FWF - Nagara Architektur - Nagara Architecture of Himachai: Form, Geometrie, Construction

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Nagara temple constitutes a type of religious monument composed centrally upon a geometric pattern
derived from basic Hindu-mandalas. Its major formal significance is the curvilinear shikara tower, the elongate
upper section of the building that rises above the sanctum (garbha grha). Its well-proportioned structure
contributes to the sculptural character of this building type. This technically results from the modular components
of the stone construction that constitute the formal rhythm of the shape. Thus, the form of the Nagara temple is
based on the interaction of a mandala-type diagram and a well-calculated vertical proportional system. While
extensive studies on the floor plans are already available, data on the vertical forms are almost non-existent.
Accordingly, elevations or sectional drawings of the temples are not available, and knowledge on this
sophisticated type of religious architecture is highly fragmented. As a result, there is a need for the study of this
architectural type as a whole.
The project aims at the complete documentation of selected Nagara temples from the valleys of the foothill
regions of the western Himalaya (i.e. today‘s State of Himachal Pradesh), where a sufficient number of early
monuments have survived until today, providing the relevant case-studies for a comparative study. Based on the
comparative study of the surveyed monuments, the major rules and principles of design will be investigated.
Further, the relationship between structural-technical aspects and formal-aesthetic conventions, as well as
functional demands, and their impact on the over-all shape will be discussed. The project aims at reconstructing
and establishing the principles of design, i.e. the relation and inter-dependence between geometry, modular
structure, and standardised sizes and forms of the components. To achieve that goal, Shape Grammar, specific
software developed for parametric modelling and design, will be adapted to meet the needs for its application in
an analytic process. Thus, the study will be primarily based on digitalised 3D models. Construction elements will
be parametrically defined. The parametric data will be super-imposed on the construction methods with general
Based on the established rules, a “generation engine“ will be programmed, through which all steps of the
construction process can be virtually visualised. This method allows for both an investigation of the general
patterns of the typology and the reconstruction of the design principles of every single architectural object. The
study will include the detailed documentation and visualisation of the iconographic content of every temple and
provide scholars of related disciplines with new data. Beyond that, the proposed project itself will merge two
architectural sub-disciplines through the combination of architectural studies and cultural history with advanced
digital technology derived from architectural design and presentation methods.
Effective start/end date1/07/1630/06/19


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