Course brief

The course aims to uncover a theoretical history of the elements of the darwaza, the chaukhat, and the jharoka and other threshold elements in historic buildings, which mark and celebrate the passage between the private and public realms. It positions these readings in the contemporary field of surface studies that refocuses surface as substance, and as spatial. 

In essence, the learner would be writing a mini theoretical history of architectural elements, which would be assisted by but not limited to formalist and historical readings. The scope of the study may cut across periods, styles, and regions―imperatives that would typically confine the writing or the re-writing of architectural history. The purpose is not to dehistoricize these elements, but to lift off the ‘burden of history’ momentarily, to unlock the potentiality of this ‘past.’   

Participants will aim to go beyond description and documentation and make a leap in suggesting a new or alternative meaning, thinking closely about the ways in which these so-called decorative elements do more than decorate: they articulate a connection between the private and the public, as well as position the exterior within the public life in/of the city.  

Who should enroll?

B. Arch (fourth and final year); Masters students, and graduates of B. Arch and M. Arch looking for an edge in preparing for research fellowships Scholarships for Masters or PhD, or who are thinking of entering teaching and Teachers interested in Anuradha's methodology.

Course Statement

By focusing on elements that are neither inside nor outside (Chaukhat, Darwaza, Jharokha, and others), the course will allow learners to explore histories and theories locked within the fabric of historic buildings in a focused manner, and move away from reliance on an exclusively text and classroom based education in architectural history.

Course Outcomes : Skill

  • 1. Develop the skills of undertaking original research in historic built environment

  • 2. Advance analytical skills through synthesis of different kinds of historic evidence

  • 3. Refine research skills by using multiple methodologies in a single project


  • 1. Develop in-depth and field-based and text-based knowledge of key elements in historic buildings

  • 2. Build knowledge base in contemporary ways of thinking about buildings

  • 3. Increase grasp of relevant theories in architectural history


  • 1. Take the first step in becoming a theoretician in architecture theory, history, and heritage

  • 2. Develop confidence in articulating and presenting original insights

Course Instructor and Subject Matter Expert

Dr Anuradha Chatterjee

Senior Mentor

Dr Chatterjee is an architectural historian, theorist, and practitoner based in India and Australia. She completed Masters in Architectural History and Theory and a PhD in Built Environment from the University of New South Wales, where she wrote her PhD thesis on Ruskin and Walls, which provided a new reading of architecture against dress and textiles. The PhD also positioned nineteenth-century architectural theory within the emerging field of surface studies. She continued to develop her research on surface in terms of potentiality of surface as a generative force, which she explored through interpretations of Australian contemporary architecture and collaborative design research studios. ​She has authored three books – John Ruskin and the Fabric of Architecture, Routledge, 2017; Built, Unbuilt, and Imagined Sydney, COPAL Publishing, New Delhi, 2014, which aimed to reveal the expanded field of architecture in the city; and edited collection, Surface and Deep Histories: Critiques, and Practices in Art, Architecture, and Design published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK, 2013, which demonstrated that the practice of surface is simultaneously superficial and pervasive, symbol and space, meaningful and functional, static and transitory, and object and envelope. She has also won a number of prestigious grants like the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art: Publication Grant (Author) and Research Support Grant; as well as the David Saunders Grant Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand. Broadly, my expertise and interest spans the areas of architectural theory, history, design, humanities, criticism, design thinking, as well as debates of inclusion and diversity pertaining to design of public spaces.

Student Endorsements from previous courses

  • Roshini Muralidhar, Bangalore

    Having completed my masters in heritage conservation recently, I was looking for a course that will help me explore new realms in the field of conservation. The CDJ course was such a refreshing one with a novel approach on historical elements of Indian architecture from the perspective of contemporary surface studies. Dr. Anuradha was the perfect mentor with an immense academic and field experience who guided us in the right direction throughout the course. The interactive sessions with her and the rest of the participants were very interesting and knowledgeable. She welcomed all sorts of discussions and all in all it was a great course to be a part of.

  • Sanjana Ravi, Srishti Institute

    Teaching is a skill, which I believe not only comes through training, but also, through interest that’s passionate and natural to some. The efforts Anuradha takes to build a collegial relationship with students and the attention she gives to every individual is a deep-rooted interest, which I admire. Largely, it’s all the details. From showing how to think out of the box, drafting along with students, encouraging to speak-up on topics, updating materials, guiding students according to their level of understanding and going out of the way to build a stronger perception on design among students is a quality that Anuradha’s teaching effortlessly possesses.

  • Chloe Summers, Australia

    I felt Anuradha’s teaching style was encouraging, engaging, and friendly but also challenged me to push boundaries in a creative manner that was supported by theoretical research. I felt a strong connection with Anuradha and her teaching style that allowed me to explore and shape my own ideas about architecture. I had the confidence to walk into my job interview knowing that the studio pieces I was displaying, were of a professional level.

Join the course for a discounted price

Rs. 1800/- including GST


  • What are the aims and objectives of the course?

    The research project aims to uncover a theoretical history of surface and decorative elements in historical architecture, which may be entirely exterior (such as frescoes) or in between (such as the darwaza, the chaukhat, and the jharoka). Participants will need to go beyond description and documentation and make a leap into suggesting new or alternative meanings, thinking closely about the ways in which these so-called decorative elements do more than decorate: they articulate a connection between the private and the public, as well as position the exterior to the public life in/of the city.

  • What is the academic framework for the course?

    The learners enrolled will ask the following questions around a particular element. The key questions may be as follows: Do/did these elements mould or inform the interior? Do/did these elements shape the public life of the city? Are these elements capable of suggesting new ways of occupying the city from within? These elements are gendered in that they have fixed ways of presencing and/or obscuring the role of woman as citizens. However, are these elements able to provoke alternative readings that go beyond patriarchal notions of confinement and limited participation? Do these elements have a certain proportional relationship to the building within which it is articulated? What is the relationship of these elements to the human body (male and female)? More questions will be provided NOTE: Participants do not have to answer all questions but may choose to pick one and answer it.

  • What methodology does the course follow?

    Option 1 The learner/researcher may either take one element and go in depth and answer 2-3 questions as suggested above Option 2 The learner/researcher may take a range of elements and answer one key question as suggested above. All inquiries must be based on evidence which will include the following 1) Documentation – Drawings and photographs [these must be original and created by the learner/researcher] 2) Critical Observation 3) Review of secondary sources where they exist 4) Inclusion of oral history where possible Analytical method should synthesize 1-4.

  • How much time would I need to engage with the course?

    On an average we expect the learners to invest 2 hours weekly in the course.

  • What is the course output?

    A short 500 word Illustrated paper. The content will be used to showcase an online exhibition. We also intend to compile the research into an online journal for public view.

  • Is this a certified course?

    Yes, upon successful completion of the course you shall receive a course completion certificate. In case, you do not complete the assignments but go through all the content and actively participate in sessions, we can offer a course Audit Certificate. Digital certificates will be issued through the Accredible portal, hence can be automatically linked to your LinkedIn profile.