As Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is often in the news due to students movements, memories tend to engulf CP Kukreja, the man who designed JNU almost 50 years ago in 1969. Understandably, he is fond of the university as he considers it his baby.
Built on a massive one thousand acres, the land for JNU was acquired from Munirka and Vasant villages. After a tough international design competition, Kukreja got the opportunity to design a series of buildings in JNU campus. Of course, the task was Herculean. Surely, it was not easy to plan the buildings on rocky terrains. But, he did his job alright.
The very moment you enter the campus of JNU, you feel happy. The greenery, buildings and open spaces make JNU simply breathtaking. What is striking about the buildings of JNU? Well, the bricks of all the buildings are exposed. They are not covered with cement. This uniformity can be seen in academic blocks, a multi-storied library building, a conference, lecture and theatre complex, administrative centre, student activity centre, hostels and faculty residences. “I consciously ensured that the bricks were exposed as the soil there is of red colour. This allows the building to naturally coexist with the surrounding landscape and appear to emerge from the earth,” informs Kukreja who had also designed hospitals, hotels, housing projects and more in India and abroad. He added that, “the JNU structures are environment-friendly and low cost”.
Kukreja, who is around 90 years old, says that in his long career, “JNU would remain my favourite creation for the simple reason that it still looks so contemporary even after so many decades”.