Rabindra Bhavan was built to mark the birth centenary of Tagore, who in addition to being a poet and novelist, was an artist, playwright and composer. The building is thus the home of three National Academies: Lalit Kala (Plastic Arts), Sangeet Natak (Dance, Drama and Music) and Sahitya (Literature).

The administration block
The administration block: RCC sun shades in two continuous rows over all the windows have been provided, the lower row in each case being placed on cantilevered brackets so that it is away from the wall and is no obstruction to breeze. © Habib Rahman

The complex stands on a 1.45 hectare site amongst other art institutions forming the cultural centre of New Delhi. It consists of an administrative block, exhibition block and a theatre block. The administrative block, Y-shaped in plan, is a four-story structure to house offices of the three academies and a library. A 1.2m roof overhand protects building surfaces from the streaking effects of rain. Centre-hung windows have a double row of continuous sloping R.C.C. chhajas, blocking off strong sunlight yet permitting breezes to flow in. the administrative and exhibition block enclose a cluster of beautiful old trees shading the ruins of an ancient mosque. 

The long walls of the administrative block are load­bearing in brick masonry, whilst the end walls of the wings are in random rubble stone masonry.
The long walls of the administrative block are load­bearing in brick masonry, whilst the end walls of the wings are in random rubble stone masonry.: According to the architect the angle of the sun shades is designed to eliminate the strong morning and afternoon sun. © Habib Rahman
"East Elevation from Lytten Road"
"East Elevation from Lytten Road": Rahman's early work in Delhi was marked by an over-emphasis on exposing structural concrete frames and an indiscriminate use of sun louvres influenced by Brasilia. It took him several years to realize that there was no clear scientific rationale for the way he was using louvres. The turning point came when Nehru rejected his first proposal for Rabindra Bhawan in 1959. His drawings featured extensive louvres. Barada Ukil, the Secretary of the Lal it Kala Akademi, encouraged a disheartened Rahman to try again. This forced him to evolve a fresh new vocabulary for fenestration and shading devices. © Ram Rahman
Exterior of the Akadami building, from the entrance
Exterior of the Akadami building, from the entrance: Each 4-storeyed wing of the administrative block houses an akademi, the Lalit Kala being in the wing nearest to the exhibition block to which it is connected by a covered walk­way.  © Habib Rahman

The pentagonal exhibition block, one side of which follows the curve of an adjacent traffic island, has a basement and two upper floors on split levels. The galleries around a central service core have continuous exhibition spaces with provision for natural and artificial light. Jalis have been discreetly used in various parts of the building to reduce glare and provide subdued natural light.