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Rahman Type Flats

Delhi, India
Habib Rahman CPWD housing 1954
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Habib Rahman CPWD housing 1954
© Habib Rahman Archive

After taking cabin in 1947, Nehru went on a massive building and infrastructure spree. Housing had to be built for the new government employees that were migrating to Delhi, and also to habilitate the huge number of people that had been displaced during the partition of the country. Not only housing but markets, cultural centers, cinemas and office buildings had to be built, and built fast. This is where Rahman's Gropius and Bauhaus training came in handy. Rahman was asked to organize the International Exhibition on Low Cost Housing in 1954. The exhibition got architects and engineers from all over the country to take part in building sample prototypes and publishing detailed drawings, estimates and materials.

It would be another 16 years before Rahman would take up office as the chief architect of CPWD (1970-74) but even his humble, rational and economical early designs of his exhibition prototype for a standard peon's quarter was appreciated and replicated in local public works departments and housing authorities in thousands across India. They came to be known as "Rahman Type Flats" and subsequently strengthened Rahman's position in the public work departments.

This was subsequently manifested in the government staff housing developments, such as the government staff quarters in Rama Krishna Puram, New Delhi. It was completed in 1959 with various permutations of the Rahman type two bedroom flats. It housed government employees and their families for decades before they were finally demolished in 2018 to make way for high rises which would trade public land to private entities.