New Campus for School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi
SGA's Second Prize winning entry for the New School of Planning and Architecture focuses on a 'realm of places'
Three basic design attitudes concerning the geology, the history and the city, have shaped the proposal that desires to create a realm of ‘places’ than the abstract geometrical configurations. The gorge, an outcome of now illegal quarrying on the ridge, becomes the soul of the campus. As designers, S. Ghosh & Associates, much like the historic cavemen, continue a long-standing tradition of building in spaces offered and residued by nature.
The scheme has been conceived around two axes - the axis of reverie, which is the ravine, a prominent geological feature of the site and the axis of unity, the one that binds the proposed development with the existing spatial parameters of the site and with the larger city fabric and network. The gorge becomes the primary organising element and has been used as a central court around which the academic campus rises. The students and the faculty have a direct access to the preserved and landscaped canyon from their studios, workshops, cafes and the students centre, turning it into a space for a pleasant and stimulating experience. A site level difference towards the west, paves the way for the Hostels to be zoned there in concurrence with the presence of the residential neighbourhood of Vasant Kunj. The auditorium and the more public areas of the exhibition galleries and the administrative offices are planned close to the Nelson Mandela Road end. A large pedestrian entrance plaza and the convocation lawns open out towards the more institutional edge of the plot that faces the National Book Trust and Teri University.
A Lyrical Urbanity
The axis of reverie is conceived as a trail that defines the lyrical urbanity that the architects dream and create in the scheme. A fancy sketch conjures up vibrant students scampering down their large sky-lit studios onto the banks of the gorge, which is fondly christened as ‘Kahn ka khan’ and streamed by a water edge with colorful plumerias and laburnums. The deck connecting the library, the cascading terrace café and the extended terraces of the workshops are the other spectators to this natural and designed revelry of a lyrical urbanity.
Recreating Spatial History and Memories
The scheme further identifies the loss associated with shifting the campus from its present location and from its original site at Kashmere Gate earlier. It endeavours to answer the important query of how urban design can deal with the loss of spatial history and lived memories. The scheme thus begins its morphological advancements with the placement of a trapezoidal court of the same geometrical configuration as the court of the first campus at Kashmere Gate. Naming of places in the campus brings back old associations and memories keeping SPA’s link with its own past vivid. One may find places with names as “Ferozeshah ‘TJ’ Minar”, “Jhabu’s Court” or “Doctor’s Canteen” blending the experience of the new campus with the nostalgia of its glorious past.
Large pedestrian zones are afforded by an efficient loop road and one can effectively traverse the entire academic campus without crossing a single road and approach the hostel over the vehicular road by utilizing the site levels effectively.
Concerns of climate and sustainable systems, not as an imposed layer but as a sieve for other concepts, inform the final design so that the microclimate of the gorge cools the spaces of the studios through natural ventilating ducts and chimneys, and building blocks orient themselves away from the glaring sun to channel monsoon winds through the campus. Suggested typologies for the studios indicate a clever double layered north lighting system and large upper ground pilotis.