Over the past few years, FAAA has been engaged in evolving a constructive dialogue with its alma mater- CEPT University and School of Architecture. In the last few days, CEPT University has announced a proposal for another new addition to the Campus, The New Academic Hub designed by Christopher Beninger, to be built on our historically significant campus.
FAAA have received and observed several serious concerns, responses, and constructive criticism from various Alumni and individuals on different platforms in regards to the proposal. Suggestions have come in from around the globe, given the fact that the existing Campus is today acknowledged as being of Universal value, on the lines of projects like the Bahaus, etc. (Letter by Prof Alexander Tzonis (2015) and others.)
FAAA is committed to the betterment of CEPT University and its growth as a center of international excellence. The present concerns are over the approach taken by CEPT Management while proposing the New Academic Block which adversely curtails the North Lawns, overshadows the Sacred School of Architecture, apart from constructing on the Eco-sensitive Kund Area.
We at FAAA, feel that the core issue is to explore a new synergy between FAAA and CEPT to meet the new potential of growth that CEPT aspires for. This “Vision of CEPT University”, requires a much larger tract of land of about 100 acres or more - on the lines of several internationally recognized Universities like - ETH Zurich, NUS, IIT, IIM, etc.
A retrofitted Master Plan on the existing 8 acre Campus, alongside “Modern Heritage Buildings, as a part of the Iconic Campus” cannot address the new aspirations of growth of CEPT. Alumni have expressed their concerns that the physical densification by the new proposals/buildings takes away from the existing campus. This is a matter of serious concern for the Alumni.
In response, FAAA has reached out to the CEPT Governing Body and The Management Board, to reconsider the proposal and look into alternatives for growth and expansion, while respecting the spirit of the present Campus.
A copy of the letter sent is attached here.
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
CEPT University, K.L. Campus, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad - 380009IPhone: 079 26302615I Email: secretariat at faaa.org.in
lshavasyam, Nr. Samved Hospital, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad - 3800091
Phone: 079 27402740I
Date : 13th October 2017
Shri Sanjay Lalbhai
Chairman - Governing Body CEPT University
Kasturbhai Lalbhai Campus University Road,
Sub.: Celebrating CEPT as an International Center
We wish to introduce ourselves as an Alumni Association of The Faculty of Architecture, founded in year 2011 during the 50th year celebration of The School of Architecture at CEPT.
The formation of this Alumni Association christened as "FAAA" was an initiative of Dr. Bimal Patel, along with a large group of other senior students acknowledged us as the officially recognized Alumni of Faculty of Architecture.
The Primary PURPOSE of the FAAA is to support and promote the interests of the Faculty of Architecture CEPT in its endeavor to continue & maintain itself as a world standard of Academic Excellence in Architecture.
Over the last five decades, CEPT University has emerged as an institution of excellence, recognized both nationally and internationally, It is a significant moment, when Alumni can contribute meaningfully to its future and growth, in the spirit of giving back to the institution, what the founding fathers had envisioned.
FAAA and CEPT have had several discussions on synergizing the relationship between the alma mater and alumni. Over the last week, the presentation of the new academic block, made by
Dr. Christopher Beninger - has led to a renewed intense discussion on the nature of growth of CEPT University and its campus, which we recognize is the primary prerogative of AES and CEPT management.
In the context of CEPT's call for alumni to give back to the institution, not only financially but in a constructive synergy, FAAA places on record that the task of managing an institution as diverse and unique as CEPT, is challenging in today's context. And hence hopes for a constructive process to strengthen the institution, rather than one of disregard for, both, its future as well as its historic traditions and its campus. We do recognize that the process would require a deep reflection on both sides, given the complexity and (at times) emotions involved.
It is in this context, that a dignified relationship between FAAA and CEPT could probably create the possibility of such a synergy, to complement the broader vision of CEPT today.
There has been a suggestion that each of these issues address the idea of continuity and change that visionary institutions, like Harvard University, ETH Zurich, IITs, IIMs, Cambridge University and several others have addressed considerably well.
After deep consideration and utmost restraint exercised, several alumni of CEPT have thought it prudent to acknowledge that our contemporary times require new directions, which CEPT is largely addressing.
FAAA also recognizes and appreciates Dr. Beninger's statement, that the CEPT campus is modern heritage - both expressing the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of its visionary founding fathers. Dr. Alexander Tzonis, describes this as rare, internationally respected, institution, nurtured by the Ahmedabad Education Society, as a new direction, that has contributed to the understanding of habitat and environment.
The fact that the CEPT campus is recognized as international cultural heritage, has been adequately reinforced by Prof. Jaimini Mehta, Prof Chhaya, Dr. Liane Lefaivre, Dr Alexander Tzonis, ICOMOS and several other respected practitioners in the discipline.
This is hence, probably the most appropriate moment in the history of CEPT and FAAA, to creatively explore these complex issues of continuity and change, in an amicable cogent process.
Given CEPT's unique heritage status, there exist internationally accepted guidelines (ICOMOS guidelines), to both conserve as well as initiate changes (additions/modifications, etc.) in projects considered as seminal Modern Heritage. A review and consideration of these best practices may primarily address the pragmatic needs of the CEPT governing body - for growth and change (with a more scientific foundation).
In the broader national context, over the last few years, several of these seminal projects that constitute our international/national and cultural heritage are under threat of defacement - for several reasons. The Projects of Architects - Athmaram Gajjar, Charles Correa, A Kanvinde, Raj Rewal, B V Doshi, Aditya Prakash, AD Raje, Hasmukh Patel, Joseph Stein, Talati, Piloo Modi, Laurie Baker, Mahendra Raj, Nari Gandhi, Pithavadian and several other architects constitute a significant record of this phase in our history - as a free Nation.
The adoption of these internationally accepted guidelines would enable CEPT to establish new norms for continuity and change and become a valuable precedent for other projects in the subcontinent and South Asia as well.
Vision and Growth - During a presentation by Dr. Beninger at the Jaipur Architecture Festival in February 2017, which was inaugurated by a member of the prestigious Pritzker jury, Dr. Beninger discussed the visions of Azim Premji Foundation, IIT Hyderabad and several other Universities he has been involved with.
On another front, Architects Rahul Mehrotra and Dr Bimal Patel have been involved with projects of national importance. Given this vision with an appreciation of contemporary realities (and economies), the Universities that Dr. Beninger has been designing to address this new vision, have strategically chosen larger tracts of land of about hundred acres or more to empower this vision. Our discussions (in several cities in India, Europe and the US) revealed that it could be one of the primary reasons that the present CEPT Master-plan requires a greater freedom and a hundred acre site, rather than be cramped in the existing nine acre plot (Navrangpura).
There is a growing perception that, reputed architects attempting a broader vision on these highly constrained site conditions of this existing heritage campus may thus fail to meet the larger expectations, given the serious limitations of the site to address the ambitious vision and strategy of CEPT's growth trajectory today.
With its international and national reputation, as a center of excellence, built over the last fifty years by its founding fathers, it should not be a difficult task for CEPT University, to procure such lands (100 acres or more) and financial resources.
It would probably be more appropriate to provide the freedom to explore a new expression, with a new unhindered Masterplan on a larger tract of land for the academic block or library, rather than cramp the expression with a retrofitted Masterplan, which finds it difficult to address the new directions of CEPT.
FAAA would look forward to a meaningful and respectful collaboration with its alma mater - CEPT - to reinforce the synergy constructively, if CEPT deems this of some significance.
Gurpreet Sing (73' Batch) Chairperson-FAAA
1.- Tara Rao (82' Batch)
2.- Jaydeep Bhagat (89' Batch)
3.- Ujjaval Parekh (2000' Batch)
4.- Umang Goswami (2012' PG Batch)
5.- Pranav Gajjar (2005' UG Batch)
Advisory Council :-
1.- Rajeshbhai Rameshbhai Desai (75' Batch)
2.- Salil Ranadive (81' Batch)
3.- Durganand Balsavar (84' Batch)
CC: Dr Bimal Patel
Members - Governing Body Members - Board of Management