Since time immemorial, holy men and scholars in India have renounced the world and gone to live a life of contemplation in forests and high mountains. This age-old pattern was adopted as a metaphor for generating the layout of this new campus. The traditional renunciation of the world by the rishi (holy man) is here symbolized by a long curving wall, built of granite blocks, which encircles a forest in the center of the site.
The various facilities provided (research laboratories, lecture halls, library, residential accommodation, etc.) are on the other side of the wall- so that during the course of their studies and research, the scientists (truly the new rishis!) can step through the perforated granite wall, into the forest for wisdom & enlightenment. In a second phase, an additional set of research laboratories has been added, connected to the main building by a Fuller dome, celebrating the ‘Bucky Balls’.
The traditional kunds, generally located next to temples, are rectangular water ponds where the faithful come for ritual purification before entering the temple to worship. The sides of these kunds consist of geometric patterns of steps, surrounding this body of water.
The form of these kunds is derived from the vastu-purush-mandals, those ancient Vedic diagrams which conceived of Architecture as a model of the Cosmos. Like many other aspects of India, these diagrams metaphysical, specific and timeless.
The Surya Kund was designed for a futurologist who lives on a solar energy farm in Delhi (‘’Surya’’ in Sanskrit for the Sun), and who hosts think-tanks on various social and political issues concerning India. In that sense it is really a tank for thinking – and hopefully purifying! – oneself. Like its prototype, the Surya Kund is precisely oriented to the cardinal directions of the compass.
MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts
With a floor area of 400,000 sq. ft., MIT’s new centra for Brain and Cognitive Sciences is the largest such facility in the world.
The sit the Kendal Square of the MIT campus, straggling to pieces of land separated by a railroad track. So, also the program – the complex houses three major research institutes, the Picower Centre for Learning and Memory, the McGovern Institute of Brain Research, and MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The brief stipulated that each of these institutes has its own separate identity, and its own entrance from the street level. Yet, once inside the complex, all three are melded into one continuous system, that maximises the flexibility and interaction between scientists, so essential to culture of MIT, and to the cutting-edge research that will be done here in the decades ahead.
Commenting on the project, MIT’s President Charles Vest said: “The facilities reflect the benefit of a special partnership: the extraordinary urban design sensibilities of the lead designer, Indian architect Charles Correa, who has created limestone and glass forms of immense power and elegance, and the extensive experience of Goody Clancy and Associates in designing academic buildings and laboratories noted for their effectiveness and efficiency. Their combined efforts will constitute one of the finest facilities in the world measured on any dimension.”
With its outer skin of glass and a beautiful beige Portuguese stone (that seem to reflect all the ambient light in the sky and in the surrounding streets), the BCSC succeeds not only as a piece of architecture, but as a seminal example of urban design that enhances the surrounding buildings of Kendal Square as well.
The Christian Church in Kerala per-dates the Vatican Church of Rome – because just after the death of the Christ and much before St. Paul reached Rome, St. Thomas the Apostle landed in South India to spread new gospel. The first conversions were therefore local Hindus, who developed their own forms of worship. Even today, their rituals are quite different from those of Catholic and Protestant Churches in Europe and in the West. The shrine at Parumala is the main centre of worship for the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
Built to commemorate Kerala’s principal Saint, this new Church accommodates 2,00 worshippers inside its walls and more than 3,000 outside. The form of the Church is derived from the try-partite structure of Coptic and Syrian traditions (which, in the 5th Century, deeply influenced the Kerala Church). However, the rituals themselves, with the faithful sitting and kneeling on the floor, are completely indigenous.
The house of the President of the JNC, along with offices, conference facilities and a small guest house for visiting scientists is situated in the old campus of IISc, in a grove of very beautiful of gulmohur trees, is organised around three inter-connecting courtyards.
One arrives in the largest courtyard in the center where located the office of the President together with conference facilities and supporting staff. To the left is the courtyard around which are various rooms and activities of the President’s house.
A Model of the Cosmos… this was what Architecture, since the beginning of time, has sought to represent. Is it possible to express our own contemporary notions of what the Universe is about? The inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, located on the campus of Pune University, at such an attempt. The site consists of three contiguous pieces of land, with two campus roads passing between them.
One arrives down a road between two swerving black walls of local basalt stone, surmounted by courses of a deeper black Kuddapah stone, topped finally by a glossy black polished granite (which reflects the sky and clouds above) Black on black on black: the visual structure of Outer Space. These black walls draw one into the entrance, between two columns of exposed concrete with de-materialise at the top into a soft blue.
Ahead and to the right, lies the kund – here transformed into a metaphor for our Expanding Universe. The stones along the edges fly apart with centrifugal energy, setting up the diagonals that connect to the other facilities in the center of the campus: the Computer Centre to the Northwest, the Hostel to the southeast and to the Visiting Faculty Housing that lies beyond.
This new building for the British Council houses a number of diverse functions, including a library , an Auditorium, an Art gallery and the Headquarters of their offices in India.
These elements are arranged in a series of layers, recalling the historic interfaces that have existed between India and Britain over the last several centuries. At the farthest end is the axis mundi of Hinduism, a spiral symbolising Bindu– the energy center of the Cosmos . The next nodal point , located in the main courtyard , is centered around another mythic image: the traditional Islamic Char Bagh, i.e. Garden of Paradise. The third nodal point along this axis is a European icon, inland in marble and granite, used to represent the Age of Reason, including the mythic values of Science and Progress.
Presiding over all this in India herself, symbolized by the shadows of a giant tree, executed in a exquisite inlay of while makrana marble and black kuddappa stone.- the work of the British Painter Howard Hodgkin.
A key objective of this Institute is to engender informal interaction and discuss among management trainees and faculty members. Hence the complex system of interdependent spaces, organised around landscaped courtyards, to provide the humidified micro-climate necessary in the hot-dry climate of Hyderabad – and very evident in its traditional architecture.
The sequence of these courtyards connects the auditorium to the teaching rooms, and thence on to the faculty offices. Along a cross axis, another sequence leads one up through the gently ascending levels of the sloping site, past the lounges and dining hall to the residential rooms, which are laid out around smaller courtyards. In the center of the entire complex is the kund, whose stone steps echo the boulder – strewn landscape of Hyderabad, creating a focus in the center of the complex- an ideal place for casual conversations, as also for concerts and more formal occasions.
The new Vidhan Bhavan houses the many diverse functions crucial to a functioning democracy. The plan is a pattern of gardens within gardens, divided into 9 squares. The 5 central ones (along the 2 main axes are halls and courtyards, while the 4 corner positions are occupied by specialised functions: The Vidhan Sabha (Lower House), The Vidhan Parishad (Upper House), the combined Hall, and the library.
There are 3 main entrances: for the Public, for the VIP’s and for the MLA’s. These three streams, each separated from the others, experience the complex internal space of the building while moving along verandahs overlooking courtyards and gardens- as in the traditional architecture of India.
Because of its siting on the crest of a hill in the center of Bhopal, Vidhan Bhavan commands magnificent views of the city all around. Truly it is a celebration of the State of Madhya Pradesh, of its culture and its people- a veritable Palace of Democracy.
This church consists of a series of interlinked spaces, some covered and others open-to-sky. The shell roofs are ventilated at the top, thus setting up continuous convection currents of air. The areas are functionally differentiated, in an analogue of Christ’s life. First the years of preparation; secondly the years of public life; and finally, death and resurrection. The skylight in the baptistery is by the noted Indian artist M. F. Hussain.