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Bungalows are a house type that originated in India during the British Raj. It is a single-story structure, usually built in an open lot or in a suburban setting. The term bungalow is often used as an umbrella term for the colonial-era architectural style. These houses were typically family-owned and designed to serve the needs of the residents.
Colonial bungalows evolved according to the climate and local context of the area. The first bungalows were developed in the mid-19th century in Bengal, India. They were a type of residential house type for British military officers and administrators.
During the century, processes labeled as 'westernization' altered middle-class Indian life. People wanted to experience a more simple lifestyle and yearned for more contact with nature. A desire for an alternative lifestyle grew after the First World War.
After the war, many people started to resent the social structure of British rule. As a result, bungalows began to lose their significance. However, the idea of a communal life was still a part of the image of Indians. Moreover, the bungalow was seen as an ideal structure for small families.
Traditionally, the bungalow was a structure made of stone and brick. It was low to the ground, with wide lane frontage and a whitewashed finish. The facade was typically decorated with Tuscan columns. Occasionally, the bungalow would have a hipped-gabled roof or a flat roof.
In the early twentieth century, the bungalow underwent a series of stylistic, technological and social changes. These influenced the evolution of the bungalow and its use as a cultural icon. This book traces the development of the bungalow across the world.
The study of the bungalow aims to explain various political, social and technological developments that took place throughout the 20th century. Bungalows were used as a basis for the construction of twentieth-century residential architecture.
Bungalows were mainly built for a single household, but they were also occupied by maharajas and nobles after the colonial period. Hence, the bungalow represented a symbol of status and wealth. Some of the bungalows were decorated with fine latticework or art deco style.
In the late nineteenth century, British colonials were living in rural and urban bungalows. They were known as Rajabadis in the cities of Calcutta and Chennai. The British preferred a courtyard-centric design. For these buildings, the facade was typically decorated with Doric columns.
Initially, the bungalow was a two-story building. However, it was gradually transformed into a single story. Most bungalows in India are now one-story.
Bungalows were often constructed by local craftsmen. They were also referred to as garden houses in the cities of Chennai and Kolkata. Unlike the earlier versions of bungalows, colonial-era bungalows had larger gardens and sloping roofs.
During the twentieth century, bungalows became popular in both India and abroad. This popularity was driven by the emergence of mail-order design kits. Bungalows were popularized in England and the U.S. and became the subject of media attention.