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Friday, May 2, 2014

IIM-A Heritage Campus Restoration

By Savitha Hira

Info: Courtesy IIM-A-RFP; S& KC
Photography: Courtesy India Art & Architecture FB Page


20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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Mumbai’s Somaya & Kalappa Consultants’ win the competition for Conservation Architects for the conservation of the 20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A.

The air at India’s premier Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), feels intellectual. It is a beautiful building reminiscent of 20th century architecture in the distinctive Louis Kahn style.

20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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Completed in 1963 by chief architect, Louis Kahn, the majestic building in exposed bricks is known for its institutional and residential complexes, open courtyards, imposing flights of steps, hexagonal classrooms, high windows, and acclimatized layout among several other features.

20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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The architectural vocabulary of the Louis Kahn Campus Complex is exposed brick work with exposed concrete being used for slabs, lintels, and beams. The grandeur of the Louis Kahn Complex comes from its massive brick arches and extensive brick facades. The structural strength and stability of the buildings can be gauged from the fact that no major structural damage occurred to these buildings during 2001 Gujarat earthquake.

20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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However, IIMA is now challenged by the need to protect and enhance this campus complex, since it has been seriously affected by age and the elements. There are problems arising from the original specification, quality of workmanship, deferred maintenance, and age. The local brick selected by Kahn is very porous, mortars are harder than bricks, and reinforcement has been laid without adequate cover. The vertical and horizontal mild steel reinforcements in the brick walls and brick arches have corroded and have caused cracks which are creating structural problems. This has been exacerbated by seepage from defective water services and drainage, together with the failure of rainwater pipes (many buried in chases within the walls) and blocked roof outlets. Rising dampness is present in many areas. The defects have resulted in extensive efflorescence, loss of the face of bricks, and corrosion of MS electrical conduits (also buried within the brickwork).

20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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IIM-A has after all these years finally decided to conserve and restore its magnificent annals by appointing Mr. Stephen Gee of Peter Inskip + Peter Jenkins Architects, UK and Mrs. Brinda Somaya of Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai as the Conservation Consultants and Conservation Architects respectively.

20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
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The proposed exercise, which may take up to 5 years plus, and is estimated at a cost of approx.15 cr. per annum, will take into consideration the conservation, restoration and repair management of the following Louis Kahn Buildings: Faculty Block, Library, Classroom Complex and Dormitories’.  

20th century Louis Kahn’ IIM-A conservation by Ar. Brinda Somaya.
Ar. Brinda Somaya 

Ar. Brinda Somaya believes that with this project the IIM-A and its Director Dr. Ashish Nanda have led the way in bringing to the forefront the importance of conserving and protecting the rich legacy of 20th century buildings that exist in India today.

5 comments :

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  3. This complex is an icon! Louis created a magnificent project that hinged upon using local materials, methods, and craft-people; that meant locally fired, hand made brick, and hand mixed mortar which is substantially softer than the North American model. The fact that he was able to develop such dramatic volumes and opening using these materials speaks well of his and his team's creativity. The softer materials also were instrumental in protecting the building during the earthquake because they would allow some flex rather than breaking. A genius project!
    By Mike Thompson - Project Architect at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture

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  4. I am very interested in following this to see what someone can do with it. Aside from tearing it down and starting over, I'm not seeing much, especially with all its systemic problems. The building leaves me cold despite the aging of materials. Hard angles and weird curving apertures are a little off-putting. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
    By Miki Kazmarek - Designer at Miki G Design

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  5. There are only very few architectural designs/projects, that bring tears (of beauty: rhythm, proportions, sensual use of materials, light, etc., contrasts, harmonies) to my eyes. This is one of them! Please take good care of it. :-)

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