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Friday, April 27, 2012

Exercise in Dynamics


By Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy Inform Architects


The design of NAAC may superficially mimic the road along its site, but serves as a resilient form, espousing its core values…

Institutional architecture is one genre that has seen a variety of dynamics at play; in form, spatial configuration, as well as reallocating hierarchy, spawning new footprints. Irrespective of its geographic location, an institutional design program is seen to follow a nuclear aesthetic responsible and responsive to its distinctive entity ad infinitum, as if existing in a vacuum; often with little or no regard contextually.

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Strangely enough, it is this very genre of architecture that gives a carte blanche to regeneration or rejuvenation of a design program. Take for instance, the National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous body that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in the country. With the core principle of upholding the quality of higher education in India, its building in Bangalore, designed by Ar. Kiran Venkatesh & team of Inform Architects seems metaphoric in nature.

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Using a single sweeping stroke, like drawing a pulsating organic form, the building is designed like a camber with strategic offshoots that connect the all-essential spine to the rest of the body. While the project brief called for multiple building blocks to house different programs - library, offices, conference facilities, guest rooms and staff housing, the core aesthetic was conceptualized along the values of sustenance and cohabitation.

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Almost like an organism with ample breathing space, the design follows a partially elevated program, opening up the landscape and limiting the ground footprint. The building becomes a hybrid container of multiple programs. The internal organization intensifies the open office concept, where spaces are connected visually but retain functional separation; thus facilitating increased interactions and intensifying chance meetings. Endowed with natural light and ventilation, the architecturally chiseled interiors are highlighted by varying chiaroscuro elements that change with ambient conditions and thus result in a captivating play of light.

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End cantilevers and plan staggers - used as a strategy to resolve the end conditions of the buildings make the terminations more dynamic and visually extend the building into the space beyond. Voids mark important nodes, becoming the sectional buffer between spaces. Open stairs and ramps are articulated to accentuate the perception of dynamic forms. Spatial layering along the spine is reiterated by material layering –assigned in succession to the various surfaces of the envelope and the intermediate sectional planes. The manifestation of profile and geometry is compelling and distinct. 

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