|Landscape Design||Satish Khanna & Associates|
|Structural Design||Epsom Consultants|
|Mechanical and Electrical Engineering||Electrical Consulting Engineers|
|PHE Consultants||Fluid Flow Consultants Pvt. Ltd.|
National Geophysical Research Institute
The small yet significant comission also included the campus planning for the institute.The building housed one of India's first super computers
The National Geophysical Research Institute is a constituent laboratory of the CSIR with a mission to carry out research in multidisciplinary areas of Earth Sciences. The commission required the master planning of the campus along with a Computer Centre that would house one of the first supercomputers in the country. The design of this building, perceived as a rocky outcrop, used thermal mass to create a cool internal areas that were lit through screened openings.
When NGRI found its computer workload exceeded the com¬bined capacities of its existing machines, Director Prof V K Gaur decided to invest in a powerful new computer, and build a centre around it. The architects had the rare pleasure of selecting the site from an undeveloped 15-acre portion of the campus featuring the typical rocky, undulating terrain of the Deccan Plateau. They selected a knoll covered with wild scrub; near the main entrance to the campus, but in quiet seclusion from the main campus buildings completed in the late fifties by CSIR
Focus & Facilities
The special cyber computer with a speed near those in the super-computer category, demanded stringent technical standards. The clients viewed the allied support services and associated personnel as adjuncts; the design focused on the workers at the centre despite the powerful presence of the computer. The architects focused on relieving the predominantly introspective spaces - wrapping the terminal workstation areas around a lounge that looked onto a beautiful, existing tree and beyond the rolling green and the proposed water body. Even as the design studies were underway in the capital, additional requirements poured in from Hyderabad. The scientists' work areas and library were accommodated on the first floor with ample terrace-space relief and outdoor areas. As the new computer centre would attract a wide variety of distinguished visitors and their entourages, the Director considered a museum devoted to exhibiting and explaining the geophysical aspects of the earth, appropriate. The entrance hall and exhibition areas were given a definite scale and character with double-storeyed volumes and coffered ceilings. The architects also designed the interiors; including customised furniture.
The building features insulated cavity-wall construction. Aluminium double-glazing is provided in the computer areas to control heat gain. Concrete screens shade the windows, designed to accept additional glazing to cut the heat gain even further. Given the building's high thermal performance, the glazing was not required. As vast service areas were required for facilities like uninterrupted power supply, air-conditioning and a battery room, the natural fall in the terrain was exploited by a’ basement' level and service court with some service parking arranged along one side of the site.
The rocky site and its mature trees necessitated adjusting the precise siting of the building after pegging its outline on the site, maximising the site potential. The architectural intention in all places at all times, was to try and break free of the rigid technical determinants of the computer. The built form follows a controlled geometry that dodges rocks and embraces views while quietly tucking the services away. Landscape architect Satish Khanna's input is particularly felt in the clever positioning of the visitor's parking areas. Other contributions are in the water body and micro-climate controls around the building. The computer centre and main campus will be linked by a pedestrian footpath winding its way scenically past the waterbody; the pedestrian linkage, designed to become a pedestrian precinct without the intrusion of roads when additional buildings are introduced.
The local1y quarried stone, Bethamchelli, was selected as cladding as its rough finish adds texture and interest. The recessed anchor courses are polished smooth in counterpoint; the coursing helps accent the horizontal lines of the building.
The architect's preoccupation with the 'software' aspects of the design rather than its hardware, results in a building seemingly rooted to a landscape of sculptural rocky outcrops amidst rolling green. In accord with the pulse of the earth the centre's computers help the geophysicists measure; linking, without rhetoric, the immeasurable and measurable.