Smart-eco Campus

Project: Dayanand Sagar University (Smart Eco-Campus), Bangalore

Architects: Creative Group

In ancient India, the process of imparting knowledge was simple, yet one that proved to be the most effective in terms of innovation and birth of new ideas. The reason why the Vedas are considered to be the books of great knowledge even today, is because they take cues from Nature. Nature is effortlessly ingenious. And so, when this project was bestowed upon the architects—a challenge of designing an educational campus sprawled across 100-acres of Greenfield in the South of India—they kept the traditional methods of interaction between faculty and student pivotal to the design philosophy, and conceptualised a contemporary, smart-eco campus of the Dayanand Sagar University.

The goal was to incubate a sustainable environment that fosters creative and dynamic interaction between the faculty, the students and the Nature. The campus at DSU strives to impart a learning experience to students that is reminiscent of their childhood. Curiosity has always been the best catalyst on the path of learning. The sustainable framework, integrated with visual aesthetics throughout the built environment, brings out the latent creativity of the students.

To meet the client’s requirement of an iconic building in the campus, the library is imagined to be the focal point of the landscape. The Library at DSU is revolutionary; it is conceived as a ‘bridge of knowledge and innovation’ that spans between the Academic block and the Medical block. The main Library block features an amphitheatre, green vegetation and storm water swales. An evolving double-skin façade defines the library building and encapsulates aesthetics and sun control, as well as a variety of micro climate ecologies around the building suited to their function and orientation. The façade is more than just a great look; it also uses its core structural V-Columns as the outer skin. Terracotta slats are arranged along the length of the façade to prevent direct sunlight from entering into the interactive spaces.

“Taking the aspect of sustainability and over- all heat reduction in the campus further, the master planning is done in such a way that the edges of the academic units overlook the green carpets and water streams, present in plenty throughout the site” says Architect Gurpreet Shah. In an attempt to enhance the experience at the cafeteria, it is positioned in front of a water body. In order to maximise the daylight and minimise the heat gain and energy consumption, in depth studies regarding the sun-path diagram were carried out, based on which the buildings are oriented in the north-south direction, thus eliminating the heat of the harsh west sun.

The north-south adaptation also optimises the exposure to natural winds blowing along this axis. The topography of the landscape plays a major role in rain-water harvesting. The drainage across the site is planned according to the topography, in order to maximise the amount of rain-water captured. The presence of natural contours allows the storm water to drain itself, in turn recharging the ground water table and forming natural storm water swales in the southern end of the campus.

Every corner of the DSU campus is designed in a way to re-energise its users. The 100-acre site surrounded by farmlands, maintains a similar shade of the landscape around the academic blocks, thus seamlessly merging the interior with the exterior. The architectural aspect of the concrete blocks has been inspired by Dravidian architecture. Ancient South Indian temples were typically composed of pyramid shaped towers, porches and communal areas. On a similar note, the massing at the campus is done using a combination of horizontal and vertical blocks. The stack of horizontal blocks is called the podium, and is comprised of two or three levels. It maintains a two-fold purpose: One, it acts as a multifunctional space capable of accommodating classrooms, computer labs, study areas, libraries, and student gathering space. Two, it forms the ecological corridor, with connecting skywalks between various departments. The vertical element of the built environment, which rises from the podium level, houses academic-specific courses, such as the College of Engineering, School of Architecture and Planning, Building Technology, and so on. These vertical educational blocks take inspiration from the shikharas, which form the spire or superstructure above the main sanctuary in typical South Indian temples.

The ecological corridor forms a tunnel of sustainability, as it eliminates the use of vehicles for department hopping. In fact, the circulation of humans has been given paramount importance and thus, the DSU campus is one of the most pedestrian-friendly campuses around. Bicycle enthusiasts wouldn’t feel any less welcomed in the DSU campus. Such improvisation reduces the carbon footprint by a significant amount. The central boulevard that stems out from NH-209 runs straight to the Stadium, and also segregates the Academic district from the Medical district.

An arterial road around the periphery of the campus provides excellent access between the academic units, residential units for faculty and students, cafeteria, stadium and library. Academic campuses have always been a melting pot of knowledge, culture, and innovation. Through the combined efforts of various disciples of planning, architecture, urban design, infrastructure, and the integration of different aspects of educational, cultural, workplace and residential architecture, this project merges a comprehensive approach with great creative spirit.

Factfile

Client: Dayanand Sagar Institutions

Design team: Prof. Charanjit S Shah (Founding Principal), Ar. Gurpreet S Shah (Principal Architect), Ewing Cole

Cost of project: INR 850 crores

Project status: Conceptual proposal