CPKA designed IIM Lucknow to exhibit interplay of social expression

Indian Institute Of Management, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Project: Indian Institute Of Management, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Architects: C P Kukreja Architects 

The project is a proud part of India’s most premier league of educational institutions. In the decades since its inauguration, it has continued to uphold the strong legacy of management studies in the country.

Lucknow is one of the most distinctive cities in North India with a rich socio-cultural and architectural heritage– from its stunning imambaras and palaces, to sturdy buildings that have served to house the common man. Commonly used local materials such as bricks and stones reflect a naked urban ruggedness; simultaneously shielding each building from the heat of the sun, while creating a tangible sense of Lucknow’s renowned resilience and history of social expression. The design for the institute was conceptualized to be respectful of the landscaping and planning philosophies of the region, which is characterised by lush green gardens, open courts and pavilions. Lucknow’s weather, one of extremes, also called for a climate-sensitive approach that could foster passive cooling and natural ventilation.

The answers to such requirements lay in Awadh architecture, a singular style of design followed in Lucknow, in addition to many other cities in North India. The design is characterised by an interplay of solids and voids within the entire built form to facilitate natural lighting and ventilation, giving the building a balance of solidity and porosity. Elements such as false walls, double walls and networks of corridors efficiently inducing passive cooling and air circulation have been used extensively in the architecture of the university.

The overall physical image of the campus presents a collage of different enclosed and semi-enclosed spaces– courts, terraces, atriums, pavilions and colonnades that attempt to emulate the architectural character of Lucknow itself. The buildings have been set amidst landscaped gardens, integrating with the natural topography of the site.

An orchard serves as the welcoming entrance to the campus. There are both static and flowing water bodies, while connections between the buildings are established through covered paths and criss-cross pathways, punctuated by common public spaces that guide one from a building to the other through a series of such spaces in a pure rhythmic sequence.

A conscious sense of play between the organization of buildings and open spaces makes the campus far from monotonous. It allows for closed and open spaces to sit with each other in a sensitive and harmonious relationship, unifying the design of the entire campus into one holistic ensemble. To protect the campus against the harsh, hot and dry summers of Lucknow, the buildings are screened with an outer layer with jaalis and rich indentations in the brickwork. This prevents the structures from being directly exposed to sun and also offers a dappled interweaving of light and shade.

What brings a thoroughly hard-wearing yet beautiful expression to the architecture is the use of Kota stone, a locally-available material. Used with bricks, and occasional reliefs created with marble patterns, it lends a superior quality to the aesthetics, while maintaining low costs in construction. This exposed brickwork with Awadh reliefs were used in both building exteriors and interiors throughout the entire campus, comprising the faculty building, classroom blocks, the library, computer centre, administration building, the auditorium and conference centres, hostels (for 2,000 students) and faculty residences (with a 500-person capacity).

The 200-acre campus stands as a truly distinguished blueprint for future educational institutions in India. Deriving inspiration from the traditional architectural elements of the city that the campus calls home, the overall design invokes the same rugged aesthetic– albeit with a notably forward-thinking and futuristic vision.


Site area: 200 acres

Year of completion: 1984