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The Project of Independence: Architectures of Decolonization in South Asia, 1947–1985

February 20, 2022 – July 02, 2022

The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art announces The Project of Independence: Architectures of Decolonization in South Asia, 1947–1985, an exhibition that will explore the ways modern architecture in the region gave shape and expression to idealistic societal visions and emancipatory politics of the post-independence period. On view from February 20, 2022, through July 2, 2022, this exhibition will comprise over 200 works, including original sketches, drawings, photographs, films, audiovisual components, and architectural models, sourced primarily from prominent lenders and institutions in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The featured projects—by key figures such as Balkrishna V. Doshi (India), the only South Asian winner of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture; Minnette de Silva, the first woman to become a licensed architect in Sri Lanka; and Yasmeen Lari, the first woman to qualify as architect in Pakistan, to name a few—will address how architecture mediated the process of decolonization and modernization for these emerging nation-states.

The Project of Independence is organized by Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Anoma Pieris, guest curator and Professor, The University of Melbourne, and Sean Anderson, former Associate Curator, with Evangelos Kotsioris, Assistant Curator, Department of Architecture and Design. The curatorial team consulted with leading scholars of modern architecture from the region, many of whom also contributed to the accompanying exhibition catalogue.


The exhibition is made possible by Allianz, MoMA’s partner for design and innovation.

Leadership support is provided by Xin Zhang and Shiyi Pan.

Generous funding is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Additional support is provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.


Press Kit


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Sunil Janah (Indian, 1918–2012). Industrial Documents. Untitled. 1940s–1960s. Gelatin silver print, 14 3/16 × 11 1/4 in. (36.00 × 28.50 cm). Courtesy Swaraj Art Archive

Hindustan Lever Pavilion, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India. 1961. Demolished. Charles Correa (1930–2015), and Mahendra Raj (b. 1924). Exterior view. Mahendra Raj Archives

Kamalapur Railway Station, Dhaka, East Pakistan (Bangladesh). 1968. Louis Berger and Consulting Engineers (est. 1953). Daniel Dunham (1929–2000) and Robert Boughey (b. 1940). Exterior view. Photograph: Randhir Singh

Chittagong University, Chittagong, East Pakistan (Bangladesh). 1965–71. Vastukalabid (est. 1964). Muzharul Islam (1923–2021). Exterior view. Photograph: Randhir Singh

Chittagong University, Chittagong, East Pakistan (Bangladesh). 1965–71. Vastukalabid (est. 1964). Muzharul Islam (1923–2021). Master plan. Ink and pencil on paper. Muzharul Islam Archives 

Anguri Bagh Housing, Lahore, Pakistan, 1972–73. Yasmeen Lari (b. 1941). Exterior view. c. 1980. Photograph: Jacques Bétant. Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Hall of Nations, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India. 1970–72. Demolished 2017. Raj Rewal Associates (est. 1962). Architect: Raj Rewal (b. 1934). Engineer: Mahendra Raj (b. 1924). Perspective drawing. c. 1970. Pencil on tracing paper, 37 3/8 × 76 3/4 in. (95 × 195 cm). Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou 

Tangalle Bay Hotel, Tangalle, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). 1969–72. Architects: Valentine Gunasekara (1931–2017) and Christopher de Saram (1939–2018). Engineer: Jayati Weerakoon (1928–2021). Exterior view from the water. Photograph: Nihal Fernando, Studio Times Ltd.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India. 1959–66. Kanvinde & Rai (est. 1955). Architect: Achyut Kanvinde (1916–2002). Engineer: Shaukat Rai (1922–2003). Walkways linking major buildings. Kanvinde Archives 

Woman carrying cement at the Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India, in front of the Secretariat (1951–58) designed by Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965). 1956. Photograph: Ernst Scheidegger 

Escorts Factory, Faridabad, India. 1958–62. Joseph Allen Stein and Associates (est. 1955).  Joseph Allen Stein (1912–2001). Interior view. 1964. Photograph: Madan Mahatta

National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) Office Building, New Delhi, India. 1978–80. Architect: Kuldip Singh (1934–2020). Engineer: Mahendra Raj (b. 1924). Exterior view. Photograph: Randhir Singh