The building is designed in sync with nature and surrounding landscape

Inspired from a ‘garuda in flight’, the architects create one of Asia’s largest indoor arena with multi-purpose use of spaces...

Project: Kongu Engineering College, Erode, Tamil Nadu

Architects: Creative Group

The project was designed with the aim to provide world-class facilities to students who yearn for better socio-cultural interaction and high quality infrastructure, while keeping the cost of the whole construction to the minimum. The vision was to create an auditorium which could be used for other recreational purposes such that it is utilized all-round the year. The basic idea was social upliftment of students of an educational institute with nominal expenses in construction. With the aid of retractable seating, the auditorium could be converted to indoor sports courts. The building is designed in sync with nature and surrounding landscaped area. The wings are connected by open public spaces. Thus, with limited artificial lighting and natural ventilation, the building is made cost-effective without compromising on the quality. An exciting part of a master planning project, the convention centre is designed as the pride of the Kongu Institutional campus at Erode. Congregating campus crowd for all occasions, the convention centre, in a sense lends a unique identity to the university campus.

The convention centre consists of a multi- purpose hall, one of the largest in India with a seating capacity of 4500 persons. Alternatively it has one indoor basket-ball court and four indoor badminton courts which are used as sports hall. The building follows a massive geometric form culminating into a saluting base overlooking the sports stadium.

On the silver jubilee celebrations of the college, the client voiced its requirement to create a facility that can welcome the congregation of the vast student population to descend for celebrations. The main challenge was the availability of limited resources from the establishment. Accepting the challenge, the architect’s vision to optimize the design beyond the client’s requirements into a world-class multi- purpose convention hall, wherein, the facility could be used for lectures and sporting events other than the usual assembly gatherings.

Evolution of Form and Planning: Built on a 23- acre site, the auditorium was conceived as the focal point of the KEC’s main campus. The concepts of the architect have incorporated dramatic changes to the campus atmosphere by incorporating a culturally significant looking monumental sculpture to the entire precinct adding character and the much needed break from the otherwise usual geometric structures of the campus.

The basic form of the auditorium has been inspired from the ‘garuda (Eagle) in flight’. In Hindu religion, Garuda is a Hindu deity usually the mount (vahanam) of Lord Vishnu, having a body of a strong man with a white face, red wings and an eagle’s beak and with a crown on his head. The form of the auditorium evolves from the shape of the Garuda. The building’s wing is intended longer and massive (resembling the body of an eagle) while both the side wings having a lesser volume with cut-outs for efficient light and ventilation for outdoor public interaction spaces. Alternatively it has indoor courts which are used as sports halls. This becomes possible with the help of a flexible seating arrangement which is not fixed to the floor in areas allotted for sports activities.

The backroom facilities of the auditorium also functions as seminar rooms and rehearsal rooms. Additionally, facilities for conference halls, training centre, guest rooms, offices and cafeteria are also provided. The segmentation within spaces has been planned in an efficient manner to permit various activities simultaneously.

The convention hall has been placed at the site in such a manner that the pre-functional area and the main entrance translate into a saluting base to the athletic stadium in the
front. Interactive seating spaces integrated with landscaped areas act as a backdrop around the running track of the stadium and football ground. The main auditorium is flanked by two additional seating aisles which augment the capacity of the auditorium when required and in general acts as courts for indoor sports.

The envelope of the building is suitably sandwiched between the pre-functional area and the backstage areas that are naturally ventilated with large openings, enclosing the air-conditioned auditorium in a manner that reduces heat gain and receives glare-free daylight. Ensuring optimum acoustic insulation, the convention hall has been cladded in cost-effective perforated gypsum boards to cut the reverberation time.

The Structure: The RCC framed structure with steel trusses is a simplistic structural composition in MS box section in variable trusses, and built- up purlins envelope the roof of the convention hall. A network of primary, secondary and tertiary trusses enable large column-free spaces of up to 50m. Double trusses have been used to span over the central auditorium. The wings (left and right) primarily supported on the intermediate truss, provide access to the central spine without any hindrance. It has planned gutters and proper rainwater disposal systems. The complete steel structure is exposed– acting as a surprisingly aesthetical architectural feature with exposed HVAC and electrical systems; in order to keep the working of services at bay. It also has planned decking for maintenance purpose along with stage focus lighting operations.

Sustainability: Weaving in all modern facilities and world-class amenities in the convention centre, its ventilation, air-conditioning, acoustics and illumination are still focused upon. An efficient system of ventilation facilitates hot air to move up and escape through the clerestory windows. Additionally, fresh cool air is circulated around through ducted air cooling system. Light wells located on top of stairwells at the primary entrances infuse the circulation and pre-functional spaces with natural lighting throughout the day. The use of sunlight, hollow blocks for the multi-purpose hall and grid pavers for car-parks aim to minimize the energy consumption of the campus. Accordingly, provision of solar lighting, adoption of biogas from waste, STP and rainwater harvesting and storm water retention ensure adherence to ECBC codes.

“Less is more– brings richness in functionality for the multi-purpose convention centre.”

Factfile

Client: Kongu Institute of Technology Trust

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

Consultants: M/s VS Kukreja and Associates (MEP); M/s Jaitley Associates (Structural)

Built-up area: 16,200sq m

Cost of the project: INR 145 crores

Year of completion: 2015