Integrating art in architecture at the Amba Deep Tower, New Delhi

Project: Amba Deep Tower, New Delhi

Architects: C P Kukreja Architects 

A lofty tower piercing the sky is fronted by two buildings placed at an angle and joined by connecting corridors nine storeys from the ground, creating an imposing atrium entrance below and marking a structural feat. The bold facade treatment in long continuous bands, broken at corners by square pilasters, uses geometric patterned glass tiles in shades of white, yellow and blue. The two smaller blocks as well as the glass-encased lifts overlook the landscaped atrium.

Conceptualised for the Ansal Group, this 23-storeyed tower was designed to challenge
the stereotype of high-rise commercial buildings in New Delhi. Located at the crossroads of KG Marg and Tolstoy Road in the heart of the capital city, it literally towers high above the surrounding buildings as the most eye-catching feature in the skyline of the area. The cavernous atrium provides one of the grandest urban scale entrances possible to an office building.

Constructed on a 5-acre site at a cost of Rs. 200 million, this was the first built structure in New Delhi to introduce glass elevators that provide a stunning panoramic view of the surroundings. A major challenge while designing the tower was to depart from the conventional style of high-rise buildings and ‘break the box’, a feat that was achieved by reinterpreting traditional Indian elements such as courtyards and terraces in a modern way.

The architectural character of the building is inspired from the exquisite Persian tile work, and the viewer can experience Aztec art patterns on full display over the façade, distinguishing Amba Deep Tower as one of the tallest buildings in the world to have an art mural – thus successfully introducing art at a city level for the first time in New Delhi. The building now stands as a landmark for its unique amalgamation of Indian, Persian, Neo-classical and Modern elements of architecture. Situated on a prime location, the tower opens up on three sides, welcoming traffic from the different incoming roads and acting as an entry way into the heart of the city. The design of the building reflects its strategic location at the corner of two major roads – a cluster of three towers with the tallest rising to 23 floors, grouped around an eight-storeyed atrium, creates a magnificent entrance. With a built-up area of 2,00,000 sq ft, the building has been carefully designed to allow for maximum floor area coverage.

Landscaping is an integral part of the design – and among the strong landscaping elements that penetrate into the interior are the atrium with its terraced waterfall and planters, and a court at the rear of the buildings which the staff canteen and the ground floor overlook. Storage areas and mechanical plant room, electric sub-station and the mandatory car parking requirements, are all housed in three basements below the ground floor of the building.

With the New Delhi Fire Norms prescribing refuge areas to be created at certain levels in a high-rise building, the architects took it in their stride and turned it into an advantage –resulting in the ensemble of volumes incorporating terraces wherever refuge areas were required by law. This culminated into a landmark design for the project due to the wit of conceptual methodology.

The project of the architects magnanimously helms a successful marriage of art and architecture. With the whole edifice imagined as a canvas, the intrinsic mosaic patterns were able to create a unique record of art at the largest (and tallest) scale ever created in the city. The play of colour and the attempt to bring art closer to the masses is a magnificent departure from the dull boxed office buildings in Connaught Place. It is hardly a surprise to find that Amba Deep Tower has been recognised as one of the most notable buildings of 21st century architecture in Sir Banister Fletcher’s well-known encyclopedia, History of World Architecture.

Factfile

Site area: 5 acres

Built up area: 2,00,000 sq ft

Year of completion: 1993