only diminish the power of creativity. Hence our campus seeks to inspire the young future“The city does not tell its past but contains it like the lines of a hand written in every segment marked with scratches, indentations,scrolls.” Italo calvino “The invisible city” The city is an amalgamation of the physical [infrastructure + built fabric] and the non physical/ invisible realm [social interactions + art + culture + history]. The balanced intermingling of these two realms enables cities to formulate for themselves into dynamic and interactive environments. Globally developing cities like Delhi often struggle with achieving this balance. The critical factor is not to eradicate the invisible realm for the sake of development of infrastructure. Unfortunately we are seeing this happen in Delhi today. We are no longer able to see the sky while on the roads due to infrastructure. Is there a smarter and better way to implement planning strategies? Green open spaces are being diminished or lost due to large scale development by developers who lack guidance on pertinent issues of green space and the natural environment. All of these issues are demanding of us to take decisions. But in order for us to make appropriate decisions we have to ask the appropriate questions. What is Urban Design? Is urban design primarily about establishing guidelines or is it about place making? What is the role of nature within the cities of India? Is urban design limited to physicality or can it be a gesture highlighted by the programming of space? We approach the SPA design competition with these issues in the back of our mind to aid us in the process of understanding urbanism. Over time we have lost the respect for the open green parks within our cities. They now grow un-attended, un-activated and gated behind walls making them inaccessible and dead spaces within the city. Ironically they seem to be their own graveyards within the built fabric. Gating our natural environment will not protect it but suffocate it. We have to unleash nature in to our cities and make it a viable, vibrant and essential aspect of our everyday lives. What was once the graceful Delhi ridge is now a fragmented patchwork of green overtaken by the concrete jungle. The biodiversity park in itself is struggling to survive by being contained and cut off from the larger organism of the ridge itself. The history of Indian built environment stands as a testament for the world on the use of sustainable techniques. Indian architecture and fabric of Indian cities have always been mindful of climate and terrain. This has proved to work in our favor as these led to creating fascinating, sculptural and viable building solutions in the form of the Stepwells of Adalaj in Ahmedabad or the Kailash Temple, Aurangabad The School of planning and architecture competition deals with many issues. The site ever more so challenging also offers immense opportunities. The adjacency to a high end commercial zone, a bio diversity park and the JNU campus adds to the challenges of creating a wholesome environment.
Proposal: Our proposal is involved with integrating the site through various urban conditions physically and non physically. In our point of view the site is part of the bio diversity park which has been disjointed by the strange planning route of the service road. We believe that the SPA site is part of a larger campus which comprises of Teri University, International Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR), Instt. for Studies in Industrial Dev. (ISID), National Book Trust and the Bio Diversity Park. The question - How do we achieve the creation of a whole some campus in the midst of a chaotic fragmented urban network and built environment? Before we move forward it is crucial for us to understand the private and public realms. This will help us identify the hierarchy of the different kinds of spaces within the public and private realms. The initial step is to swap the existing green space (between the two roads) with the service road. The side effect to this move would be that 1) The new urban green becomes an extension of the bio diversity park.2) It blurs the edge between the private and public realm. 3) We are able to achieve a larger green space 4) It creates a buffer green zone between the site. 5) Positioning the two roads together organizes the flow of traffic by creating a major arterial spine that originates from the Nelson Mandela road for the entire “campus”. The plantation of the new urban green at the edge of site creates a more defined public realm. Creating open public spaces is not enough for any city. We need to program these spaces for them to become interactive with people. The green/ open spaces function as platforms for a constantly evolving program. The Indian culture provides no dearth of urban social programs that can easily be applied to open space. The urban green edge is a place for people to have picnics with their friends and family, a play area for children to play, sports for all, walk, jog, yoga or to simply have their photos taken. It is a space for public interaction whilst the architecture school offers to be the backdrop for the performance. We however strictly condemn the use of this space for any religious ceremonies i.e. loud jaagrans, weddings or any other rituals that would harm the landscape. Boundary wall: Provision of a compound wall as a strategy offers more problems rather than solutions. Our proposal negates the use of a compound wall as it will create a disjoint between the city and SPA. For security purposes we propose that the campus employ its own security team that patrols the urban pathways. Also increasing visibility increases security. At the same time we have provided for a security point on the edge of the urban green as well.
Site: Within the site we have transformed the seasonal streams to be pathways that connect the site in the form of urban trails. It is our vision that these trails will connect on a larger scale to the natural trails that exist within the bio diversity park. As part of our vision for the new campus we would like to have the bio diversity park open its doors to become an integral part of the urban complex. Central Park in New York City is a wonderful example that could be used as a model to look at for the urban development of this part of Vasant Kunj. The canyon with the existing wetlands resembles the historic concept of the “kund” with its central water feature. Keeping this aspect in mind our role has been to activate the “Kund” by retaining all natural features such as the stone and mica deposits that exists. Our built program organizes itself in a manner that it sculpts within the landscape respecting its topography and features. We envision the “kund” to become the cultural/ social space for the entire campus. It is the introverted space that offers the students an environmentally focused architecturally charged atmosphere.Our proposal deals with all of the studios looking into it.Climatically the bottom portion of the canyon will be the coolest zone of the site.Its depth and the overhangs of the built studios shade the lower regions. Also the sudden drop in topograph would result in a draught of air being sucked into it due to change in pressure.
Built fabric: The undergraduate and post graduate departments are split across the kund facing each other. The disjoint has been connected via bridges which travel from one edge to the other. The morphology of the building blocks has been achieved by carefully studying the climatical impacts of sun and wind on the surfaces of straight walls. Our goal was to achieve maximum shade in the summer and capitalize on naturally cooling spaces with the flow patterns of the wind. We achieved these aspects by twisting the faces of the building blocks appropriately and providing the facades with intricately carved jalis that enable wind to traverse into the building blocks. The green from the site travels up the sloped roofs of the buildings to cool the spaces below in the form of green roofs. These sloped structures are pierced with skylights that are used to provide diffused light and also enable the hot air trapped in the structures to be released. These roofs can also be accessed by the students and staff for informal classes or places to soak the sun in the winter.
Landscape: In terms of describing the different methods/ lenses employed for looking at the site one of them was transforming the site lines into a digital model that would enable us to mold the landscape in order to retain its integrity. On analysis of the digital model a mesh pattern unveiled itself as an avatar (An avatar is a computer user's representation of himself/herself or alter ego, whether in the form of a three-dimensional model used in computer games,a two-dimensional "Icon" icon (picture) used on or a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs. It is an “object” representing the embodiment of the user.) of the original. We chose this pattern as a way finding methodology to develop the landscape structures of the site. We used the existing mesh at the points of our design intervention to create an interactive natural environment. The use of the mesh provided us with endless number of permutations and combinations of varied patterns that we used to create the texture of the urban landscape. The pathways on the base of the kund, the bridges, trellises, stage are all designed by using this methodology. We applied this methodology in designing the common facilities center and residential zones at all times with respecting and maneuvering around or within the existing topography. We envision the green space between the existing private residential and the SPA residential zone would in time be over taken by the residents for informal neighborhood cricket matches. The compound wall again offers a restriction for the neighborhood to integrate itself in it its entirety. Residents have already begun decorating it by growing flowers within this space.
Kund: Our process of implementation began at the bottom of the kund for the existing natural wetlands with the water pond. This we believe is a critical feature at the base of the site. In order to enhance its interactivity we have designed series of steps leading away to the edge of the slopes on the east and west sides. These steps could be used for multiple events from becoming seats for fashion shows to casual lunch spaces. The north and southern points of the water are designed to have existing rocks remain in their place with meandering pathways flowing around them. We have proposed a bridge to walk across this water mass which is to be treated as if it were made of broken rock. The insides of it are to be lit at night in order to insinuate the crevices. We have programmed this space for the day time to be a leisure space for students staff to take time out from their busy schedule, at night during cultural festivals it could be used as a ramp for fashion shows and during drought the base of the pond can be used for sports. The steps around and the protruding rocks add to the seating aspect of the place.The southern side of the kund is programmed to be a zone where large scale functions could take place. This is a zone which could host graduation ceremonies to concerts such as Utopia. This zone could also be used for internal political demonstrations without affecting the work of other enterprises associated with the school.
Parking: Owing to the sloped nature of the site we are able to place parking for 800 cars into a basement parking garage that sits on the edge of the site. The roof of the site balances out with the existing topography enabling it to be a part of the landscape. The skylights here are designed as landscaped elements that bring light and ventilation to the parking underneath. Space for open air two wheeler parking has also been provided. We would however like to discourage the use of bringing cars to SPA. We strongly propagate the use of mass transit methodologies for commuting to and from the site. Our proposal to connect the site with new bus routes and mini bus routes enhances our stand.
Connectivity: Our proposal deals with providing the missing links that currently exist between the bus routes within the area. Our proposal deals with two routes once again internal and external. The external route is to connect the outer ring road and mahipalpur merhrauli road. This route would enable SPA to connect directly to the international airport. The second route that we are proposing runs from Nelson Mandela road into the campus whereby it connects the various institutions including DPS before returning to nelson Mandela road. Our proposal deals with having the urban trails run through the bio diversity park piercing between the spaces at the malls, over the nelson Mandela road via sky walks into the JNU campus. There by linking the two campuses. These urban trails will be marked with designed light kiosks of 30cm x 30cm x 150cm that depict a map of the neighborhood, the urban trails, mass transit and information about the bio diversity park. These would be looked at as markers within the city fabric for people to use. The tops of these markers would also have light fixtures thereby lighting up the road and urban green at night.
Floating Bus Stop: Our proposal provides for the location of a bus stop minutes away from the center of the site. However it is our role as sensible urban designers not to violate the green space by the forceful implantation this infrastructure piece. Instead we chose to elevate it thereby forcing the bus drivers off the main road to maintain constant flow of traffic and secondly it does not penetrate the urban green. The form of this could be decided by floating another design competition. The lower portion of this infrastructure could be used for art exhibit space, street dancers and hawkers offering support facilities to passengers in the form of cold drinks, water, newspaper, etc.
Our attempt was to create a school of architecture and planning that could incorporate many diverse notions of progressive architecture. Our spaces are catered to being able to inspire young minds to push the envelope of design. It is our belief this can not happen in corridor driven institutional buildings. The provision of such spaces would generations of thinkers and raise questions as to the possibilities of Urban Design and Architecture