Patna Riverfront Development and Revitalization, by NilaA Architecture and Urban Design

Patna Riverfront Development and Revitalisation

Patna Riverfront Revitalization project is a Public space and Landscape restoration initiative at the Old City in Patna. Engaging a historic stretch along the river, the proposed development includes 6m wide promenade, 4 community, education and recreational public building, public toilets, change rooms, lifeguard and first aid, food kiosks, way-finding and upgraded network of access streets. Physically the ever-expansive urban settlements have lost the relevance and reverence of water along with a connection to the ebb and flow of the river systems. Travel across Indian cities, you will find not only a disregard to this natural edge but also an exploitation – garbage dumping, toxic wastes and sewerage discharge. Their importance has been brought to fore by many environmental writers, activists and governmental schemes.


Historically, Patna ( old city Pataliputra) is a linear city planned along the Ganges and has a long history of evolution related to the river. Currently, uncontrolled processes of development, urban growth and garbage disposal have made the river edge redundant in the present context and the entire city now morphologically and typologically faces its back to the city. Physically there exists a meagre spatial relationship between the built form and the river. Some of the edge conditions that cause this- include dense urban morphology of old residential neighbourhoods which limit access to the river edge and building typologies that face their back to the river edge thereby leading to the edge being as a dumping and garbage disposal zone. The Riverfront Urban Initiative proposes a comprehensive urban design addressing vital civic concerns like safety during festivals, public space, lack of facilities along with environmental awareness and ecological restoration. Walking, be for recreation, health and simply a detour is central to the scheme and a 6-meter wide promenade is proposed that enables walking across the city riverfront. The promenade offers the residents face-time to the river and nurtures a collective civic mind towards it.

Edge, Paths and Connections

The existing urban river edge is a 7 kilometres stretch consisting of 28 Ghats-isolated and unconnected at the river edge. Although some of the Ghats are very well connected with the city and are actively used, most of them are only used at a local level due to their poor accessibility and connectivity to the city. The riverfront comprises of a thin strip of land varying from 30m- 50m as per local condition and much of is in gradient, the vision plan covered an area of study that was a complex mosaic of urban fabric varying from 400m to 100m from the river and bounded by the main transportation spine- Ashok Rajpath. The initial site assessments began with an elaborate study of connections from the main artery evaluating pedestrian, car and non-motorized vehicle access. Some ghats were also used as boat jetties that transported passengers and vegetables from the larger riverine villages and plains. Throughout the project, it has been vital to preserve and augment these connections to the river- both from city side and from the river to the city via boats. To ease out pedestrian movement during festivals, a network of loop roads and emergency access roads have been carved out of government properties. The essence of connection also lies in the interlinking of ghats and existing fragmented open spaces to provide a continuous public space along the river aiding in religious festivities and recreation. The open spaces on the river precinct between the river and Ashok Rajpath are of two kinds- residential neighbourhoods that have an extreme shortage of open spaces and densely built-up while others like university campuses that have the availability of the huge amount of open spaces. Land pooling, consolidation, developing access roads are key to the overall urban strategy to strengthen connections. Revitalization of underutilized institutional land with the government for public use is encouraged along with regeneration of function of unused structures to create public spaces and visual anchors.

A new Civic Identity: Creating an active Urban Edge

A dense cluster of cities straddles the Gangetic Plain that make a complex network of trade and economy. Economics and planning have found a convenient nomenclature of metropolitan areas ( Delhi, Noida, Lucknow), 2nd tier and 3rd tier cities. Patna has found a place in this middle landscape and though historically very rich, it is currently undergoing a major urban transformation and emerging with a new identity. Myriad cultural forces are shaping this new thinking- Popular youth culture, families migrating to Patna from hinterlands, vibrant educational and coaching hubs to one of the busiest medical hubs in eastern India. A new 10-acre art park ( Rajdhani Park) to the New Museum by Japanese Architect, Fumihiko Maki ( Maki + Opolis Architect) are also reinforcing the cultural landscape. Due to the extent of the project ( 6.6km of urban edge) the Riverfront Project aims to stir up a renewed civic identity and ultimately hopes to nurture a Civic-mind to the Ganga River.

Urban Typology and Heritage

The Patna River edge built-character is an expression of surrounding land use, which varies between institutional, residential, and in other cases mixed use. Each of them has come into existence over time and are quite distinct in their morphologies. The institutional area for instance had been developed on principles of low-density distribution while the residential areas are relatively high dense localities. The needs of the precincts thus vary from point to point. It is integral to consider the edge as an extension to existing precinct characters and as a key urban element that integrates the local needs of space and quality. The Riverfront initiative acts as a platform to preserve and mend fragmented local spatial connections, enhance local potentials and create adequate open space standards for the city. Creating connections between institutional precincts and the river edge through establishing views or creating access, preservation of heritage structures and their integration with the edge would evoke a lost civic cultural essence and create a unique environment in Patna. Heritage sensitive zones have been assessed along with INTACH and designs surrounding them have been attuned to the overall built character.

Urban Architecture: Ghats

The architecture of the projects is operative at three scales: ghat architecture at 20 locations ( 70m long stepped platforms at original ghat locations), small facility buildings at 7 locations and facility kiosks at each ghat and overall promenade. We are able to imbue this through strategic analysis of project phasing, land areas available during low water level, and impact of the urban project. Assessment of the existing visual language and built character were seeding grounds for further thinking on ghat typology, traditional chattri, and pavilions for the proposed 20 ghats. Since each new ghat varied from 50 meters wide to 70 meters wide we began to explore them as a combination of traditional ghat (steps leading to the water) to mini-plazas, shade canopy that would begin vary the experiential quality of the user for the overall stretch. Eight ghat design prototypes were prepared that could create an appropriate typology for the river edge in relation to the context. Integrating Ghats with elements like art terraces, shading systems, colonnades and mini amphitheaters and transform Ghats as collective space, spaces of pause, interaction, and leisure.

Urban Acupuncture: Buildings as an extension of ghat typology

The vision plan has proposed three community facilities and one electrical crematorium (Gulvi ghat) in the intervention stretch. These facilities are small buildings that cater to providing local needs of a community hall, reading library, river awareness centre for local schools. Their design is strongly influenced by the urban fabric and a dynamic urban typology of buildings is proposed that embraces the ghat typology in their conception. Such a positioning eludes traditional notions of the site boundary and seeks to integrate the urban fabric with the new infill project. A Café-Reading room is proposed on Patna College Ghat which is frequented by college students and the roof is amphitheatre. The Ecological Center at Collectorate Ghat, an important location for ferry transportation, the design is based on pilotis to provide a public space underneath the facility. The Community Center at Raja Ghat thrives on a view terrace and a performance courtyard, that can be used in local weddings and functions.

On the Ground

The completed project has provided the much needed Public Space to the residents of the City ( 5 million population) with thousands using the walkway at various times daily. Close to 1 million people use the walkway and restored Ghats during the local festival of Chatt ( Oct_Nov). The festival is based on the ancient tradition of nature worship with reverence to Sun and Water. The project benefits a population of 3 million persons in the riverine zone including Residents with new public space and health benefits, Fisherman with new toilets and improved boat mooring capacity, Low income communities have access to a new community hall and a new electric crematorium for the city. Additional benefits are attributed towards the 1 million religious tourists who visit for the Chatt festival in Oct- Nov for a week with improved access, safety, night lighting (festival ceremony happens at dawn) and way-finding. Night Lighting of the entire 7km edge has made the area safe and improved perception of residents. The improved public space provisions have greatly modified the perception of the Riverfront as a dangerous and dirty place. The project has reframed the public opinion about its natural heritage. Vegetable vendors (the majority who are women) are able to access supplies in boats and walk to the nearest vegetable mandi at Anta Ghat area next to the Patna University. The development of Electric Crematoria ( 2 pyres with a capacity for 30 a day) at Gulvi Ghat will help in reducing the wood consumption and next it would give more burning facilities. The project also envisages to improve interceptor drains to capture the sewage getting directly disposed to Ganga from the building along the ghat and then finally dispose them off at a city sewer manual to divert the same to an STP. A total of 8 such interceptor drains are being constructed. Several national-level campaigns have been held at the project site including physical trash skimming of the water surface, creation of sewerage treatment plants along the river to manage the direct discharge of sewerage.

Architecture Firm: Nishant Lall/ NilaA Architecture & Urban Design

Completion Year: December 2019

Design Team: Nishant Lall, Balaji Mohan, Varun Amar Kaushik , Kanwaljeet Kaur, Ashna Puri, Akshita Khowal, Sourabh Yadav, Puneet Kumar, Ariz Ashraf, Bella Ullas , Agata Marcheska, Sarfaraz, Shruti Sharma, Satyajit Mal, Sumedha Jain, Nishant Vishwa, Nidhi Bindal, Shiv Pratap, Nalin Singh, Harsh Mistry, Fatemah Kosravi, Preeti Bhatnagar, Ejaz Faisal, Ipsita Mondal,

Clients: The World Bank and National Mission for Clean Ganga/ NMCG and BUIDCO

Executive DPR consultant and Engineering: Sen & Lall Consultants Pvt Limited, Patna

Landscape: Implementation Stage/ Akshay Kaul and Associates Landscape and Ecology, New Delhi

Landscape: DPR Stage/ Oasis Designs, New Delhi

Harsh Kumar Anne,  Electrical Consultants, New Delhi

Nafeez Qureshi, Paradise Consultants, PHE, New Delhi

Nityanand Prasad, Structure Engineer, New Delhi


IIT New Delhi, TRIPP Pedestrian Safety and Assessment

INTACH New Delhi, Heritage Assessment

Voyants, Environmental Impact Assessment Consultant


The Breathing Office, at Manjeri, Kerala, by Tropical Architecture Bureau

The Breathing Office, at Manjeri, Kerala, by Tropical Architecture Bureau

at Manjeri, Kerala

“When a place is lifeless or unreal, there is almost always a mastermind behind it. It is so filled with the will of its maker, that there is no room for its own nature.”

– Christopher Alexander

The Breathing Office in Manjeri is a story subtly nestled in the process of being given illustrious shape to its space by the architects from Tropical Architecture Bureau.

This story is set deep in a tropic centre of the world – Kerala. A place that immediately transports you to lazy days by long sandy beaches, the sounds of crashing waves, the tranquil backwaters, palms trees gaily waving their arms up in the humid breeze – a cove of solace. But in a city called Manjeri, in Malappuarm, these attractions have taken a back seat to give way to concrete buildings, noisy roads, monotonous transport, and tired individuals who tug themselves and their lunchboxes to work in rows and rows of dull coloured buildings with tiny windows and no promising views – classic Taylorism.

Offices, today, are rooted in the interaction of the employees – communication, coordination, conversation, etc. and the users must be consciously aware of their spatial context while engaging in these functions.

 To that end, the architects at TAB trusted in the power of unconventional and varied use of local materials and skilled labour. Work like this is physical proof that somebody has taken joy in beautifying a space for another and there is something so wholesome about the “human touch

The technical details lie within simple, achievable and more importantly, economical limits such that it serves as a prototype which maximises human energy and efficiency in the workplace

The architectural elements together harmonise in warm tones of the exposed finish of metal, cement and wood without becoming monotonous or visually strenuous by occasionally breaking it up with vibrant spots of bright colours, large-leafed plants, glass partitions and graphic signages. The generous placement of greenery creates the oneness with nature which is absent in the centre of the city and is a necessary requirement when advocating for sustainability. The use of glass has been used to admit ample daylight and create an apparent sense of large spatial scale and volumes. Since the crowd of employees are young, it keeps with modern themes unlike the conventional cooped up workstations in olden style offices.

There is a certain sense of transparency and personal connection between the users and the spaces, induced by the use of exposed raw materials. Brick and concrete are the two major materials and not having covered it up with cladding or plaster, portrays the building in its skeletal form and breathing with the users inside – as if it is still in the process of, itself, being a building.

The variation in textures, brought about by the diversity in materials, creates for a truly enriching spatial experience using all the sensory organs. One can see a range of colours in a unified palette but also run a hand on the cool hard concrete, the ridged bricks, the granular mortar in-between, the smooth leathery leaves, the ribbed wooden surfaces, satiny metals, and soft upholstery. The architects have, thus, painstakingly incorporated elements in the material spectrum, creating a unique and varied experience each time.

Project Facts – 

Project Name: The Breathing Office

Architecture Firm: Tropical Architecture Bureau

Firm Location: Manjeri, Kerala

Completion Year: 2019

Gross Built Area: 4000sqft

Project location: Manjeri, Kerala

Lead Architects: Ar.Uvais.k

Design Team: Uvais k,Anas,Ajmal,Subin,Rabeeh,Faiza,Aseeb,Amal

Clients: greenspark infra consultants pvt. ltd.

Engineering: greenspark pvt. ltd

Landscape: Tropical Architecture Bureau

JK House, at New, Delhi by Conarch Architects

JK House, at New, Delhi by Conarch Architects
JK House, at New, Delhi by Conarch Architects 8
Conarch Architects

Located in an uber dense Delhi locale, JK House forms a distinct urban landmark. The building design is both functional and expressive in nature, its lively sculptural facade is rich in simplicity and proportions. The backlit geometrical surfaces transform a mundane building corner on a busy street into a point of interest and heighten the excitement of the onlooker.

Built on an urban infill site and situated within four-minute walking distance from a transit hub, the project is appropriately sited to benefit from the city’s growing mass public transit system. The building design takes advantage of the proximity to the available alternative transportation system by minimizing the onsite area dedicated to parking.  For a building accommodating about 350 employees, the project provides for code minimum parking of 25 stalls only.

The structure comprises of six full storeys; floor plates are combinations of open-plan offices, individual offices, conference and meeting rooms. The stilt and basement floors have service areas, break out spaces and parking. On the floors above are the office units with meeting areas and open-space workplaces. The roof area is greened and partly designed as a roof terrace.

Based on the interactions with the client, Sh. J.C. Chaudhry,  the primary goal was to create a positive, comfortable and productive work environment. Characteristic of Delhi’s urban area, the site is a long narrow rectangle with existing built properties on three sides, with front, rear and side setbacks. Long narrow rectangular sites pose a challenge to naturally light workspaces at lower levels and areas away from exterior walls. Given the critical role daylight plays in occupant mental and physical health, a generously sized atrium was introduced in the middle to light the building from within. Low height desk partitions, light material finishes and full height glass partitions help daylight penetration in deeper areas of the floor plate. The building emphasizes occupant comfort with ample daylighting, natural materials, breakout spaces and a large landscaped terrace.JK House, at New, Delhi by Conarch Architects 10

The interior workspaces are crafted with dramatic angles in the subdued contrasting colour palette to create a sleek, uncluttered and striking experience. The custom lighting, built-in furniture, ceiling and wall design come together as a singular cohesive space to exude warmth required for the ease of business discussions. The muted colour palette and the quiet aesthetic of the straight lines vitalizes the participants and enables effective and precise communication. It is here the company’s deals are sealed, ideas are formed, and plans are put into action.

Innovative architectural solutions come with a set of equally complex and demanding building construction processes. Transforming a building design into physical reality is a challenge no less. Throughout the construction of the project, we collaborated with RP Realtech Pvt Ltd, who was responsible for construction execution and providing all of the material, labour, equipment and services necessary for building completion.JK House, at New, Delhi by Conarch Architects 12

Fact file:

Project Name: JK House

Client: Sh. J.C. Chaudhry

Architect: Conarch Architects

Principal Architect: S.K. Goel

Location:32, Pusa Road, New Delhi

Plot Area: 1,350 Sq. Yards

Built-up Area: 40,000 Sq.Ft

Completion Year: 2019

Project Scope: Architectural and Interior design

Turn-Key Builder: RP Realtech Pvt Ltd

Content: Neha Goel

GreenVolt Experience Store, at Ahmedabad, by MANAYAN Architects

GreenVolt Experience Store, at Ahmedabad, by MANAYAN Architects

GreenVolt Experience Store, at Ahmedabad, by MANAYAN Architects 16The experience store for Greenvolt Mobility is the first store for a startup that was conceived in college enthusiasm to make the world a greener place.

The unique challenge of the project was to create a brand identity through interior design. To sell a product, the viewer needs to be seduced and make an everlasting impression of the product from the perspective of brand identity. The neutral black and white colour palette creates a cohesive impression of the brand as a classic, professional as well as modern. In return, the contrast of colours creates a backdrop for the displayed product. The most important aspects about the brand and the product are carefully displayed, reducing the space and content to its essential, making the exhibit “a spectacle”.

Spatially space is divided into two parts display and service area through a curtain wall. The display area is organized along the wall, inhabiting the existing structure of the space. Each wall becomes a panel to explain in detail about the product and journey of the company. Different rooms were created through lightning, keeping the showroom one large undisturbed space spatially and at the same time defining spaces and pauses through the amount of light. Further, the spatially is highlighted through colour, white being the informative part and black being the barrier, guiding the customer’s movement.

Project Facts –


Project Name:             GreenVolt Experience Store

Completion Year:       2019

Gross Built Area:       1200 sqft

Project Location:       Ahmedabad, India

Lead Architects:         Harsh Desai


Additional Credits

Design Team:       Harsh Desai, Krishna

Clients:                     Greenvolt Mobility LLP

Collaborators:       Amruta Rai for Animation, Siddhi Printech for Vinyl  Etc..GreenVolt Experience Store, at Ahmedabad, by MANAYAN Architects 18

HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci

HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci

HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 22The solitary sign of the omnipotent existence of nature, the rich green canopy of the surviving champa tree stands in stark contrast to the simple and austere appearance of the pure pristine façade of the dwelling called HouSkinS.It uses the metaphor of human skin as the thin layering of tissue forming the natural covering of the body of an individual, inherent with the ability to shield yet remain in contact with the external world as the genesis of design thought. HouSkins is conceptualized as a minimal, light and humane interface.

HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 24
Curved form optimally connects the internal levels

HouSkinS creates a multi-layered protective shell for the family to enhance their sense of belonging and togetherness, as it creates a multi-layered spatial experience for the insider as well as the outsider. This experience originates with the moment of pause actuated by the gesture of reverence demarcating the champa tree and thefragrance of the champaflowers that invites within. Conceptually connecting to this tree is the core of the dwelling, a voluminous interactive space for the family that ties all the various levels and offers access to the temple that appears to stay afloat.

These three elements- the tree, the core and the temple, and their relationship,give clues to define the first design strategy- the sacred axis. This north-south axis connects the existing object of reference in the vicinity (the tree) signifying the natural centre, the created spatial core being the heart of the house (the family interactive centre) and the spiritual centre (the mandir) at the far end of the site. The sacred axis become the prime principle for further organization of other spaces according to user requirements.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 26

The second design strategy is in vertical segregation of spaces.The ground being entirely dedicated to public interface, the first level being semi – public and the top floor being completely private. The ground floor comprises of large gathering hall with a spacious covered verandah with a surrounding water body and edge plantation along with an office space. The first floor has the living, dining, kitchen, two bedrooms  and the mandir.The second floor has two bedrooms and a pantry.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 28

The third design strategy is a system of paths that allow for preferred directions of movement through the building. The three paths – the direct entry path in the public congregation space on the ground floor, the diagonal path from the family living space to the contemplative zone (the mandir) on the first floor and on the second floor, the parallel path linking the private spaces horizontally and provides a vertical connect to the family space below. The staircase serves as the perpendicular path that links all the levels to form an integrated whole.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 30

The path from the entry goes through the porch into a lobby space connecting the formal gathering functions at ground level and the staircase to the upper levels. The ground level is maintained as the most public, with a formal leisure space to entertain guests. This space opens up into a semi-covered vernadah defined by solid piers with integrated light features that illuminates this level attributing to it a sense of ephemerality during the night. The heaviness of structure dissipates in this luminosity concluding the experience with a streak of water lined with palm trees and a shallow water pool. The temple (mandir) with its inclined columns, emerging from this waterbody resides in this silent quarters of the rear court culminating the north-south sacred axis.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 32

As one transcends to upper levels using the stairs within, the visual link to the outside is contiguously maintained. Externally, the staircase volume curves and vanishes into the realms of the unknown yet fundamentally serving as the bracket for the known and the familiar within the home, the cycle of life itself. The first floor level expands into the curved voluminous interactive space forming the heart of the house. This central core creates an optimal connection between all the levels of the house internally, making it a critical shared zone amidst the public and the private. The kitchen adjoins, symbolically placing the hearth within the core and embuing it with the quintessential quality in every home- warmth! At this level, there is a bedroom that overlooks the polygonal temple floating atop the water much like diyas in a river during festive rituals. The disjunctive form of the temple supports in maintaining the special status as the spiritual centre and is accessed through a bridge. The other bedroom overlooks the champa tree and the street beyond.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 34

The curved form displaces space as it brings in desirable natural light, contains the internal volumes of the built and moves away from the immediate neighbours respecting their space and privacy. The curve fades away reaching out to the sky. The presence of the volume dissipates due to the curvilinear form, the floating structure and perforated screens, the otherwise solid statement gently transforming into ethereality.The other living spaces fit within and are raised at second floor level, to disconnect from the street and to enjoy the view of the horizon. The topmost level consists of service functions and provides access to the terrace. The intermingling forms lay disclosed when viewed at the top. The juxtaposition of volumes, as two curved metal forms enclosing the cuboidal concrete and glass clarifies the interior experience. The major curved form contains the primordial hearth and the living areas, becoming the pivotal space internally around which the house functions.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 36

The landscape design scheme celebrates and magnifies the only feature, the champa tree by repeating it within the balconies of upper levels thus forming a pattern of greens integrated with the subtle façade. Towards the front of the house, as the foliage of the existing champa tree is a source of joy for people residing at upper levels, the newly planted ones turn into a emblematic reminder of veneration towards nature. While the water features and verticality of the reiterating palms lend a calming quality to the rear court at ground level, the upper levels sense the bursting of the palm leaves, swaying with the slightest breeze. The green layer repeats within the three punctures in the curved interactive core serving as one more screen between the inside and the outside.HOUSKINS, at Ghaziabad, by Plan Loci 38

The building skin is especially designed in layers to allow for an appropriate response to climate. As it is on a south west facing plot, an environmentally responsive secondary skin aligns with the south sun and veils the front built form. This screen in the front façade floats and aligns to the south shading the bedrooms for the summer days and the balconies project out to enjoy the winter sun. The entire skin is designed to be breathable having an air gap between a solid inner and a louvered outer layer. Glass is tactfully provided to give a spacious feel in the interiors, either in the recesses of the forms next to stairs and the living rooms. It is generously used in the north and is shaded by perforated screens when used in the southwest. During the day, the white louvered outer skin with wooden apertures (the balconies) lend itself to form the white austere immaculate appearance exuding a stillness and serenity in the middle of the visually busy built landscape. As night approaches the placidity of the façade transforms into a living image infused with the dynamism of life processes, the transparency of this layer is revealed as the interiors light up. The building that seemed solid in the day takes on a renewed dimension by night, transmuting into a stunning sheer of sublime existence.

Parco – The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio

Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 42
You might hesitate in asking the person next to you to move a little. And there are many out there who would soon forget to maintain distance.
As social distancing is now a new way of living, book your Parco seater now!

Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 44


NOW’S patented designer products to help your staff/ visitors maintain distance and wait without exposing themselves to risk.
Parco offers personal space with a sanitizer, tissue roll, charging point, seat disposable, basket and bin in each section.



Parco is a 4 seater rest zone which is meant to sit with legs stretched especially in commercial areas. It is meant for places like malls, offices, hospitals, airports, libraries, hotels, children’s park, exhibition ground, trade centres, gardens, resorts etc. It can be used indoor or outdoor.

Parco means Park in Italian. It is inspired by the nostalgic feeling of sitting under a tree with legs stretched in a park.

Parco’s purpose is to give a person relaxation, a feeling of being close to nature, sit with legs stretched and have a personal space, a sense of privacy despite being in a public space. It has 4 partitions or wings to divide individual/ isolate space.

Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 46

It can be highly customised as per user needs. The following can be added:-

1) A side table can be attached to it for charging phones, laptops, a space to keep kindle or e-notebooks.

2) A moveable table to eat or write & read.

3) A hook to tie leash of their pet.

4) There can be inbuilt music system.

5) Also solar light in the centre where there is space for the planter and concealed lights below the seater adds to the sensory experience of the product.

Materials – It can be made in economic materials like steel for railway stations, plywood, plyboard and Mdf or can be made inexpensive outdoor wood like pine and HDPE.

Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 48


Parco has a cantilever structure and can take up to 400kgs of weight. It can be put against a planter/ column/ pole in the centre. It is a fit to install the product and comes in 10 components.


Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 50Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 52Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 54Parco - The rest zone for social distancing, by NOW the design studio 56


Materials – It can be made in economic materials like steel for railway stations, plywood, plyboard and Mdf or can be made inexpensive outdoor wood like pine and HDPE.

Parco is a need driven design product. Commercial spaces lack a place where one can sit with there legs stretched and have privacy. It is truly designed to fill the gap of sitting comfortably in a public space.

It’s a design patent.

Flux Farm (F2) at Gurgaon, by Raj Karan Designs

Flux Farm (F2) by Raj Karan Designs

Flux Farm (F2) at Gurgaon, by Raj Karan Designs 60Architects: Raj Karan Designs

Location: Near ITC Grand Bharat, Gurgaon, India

Project Year: 2019

Site Area: 3 Acres

Category: Farmhouse Design

Design Team: Guneet Raj Singh, Karan Chowdhary

The site is a hideaway, embraced by the Aravali Range with its greenery punctuated by quarried Rock, Kota village and the ITC golf course.The client being a golf enthusiast and having farming as a hobby, desired to use the place as a weekend getaway from his city life.

Client’s brief was to create a farmhouse which would merge with its surroundings. Finishes were to have minimum required maintenance as the place would be used only once in a week. The vocabulary of the place was identified to resonate with the client’s personality – a symphony of contemporary and rustic.

The site is of 3 acres, zoning of the which has been done in three parts, Main House, Servant Quarters and the Fields.

1.5 acres allocated to the fields and 1.5 acres to the Main House with its manicured gardens and a separate annex for the servant quarters with livestock placed next to it.

The services of the whole site are located at the annex for ease of maintenance.

It’s a Flux in its varied contexts of an Urban Golf Course, a rustic village and the natural hills.

It’s a Flux between the outdoors and the indoors.

It’s a Flux between the fields and manicured gardens.

It’s a Flux in Structural Contrast.

It’s a Flux between the Rustic and the Contemporary.

It’s a Flux of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency.

The foremost priority is not only the idea to merge the boundaries of the building with the natural background of the Aravalies, fluidly connecting the indoors with the outdoors, but also of highlighting constructional simplicity and pure lines while being Sustainable and Energy Efficient.

Local construction system of Steel Girder with Stone Slabs (tukdi) technique is juxtaposed with the framed concrete structure.

The structural variation also creates segregation of public and private spaces. The public spaces of the entrance foyer, drawing dining leading up to the deck has been given a rustic feel through the Steel N Stone construction, whereas the private bedrooms and the kitchen on the ground floor are constructed using the framed concrete construction. The fusion of two construction techniques has been used to create a column-less structure to give an uninterrupted view of the neighbouring golf course.

The combination of natural materials, exposed brickwork and stone masonry has been used to make the building blend harmoniously with the surrounding natural context, forming an extension to the quarry pattern on the hills that surround it. Rough Stone, Sleek Metal, Wooden Grains and Plush finishes are the talk when thinking of the interior spaces.

Sustainability and Energy Efficiency is the underlying basis of the overall design planning.

This is achieved by using passive thermal control though thermal buffering and ensuring naturally lit spaces.

We enter into an internal courtyard which is a buffer space in terms of circulation and climate control while continuing to erase the boundaries between the interior and the exterior. Located on the south west side, it acts as a thermal buffer, along with the ZigZag wall created on the west façade which castes its own shadow and reduces&contains the heat gain. The courtyard is installed with industrial fans that are camouflaged in the ceiling pattern. This generates air circulation hence creating a natural breeze through the house, in turn largely reducing the energy consumption for cooling requirement.

The minimum electricity consumption required is provided from solar power system.

Use of local material is maximised to meet the concept requirements in turn adding to the sustainability of the construction.

At the entrance itself, the surrounding golf course view is brought to focus by the framed visual axis through the Formal Drawing Room. The overall design creates uninterrupted views from all spaces in such a way that the users are able to relish the outside natural surrounding while being inside. The internal Courtyard is a span of 6x6m which is given a seamless pattern to add to the experience to the place.

Residence ‘Nirant’, at Surat, Gujarat by Krutam Design Studio

Krutam Design Studio

Residence 'Nirant', at Surat, Gujarat by Krutam Design Studio 64General Information:

Project Name               : Nirant

Design Team                 : Ar. Manoj Chodvadiya, Ar. Axay Kotadiya, Nikunj Sorathiya

Clients                              : Mr. Rameshbhai Patel

Structure Designer   : Tribhuvangedia

Contractor                     : Sanjaybhai Bhalala

Electrical                         : Atulbhai

Flooring                           : Sohambhai

Carpenter                       : Isverlal

Paint work                      : Jitubhai

Photo credits                : Navneet Dholariya / Krutam Design Studio

Project Description:

nirant’ This private residence is located in surat, gujarat, india. A dream house of Mr. Ramesh Bhai, who wanted a simple design for a medium budget scheme for the site 20’ x 45’. The footprint of the house was approximately 20’ x 42’.

Though it was a small site and not possible to provide windows on longer side of the house because of abutments on either sides. Only source of ventilation was from front and rear sides, challenge was to achieve maximum use of plot, providing abundant natural lighting and ventilation. We worked on a open type planning with a maximum use of skylights and our main intention was to have a sense of large space in a small house, which again has to be clean and airy.

The internal division of 2936 square feet house is also as simple, spaces are divided into semi- private and private zones. The semi-private zone (bed room for their parents, living, kitchen, double heighted dining area, common toilet and a utility closer to kitchen) is contain on lower level and private zone (two bed rooms with attached toilets) being situated on top.

The heart of the house is double height area which brings lights and air both the levels and this area is actually connection between two spaces which avoid a feeling of being isolated also invite natural lights into the space via skylight. both bedroom on upper floor being visually immense and connected with central area of the house and convert into interactive space.

The external facade of the house is just 20’ wide and treated with brick cladding, exposed concrete texture, black fine flex texture and staircase block covered with M.S. Jaali and glass.

According to the client brief, the colour scheme is neutral and material pallet minimal. The internal spaces are given modern touch with simple furniture design which is combination of veneer, laminate and also white & grey colour. The vertical circulation from first level to terrace level happens with a fabricated stairs which covered with natural polished teak wood.

The Wooden Harmony, by ACad Studio, Gurugram

Acad Studio

The Wooden Harmony, by ACad Studio, Gurugram 98Type- Office Space

Location – Golf Course Road

Area – 3000 sq ft

Design and Built


The challenge was to create an office in the basement, which will cater to 4 different companies but should look like one big company’s office. The challenge was to segregate the space without making visual partitions.

Our Idea

The site is present in the basement, so the focus was to create a space which doesn’t feel like a basement, that is the office should be well lit with sufficient air circulation. The idea was to create a co-working environment without creating partition walls. The entire theme of the office was based on the fusion of natural materials, sunlight and greenery to give a lively feel to the office which is present in the basement.

The focus was on the employees, who have to work at least 8 hrs. in the office. Providing a cheerful environment in a stressed workplace was a major concern while designing.

What We Did

We designed the space providing 3 access to the building from the ground floor. We opened up front and rear of the basement and covered it with glass to maximize the amount of light entering the basement. The partitions we selected were made up of wooden frames and fixed glass to provide transparency in the office. The spatial design was to divide the office into 3 zones. The first zone containing a common reception area, conference room and toilets. The second zone had 2 offices which had 3 executive cabins and a workplace of around 10 -12 people. The third zone had another 2 offices which had their own foyer, 2 executive offices and staff area of around 12-15 people. The zones were carefully designed to give access from all the sides to all the 4 offices.

The wall dividing 2 office zones was designed with a combination of wood and grass abstract, which started from the staff area and continued to the executive’s room to give a feeling of oneness and eliminate the hierarchy that may occur due to division of cabin spaces. The abstract was designed carefully by balancing the pinewood and grass. The abstract was placed on the wall where fused sunlight through glass would enhance the texture of pinewood and grass. The partition between the staff offices was created using louvres to mentally separate the place and visually giving a look of one big office. Another interesting element of the design is the ceiling. We had designed the ceilings with exposed pipes and ducts. The PVC pipes connecting the light were painted black to provide extra attention to the ceiling. The colour scheme chosen for the entire office was black, grey, brown and beige. Different tones of grey were used on structural elements like ceiling, columns and beams. The partition frames were made of wood with black polish to create bold lines between the spaces. Brown colour laminates were used on the table with grey colour tabletop laminates to blend in the entire theme. The low height beige coloured chairs and sofa were selected deliberately to stand out in the entire cabin.

The interiors of the walls were designed to suit the profession with graffities, models, frames and stickers with motivational quotes to enhance the spaces.

ACad Studio, Gurugram

The Wooden Harmony, by ACad Studio, Gurugram 115

Founded in 2019, ACad Studio is an architectural firm which provides the best solutions in all formats. The Studio comprises young, passionate and self-motivated architects, interior designers, contractors, site/project managers and developers.

Our expertise lies in architecture and we have worked with multiple clients across a wide range of sectors. We are forerunners in adopting new technology in a sector where people are afraid of this change. Professional commitment, based on trust and quality work together with an inherent focus on Spatial Planning, Design, Sustainability and Project Management helps us achieve long-lasting and fruitful relationships with our clients.

Aayush Chaudhary, Co-Founder, Principal Architect,  ACad Studio

A graduate in Architecture from Sushant School of Art and Architecture and a Masters in Construction Management from the City University of London, Aayush has a rich career as an Architect for 7 years. He has handled prestigious architectural projects in London for various clients and is now practising in India with an aim to introduce global best practices in architecture in his country. His extensive list of clients includes OYO Hotels, Carrier Midea India, etc.

Royal Enfield Garage Café at Calangute, Goa, by Studio Lotus

royal enfield garage cafe by studio lotus

Royal Enfield Garage Café at Calangute, Goa, by Studio Lotus 119Royal Enfield has a mandate of bringing richer and a more comprehensive experience of their iconic global brand to their customers. As the next level of Brand Immersion, the brand is set to launch highly-curated, larger experiences in key motorcycling destinations. These go beyond selling motorcycles and gear, into offering a space for the motorcycling community to congregate in and experience the Royal Enfield brand and its commitment to “Pure Motorcycling”.

In continuation of the highly successful roll out of the Retail stores, Royal Enfield’s retail design and architectural agency Studio Lotus took the brief forward and converted a much loved, quaint Goan eatery called J&A at Baga creek into the multi-dimensional Royal Enfield Garage Café.

The exciting new space is a seamless amalgamation of retail space, a bar &restaurant, a gallery space, a bike-customization area and a service center.The design approach to the Architecture and Interior Design builds around the core values of the Royal Enfield brand: Timelessness, Craftsmanship and an unadulterated love for motorcycling.

The buildings are planned on a half-acre plot of land as a series of independent yet interconnected structures, each of which tells its own story. The industrially-crafted retail building with its zinc roof, laterite infill walls and the now distinctive “Royal Enfield” charcoal grey metal and glass facade effortlessly bridges its Goan setting with Industrial craftsmanship.

The central traditional Portuguese style structure where the old J&A kitchen used to be,manifests as the anchor of the space.Converted into a multifunctional gallery, the space currently houses and tells the story of the legacy motorcycles of Royal Enfield – from the 1939 flying flea to the original 1963 café racer and other engines and replicas that form the brand’s rich history.


The facade of this building has been treated with specially-commissioned, locally-executed artworks inspired by a Royal Enfield iconography based Azulejos-inspiredinstallation that is created by Codesign and is hand-painted on tiles byGoan artisans.

Attached to this heritage structure is an exciting double-height space formed by a steel framework and a traditional Goan roof. These form the bar area and the first floor dining space, that has incredible views of the Baga creek. The double-height bar volume has a hand-painted backdrop by Monde Art, which takes the viewer through a meandering Goan road trip. Highlighted by customized brass headlight pendants, the bespoke sandblasted timber Bar top brings alive Royal Enfield’s presence across the world. A slowly moving, High-Volume, Low Velocity rotor mounted of the 20-ft high ceiling ensures a gentle breeze in the space at all times. The first floor lounge wall has an exciting installation byHanif Qureshi of St+Art.Flanking this structure at the rear is a state-of-the-art Service center with a bike customization zone, encouraging customers who don’t have the resources or space to turn their imagination into reality. Here, one can find all the essentials – a tool kit, for instance – required to customize a motorcycle.

The entire cluster of buildings have been set around a charming courtyard and coconut trees to deliver an experience that is Timeless, Contemporary, charmingly ‘Goan’ and unabashedly “Royal Enfield” at its core!

Project Facts

Name of the project : Royal Enfield Garage Café

Location:Calangute, Goa

Typology: Mixed-Use (Branded Environment)

Name of the architectural firm: Studio Lotus, Delhi

Design Principal: Pankhuri Goel

Design Team: Ambrish Arora, Shalini Satish Kumar, Raman Vig, Laura Robin

Client: Royal Enfield

Project area : 9,600 sq.ft

Year of completion : 2018

Photographer : Andre J Fanthome

Consultants :

Art / Artefacts : Monde Art, Hanif Kureshi (St+Art Foundation)

Mechanical : Edifice Consultants (MEP)

Environmental : Graphics Codesign

Landscape : ROHA Landscape Architects

CubeX, Quarantine Pavilion, idea by Ankit Kashyap

CubeX-Qurantine Facilty by Ankit Kashyap

CubeX, Quarantine Pavilion, idea by Ankit Kashyap 131CubeX Quarantine Pavilion

As the world is plagued by the pandemic of coronavirus, hospitals around the world are reaching their maximum capacity and positive patients are being left untreated resulting in avoidable deaths everywhere.

Architects and designers all around the world are contemplating how they can contribute in battling the on going pandemic with their designs and ideas.CubeX, Quarantine Pavilion, idea by Ankit Kashyap 133An Architect based in Delhi has proposed a conceptual design for a temporary pop-up quarantine facility that can be set up inside hospital premises and can be used to isolate or treat COVID-19 patients.

The pavilion is made up of flexible modular units that are easy to deploy and assemble on-site and therefore can provide much-needed shelter in a very short time. The design enables the addition of more modular units to the existing pavilion if the cases rise and more patients come in and removal of existing modules if the patients recovered and space is no longer needed. When the shelter is no longer required it can be easily transported to other areas of requirement.

CubeX, Quarantine Pavilion, idea by Ankit Kashyap 135The module is made up of lightweight aluminium, wood and fabric for ease of transportation and assembly. Each unit folds flat to a size of 9′ x 4′-6″ x 1′-4″ when not in use and opens up to a size of 9′ x 9′ x 9′ when in use. Translucent/opaque fabric rolls down from the top panel to cover the module or to provide a partition between two. External panellings can also be provided from the outside wherever the fabric covering is deemed insufficient. There is also a scope in the design to incorporate electrical wiring and LED lights.

CubeX can be easily set up inside Hospital premises and can help hospitals accommodate more people and not sent them home because of no space. The pavilion can also be used in the post-pandemic world in disaster hit area where immediate shelter is required. With no requirement of skilled labour what makes the design promising is its speed, scalability and buildability.

Design is a powerful tool and an intention to contribute leading to a problem-solving design can help aid our world in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Residence for Mr. Shaheed, at Elangode, Kerala by Nufail Shabana Architects

Nufail Shabana Architects

Residence for Mr. Shaheed, at Elangode, Kerala by Nufail Shabana Architects 147Residence for Mr. Shaheed

Date of completion : 12th august 2018

Location : Elangode , Kerala

Design intent :

A Mellow confluence

Residence for Mr.Shaheed  is designed  for a  modern day family with aesthetic sensibility which recalls their local roots with traditional wooden furniture and dark flooring .the residence interior offers a palette of varying textures and finishes with the tiles used throughout the house.Quite a monochrome theme maintained throughout the house , the central hall gives a space of awe to the viewer with the greenery placed on the side of the deck .


Client brief :

The sitout designed for a traditional family in kerala meets the requirements of the client to provide a cozy evening retreat space for a gathering .The courtyard ,yet another feature placed centrally helps in filtering natural light through the central hall area.

The presence of tall and huge windows throughout the house gives amples natural light adding to the exiting aura of the décor .


The design evolves around the concept of having a subtle interior with monochrome colors and textures throughout the residence .The overall theme is quite minimal ,contemporary and chic  with wall textures to bring in the definition to the wooden furnitures used here.

The black matt finish tiles adds to the palette of finishes as a silent yet powerful underlining element  to give the interior a contemporary and chic look. All toilets have been designed with utmost clarity of space and the subtle look of the tiles selected add to the glamour and fineness of the theme …


Unbuilt : TRACES – GHOST TOWN REFUGE, at Craco, Italy, by Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah


Unbuilt : TRACES - GHOST TOWN REFUGE, at Craco, Italy, by Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah 177TRACES – GHOST TOWN REFUGE

How can a site carved from stone retrace the footsteps of the human fingerprint? An empty town with infinite stories, both of abandonment and fantastical romantics, must remain. Breathing a new life to forgotten history requires a careful surgical operation, like the recovery of a broken water vessel. The fragments speak stories of townspeople and the activity they have left behind, leaving only traces. A fossilized town can now be dis¬covered and restored as individual moments. Meshing the damaged ruins through an operation of nesting and stitching begins to relive the town through a dialogue with the contemporary. A new system of nesting within the old, maintains the relic of the previous age while the necessity of the new may come to life.

Unbuilt : TRACES - GHOST TOWN REFUGE, at Craco, Italy, by Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah 183OLD IS NEW

New volumes only find themselves embedded within ru­ined walls, allowing visitors to rediscover Craco through an archaeological type experience. The refuge shelters are embedded within a nest which act as a protective skin for the ruined walls. The notion of embedded box­es come to play, leaving visitors with legible layers of history. A gallery pathway is introduced within the cen­tral zone, linking


Unbuilt : TRACES - GHOST TOWN REFUGE, at Craco, Italy, by Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah 191GHOSTED MESH

One must get lost in the forgotten, to truly discover its value. Every visitor’s journey is part of the restoration process. A site of the past is monumental to the person; the surgical stitching of a ruin becomes the mending of the soul. An operation of protecting the old, becomes a renewed spirit of the visitor. Craco is the embodiment of layered stone

Unbuilt : TRACES - GHOST TOWN REFUGE, at Craco, Italy, by Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah 193Unbuilt : TRACES - GHOST TOWN REFUGE, at Craco, Italy, by Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah 195PROJECT FACTS

Location: Craco, Italy

GPS Coordinates: 40.379916, 16.437084

Client: YAC, Craco ricerche

Authors: Claudio C. Araya, Yahya Abdullah

Design Year: 2020

Area: unknown

Status: 1st Prize Competition, Cultural, Touristic infrastructure

The Central Vista Redevelopment and “Democracy, Participation and Consultation”: What Does This Really Mean? ~ Prem Chandavarkar

Central Vista Redevelopment-Bimal-Patel-Prem-Chandavarkar

The Provocation to this Essay

The latest issue (No. 61) of the Journal of Landscape Architecture (JLA), India’s premier journal on landscape and environmental design, carries an essay by Dr. Bimal Patel, the head of HCP Design Planning & Management Private Limited (HCP), the firm was chosen by the Government of India to design the redevelopment that will radically transform the Central Vista Precinct, including the Houses of Parliament. The essay speaks of many things that I find interesting, contains many points of value and agreement, but I will not take on many of them here. A section of the essay speaks on the Central Vista project, and this is what I will focus on. Given this is a current and contested public project of significance that is capturing public attention, the timing of this essay requires that, in addition to his specific mentions of the project, general points made by Dr. Patel must also be interpreted in its light.

The title chosen for this essay is “Democracy, Participation, and Consultation”, which repeats the sub-heading of the concluding session of the essay, and one must take note of what is emphasised by this choice of title. We know this title bears the approval of Dr. Patel because, in a breach of established publishing etiquette, an edit proof of the essay sent privately to him for approval was circulated by him among a select group of friends. Consequently, this proof leaked into circulation on social media well before the publication of the journal issue to which he had committed the article.

When this proof reached a group of concerned citizens, architects, environmentalists and other professionals (including myself), we reached out to the editors of JLA. We pointed out that multiple apprehensions have been publicly articulated regarding the Central Vista project, to which no public response has been offered by either the government or the architect, and the project is proceeding with negligible open disclosure. To carry this essay without any counterpoint could be misinterpreted as a tacit endorsement of the project. JLA responded that they wished to take a non-partisan stand on the project, do not aim to take sides, and would cover all sides. They drew our attention to an essay in the previous issue that criticised the process by which the architect for the project was selected and stated their intent to publish counterpoints to Dr. Patel’s essay in the next issue of the journal. We answered that, given the haste with which the government is pushing the project, timing is crucial. Being a quarterly journal, the next issue would appear three months later, and this gap in time would make it difficult to link such counterpoint to this essay. The government is trying to move the project as rapidly as possible toward the tipping point where it becomes a fait accompli, and a three-month window would serve them well. We pointed out that JLA had already taken the call under current circumstances to make this issue a fully digital magazine, and this gave them greater flexibility. In the cause of wider public interest, we appealed to them to delay the release of the issue by a few days so that a counterpoint could be written and added to it. JLA decided not to heed our appeal to wait, and proceeded to publicly release Issue No. 61 on 29 May 2020, carrying Dr. Patel’s essay without any accompanying counterpoint.

This essay is an attempt to offer the public counterpoint we felt was necessary to complement Dr. Patel’s essay. It is being released publicly on the digital portal ArchitectureLive!, with a link provided to JLA Issue 61, so that it can be read in conjunction with Dr. Patel’s article. The essay draws attention to multiple issues related to Central Vista that Dr. Patel has chosen not to speak on, both in his JLA essay and elsewhere: all issues sorely needing exposure to open light, articulated here in a quest to provoke much needed public discussion. The essay evaluates what is publicly visible thus far on HCP’s design proposal and goes on to expresses certain thoughts in response to remarks made by Dr. Patel in the JLA essay. In conclusion, it reflects on what it means for the essay to bear the title “Democracy, Participation and Consultation.”

The Central Vista Redevelopment: The Project Brief and Process

While the Central Vista Precinct came into being as a project to serve the British Empire, it was appropriated by India on gaining independence. For over seven decades it has served as the geographical centre of our democracy, been a significant public landscape, and is thus woven into our history. It would, therefore, be expected that the redevelopment project launched in September 2019 would aim to follow the highest standards of democratic ideals and respect for heritage. Unfortunately, this has not been the case:

  • A Vision for Democracy: The spatial configuration and architectural expression of major institutions of governance significantly affect how the government is perceived by citizens, and if our parliament and ministerial offices are to be substantively remodelled, one would have expected that the project be based on a deep and idealistic vision for our democracy that it should express. Given that democracy rests on public debate, such a vision should have been validated by widespread public consultation, and only then should the scope of the redevelopment be framed. This vision should have formed a core element of the design brief that would direct design submissions from architects. To the contrary, the tender notice that formed the basis for selecting architects did not contain any vision for democracy and asked the competing architects to define such a vision through their design proposals. Architects are no experts in governance and political philosophy; democracy is too important a subject to be left to the interpretation of a handful of architects.

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  • Parliamentary Debate: A democracy transforming its physical infrastructure should first debate that transformation in Parliament. Thus far, redevelopment of the Central Vista Precinct has been launched as a project, architects and designs selected, consequent changes of land-use notified, and designs submitted for environmental approvals without a single minute of parliamentary debate. This disregard and disrespect shown to Parliament, as an institution, is unprecedented in any democracy. A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was constituted in 2009 to assess the future spatial needs of Parliament. The BJP reconstituted this JPC on coming to power in 2014. The proceedings of both JPC’s have not been made public, nor has any reason been offered on why the current project escapes JPC oversight.

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  • A Heritage Audit: When modifications are felt to be necessary to heritage buildings, established good practice is to conduct a heritage audit. The audit assesses the historical and cultural importance of the building, its physical state, its suitability to needs, and its expected life. When built heritage involves important public institutions, recognising that these buildings form an important component of public history, the impulse of the audit is to work towards retaining the buildings in their current form and purpose, unless it can be conclusively proven that there is absolutely no alternative. Recognising that heritage is an issue of public memory rather than private interpretation, such audits are placed in the public domain and openly debated before being finalised. An illuminating example is the Palace of Westminster from which both houses of parliament of the United Kingdom function. Needs have changed and the building (which predates Sansad Bhavan by half a century) is in need of restoration. An audit was conducted and publicly debated. The plan to proceed with the project, including temporary accommodations for the houses of parliament during the refurbishment, was concretised by a vote in the House of Commons. While generalised statements have been made about the inadequacy of Sansad Bhavan and North and South Blocks, no rigorous heritage audit backing those statements has been placed in the public domain. Public suggestions have come from architects as well as senior parliamentarians, proposing that our historic Parliament building should be respected as a sacred site of the birth of Indian democracy, putting forward ideas on how an increased capacity for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha could be accommodated within the current building. Neither the government nor HCP have offered any substantive response to such proposals.

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  • Analysis of Requirements: There has been no public release of the analysis of requirements backing such a project. Why is there a need to radically increase the size of the Central Secretariat complex that will house all ministerial offices? Data on government servants published in the latest Delhi Master Plan (2021) demonstrates that the numbers of central government employees within the Delhi jurisdiction has not radically increased over the last four decades. Given that this data is only up to 2003, a substantively increased Central Secretariat would be valid only if there has been a radical spurt in ministerial size after 2003. This would be hard to understand given that since 1991 we have been on a trajectory of reducing centralised control (the ‘license raj’), and there has been no declared policy of reversing this trend. Similarly, the Central Vista Project has not disclosed the calculation on the number of seats needed in Parliament. While we are due very soon for a revised seat delimitation that responds to population growth, the basis for the consequent projection of revised requirements for the Houses of Parliament is unknown. Moreover, several demographic projections have predicted that India’s population growth will peak around 2060 and will begin to decline after that. Is it worth casting aside the deep and valuable history of a current building, and expending money and effort in a totally new parliament building for a need that will start declining within forty years?

The Central Vista Redevelopment and “Democracy, Participation and Consultation”: What Does This Really Mean? ~ Prem Chandavarkar 199
Data on Govt. Employees within the Delhi Jurisdiction: Source – Delhi Master Plan 2021
  • Consolidation of Ministerial Offices: In an era where digital communication and collaboration is becoming more and more effective and prevalent, the need to consolidate all ministries into a single complex of buildings along Rajpath remains unexplained. Here too, there is no detailed analysis validating this. Generalised statements have been made saying it will enhance collaboration and cooperation. A study conducted by Dr. Christopher Alexander and his team at the University of California in Berkeley (Dr. Patel’s alma mater) shows that once the horizontal distance between two members of an office is beyond 400 feet, their frequency of physical interaction drops rapidly to less than once a week. Once the horizontal distance is compounded by vertical segregation into different floors, interaction drops even more substantively. Collaboration is a function of attitude and culture rather than proximity: almost all of us have had experiences of dealing with a governmental office in India to find that people at desks within a few metres of each other do not communicate effectively. In contrast, the digital age has multiple examples of people collaborating effectively over immense distances. Moreover, no disclosure has been made on any analysis of the security hazard of consolidating all ministerial offices in close proximity. Besides the impact of the kind of pandemic we are currently experiencing, such consolidation will facilitate the paralysis of government in a substantive strike by terrorists or a hostile military.

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  • Data in Public Domain: If democratic transparency is to be valued, all information on this project – plans, backing analysis of needs, statements of vision, heritage audits, costs, time frames – would all be placed in the public domain. None of this has happened, and there is great secrecy. Whatever the public knows is through the information that has leaked from a few presentations to invited audiences, some unofficial data circulated on social media, and partial information given out in interactions with media channels. There is no public exhibition or publicly accessible website where holistic data on the project can be studied by members of the public.

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  • Public Consultations: Democratic transparency would demand a series of public consultations where feedback from the public is sought. In remarks made in mid-February 2020 to reporters, in response to queries over two petitions filed by activists in the Delhi High Court, the Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs claimed that there is total transparency in the Central Vista revamp, mentioning presentations the architect has made to town planners, architects and journalists. A set of presentations made by the architect to small invited audiences are not public consultations, and it is a ruse to pass this off as democratic transparency. The standard should be what is legally mandated for large town planning schemes. The government leads the consultation, not the architect, for many aspects of such schemes involve issues beyond the scope of architecture and urban design. The consultation follows certain standards: (i) consultations are open to all members of the public; (ii) sufficient advance notice to the consultation is given in major newspapers; (iii) data on the issue is released in the public domain so that it can be studied in advance; (iv) there is an established procedure of accountability by which the government is obliged to recognise comments received in the consultation and respond to them. Moreover, since this project is of national importance, consultations should be held all over the country and not just in Delhi. In this day and age, it is also possible to publicly share video recordings of the consultation and allow for a time period in which comments on these recordings can be sent in, so that feedback is received from a constituency larger than what can be accommodated in face-to-face consultations. We are yet to see any public consultation in the true spirit of the term. Despite this, applications have been submitted for statutory permissions on land-use change and environmental approvals. Substantive design changes cannot be made once statutory submissions and notifications have been formally made, unless such submissions and notifications are officially withdrawn.

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  • Project Speed: The project is being pushed through with extreme haste. Intentions have been declared to complete the new parliament building by 2022 and the entire project by 2024. This kind of speed allows little room for democratic consultation and debate, and the rationale for such deadlines has not been disclosed. A possible reason is the desire to showcase the completed project within the current term of this government. If this is true, it means that the future legacy of a nation will be determined by the electoral imperatives of a single government.

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  • Change of Land-Use: The design of the development necessitates changes of land-use. This comes under the province of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). DDA did follow the mandated procedure of issuing public notices inviting comment on the proposed changes of land-use. Over 1200 objections were submitted in writing. DDA scheduled the public meetings to hear these comments with less than two days of notice; the short notice making attendance impossible for many who would have wanted to be there. People were allowed in batches and rushed through their statements, as DDA allowed a short two days to hear this large volume of objections. People were only allowed to state their objections, and no response was offered. DDA officials stated they would only hear comments and would not respond to them; an inexplicable statement given this produces no new information beyond what is already documented in written objections and the primary purpose of a public hearing is to facilitate democratic debate. Eventually, DDA proceeded to legally notify the same land-use changes they had initially declared without making any changes, without assigning any reason why all the objections were disregarded. A comment was made that the number of objections should not be considered significant as many of them were repetitions of the same point; failing to recognise that in a democracy it is the number of unified voices that speak that is significant, and not the similarities or differences in what they say. More on this issue of land-use is covered in the discussion below on HCP’s design.

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  • Environmental Approval: Environmental law in India requires that any project with a built-up area of more than 20,000 square metres must go through an environmental approval process. Smaller projects require the submission of an environmental management plan. Larger projects need to meet stricter requirements, stipulating the submission of an environmental impact analysis, where baseline data for a year preceding the project is presented, along with a commitment to designs and actions that avoid detrimental impact on the environment. It is not permissible to evade these stricter constraints by splitting a large project into smaller components that are submitted separately for approval. The Notice Inviting Bids by which the architect was selected for the project clearly casts the entire Central Vista redevelopment as a single project covering the area where Parliament is situated, the entire stretch of Rajpath from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate plus a few adjacent sites. However, an application for environmental approval was submitted to the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), that should grant the needed sanction, offering the new Parliament Building as a stand-alone project. The submission officially denied any “interlinked projects” or “consequential developments” linked to this project. The application termed the project as an “Expansion and Renovation of Existing Parliament Building” when it is clearly a new construction on a plot of land separate from the land parcel housing Sansad Bhavan. It is difficult to believe that EAC would not be aware of the entirety of the Central Vista Redevelopment; yet they granted their approval and passed it on to the Environment Ministry for final approval. Such approval is highly questionable on legal and environmental grounds, and, if allowed to go through unchallenged, will set a dangerous precedent for environment approvals of large projects in the future.

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  • Approval of Central Vista Committee: The project also requires the approval of this committee, which consists of government representatives as well as experts from outside government. The new Parliament Building, as a stand-alone project, was also submitted to this committee, which met on 23 April 2020 to review it. This review took place in the middle of the lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The experts from outside government noted that an effective review could not take place over videoconference and requested that the meeting be postponed until the lockdown was lifted. Their request was disregarded, and the meeting proceeded, as scheduled. to grant approval to the project, stating this was done “keeping in view the importance of the project in nation’s interest and time scale for its implementation.” Given the lack of public disclosure on data on the project and no public explanation validating the imposed deadlines, it is hard to understand how the interests of a democratic nation have been assessed.

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  • Secrecy: The secrecy with which this project is proceeding is inexplicable and has been ingrained right from the start of the project. This can be seen in the secrecy surrounding the project’s cost. The project is being managed by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and was initiated by the public launch of the selection process for an architect through a “Notice Inviting Bids from Consultants” (NIB) issued by CPWD in early September 2019. CPWD has a manual that determines how such bid notices should be released. The manual defines a procedure for estimating the approximate cost of the project and requires administrative sanction for the same before issuing the bid notice. This cost is disclosed in the notice inviting bids, as it is useful to architects in preparing their financial bids, particularly given that the fee had to be quoted as a percentage of the project cost. However, the NIB violated the CPWD Manual by not disclosing any estimated cost of the project. The NIB asked the consultants to split the project cost into three slabs and quote a fee for each slab. An assumption was stated on how weightage would be distributed among these three cost slabs in order to compare financial bids. This assumption leads to a questionable basis for comparing financial bids, as the lowest bidder under one project cost may not be the lowest bidder under another cost. After HCP was awarded the project, and some partial data on the design began to trickle into public perception, one news channel reported that the project cost was Rs. 20,000 crores. There is no official pronouncement that validates this cost, and it is not clear how this channel arrived at this number, but it quickly settled into the popular imagination. The number has been repeated by many other news channels. Senior politicians from the opposition have mentioned it in appeals to the government to cancel or postpone the project as the coronavirus pandemic has precipitated far more urgent and essential expenditure. Many similar public appeals have been issued stating the same cost estimate. Through all this, the government has chosen not to respond at all, not even to contest this estimate as an erroneous claim that is not backed by fact. The silence is deafening, suggesting there appears to be an undisclosed imperative that wishes to keep the project cost out of the public discussion. The only specific disclosure on cost has been for the new Parliament Building, which was originally estimated at Rs. 776 crores, and subsequently updated to Rs. 922 crores.

It could be argued that many of the issues stated above are the responsibility of the government, are beyond the scope of any architect, and must therefore not be linked to an essay by Dr. Patel which has no connection to official governmental pronouncements. However, Dr. Patel has repeatedly defended the project as it is and has also endorsed the ambitious time frames it aims for. HCP, as architects of the project, would have been involved in all the technical documentation necessary for the changes of land-use and the submission made to EAC for environmental approval, lending their weight to a project process that pushes the project into the statutory approvals needed to begin construction before any meaningful public consultations have been held. Therefore, Dr. Patel, as the head of HCP, has become complicit in many of these issues and should speak on them. Moreover, he is not just an architect, he is also a thinking citizen in a democracy, and his involvement in a public project carries a moral imperative as a citizen to consider the impacts it has on democracy.

Comments on HCP’s Design for the Central Vista Redevelopment

So far in this essay, I have spoken on general issues to the project. Now it is necessary to address issues specific to HCP’s design proposals. Given the lack of public disclosure, it is difficult to comment as concept notes, drawings, area statements, and visualisations of the project are not available for detailed scrutiny. Whatever is discussed here, is based on partial data that has leaked out or been shared with media, so a comprehensive analysis is not possible.

  • Change of Land-Use: Until now, land-use in the Central Vista precinct has been to a substantial extent under public/semi-public use. HCP’s design proposal has entailed a radical decrease in public usage. This is one point on which there is specific data in the public domain, as DDA has legally notified the changes in land-use necessary to implement the project. Under the DDA notification, over 80 acres of land has been removed from the public/semi-public category. A major portion of it is recategorized as “government office” and given the increasing security cordons around central government offices, this will radically alter the quantum of access to the general public. One 10.5-acre parcel has been converted from a public district park into a high-security zone for the new Parliament Building. This is a fundamental and substantive change in the public character of Central Vista, and the changes in land-use notified by DDA spring specifically from HCP’s design proposals. This is a point that Dr. Patel is yet to substantively address in public.
The Central Vista Redevelopment and “Democracy, Participation and Consultation”: What Does This Really Mean? ~ Prem Chandavarkar 201
Central Vista Land-Use Before and After HCP’s Design Proposals
  • Proposal for a New Parliament: The invitation to architects to bid for the project did not stipulate that Parliament must be shifted into a new building. It drew attention to the changing needs of Parliament, the need to refurbish the current Sansad Bhavan given its age, and consequently gave consultants the choice to either “redesign and redevelop the existing Parliament Building with the same outer façade or construct a new state-of-art building located in close vicinity.” HCP has knowingly chosen to adopt the latter choice but has yet to disclose the basis for this choice. HCP has also not publicly responded to suggestions on how changing needs can be met within the existing structure.

The Central Vista Redevelopment and “Democracy, Participation and Consultation”: What Does This Really Mean? ~ Prem Chandavarkar 203
HCP: Old and New Parliament Buildings, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Blocks
  • Central Vista as a Landscape: The current aura of Central Vista along Rajpath is that of a landscape, and this aura exists because the horizon is shaped by the top line of the thick avenue of trees on either side of the Rajpath lawns. This happens because buildings behind the trees are low-rise, are set well back, and do not form a continuous wall along Rajpath. HCP has proposed a continuous row of 8-storey governmental offices, broken only by crossroads. While detailed heights have not been made available, office buildings this high will be at least 33 to 35 metres tall, which would make the top profile of these buildings higher than the tree line. While these buildings will be set back behind the trees, their increased height and continuity along Rajpath, in contrast to the existing configuration of buildings, could radically alter Central Vista’s aura of a landscape, as the horizon could now be shaped by building profiles instead of trees. The character of a public space beloved to citizens of Delhi, as well as all of India, may be lost forever. We would need to see street level photo montages that superimpose the new buildings on the existing tree lines to fully understand how Central Vista’s character will be altered. Given the significance of this issue, one would expect that this data would be placed in the public domain so that citizens would understand how a space they have revered over the years is being transformed.
The Central Vista Redevelopment and “Democracy, Participation and Consultation”: What Does This Really Mean? ~ Prem Chandavarkar 205
HCP: New Buildings Proposed Along Central Vista
  • Public Cultural Space: The radical reduction in public space in the Central Vista Precinct has already been discussed. A key feature of the precinct, that has existed since the original colonial design, is that a significant component of this public space is in cultural institutions. In the Lutyens master plan, the intersection of Rajpath (originally called ‘The King’s Way’) and Janpath (originally called ‘The Queen’s Way’) was earmarked as a cultural hub, with a prominent public cultural institution within each of the quadrants surrounding the intersection. One of them, The National Archives, was designed by Lutyens and was constructed as a part of the colonial project. A second, The National Museum, opened in 1960. The third, The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), was awarded in an international design competition in 1986 to Ralph Lerner, an American architect, but only a portion of the design has been constructed. The fourth quadrant never became a cultural institution and was usurped by ministerial offices. The presence of cultural institutions along a public park is a key element in the heritage of Central Vista. HCP’s design proposal entails the removal of all cultural institutions from Central Vista. The National Museum and IGNCA are both slated for demolition and relocation (and I should emphasise here that IGNCA should be evaluated solely as a national centre for the arts, and not from the viewpoint of who it is named after). The original competition proposal from HCP also suggested the demolition of the National Archives building. When the plan to demolish a Grade-1 Heritage Monument created a furore, the design was revised to retain this building. However, there is still little public clarity on what use this structure will be put to or the extent to which its heritage character will be preserved given its close proximity to large new structures. The revised land-use plan notified by DDA does not preserve this site as a public space, suggesting the plan is to convert the National Archives into a government office. It is also unclear where the National Museum and IGNCA will be relocated. There have been some statements by Dr. Patel that North and South Blocks will be converted into the National Museum, but whether that commitment still stands is unclear given the DDA notification preserves the land-use of these parcels as high-security government offices. The presence of cultural institutions in this heritage precinct is part of the design since its origins, and all these institutions have been there for decades: The National Archives has been there for almost a century, National Museum for sixty years and IGNCA for close to twenty-five years. No reasoning or analysis has been publicly offered by HCP on their choice to excise from Central Vista cultural institutions that are embedded into its history. The way central governmental architecture interfaces with other uses in a capital city acts as a symbol of how the government wishes itself to be perceived. A governmental architecture that is interwoven with public space and public institutions indicates a government that, in true democratic spirit, seeks to be connected with, and accessible to, the nation’s citizens. When governmental architecture crowds out all public institutions, so that the visual spectacle of government dominates the aura of the precinct, one gets the impression that the message is that of a government distant from its citizens, wanting to awe them into acquiescence with a pageant of grandeur and power.

Thoughts Provoked by Statements Made by Dr. Patel in JLA Issue

Reading Dr. Patel’s essay, there are some statements in it that provoke thoughts and questions.

  • Public Space: On p.86, the statement is made, “I realised the importance that public spaces play in making cities liveable.” This realisation does not gel with HCP’s decision to radically reduce the extent of public space in Central Vista.

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  • Respecting Heritage: On p.89, Dr. Patel remarks, “We must respect our heritage and conserve it, but we must also not allow ourselves to be held hostage to it.” This statement by itself need not be contested, as it is untenable to make the rigid claim that Central Vista, because it is a heritage precinct, must be preserved without any change whatsoever. Buildings have aged and needs have changed; we do have the right to modify it. The question is how we do so while respecting heritage and conserving it, as Dr. Patel agrees we must do. As noted earlier in this essay, established good practice in heritage conservation is to base choices on a rigorous heritage audit with the aim of disturbing history as little as possible, where proposals for modification display sensitivity and vision on how heritage will be conserved, and such proposals go through public review and consultation. Dr. Patel, as a qualified and experienced professional, would be well aware of these standards of good practice in heritage conservation, but HCP is yet to publicly disclose the extent to which their design process on Central Vista adhered to such standards.

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  • Design Competitions for Large Public Projects: On p.92, Dr. Patel argues that when competitions to design large public projects are to be held, it is best that the competition be restricted to large firms, as only they have the depth and diversity of talent needed to execute large projects. Dr. Patel chooses not to address an established global precedent in design competitions for public buildings, where they are held as two-stage competitions. The first stage invites conceptual designs, and is open to all registered architects, however small or large their firms may be, and there is no limit to the number of architects who may compete. A small number of the best schemes are selected for a second stage, where architects are asked to present their designs in further detail, with the final selection being made at the end of this stage. If it is found that an architect qualifying for the second stage does not have the in-house resources to execute a project of this scale and complexity, that architect is required to associate with a large firm, or consortium of firms, that would bring required capabilities to the table. This mode of competitions is often used for public projects where the symbolic importance of the project is very high. The reason for doing this is that large firms, because of the large overhead costs involved in running them, tend to be conservative in their approach, remaining within an architectural language that has sustained them in the past, and are often insufficiently invested into the degree of innovation needed for symbolically significant projects. Smaller and younger firms are more likely to offer greater boldness of innovation, and this two-stage approach achieves the best of both worlds.

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  • Reordering a Landscape: On p.90, the issue of changes to a landscape are tackled saying, “When considering the reordering of a landscape, so far as the benefits to be gained promise to be more than the costs and so far as we are also taking compensatory steps – planting more trees – to mitigate the costs that the reordering of the landscape entails, we should not stop ourselves from making the change. Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten how to think of making trade-offs.” This remark is significant when laid along the point made earlier in this essay on how the aura of Central Vista as a public landscape is being erased. If there is a cost-benefit analysis that has been made, why has it not been opened up to public review? In what has been disclosed so far, the benefits are not visible.

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  • The Assertions of Activists: On p.97, Dr. Patel claims, “Many professionals resort to ‘activism’ because they are interested in using their professional knowledge to influence projects and policies in the public realm but are convinced that it is not possible for them to do so by engaging with the government as professionals……….having abandoned the creed of the professional to find workable solutions to problems by making meaningful trade-offs, many critics, advocates, and activists end up taking immoderate, partisan, strident and ideologically driven positions. This approach causes more harm than good.” This claim is dangerous on multiple counts. It passes a generalisation on motives without substantiating evidence, tarring all activist professionals with the same brush. It implies that they object to public projects primarily because of a resentment grounded in not having found a way to participate in designing or executing them. And it reinforces a dangerous trend that is taking root in our polity where the motives of activists are foregrounded and impugned in order to deflect attention from the validity of their assertions. All professionals are also citizens. If they are not participants in the design of public projects, when they articulate concerns on a project they must be recognised as citizens rather than professionals. As citizens, they are entitled to deploy their professional knowledge and judgment to substantiate their concerns. When a citizen-activist asserts concerns on a public issue, those concerns must be judged by their own validity and logic and should not be summarily dismissed by discrediting motives of the person asserting them.

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  • The Relation between Government and Activists: Further on p.97, Dr. Patel observes, “On the other side, many people in government do not believe strongly enough that it makes good sense to constructively engage with the public. There can be many reasons for this, for example: they are deeply suspicious of the motives of immoderate critics, advocates and activists; they have never experienced open and transparent governance because they are themselves from traditional backgrounds where blind faith, obedience and firm, top-down exercise of authority are all seen as virtues; because the organizational set-up they are within has no systems for constructive public engagement. Whatever be the reason, the corrosive dynamic of immoderate criticism, advocacy and activism only reinforces non-transparency and disregard for constructive public engagement wherever it exists in government.” Dr. Patel is not explicit on who he holds accountable for this situation, and from whom he expects leadership to navigate a way out of it. But in this short paragraph, he mentions criticism and activism twice, and in both cases applies the adjective “immoderate”, implying that citizen activists bear a greater share of the blame for the situation and should consequently tone down their ‘immoderation’. To hold public office, or to lead public projects, requires that you should have the ability to manage public criticism, whatever form it may take; as the saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen!” If activism gets strident, a probable cause is that the required transparency and accessibility in public affairs is not to be found, making it necessary to shout to be heard. Transparent and accessible governance will go a long way in building the public trust that makes government-citizen relationships cordial and non-confrontational, where critique is valued rather than suspected. As the peace activist William Sloane Coffin remarked, “There are three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good. The bad are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics. Good patriots carry on a lover’s quarrel with their country.”

Democracy, Participation and Consultation

As mentioned at the start of this essay, Dr. Patel approved its title “Democracy, Participation and Consultation.” We have already reviewed democracy and public consultation. Let us now turn our attention to participation.

The most incisive take on participation that I have ever come across is an essay on the subject by the late Iranian economist, Majid Rahnema. This appears in a collection of essays titled “The Development Dictionary”, edited by Wolgang Sachs, examining the various facets of development. Rahnema says that when participation is invoked as a necessary component of democratic development, it tends to be discussed as a singular concept, when it is actually a nuanced notion that has four dimensions:

  • A political dimension where the development project is validated by participation.
  • An instrumental dimension where participation is seen as a tool for enhancing the effective implementation of development.
  • A cognitive dimension where the development discourse itself is constituted and shaped by participation.
  • A social dimension where community and public cohesion are constructed and sustained by participation.

Rahnema argues that a full and true democracy would invoke all four dimensions, but it is more common to find some recognition granted to the political dimension, lip service paid to the instrumental dimension, and negligible recognition of the cognitive and social dimensions.

The Central Vista project has been characterised till date by secrecy and opacity, without any open consultation that is truly public in nature, and with no holistic data placed in the public domain. This alone violates democratic principles, a transgression further compounded by disregard of parliamentary debate and unacceptable deviations in statutory approval procedures. And the project is yet to effectively invoke even one of the four dimensions of participation that Majid Rahnema identifies.

In this light, it is with a sense of extreme irony that we read this essay bearing the title “Democracy, Participation and Consultation.”

Rane Vidyalaya at Trichy, by Shanmugam Associates

Rane Vidyalaya, Trichy, Shanmugam Associates

Rane Vidyalaya, Trichy, Shanmugam Associates

Rane Vidyalaya CBSE school is an educational campus for K12 and a CSR initiative by Rane Foundation India Pvt. Ltd, a leading industrial conglomerate. Theerampalayam, the rural region where the school is located, has no proper educational institutions that offer quality learning. The closest city, Tiruchirapalli which is a Tier-II city in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, is 20 kms away. Neighborhood districts are a mix of small rural villages whose occupation is agriculture and unskilled labor. The project was envisioned as a whole but executed in two phases. Presently Phase 1 has been constructed for an area of 50,000 Sq.Ft. The intent was to create an infrastructure that would have a positive social impact on the local community and also showcase the core values of Rane.

Rane Vidyalaya, Trichy, Shanmugam Architects Construction techniques from regional context, structured pedagogy of the Indian educational system and construction cost of $20 / Sq.Ft formed the underlying basis for the design development. Inspiration came in from the 6th century built Thiruvellarai temple’s walls and the layered cross sections of 50 year old houses in the region. Construction methodology, that was followed consistently in these walls, was layering starting from huge random rubble and stone at bottom, to finer solid brick work, mud and slate on top. Alternating wall layers of red wire cut bricks from local kiln and grey fly ash brick recycled from industrial cement waste were used.

The kindergarten classrooms are designed to have individual garden’s that encourage seamless outdoor and indoor integration of space. With every increase in grade, classes become more functional to induce structured learning. The overall design approach was to avoid sharp edges in walls, columns, slab edges and in every detail possible to ensure safety.

Located in the tropical belt of interior Tamil Nadu, the intent was to have the space ventilated naturally with sufficient lighting. All walls are stopped at lintel height and have openable windows above, to allow hot air to dissipate and increase cross ventilation. Terracotta jalli has been used as secondary shading devices. Major openings along the predominant SE & NW wind direction and minor wind tunnels in east-west direction between classrooms are created to have a comfortable micro-climate.

Taking inspiration from temple mandapams where huge gatherings took place, there is an enclosed central courtyard planned with perforated light wells in the roof. This courtyard would serve as a multi functional place of congregation for lunch breaks, school assembly, exhibition space, co-curricular training and small gatherings. The courtyard is placed in such a way that it is visually connected at all levels.

Rane Vidyalaya at Trichy, by Shanmugam Associates 215

All these architectural features, incorporating use of red solid bricks, baked earth tiles, terracotta jalli and grey fly ash bricks, help address the micro climate, create interesting light & shade experiences through roof perforations, provide safe green courtyards and sufficient ventilation. At the same time they also speak the design language of the local region, source material from the surrounding area, create a fun educational environment and give a wholesome cost effective solution.


Project Facts:

Project: Rane Vidyalaya / Shanmugam Associates
Architects: Shanmugam Associates
Project location: Trichy, India
Area: 50000 sqft
Year: 2018
Principal designers: Shanmugam A, Raja Krishnan D, Santhosh Shanmugam,
Design Team: Srinivasan, Satish Kumar, Balasubramaniam, Mohammed Ismail,   Rukmani Thangam, Praveen Kumar
Photo Credits: LINK Studio, Bangalore
Structural Design: Ramkumar, Rays Consultants
Engineering: Hitec Construction, Trichy
PHE Consultants: D&D Consultants