The ‘Warehousing’ of the Labouring Classes
Much has been written on the architectural history of the British Empire, especially India. This literature often adopted a celebratory or elegiac tone, and has generally concentrated on the public buildings made and occupied by the British themselves that symbolized empire.1The pioneering work of Anthony King, Amos Rapoport and Tom Markus placed building form in a new sociological context, viewed in their relation to the power structures of colonialism. King has urged the case for ‘a carefully documented comparative account of the actual buildings’ to assist in understanding the function and organization of the colonial city.2Olsen has identified the emergence of a ‘professional building’:
Many types of public building expressed political – and specifically colonial – symbolisms and the civilizing role of Western urban civilization. The post office, for example, symbolized the worldwide network of communications which Empire helped to create, while the clock-tower symbolized new time disciplines:
The theatre was seen as a source of authority, imparting moral themes, such as the villain being punished for his crimes. Public buildings were usually the grandest
and most visible structures in the colonial urban landscape, as indeed they were intended to be.