A common question of many architects and architectural students who are studying shekhawati havellis is that what are the different features of planning in these havellis. Our endeavor in this post shall be to decipher the main features of the peculiar havellis in reference to their planning.
The havellis were designed keeping least exposure to the east and west directions. This meant that the longer sides faced the north and south direction keeping the heat gain of the building to the bare minimum.
Note- Also, north-south streets with tall buildings on both sides were meant to cut off the sun.
The zoning of the Shekhawati havellis was simple and efficient. Their was a clear segregation of the private and the public spaces. Public spaces(Public were provided towards the main entry of the havelli away from the private spaces of the havelli(Zenana).
This was done to keep business related activities away from the household chores and privacy of the merchants family.
The materials used for construction in the Shekhawati region were primarily stone and lime mortar. This was due to the unavailability of other building materials in the region. Traces of tiles (from Chinese counterparts), marbles and other materials can be seen in Shekhawati havellis. This was mainly due to the robust trading which took place in the region.
Another important reason for which stone was used as the primary building material was that it had high thermal capacity and low conductivity for structure.
Size of Building and Courtyard –
The courtyards in most havellis were a minimum of 9000*9000mm in legth and breadth. The size of the courtyard was designed keeping in mind the many religious, social and other gatherings which would take place in the courtyard. The internal courtyard was designed with a high building mass all around it leading to induced ventilation, lowering of temperatures by convective cooling and natural lighting.
Note- Many havellis have more than 2 courtyards keeping in mind n
The havelli had a stringent division of public and private spaces. Most havellis had a public and a private courtyard. The kitchen, store room, staircase, gathering covered and semi covered areas were grouped around the private courtyard while the living rooms were mostly situated on the first floor. The baithak, store for goods, meeting spaces were grouped around the public courtyard near the main entrance of the main havelli.
Entry & Exits-
There is genrally only one main entry and exit to the haveli. This is done to make the havelli complex as secure as possible. The public spaces are kept close to the entrance while the private spaces are farther away from the main entrance. In some cases, service entries are provided to the rear of the private courtyard of the havelli.
All the main services of the complex are nestled around the private and the public courtyards. Namely the kitchen, staircase, toilet areas (dry pits), store rooms are all grouped around the courtyards.
The first floor or a higher floor juts out of the base, creating a ‘chajja’ WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY STONE BRACKETS
The wall thickness of most Shekhawati havellis ranges from 450mm to as much as 1000mm. This has been done to increase the thermal mass of the building and to increase the time lag of the heat to enter the indoors(upto 12 hours).
Evolution of Plan-
The plan of the generic Shekhwati havelli has evolved around the courtyard. This module is sometimes repeated as much as four times in one havelli complex. The need for shaded spaces, a congregational area and so on and henceforth meant that all spaces were designed around the public and the private courtyards.
Examples- Poddar Havelli, Morarka Havelli in Nawalgarh
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