Ahmedabad Walls, A Circumambulation with Patrick Geddes

By Robert Stephens

In April 1915 the father of modern town-planning, Patrick Geddes, was invited to the north Indian city of Ahmedabad to advise on the burning question of the day, “Whether to demolish or retain the city’s 500 year old fortifications?” After a three-day circumambulation, the Scottish polymath penned a 7,000 words defense on the  medieval ramparts, a report controversial that it was suppressed by the government of Bombay until 1965.

Ahmedabad Walls is a contemporary circumambulation that follows the polymath’s footsteps and writings around the fortifications, unfolding his arguments and visualizing his incisive observations. Supplementing the literary exploration are 21st century city wall photographs by Tina Nandi, and early 20th century black-and-white images by Pranlal Patel that present the fortifications as Geddes would have seen them more than a century ago.




Ahmedabad Walls,
A circumambulation with Patrick Geddes


18 x 23cm


Robert Stephens




Planning – Landscape – Photography







About the author

Robert Stephens is a principal at RMA Architects (Mumbai), part of the core team responsible for recent additions to Ahmedabad’s built environment. Robert’s monthly aerial commute to the city has given
rise to a series of contemporary aerial photographs of Ahmedabad, one of the many cities of India he has synoptically documented since 2007, the year of his arrival in India. Previous series that juxtapose historical urban narratives with aerial imagery include works on Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad. In 2016 he founded Urbs Indis, an aerial photography studio and archival library narrating histories of urban India.

Tina Nandi is a Mumbai-based photographer and filmmaker. Her work following Patrick Geddes around Ahmedabad has been exhibited in India, France and Scotland.

Pranlal Patel (1910-2014) was an Ahmedabad photographer with an active career that spanned seven decades. His pioneering work captured life as it happened, in situ.

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