The advent of colonialism as we know it began with the “Age of Discovery” or, better yet, the 15th century. Certain powerful nations aimed to explore the globe and conquer as many weak countries as possible. As a result, governments have devised a variety of enhancements and advancements in nautical technology to improve navigation. In this sense, colonization is a process that typically comprises the founding of colonies and, in some instances, the settlement of these peoples in the newly acquired lands to exert foreign control over target regions or peoples for agricultural interests. Colonial architecture is the distinctive style of architecture from one nation that has been incorporated into the buildings of colonies or settlements in another nation. Consequently, settlements were regularly made. Therefore, colonists typically built their towns using hybrid designs that included features of their home countries and their new home countries’ architectural styles.

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The biltmore hotel miami coral gables_©https://www.biltmorehotel.com/

Colonial influences 

We sometimes overlook the reality that colonization extends beyond the straightforward conquering of one civilization by another when discussing colonialism and all the arguments surrounding it. When a new region is taken over forcibly, the invader is compelled to introduce powerful traits and components of his culture to subjugate the local population and establish supremacy. What more timeless, substantial, and tangible means do they have to do this via architecture?

Consequently, modern colonies have also left their marks on former colonies via architecture, some of which are even included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This architecture has, in some ways, merged with the history and identity of the colonized country. Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, Dutch, and Italian are listed as contemporary colonial architectural styles.

British Colonial Architecture

The Mumbai High Court architecture (Victorian Neo-Gothic style)

The structure was constructed between 1871 and 1878 and was designed by British engineer Col. J.A. Fuller. Since its founding in 1862, the Bombay High Court has been one of India’s oldest courts. The Court is a masterwork of Gothic architecture that was ostensibly built on top of a previous German castle. However, its structure is made of black stone. The sculptures of Justice and Mercy on the building’s roof inspire the preservation of Indian law. The High Court building is a stone structure with four stories that is 562 feet long and 178 feet tall at its tallest point. Over 80,000 square feet of the original building’s built-up space is spread throughout its ground floor, three upper levels, and a magnificent atrium.

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Mumbai High Court_©https://www.tripsavvy.com/must-see-mumbai-architecture-1539516

Shophouses in Singapore (Early, First Transitional, Late, Second Transitional, Art Deco , and Modern architectural style)

The Shophouses are a group of historical buildings in Singapore that were constructed during the colonial era. These distinctive structures indeed have individual aesthetic nuances, which generally reflect the architectural trends of each era. Based on their lack of homogeneity, six distinct styles may be identified. The vibrant exteriors and historically significant interiors of these colorful ancient buildings are appreciated. They are typically constructed in two- to three-story continuous blocks with shared party walls. According to an evaluation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, there are 6,500–7,000 preserved shophouses in Singapore as of 2018. They were mostly constructed between the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Shophouses_©Mehdi33300 Photography | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/mehdi33300/sets/190093049?page=8

French Colonial Architecture

Houses in Saint Louis, Senegal 

The first French colonial capital in West Africa and Senegal, The distinctive look and character of Saint Louis, which have propelled the island to the status of world heritage since 2000, are provided by its distinctive colonial architecture, periodic town plan, location on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River, and system of quays. The Governor’s Palace, the Gouvernance, which houses the town’s administrative offices, the Louis Faidherbe Park in the town center, colonial-era hotels, the historic airport at Dakar-Bango on the mainland, the Faidherbe Bridge that connects the island to the Langue de Barbarie, and the Gaol and Servatius bridges that connect the island to the continent are some of the interesting and beautiful monuments and buildings.

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Hotel Sidone_©Spirited Pursuit https://www.spiritedpursuit.com/blog/sp-wander-guide-saint-louis-senegal

The Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam ( Neoclassical architecture )

The Hanoi Presidential Palace was built during the French colonial era and is currently a reception space or guest home for international guests. This palace, which can be seen north of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, honors the French architectural influence in Indochina. Modern Renaissance and Beaux Arts-inspired architecture may be seen in this palace. However, since the French authorities were on a mission to disseminate European civilization and thought that European styles controlled the architecture of traditional Asian houses, the structure lacked any distinguishing Asian architectural traits.

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The Presidential Palace of Vietnam_©Jorge Láscar https://flic.kr/p/7W6Rdk

Portuguese Colonial Architecture

Elmina Castle (Fort São Jorge da Mina) in Ghana, Militaristic and Functional base Style

The Portuguese built the fortress in 1482 under Castelo de São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine Castle). The oldest existing European structure south of the Sahara was the first trade station constructed on the Gulf of Guinea. The castle was initially built as a commercial outpost and eventually developed into one of the most significant sites along the path of the Atlantic slave trade. After a failed effort in 1596, the Dutch acquired control of the fort in 1637 and the whole Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. Under the Dutch, the slave trade persisted until 1814. Finally, Great Britain acquired the fort and the rest of the Dutch Gold Coast in 1872. The fort, which began construction in 1482, was for a long time the most advanced and impenetrable structure in Sub-Saharan Africa. The fort was constructed in an austere and practical design, similar to many Portuguese castles and colonial fortifications of the era, focusing more on defensibility than aesthetics.

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Elmina Castle_©Damien Halleux Radermecker – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dayapragm/5258444507/in/photostream/

Shanta Durga Goddess Temple (construido a la moda Portuguesa) – Goa, India , XVIII century, Indo-Portuguese style

Pyramidal Shikaras in the form of roofs rise on the front and sabhamandap of the Shanta Durga Temple. The temple is remarkable because one may mistake it for a cathedral at first glance. The pillars are constructed of Kashmir stone. Portuguese settlers in Salcete demolished the old temple at Quelossim (Keloshi) in 1566. Chattrapati Shahu Maharaj of Satara, who ruled the Maratha Empire from 1713 to 1738, oversaw the existing temple. Pyramidal Shikaras in the form of roofs rise on the front and sabhamandap of the Shanta Durga Temple. The temple is remarkable because one may mistake it for a cathedral at first glance. The pillars are constructed of Kashmir stone. Portuguese settlers in Salcete demolished the old temple at Quelossim (Keloshi) in 1566. Chattrapati Shahu Maharaj of Satara, who ruled the Maratha Empire from 1713 to 1738 and who ruled the Maratha Empire from 1713 to 1738, oversaw the existing temple.

Shree Shantadurga Temple Goa_©murlidar https://flic.kr/p/6srKMG

References:

  1. Dirlik, Arif. “Architectures of Global Modernity, Colonialism, and Places.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 17, no. 1, 2005, pp. 33–61. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/41490932.  Accessed 29 Jul. 2022. 
  2. TNLINTERN (2021). You Can Now Take A Walk In Mumbai’s Architectural Marvel, The Bombay High Court . TRAVEL + LEISURE INDIA. [online]. (Last updated: 25 Oct 2021). Available at: Take A Walk In Mumbai’s Architectural Marvel, The Bombay High Court (travelandleisureindia.in) [Accessed date: 29/Jul/2022].
  3. What is a Shophouse in Singapore: Features, | ColeBuild SG/Colebuild.sg. [online]. (Last updated: March 30, 2021). Available at: https://www.colebuild.sg/post/what-is-a-shophouse-singapore [Accessed date: 29/Jul/2022].
  4. Grayce Tan ( 2022) . Architectural Ingenuity: 6 Styles of Shophouses in Singapore .PropertyLimBrothers. [online]. (Last updated: 17 February 2022). Available at: https://www.propertylimbrothers.com/ [Accessed date: 30/Jul/2022].
  5. Saint-Louis, Senegal – Wikipedia. [online]. (Last updated: 11 July 2022). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Louis,_Senegal#UNESCO_World_Heritage_Site [Accessed date: 30/Jul/2022].
  6. Rachel Tran (2021). Presidential Palace: Legacy of Vietnam History & Culture/Vietnam Discovery Travel. [online]. Available at: Presidential Palace: Legacy of Vietnam History & Culture (vietnamdiscovery.com) [Accessed date: 30/Jul/2022].
  7. Elmina Castle – Wikipedia / En.wikipedia.org. [online]. (Last updated: 21 May 2022). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmina_Castle [Accessed date: 31/Jul/2022].
  8. Portuguese colonial architecture – Wikipedia . [online]. (Last updated: 15 October 2021). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanta_Durga_Temple [Accessed date: 31/Jul/2022].
  9. Shanta durga Temple – Pilgrimaide / Pilgrimaide.com. [online]. Available at: https://www.pilgrimaide.com/temples/shree-shantadurga-temple-bardez [Accessed date: 31/Jul/2022].
Author

Nadjath is an architecture graduate, traveler, and part-time freelance writer. She believes that the built and unbuilt environments are more than just about form and function. In a fast-growing culture where people are reading less and less, she is enthusiastic about transmitting the essence of architecture via words.

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