Asian Games village, New Delhi, 1980-82

The Indian Summer of architecture at the RIBA, centred on the exhibition of Charles Correa’s work, is to be followed by an autumn exhibition in Paris of his great near-contemporary, Raj Rewal. The Pompidou Centre is to devote a room to Rewal for nine months from October 20, as part of the rehang of its modern collection.
Here we show one of Delhi-based Rewal’s great projects from the past, archive photos of his Asian Games village in New Delhi designed and built in 1980-82. As with London 2012’s Olympic Games, this was necessarily rapid construction using precast concrete components and sold on to owner-occupiers after the games; there, however, the resemblance ends. Rewal designed his township of 500 homes in a mix of types built up from a basic form. The blend of medium and low-rise was inspired by traditional Indian towns, particularly in their deployment of narrow streets, pedestrian priority and natural ventilation. This dense plan was pierced with a number of public squares. By this time, prefabricated housing estates in Europe and America had acquired a bad name: Rewal breathed new life into the typology.