Spiritually Inspired Design

Aerial view

Project: Landport Terminal Building at Dera Baba Nanak, Kartarpur Corridor, Punjab

Architects: Creative Group

On the eve of the 550th Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, a messenger of god, missionary and reformist who preached oneness, harmony and unity, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan unanimously took an initiative to open up a corridor between the two countries, so that pilgrims from both nations could visit various shrines of Guru Nanak at Kartarpur in Punjab, Pakistan.

The work on this corridor is a landmark in the history of these two countries. It shall be a helpful resource in creating unity, where both the nations can look beyond physical boundaries and collectively work towards the economic growth for this part of the sub- continent. The vision of the state-of-the-art Landport, a terminal building at Dera Baba Nanak, was carried out by Landport Authority of India. Our objective was to construct a world-class infrastructure for ICP Passenger Terminal Building at Dera Baba Nanak, to help the Sikh pilgrims from India to visit Katarpur, located about 7 kms from the international border with Pakistan.

The project brief was aimed at providing comprehensive architectural services for the terminal building, which will house adequate immigration and customs clearance facilities to process the smooth movement of nearly 10,000 pilgrims per day. The Terminal Building and associated land development will also cater to the utilities and amenities like toilets, waiting areas, security hold areas, adequate number of Immigration counters, drop off and pickup areas, parking areas, allied facilities like safety, security, barrier-free environment, retail and concessionaires, etc. Our endeavour is to design a building that will always be looked upon as a global facility, which is Green, Smart and Sustainable, and is relevant to the topography, culture, heritage and social fabric of the state it belongs to.

This is a step towards spreading the universal message and teachings of the great Guru Nanak, in terms of creating peace, harmony and unity, particularly between the two nations. We were selected as Consultant Designers for this ambitious Landport to be created for the holy pilgrimage from the border straight from Punjab, Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib. “This dream project is visualised as a physical homage to the great Guru Nanak Dev ji and also to create the sensitivity of art and architecture in symbolising the universal message of oneness and humanity,” according to Prof. Charanjit Shah

The design is idealised through various elements of visuals, dimensions, space and volume, particularly in creating state-of-the-art architecture, thus establishing an environment that is spiritually empowered, emotionally
bonded and soulfully connected. The building form originates from Khanda of Sikhism, symbolising unity, peace and sending out a universal message of global brotherhood and co-existence. The gateway crowning the port with the composition of five petals symbolises the five vows of Sikhism. The disabled-friendly building will have Immigration and clearance facilities to process the movement of 10,000-15,000 pilgrims a day, and provide a visa-free access. The spatial planning of the building has been done to support efficient immigration process of passengers from India to Pakistan and vice- verse. It has been designed such that it can efficiently respond to the future growth in number of passengers, without negatively impacting the existing process. The passenger movement has been planned in a linear process, by providing a centralised position for immigration, customs and security check posts to minimise confusion. The simple layout is designed to ease the passenger movement and function as an efficient transit point. This complements the otherwise dynamic form of the building, which has a spiritual inspiration behind it.

The frame of the building is entirely constructed out of steel, with use of trusses and various steel sections to achieve large open spans. The cladding on the roof is of Aluminium Standing Seam, while some areas also use zinc cladding. Double glazed glass units used in the façade enable natural lighting within the building, while use of aluminium composite panels reflect the contemporary aspirations of the project. Use of steel has enabled us to utilise the strength to create an intricate avant-garde design. The flexibility of steel has been utilised to create a large open span structure with limited columns. The surreal form of the building was realised by the malleable nature of steel, making it possible to construct the exact computer engineered design. Integration of steel frames, use of tubular sections and I-sections, reflective metal panelling, and façade glass has enabled wide open spaces with natural light in abundance. Concrete and wet construction was kept to a minimum to save time. Steel fabrication was propagated wherein fabrication could take place in a yard and quick assembly can be achieved at site, with not only guaranteed precision but also enabled an unheard timeline for the project.

Guru Nanak’s universal message of oneness of god and truthful living is conceptualised by the Mool Mantra (Ek Onkar Satnam), and has been exhaustively expressed within the Landport building and into the landscape through contemporary art and architecture. The Wall of Fame will show the journey of Guru Nanak Devi ji from his birth, episodes of his understanding, his realisations and his journey towards enlightenment. His various Udasis, or travel covering more than 40,500 km across the globe where he preached the message of truthfulness, brotherhood and oneness of god, while criticising and protesting against the rituality and fanaticism of religion, is depicted in the form of modern art. The artworks also depict certain other profound figures in Sikh history.

The essence of symbolism and religion in architecture is highlighted by the unique relationship between Art and Architecture. The idea of integrating local art within the gateway Landport enriches the overall experience for the passengers and pilgrims. The storyboard panel covering the journey of Guru Nanak on one side, and the journey of the other nine Sikh Gurus on the other, the shila lekh panels placed within the enriching landscape as the true words of various Bhagats and Gurus related with Sikh history, the iconic and bold ‘Ik Omkar’ sculpture at the entrance highlighting the message of ‘one true God’, the various sculptures of Sikh legends such as Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Bhagel Singh and others depicting the glory and glamour of Sikh past, and many more similar art works have been installed at the corridor—bringing life to the steel and concrete structure, and creating a sense of belonging for the local public of Punjab. The artwork is strategically dispersed throughout the environment, with essential focus towards creating a sense of place for the visitors to ultimately deliver a lasting emotional impact.

“This was a very challenging project with such magnitude and of international importance, which had to be created with a signature design. It was a major challenge to design and tender this project within 2-3 weeks and construct a project with a site area of 50 acres, 3000 tons of steel and execute within 4-5 months,” says Ar. Gurpreet Shah.

The project was initiated in January 2019, when the conceptualisation and design was prepared. The general timeline for the work of this capacity is upto two years, but for this project, the work was aimed to be completed in 6 months. The project was inaugurated on 9th November, in lieu of Guru Nanak’s 550th Birth Anniversary, by Shri Narendra Modi on the Indian side and
his counterpart Mr. Imran Khan on the Pakistan side. Shri Narendra Modi expressed his honour in inaugurating the project: “The Kartarpur Corridor will deepen the connection between lakhs of pilgrims and Guru Nanak Ji. It is my honour to have inaugurated the corridor today.”


Client: Landport Authority of India

Design team: Prof. Charanjit S Shah (Founding Principal), Ar. Gurpreet S Shah (Principal Architect), Ar. Surjit Singh, Ar. Mohit Gupta

Site area: 50 acres

Built-up area: 21,653 sq m

Cost of the project: INR 177.49 crore

Year of completion: 2019