The School of Planning and Architecture campus at Vijayawada was a two-stage open competition held in 2011-2012. The student housing was completed in June 2017 and the Institution building was inaugurated in August 2018.
The tradition of disseminating knowledge and innovation relies on diverse community experience. This interdependence of a community and the individual is vital for the growth of an educational institution. Focusing on the diversity of individuals and the vastness of a community creates opportunities for variation and thereby learning. Interdependent programs offer a multitude of interactive spaces that would be beneficial for a community experience. Our ideas stem from an interest in developing interrelationships in which students would participate in a non-hierarchical and rhizomatic nature of the exchange.
These relationships have been structured into a three-dimensional constellation that is informed by movement and varying levels of privacy of diverse programs. The central void in the ‘Concourse’ is reminiscent of the traditional courtyard that anchors common public and community programs. The Concourse is the redefined courtyard that holds the institute and the larger academic community together. The universal nature of the Concourse allows the space to operate both at a community scale as well as smaller group and individual scales. Smaller courtyards also work as three-dimensional lightwells which offer visual connectivity through the layers.
The student housing allows for multiple smaller building types which is dispersed in balanced clusters around varying scales of living courtyards.
Our approach was to move away from the hermetic dormitory or hostel organizational structure, which fosters a regimented form of social control - a kind of control that restricts learning, living and exchange. The attempt is to create organisational variation, non-linearity, change & flexibility through the integration of program with non-programmatic spaces thereby integrating both the collective and the individual. The social and cultural lives of students have been captured and highlighted by sequencing common programs along movement trajectories. The common activities are placed adjacent to the circulation creating opportunities for interaction and thereby exchange between students.
An emphasis is on environmental and climatic aspects of design. The emergent typology is derived from traditional responses to climate and contemporary living relationships. The site and its surroundings offer major clues to the positioning of the buildings and the creation of in-between and peripheral spaces.
The traditional towns with narrow streets at appropriate distances enable passive cooling and protection from the harsh solar radiation. The school and housing building reintroduce traditional principles of architecture and urbanism to the modern architectural student community. Its potential lies within its subtle and yet sensuous spatial experience. The emphasis on detail and the use of local materials such as Tandur stone, fly-ash bricks, roughcast plaster could create a space that is at the same time embedded within its cultural context and rich in its appearance.
MASTERPLAN: The Masterplan attempts to make the campus an institutional center in the city of Vijayawada. The institutional building is a platform for debate, exchange and dissemination. It also becomes a deep gateway and an interface to the entire campus. The notional Interface/ Gateway allows for mediating, filtering and channelizing people from public activity level to the semi-public programs.
INSTITUTE: The Institute building has been divided sectionally into 3 major parts – The Parasol, Concourse and the Platform.
- PARASOL- The topmost section of the building houses the morning programs of the learning curriculum such as Classrooms and studios. It also acts as a volumetric parasol roof for the lower floors creating shade below.
- CONCOURSE- The middle section of the building is a ‘Stilted Platform’ that allows for student activity. This zone also behaves as a concourse level to the entire building as it filters and mediates movement of people. The concourse is visually connected to the section above and below through the voids of the different levels. Programs such as the cafeteria and recreational areas are located at one end and the administrative block is at the other end. It is a ‘Universal space’ occupied by faculty, students, administrators and visitors enabling non-programmed exchange. The high ceilings and open-air voids enable natural ventilation through the building’s section.
- The PLATFORM-The lower program is seen as a heavy base to a floating canopy. The base houses the afternoon programs of the learning curriculum such as workshops and Laboratories. The heavy base with stone cladded walls increases the ‘Time Lag’ for solar- heat gain. The solid platform is punctuated with voids that allow for hot air to dissipate.
HOUSING:The housing is an active pedestrian ground which is simulated as the streetscape that gets transformed into stilts, verandahs, decks and courtyards within. The housing breaks the strict definitions of the layers by fragmenting the program areas and other common or non-program areas.
Three modules with a mix of programs and non-program have been designed to allow for varied configurations around the living courtyards. The three modules seamlessly merge by virtue of the spatial continuum and connective spaces to form clusters. This creates a lively neighbourhood that fosters informal interactions creating a low rise high-density student housing environment.
An attempt was made to introduce streets, courtyards, bridges, verandahs and terraces with student living. These spaces we perceive create a variety of chance interaction between students for the diverse faculties and years. This fragmentation is continued on the floors above which allow for semi-private interaction zones in the form of terraces and bridges. The Common room program has been broken down and distributed across the student housing thus allowing of stronger bonds with a smaller scale of the neighbourhood.
The site is in the Krishna river basin is a part of the hot and humid region of the country. Hence, the lower floors are rendered porous in the form of stilts for allowing cooler air through the Screen jali walls that have been placed at the outer most peripheries of the hostel blocks. These winds than are channelled through the courtyards, as they funnel the air naturally. The lower stilts are used as common activity spaces during the hot afternoons. The middle section of the buildings has most of the student living program with efficient circulation. The top section of the building has a mix of living program and terraces, this allows for shadow spaces on the terraces. These terraces are used for evening activities of students as the weather temperatures start to fall.