Over the last four decades a number of demands have been made on the physical structure of the National Council of Advanced Economic Research (NCAER). These have varied from the need for more space, to spaces that have had to be re-configured to allow for the needs of a growing institution and those that have been mutated in an attempt to create more qualitative space.
The proposal is conceived of as two wings joined together by an infill block. While the existing building has been largely preserved, the new block with its reading room and auditorium would act as a beacon of light. Enshrined within a frame structure and set in the midst of lawns, through its extensive glazing, stone cladding and delicate detailing, this block immediately sets itself apart from its neighbours. In conjunction with the existing building the two structures establish a dialogue best described as one of mutual co - dependence.
At the outset the decision to retain and preserve the existing block while opening up the building to a greater urban context and more specifically to the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) dictated the location of the new proposal. Set back from the property lines the new block shade the existing structure,create a rear service court and divide the extensive lawns into two parts. The larger of these open spaces is landscaped to allow for larger gatherings while those that adjoin the cr?che are smaller in size. The cafe has access to both of these spaces as well as the courtyard beyond.
While primary and vehicular access to the site is from Ring Road, the second ?cultural? entrance through the lawns further engages with the neighbouring Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Access to the Auditorium can be made from both these entrances. For the efficient functioning of the building an independent service entrance has been provided. The building has along the ground floor an arcade wrapping around it. While undoubtedly this "verandah" would promote informal and spontaneous gatherings between scholars, it would also serve as a guide to pedestrians entering the complex from the main gate, escorting them to the entrance court while also directing vehicular traffic. The arcade with its extensive glazing ensures a high level of visual transparency both within the building and outside. Along with the arcade it opens the building up to the greater landscape. It would be commonplace to state that any such building should allow for high levels of flexibility while simultaneously being environmentally friendly and green. We feel that in addition to this it is imperative that the spaces conceived and created whether through programmatic juxtapositions or the modulation of light and material should engage with peoples inherent social processes as ameans of generating discourse.
(The proposal was done in collaboration with Abhimanyu Dalal Architects)