Sacred Geometry

Project: Dr Ambedkar International Centre, Janpath, New Delhi Rahul Tyagi

Architects: RT & Associates, Noida

The government proposed to establish a centre in Dr. Ambedkar’s name in the central vista area in New Delhi, bound by Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, Raisina Road and Janpath in front of Jawahar Bhawan.

The allotted land consisted of 5 MP bungalows on Janpath which were cleared to create approx 3 acres of land for the centre.

The centre was conceptualised and envisioned as a world-class institution of national importance dedicated to a multi-dimensional study of social justice; meanwhile, the emphasis was to create an edifice incorporating Buddhist symbolism along with the persona of Dr. Ambedkar, encompassed in environmentally conscious architecture.

The broad components included a public library, a research centre, research facilities and a convention centre. An appeal was issued to a large number of institutions, social activists, civil society organisations and individuals, requesting them to offer their suggestions for the development of the project.

The starting point of the project was freedom of expression and to bring unity of the inside and outside. The building is designed as a contemporary response to the challenge of depicting architecture and democracy while reversing historical traditions. It is conceptualised as a building with an inner core; an atrium contained within the outer shell which orbits on the ideas of a free-flowing circular configuration of the inner centre, expressing liberalisation and freedom with an elegant geometrical contrast to the square geometry – a rigid constrains of the outer block.

The building form was derived on the persona of Dr. Ambedkar, exemplifying simplicity and honesty – hence a square (pure geometrical form) of 65×65m was taken as the footprint to form a cuboid 20m high. One corner of the cuboid has been truncated to highlight a 26m high bronze Asoka Stumbh, a prominent symbol of Indian democracy.

The architecture of the building is a fusion of contemporary design with subtle elements of Buddhist architecture.

The usable components of the building revolved around a central open-to-sky atrium spanning the entire height of the building closed with a translucent dome. The dome is designed as the “dharma chakra”, symbolic of the Constitution of India, always casting its shadow on the ground at different time of the day.

The building facade follows the modern version of the architecture vocabulary of Lutyens’ Delhi. The facade has quarry finish sandstone cladding, which is intrinsic to the architecture of Lutyens’ Delhi. However, a pattern inspired and derived from the Preamble in a coded form has been developed to create a contemporary façade.

The welcoming and grand facades of the buildings are an amalgamation of two thoughts – exterior reflecting the surrounding urban precinct of New Delhi with the architecture vocabulary of Lutyens’ Delhi embedded with the subtle elements of Buddhist architecture.

The building is a modern sculptural edifice comprising three parts – the formal exterior with the Buddhist symbolism, the circular atrium with a vertical green wall which ties architecture with nature and the free flowing functional areas in between the two.

On entering the building, one experiences a barrier- free environment under the translucent dome with all the functional spaces placed on circular floor plans on the inner block; the form also overlooks the visual excitement of connectivity within all the glazed floors.

Elevators wrapped in glass are flanked with vertical green garden walls which control the micro climate within. The continuous glass wall of the facades on the inner side allows light into the interior without producing glare on the adjacent streets because of the external protective building block. The floor plans, though appearing to be free flowing, express the logic behind the built mass to the user. The open plan offers excellent usable areas statics on each level.

The larger auditorium is placed diagonally opposite the entrance with a glass-lined foyer and 2 smaller auditoriums on each side balancing the built mass.

The cafeteria is placed on the top of the auditorium roof overlooking the internal atrium, which can be approached by the transparent capsule elevators to catch spectacular views.

The juxtapositioning of these public and people-oriented functional areas is such that the users would experience the entire building while going to the cafeteria and learn more about the centre’s activities.

The building houses 6 floors, 2 basement for parking and services and 4 upper floors for public and administrative use. The ground and first floor house the 700-seater auditorium, two 100-seater smaller auditoriums, exhibition and conference spaces for public utility. The second and the third floor has the library, conference centre and the offices of the foundation.

Client: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, NBCC India Ltd. (PMC) Design team: Rahul Tyagi (Principal Architect), Varghese Chako, Harsh Verma, Pardeep Sharma, Abhishek Sharma
Consultants: Pristine Ideas (Structure), Sunil Nayyar Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (MEP), NMP Designs Pvt. Ltd. (Landscape), Imagine BIM (BIM)
Contractors: Parnika Commercials Pvt. Ltd.
Built-up area: 2,41,600sq ft
Cost of project: INR 165 Crore
Year of completion: 2017