In the winter of January 1954, an exhibition on low-cost housing opened in New Delhi—the capital of a country that had been independent from colonial rule for less than six years. Sprawling in the shadow of a sixteenth-century Mughal monument and organized by the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Indian government, the exhibition was planned in spirit and form by the South African–born British town planner Jaqueline Tyrwhitt. American architect Joseph Stein designed a model home for the exhibition: a spartan low-cost dwelling constructed with rammed earth and featuring bamboo blinds. While discussion of that exhibition makes up only one part of Farhan...

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