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Stepwells: The Latest Architecture and News

The Astonishing (Vanishing) Stepwells of India

08:00 - 8 September, 2017

Thirty years ago, on my first visit to India, I glanced over an ordinary wall. The ground fell away and was replaced by an elaborate, man-made chasm the length and depth of which I couldn’t fathom. It was disorienting and even transgressive; we are, after all, conditioned to look up at architecture, not down into it, and I had no clue as to what I was looking at. Descending into the subterranean space only augmented the disorientation, with telescoping views and ornate, towering columns that paraded five stories into the earth. At the bottom, above-ground noises became hushed, harsh light had dimmed, and the intense mid-day heat cooled considerably. It was like stepping into another world.

Ujala Baoli: Mandu, Madhya Pradesh. Image © Victoria Lautman Navghan Kuvo Vav: Junagadh, Gujarat. Image © Victoria Lautman Batris Kotha Vav: Kapadvanj, Gujarat. Image © Victoria Lautman Indaravali Baoli: Fatehpur Sikri, Rajasthan. Image © Victoria Lautman + 15

The Most Amazing (Unknown) Buildings In the World

00:00 - 26 October, 2013
The Most Amazing (Unknown) Buildings In the World, Chand Baori. Via Flickr CC User. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
Chand Baori. Via Flickr CC User. Used under Creative Commons

What makes a building world-famous? The answer is most likely some combination of magnificence, size, and historical importance. But it's far from an exact science, and many of the world's most impressive architectural landmarks are therefore not very well known outside of their own locations.

Thankfully, this post on Quora sheds some light on the lesser-known architectural landmarks on the planet. Read on to find out which marvels you may have missed...

Stari Most. Via Flickr CC User. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a> Parliament Palace, Bucharest. Via Flickr CC user. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a> Choquequirao. Via Flickr CC User. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a> Great Wall at Kumbhalgarh. Via Flickr CC User. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a> + 7

Is there a Future for India's Stepwells?

00:00 - 29 September, 2013

Tourists in India dutifully make the rounds, visiting the spectacular temples, palaces, and forts the country has to offer. But, even when they're practically under their feet, people often forget about stepwells, the massive subterranean (up to ten stories) structures that dot the Indian landscape.

As this video explains, stepwells, first constructed around 300 CE, were born out of a need to dependably collect and store water. They boast highly complex circulation and ornamentation, and over the years have evolved to function also as community centres and temples. But, as architecture journalist Victoria Lautman has pointed out, with the spread of industrialisation and drought (not to mention widespread demolition), stepwells are slowly becoming derelict.