The Delhi centre of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan extended its education program in 2012. Previously, the 4.7 acre site near the India Gate Hexagon comprised of 3 main blocks
- Mehta Sadan – Completion 1961 (Including its extension)
- Hathi Sadan – Completion 1988
- AICTE Block – Completion 2007
Design Plus was engaged to add, design and develop 10,000 SqM of built-up area to address ever-growing area requirements of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan at KG Marg. BVB operates as an independent institute housing several educational programmes. The variation and sequential additions to the institution’s program range was reflected in the distinct functions within the previously phased buildings. The proposal not only provides a common roof to the 10+2 School but also helps in re-calibrating the vocational training facilities for a pragmatic operation of the campus.
However, this brief for the project had pressures at various levels.
- Proverbial brown-field – The project had to be designed an executed without hampering the current functionality of the campus. Especially for an educational program, the safety criterion is much higher. We had to plan as per prevalent usage patterns of the students / faculty and also the academic calendar. But this was least of our worries.
- Program Mixer – All the previous blocks in the precinct had a defined function, standing and operating independently from each other. Our proposal was not only to add a new wing in the campus but
- To physically link the new block with 2 older blocks
- Add additional floors to the existing blocks
- Have students / program migrate between the old blocks and the new block.
- Design Style – The 3 existing buildings had their distinct architectural language. The Mehta Sadan, a curvilinear building has a simple double loaded corridor plan and is embellished with motifs derived from traditional Indian architecture. The Hathi Sadan, with its open courtyard (housing activities) and exposed brickwork was a bold and timely architectural expression by architect Dr. Chhaya. The management institute (AICTE Block) while paid homage to Dr. Chhaya’s proposal, by a courtyard plan (albeit covered) and using brick tiles as a primary texture, stood independently with its elevation detail in screens, tiling and projections.
Model Depicting Site Plan
Play of First and Second Skin
- Addressing Brown-field pragmatics – The project was planned around the academic calendar of the institute. All designs, sanctions, construction documents were in place before the long summer break. An independent execution team was in charge of completing the extensions to the existing school building (Hathi Sadan) which was a novel construction decision for projects of this scale. All restrictions, revised student circulation patterns, administrative usage, were pre-designed and pre-dated the actual construction.
- Reconfiguring School program – the new wing was not programmed independently. The complete 10+2 operations (classes, workshops, labs, administration) were rekindled and repositioned between Mehta Sadan + Hathi Sadan + New Block. Circulation paths were added/altered/deleted to accommodate the same. The school now only increased its intake by 150% but now offers improved physical and educational infrastructure. All this while maintaining its standards and occasionally upgrading its benchmarks on safety.
- Critical Regionalism as Design Style – In plan the new wing is a critique of the 2 existing plans in the complex (courtyard and double corridor). It is a staggered double corridor building with light and activity punctures at the junctions. Half of the ground floor is relieved of any built program and is planned for a covered activity space. Additional floors proposed for the Hathi Sadan and AICTE Block are designed as natural continuations to the existing blue prints.
BVB demonstrates the prevalence of 3 distinct eras in architectural style from the motif embellishments to post modern interpretations. Our proposal is a blend, a tie between the current buildings. Design Plus’ proposal complies with the existing block, integrating core elements such as exposed brick work, types and sizes of fenestrations, R.C.C jaali , R.C.C bands and tiling; however, the rhythm is altered. In addition, a new element was introduced, the jaali box. This further amalgamated the new wing to the additional floors of the existing blocks. These subtle alterations, only noticeable when pointed out respect the existing context and also highlight our individuality.
Rule 101 for architecture is to develop a space not building that would define the ‘genius loci’. Unfortunately there is no to-do list for the same. Although, respecting the immediate context, prevailing architectural era, user satisfaction are some of the umbrella guidelines that help define it. BVB, delhi is one such project that is a comprehensive embodiment of the expression ‘genius loci’ OR ‘spirit of the place’.
The proposal seamlessly operates both as a school and management institute, sharing infrastructure in a controlled manner. There is a sense of belonging for its inhabitants who thrive in a safe and comfortable micro-environment.
We practice in an architectural era where no particular style dominates. It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish an institute from an office. In architectural expression, BVB positions itself as a contemporary building with textures and elements that are not only extremely practical but also highly local. In addition, the campus reads as one, however identifies its growth over decades.