Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Markus Berger

Third Advisor

Julia Bernert


Water is a basic human right and a resource that should be accessible to all. The largest and deepest stepwell in the world, Chand Baori in dry Abhaneri, Rajasthan, is visited by many but serves its purpose for none. This hundred foot deep subterranean structure once allowed access to fresh water during hot and dry seasons, and served as a cool sanctuary for pilgrims, caravans and villagers.Unfortunately, due to climate change and political discourse, the underprivileged, rural population of modern India often does not have access to water. Stepwells were built in India in the 3rd century CE, in the north-western part of the country. These magnificent structures once generated a tranquil escape from outer chaos by enhancing sacred relationships between water and human life. From the 8th century through the 18th, the Baori had undergone underwent both architectural and cultural transformations from Hindu to a Muslim dominion, and ultimately abandonment.

Through sustainable solutions, this 21st century intervention aims to revitalize Chand Baori by harvesting and reusing seasonal precipitation. By utilizing both traditional and contemporary methods, the local population and their livestock should once again have access to water from the stepwell. A spatial narrative is formed by integrating the existing architecture, landscape, water and atmosphere, contributing to water catchment, transportation and preservation back into the stepwell. As you descend, the aura of the swiftly decreasing temperature, combined with 21st century atmospheric water generating bamboo scaffolding creates a new circulation pattern.

This thesis aims to empower the rural or the underdeveloped regions in India that lack the safety of women as they fetch water during odd hours, as well as the depleted livelihood of farmers and their cattle due to the absence of water. The intervention intends to serve as a catalyst to reconsider the neglect and disuse of thousands of stepwells across the country.


View exhibition online: Japneet Pahwa, Ascends and Descends in the 21st Century - Restoring Chand Baori



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