The SMJK Trust commissioned us to design a museum as a repository for their existing collection of Jain artefacts collected over years by the acharya and stored within their campus in Koba, Ahmedabad. The campus, consisting of a temple, a library and hostels and dining facilities for guests is a much frequented stopover for Jain pilgrims.
The area allocated to the Museum is a 2 acre parcel of land that lies between the temple and the hostel facilities. It is lush with neem trees and currently contains a small pathway that connects residential and religious activities.
The brief given to us was to create an environment that showcased 10% of their extensive collection of miniatures, exquisite bronzes and rare scrolls among other things. Optimizing natural light and ventilation was critical since the use of electricity is kept to a minimum in Jain practice.
Our solution has been to create a building that draws its plan from the Mandala, but lifts itself off the ground completely on stilts with a shallow waterbody in the centre within which the existing neem trees nestle. The building draws all its light and ventilation from this shaded and filtered courtyard and presents a calm lime plastered exterior with inlaid Jain graphics and glass jharokhas. The internal skin of the building facing the courtyard is entirely composed of vertical louvers of white marble jali that bring in the air and ventilation in a highly modulated manner responding to simulated studies on sun and wind paths.
The ground level of this building becomes a free and open community space with trees, water body, sculpture and a temporary exhibition space allowing the young or old visitor to meander and relish the atmosphere. A ramp by the water leads slowly up to the exhibition gallery which has been designed like a "parikrama" in a Jain temple. The creation of an environment that draws from the heritage of the religion, as well as the crafts of its practice but creates a contemporary community space has been the goal of this project.