Sitting on the east side of the Sabarmati, inland past the old city walls and tourist attractions, outside of the city centre, is the site for the District Rail Management offices. One of the largest buildings in Ahmedabad, its easily the dominating feature of the local urban area, which has seen little investment or development since the 1970s. A part of the city which was dominated by the mills that fuelled the economy of its industrial past, has now crumbled and recast itself as a huge residential neighbourhood, bordering on being labelled a shanty town. Little commercial activity has been drawn into the area as the breakdown of its industrial legacy has meant intense land disputes for new owners. All in all, the area is almost cut off from the rest of the city, a hidden and forgotten district within the mass consciousness.
When the railways approached us to design this project it offered a range of possibilities otherwise unthinkable, as well as a number of interesting restrictions: Being a government contract given to outside private consultants, a very rare example of such a situation, tenders had already been placed, specifying exactly what materials and technologies we were able to work with; however it being a railways building, a part of the government which has maintained all of the trappings and systems of its colonial forbearer, we were able to suggest volumetrics grander than anything possible without good reason for a private client.
Its built on a raft floor in the basement, meaning slight extra expense comparative to a foundation + 2 floor configuration, but we get an extra floor, giving us a three story high opening through the building-long atrium, lit by a slither of a skylight.