The School of Planning and Architecture held an open design competition for their new campus to be built in Vasant Kunj.
It was understood that an environment for architectural education should be inspiring, free of historicity so as not to impose a past that is often learnt than inherited and should be able to nurture a constantly evolving process of transformation of space and activity rather than a static building-open space relationship. Ample spaces for chance meetings between students of the various specialized disciplines and faculty was desired to nurture dialogue and knowledge sharing.
The site, though in an academic zone was bordered on one side with residential colonies, while the other side opened up to a huge bio-diversity park. A deep canyon inside the site, from extensive quartzite quarrying was an interesting man made intervention and was developed as a harvested water feature with extensive plantation. The academic blocks surrounding this had the canyon edge as a continuous open platform for students with all the open multi level movement corridors leading here. The platforms converge into an amphitheatre which also serves as the open space for the students' centre. The reading rooms were suspended into the canyon with wide contemplative views, the roof of which serves as a crossover bridge.
The meeting point of the campus and the city was expanded into an urban interface with an auditorium, exhibition galleries, cafes and information centre with an extensive public space for students and the institute to share their views with the city. This interface led to the urban promenade, the main movement corridor of the campus, with the cultural blocks and a water body to one side and the academic blocks to the other. This terminated at the students' centre which also acts as a fulcrum and connects it to the informal canyon edge. Intermediate corridors between the academic blocks connect the canyon informally to the promenade.
The residential blocks were kept adjacent to the residential edge of the site acting as a buffer for the academic areas. All vehicular movement was restricted and segregated by a grade separator and directly accessed the basement parking from where one could come up onto the desired public areas through a series of open staircases for natural lighting. The surface of the site was purely pedestrian. A cycle track was provided for students all along the boundary of the site.
A morphological operation on the blocks which respond to the contours of the canyon and help maximize green roof areas for the blocks gives the architecture a distinctive character which also helps detach from predefined meaning systems.
The entry was a coherent assimilation of response to the site surroundings, the geographic disposition and geological events; the zoning of functions, activities and movement patterns and the desired orientation of building blocks as per the movement of the sun and wind.