Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Markus Berger

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Katz

Third Advisor

Liliane Wong


Many of Delhi’s national treasures are dying due to apathy and neglect. With centuries of history embedded in these places, they lie in the heart of densely populated ‘urban villages’ and yet are isolated, increasingly subject to vandalism and encroachment - their cultural significance seemingly lost. In the last century, the collective memory of the communities around these monuments has been shaped by poverty, depression and an influx of immigrants with no prior connections to these places. This is clearly illustrated by the state these monuments are suffering.

Research suggests that sense of identity comes from a sense of place. Applying Gaston Bachelard’s concept of ‘primal image’ created by these monuments, what does this space mean to the community and how can that meaning be kept intact while inviting new associations? This thesis seeks to examine the role our built environment plays in relation to our identity. Can the collective memory of communities in the urban villages of Delhi be altered by an architectural intervention in the derelict and decaying monuments they surround, reactivating connection with their heritage and helping in creating new memories? sepia tint sketc h of site on whole page here

The host site, Zafar Mahal, is in Mehrauli village in New Delhi, India. It is the ruined palace of the last Mughal Emperor in India, built in stages during the 19th century, encompassing an ancient tomb. It was ruined during India’s First War of Independence in 1857 and not occupied again until 1947, when the British exited India and Hindu refugees sought shelter while moving away from the newly formed Pakistan. Today, even though it is a protected monument, Zafar Mahal is continuously encroached upon and is degrading as it disappears.

The proposed intervention seeks to breathe new life into the ruin by connecting the surrounding community with its past. Zafar Mahal will be a museum workshop, encompassing craft, food and heritage. Following the Venice Charter, the new layer of history being added through the interventions is distinct from the original, and yet echoes the older design language. Passive cooling elements taken from vernacular architecture form an inherent part of the design. These interventions make the host habitable once again and recall its original function by inviting the community in with a promise of succor, rest and relaxation while absorbing culture and history.



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