The Knowledge Systems Approach Applied

2.1 Contextual studies: Mughal Delhi, Shahjahan, Shahjahanabad and Redfort

The generation of knowledge started by looking at the historic city itself, here Mughal Delhi and its architecture, as it existed on the ground. The secondary studies on the cultural upbringing and achievements of the architect of the Bazaar, Shahjahan, corroborated inferences about his contribution to Mughal architecture, and the significance of his buildings, most of which could be appreciated as outstanding knowledge systems. Moreover, it was found that Shahjahan's knowledge was not restricted to individual buildings but encompassed palace and city planning, as demonstrated by the Redfort and his capital of Shahjahanabad, with the Chatta Chowk Bazaar as an integral part of both (Figure 1).

Figure 3. Chatta Chowk Bazaar, 1911-12, octagon and arcade; photo: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Annual Report.

Figure 1. The Chatta Chowk Bazaar in Shahjahanabad, its articulation of the processional imperial axis from the city to the palace.

Figure 1. The Chatta Chowk Bazaar in Shahjahanabad, its articulation of the processional imperial axis from the city to the palace.

Figure 3. Chatta Chowk Bazaar, 1911-12, octagon and arcade; photo: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Annual Report.

Figure 2. Original plan and section of the Bazaar.

2.2 Primary studies of the building

The documentation of the Bazaar was through architectural drawings of the existing state. With the advantage of having a modular system, the 'original' designed structure was deciphered by removing the accretions and alterations from the measured drawings (Figure 2).

These preliminary exercises helped in identifying the structural form of the building holistically. The term "Mall" thus addressed the fundamental characteristics of the building, functionally, architecturally and formally. This building can be described as a two-storied linear arcaded structure with an octagonal court halfway through its length, with eight arcade bays on either side, contiguous with the western entry of the Redfort, the Lahore Gate (Figure 3).

Secondary studies indicated that, though inherited typologically from central-Asian counterparts of the "souk" or Bazaar, integral to Persian and Arab cities, the Chatta Chowk Bazaar responded to the specificities of climate, cultural context as well as to Shahjahan's own design of the Redfort and Shahjahanabad, all of which is a complex design synthesis.

2.3 Structural analyses and technical studies

From the structural form of the building that emerged, critical areas were zoned and their behaviour analysed. Unfortunately, owing to logistical limitations, the foundation could not be examined and the formal analyses are restricted to the superstructure alone.

Technical studies were carried out from the reading of exposed areas of the building fabric, and samples were qualitatively studied to understand the construction system in terms of the constituents using secondary references from similar constructions. Moreover, a similar building by Shahjahan, a hunting-lodge at Jaunti village near Delhi, was studied insitu to understand construction. This building's collapse due to unknown reasons exposed a lot of the brick masonry that is similar to the Chatta Chowk Bazaar and this helped in building the knowledge base.

2.4 Chatta Chowk Bazaar as a knowledge system

Through studies of the context and the building itself, information related to the Chatta Chowk Bazaar revealed many facets of this structure. Primary and secondary studies of the architecture and its history, as well as its technology presented disaggregated information. Amalgamating this information with the specific purpose of conservation, helped to appreciate this building as a knowledge system, from contextual to component levels. This knowledge system has subsystems of architectural design, structure, construction etc. defining its values. For the purpose of this paper, although the formal structural knowledge is highlighted qualitatively, the values revealed by the analyses shall be critical in guiding still more detailed, quantitative structural analyses.

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