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This Institutional Building Depicts the International Style of Exposed Concrete & Cantilevers

Updated: May 16, 2020

Center for Indian Studies by Auroville Design Consultants

This institutional building is sited within an existing campus of buildings done in the 1970’s, in the international style of exposed concrete and cantilevers.

The functional requirement of the project was rooms for researchers, a conference centre, exhibition spaces, library, offices and residential facilities for the tenured researchers. The site has large trees including a magnificent old bodhi tree; the challenge was to build it with the best solar orientation for a hot-humid climate while not cutting any tree or modifying the natural topography. The building envelope had to ensure minimal disturbance to the existing landscape features, integrating the trees, natural slopes and rocks present at site from the construction to the post occupancy stage.

The building was designed as a series of large frames and voids to create a sense of visual porosity, allowing the trees to be framed through the voids created in the building. The building has a series of linking bridges and walkways which when crossing double height voids, enhancing the scale of the surrounding trees. With judicious placement of the transitional spaces, comfortable shaded outdoor spaces softening the light within and providing shade from the hot summer afternoon sun.

Picture courtesy: Auroville Design Consultants

The site is on the inland side of a plateau along the coast of Tamil Nadu, southern state of India; a hot-humid zone with extreme climate of hot dry summers and short wet season of heavy rainfall with frequent cyclonic storms. There is a minimal intervention to the existing topography as the building is adjacent the pour point of the local watershed, responsible for filling ponds and a lake downstream, important source of water for rural settlements downstream. The landscaping, especially the ground cover ensures erosion control of the surrounding gardens during flash flood flow in the monsoon.

Picture courtesy: Auroville Design Consultants

The building has research rooms including residential facilities for the resident researchers, a conference centre, exhibition spaces, library and offices. The intervening linkages between these spaces allows for informal outdoor spaces for study and congregation. The project has about 1100 m2 and was built in 2010-2013. The material palette of the building is rammed earth walls combined with industrial waste Cuddapa (local basaltic rocks) strips, exposed concrete, natural stones and untreated recycled wood. The play of natural light between the semi open and shaded spaces brings out the rough natural textures of these building materials.

Picture courtesy: Auroville Design Consultants

Project Name: Center for Indian Studies Project location: Bharat Niwas, Auroville, India Architecture Firm: Auroville Design Consultants

Website: Lead Architect: Suhasini Ayer Design Team: Suhasini Ayer, Miriam, Tejaswini Mistry, Gavury Ramadas Photography: Auroville Design Consultants




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