Architecture of the "Food Street" in Lahore, Pakistan


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The alley known as the "FOOD STREET" in Lahore, Pakistan, is lined with partly defaced, multi-storey houses build in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Most of the houses are in a depleted and worn-out state. When one really observes the building closely, only then can you imagine, the state of these buildings at its prime. A private citizens committee with donations and government help has tried to restore the pre-independence architecture, but it has been a really poor effort. Since the Food Street comes to life at night, the defaced buildings and the really bad renovation work is hidden, in the darkness. The street has been cobbled and the open drains have been covered.

The architecture of the houses on Food Street is basically pre-independence, i.e. a mixture of Colonial and Hindu architecture. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Gowalmandi was inhabited by the rich Hindu merchants, who had moved out of the congested, narrow alleyed Walled City. The Hindus had a passion for building houses with fine exterior detail work that is still found there. Since the British were the ruling class - the elite tried to copy them and it is visible in the houses constructed at that time, i.e. the Anglo-Indian style. After partition, most of the inhabitants of Gowalmandi migrated to India and those who came to Pakistan were alloted houses in this vicinity. Being multi-storeyed houses, these were alloted out in different floors, thus leading to the destruction of these buildings, because of multiple ownership.

As one walks down Food Street the buildings are mostly multi-storeyed and all the ground floors have been converted into shops. These shops are like cafes, with sitting on the roadside.

In some buildings the mode of decorations dominates the architectural composition, instead of being subordinated to the structure. Most buildings on the right side have beautiful hand-carved wooden balconies with cast-iron grills in very delicate and intricate designs. The buildings on the left side have a mixture of decorative designs and symbols that underline the electicism of the architecture of the early twentieth century. The building that houses Sarder Fish Shop is the best example on the street. This building has rustic masonary and rustic columns and pillars surrounding the balconies, that makes it very eye catching.

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Floral engravings in cement on the fascade give a certain distinctive feature,that gives it a fantasy like effect. The doors and windows are made more prominent due to floral engravings. The top of this building has a statue of an angel on it, this being very Angloican. Balconies were a major addition during this time and they served to provide light and ventilation to the rooms at the back.

Some buildings are in a very depleted state, that the barren brick structure is visible under the whitewash. The overall view is not pleasing and clean.


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