Madras is a low-rise city, with a quiet and relaxed life style. These new headquarters for MRF, the leading tyre manufacturer in India, gently follows the curve of the road to create a series of terraced gardens, recalling the waves on the seashore of the Marina along the waterfront in Madras
Rejecting the notion of a high-rise tower to convey the commercial pre-eminence of the client, this design generates monumentality though a single free-standing column rising to support the large pergola that floats above the terraces, protecting them from the sun. Within the building, the various levels of the offices open out onto a central atrium, linked through a casual pattern of connecting stairs, creating a focus for the building and a wonderfully casual way to walk from one department to another, or and to exit and go home at the end of the working day. At the roof terrace level, one emerges on to a large garden, with the trees and buildings of Madras all around.
Mauritius is an Island of Paradise in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa. It has an evenly-distributed poly centric pattern of human settlements, not unlike Goa. The capital is Port Louis, and this office complex is situated at the intersection of two important streets in the crowded centre of the city. While the boundaries of the site are defined by the pergola above and its large supporting column, the building itself steps back in terraces, opening up precious space at this very busy street intersection – a gesture which creates an urban lanai, filled with the exotic flora of Mauritius.
Apart from the main entrance to the office floors, the programme called for two other important entrances, each one has its own identity. The first is for the office of the Consul General of India – to be entered from a doorway directly off the main driveway, with the Ashoka Column (symbol of the Government of India) directly above. The second is for the Life Insurance Corporation of India – which is on the first floor and reached via the bridge which stretches out to the pavement in front.
This large complex of public sector offices in Bhopal, was designed for the Madhya Pradesh State Corporation. Developed from some of the architectural concepts initiated in the ECIL offices in Hyderabad, this complex is for a similar hot-dry climate.
It is designed to accommodate twelve independent State Government Corporation in four separate buildings which architecturally form a single mass, focussing round a courtyard, with a fountain at its centre. This courtyard is covered by a pergola at roof level, which not only protects the internal facades from the sun, but also ties the complex together visually.
Much of the lighting of the office spaces is from windows overlooking this central space; the external surfaces are either blank masonry, or double-walls with deep-set windows. The six-storey high blocks each have their own vertical circulation. At various points on the upper levels, they are interconnected by bridges. The driveway swings into the complex, passing under the overhead bridges – a classic pattern found in historic sectors of Bhopal city.
This office building is part of a new development by Reichmann International in the heart of Mexico City, on a site which was largely destroyed in the earthquake of 1985. Within the context of a Master Plan developed by the noted Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, the design of the buildings has been entrusted to several international architects (Caesar Pelli, Aldo Rossi. Fumihiko Maki, etc).
This project is a low-rise building. located along the front of the site, facing the historic Alameda Park. It has the proportions of a cube – the lower two floors of the building contain shops which plug into the shopping arcade along the rear of the site. The upper floors are for offices, with the top three having Executive Suites opening on to terraces with marvellous views of the city through the large “urban windows at the top of the building.
From Alameda Park, these openings, floating just above the level of the trees, will frame the multi-faceted mural, painted in the great Mexican tradition of public art, so vividly exemplified in the work of Deigo Riveira and Orazco. The external walls are clad in black volcanic rock used in many of Mexico City’s oldest buildings with the mullions of the square windows in a glossy reddish-brown metallic finish.
This office building for one of South India’s most powerful business houses, is located on a small site – extremely narrow and deep – in the heart of Madras. The building envelope specified by the municipal code is extremely restrictive, both in terms of side open spaces, as well as overall height.
After providing for these mandatory requirements, the resulting built form envelope was a very long free-standing rectangular box, with a very narrow face seen edge on from the main road. In order to increase the apparent width of this street façade and give it more “presence”, the face of the building has been pivoted back at a 45° angle – so that its width increases, and its proportions become more square. At the same time, the orthogonal shape of the site is maintained by creating a plane that runs parallel to the main road. The resulting form is a play between these. two gestures the white skin creating a kind of virtual reality of the sital plane, and the blue façade swinging back and drawing one’s eye into the site.
The campus is on a large site located at the InfoTech Park in Pune. Instead of creating the usual large floor plates that provide the anonymous workspaces in most such dot-com facilities, the Tata Tech Centre is based on the concept of ‘rent houses’ in the US- i.e. workspaces that are leased out as small computerized offices. Ten such centers are placed around three courtyards. Each technical center is a self-sufficient house with accommodation on 3 levels, including a small triple-height sky-lit courtyard (around which are located the studios), an open terrace at midlevel, a conference room, a pantry and toilets-so that each of them becomes a self-sufficient and independent ‘house’.
The houses, which are accessed from the arcades that surround the three large courtyards, have state-of-art security devices and access controls. They can be combined to form larger units, as the need arises-thus providing management with the flexibility needed to respond to different client requirements.
This new office building in Delhi will house the headquarters of NOIDA, the governmental authority in charge of developing the area just across the Jamuna River from Delhi.
To deal with the harsh hot-dry climate of Delhi’s summer months, the glass surfaces are all set well within the built form, so as to protect them from the direct sun. Instead, they will bring in the bounce light after it has been filtered through the various pockets of gardens and pergola covered terraces that are placed along the external surfaces of the volume – with the result that the built form resembles a block of cheese, from which pieces gouged out with a sharp knife.
Pedestrians and cars arrive in the main plaza, overlooked by the surrounding terraces and gardens on the levels above. From here rises the ramp which takes visitors’ up into the heart of the building, where special locations have been assigned to those NOIDA departments that require independent access for the public.
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.
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.
This exhibition, organised by the Government of India in 1969 to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, was located directly across the road from the Samadhi at Rajghat where he was cremated.
The complex consisted of four pavilions, each commemorating different aspects of the philosophy and teachings of Gandhiji. Conceived as a series of “non-buildings” party dug into the earth, they were structured by a pedestrian path that moves along a shifting axis, through a series of courtyards.
The brief involved preparing the overall concept and Master Plan for the four pavilions, and detailed architectural drawings for two of them.
This museum, an entry in an international competition, is a recall of the Hindustan Lever Pavilion (Delhi, 1961). The epic struggle for Human Rights generates the architectural form-not only in the exterior massing, but also in the powerful and primordial spaces that lie within. Beyond the Great Hall, are located the 4 Theme Pavilions, grouped around the Garden of Contemplation, in a manner which allows visitors to experience these pavilions in the order they prefer.
As one goes though the exhibits, the floor levels of the pavilions are successively raised, symbolizing the gradual ascent of humankind through the centuries. The final release comes at the highest level, as one enters the Garden of Contemplation, with the daylight streaming through the glass roof above-bringing with it the crucial element of hope, so essential to the journey.
The form of these Memorial Gates serves to conjure up the diverse and pluralistic cultures they celebrate. For the deep-structure that underlines their gesture finds resonance in almost every culture: viz., the doorway, or darwaza – a portal signifying entrance and journey. Wonderfully expressive, it allows subtle allusions to the many diverse cultures embodied in these gates.
Thus the circular convex mirror in the center not only serves to anchor the whole composition , but could also be a metaphor for bindu (i.e., the mythical source of all Energy that lies at the heart of Buddhism and Hinduism).
So also the sweeping gesture next to it, reaching out into the sky, seems to evoke the desert landscape and crescent moon of Islam.- and the scattered holes, the islands of the Caribbean.