Buildings Demolished: Hall of Nations and Hall of Industries
by Raj Rewal, New Delhi, India, 1972
DATE: 24/4/2017
docomomo International painfully informs about the demolition of the Hall of Industries and Hall of Nations buildings at Pragati Maidan (by architect Raj Rewal and engineer Mahendra Raj, New Delhi, India, 1971-1972), last Sunday night, 23rd April 2017.

"Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva of the Delhi High Court had on Thursday dismissed the plea of Rewal against its demolition as part of Pragati Maidan’s redevelopment into an exhibition centre. The court relied on the decision of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), which held that the Hall of Nations wasn’t a heritage structure since it was less than 60-year-old. It was constructed in 1972.

While the court dismissed Rewal’s petition, a petition moved by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) wasn’t heard and had been listed for hearing on May 1.

The building came under threat as the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation that came up with the redevelopment plan of Pragati Maidan did not want to keep the structure.

The India Trade Promotion Organisation said the demolition is to be completed by May 31, with work on redevelopment to start from June 1. It added that any interference from court would stall the project, which is set to generate employment and foreign funding.

Ever since the demolition plan was made public, associations and museums from across the world, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, had written to the government and Union commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman asking that the buildings be preserved because of their architectural importance. But, it all fell on deaf ears." (1)

"The Hall of Nations and Industries Complex at Pragati Maidan are iconic structures in Delhi´s landscape. These landmarks were designed to commemorate and celebrate 25 years of India´s independence in 1972. Postage Stamps were also printed at that time depicting modernity and progress of the country with images of these buildings. These symbols of a progressive India have received international recognition  world over. They are significant snapshots of India contribution to international  modern architecture annals." (2)

docomomo International is deeply sorry about this demolition, an irreversible action which prevents to maintain and show the path of Modernity in India. The buildings that until now accommodate the persistence in the memory of the city´s form and were a mark of richness architectural and cultural heritage, should have been restored, as an opportunity to extend cultural legacy within the city. docomomo International must keepwork on bringing the significance of the architecture of the Modern Movement to the attention of the public, the public authorities, the professionals and the educational community in order to avoid situations like these in the future. All the efforts and recommendations that contribute for that end are very welcome.

Updated news: The demolition of the buildings came as a great shock to the various groups of concerned individuals and organisations that were working at saving the buildings. Iconic Post independence architecture is not yet notified as heritage and therefore does not enjoy any legal protection. INTACH, Delhi Chapter is working at rectifying this situation. To this end they are proposing to hold a symposium POST INDEPENDENCE ARCHITECTURES OF INDIA: CONTEXT & SIGNIFICANCE, at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on July 6, 2017.

(1) Original article: website
(2) Petition: website

ICOMOS India and NSC20C Statement on the unfortunate Demolition of the Hall of Nations: PDF below