Monday, April 20, 2020

Manav Gulzar: A humbling experience!

IAnD Exclusive


By Ar. Hiren Patel
Photography: Vinay Panjwani; courtesy HPA
Read Time: 1 min 30 secs
"ManavGulzar community centre ArchitectHirenPatel Nostalgia indiaartndesign"
Manav Gulzar Community Centre (inset) Ar. Hiren Patel

Ar. Hiren Patel of his eponymous firm speaks about an ongoing humbling experience that he feels keeps him grounded as a man and a responsible professional…

Manav Gulzar is a community centre for underprivileged children. It is centrally located – almost in the middle of Ahmedabad city. It has a temple and a dargah at close quarters and the community that lives here is largely from the neighbouring slums.

As an architect, one creates a building that will add the value to its user. We at HPA, are known for designing dream homes for people. But, as architects, it is our duty to design every project like a dream project.

This lovely project we did in two phases. It started off as a centre for study in the beginning - an extra study and activity centre for the children who live in this community.  

"ManavGulzar community centre ArchitectHirenPatel Nostalgia indiaartndesign"

We realised that children do not know poverty. So, why not give them something to look forward to? Why not we design world class only? 

It was like designing an activity centre for the elite groups and we approached it in the same manner. We worked with the same zeal. 

Using a material palette that Ahmedabad is known for, and that we generally use to ensure good workmanship – we designed the building in exposed brick work. We created spaces  in clusters around the existing temple and dargah, building classrooms and other facilities. The underlying thought was to reference this building itself as a textbook to the children. 

"ManavGulzar community centre ArchitectHirenPatel Nostalgia indiaartndesign"

Apart from being a study centre, we promote music festivals and even art exhibitions here. 

For me to come again and again to see this how positively this building is used by everyone is a revelation. Every little space, every little detail we've put in is utilised so completely, so happily. The community is happy, the teachers are happy, and the kids are happy. This place is used day and night. 

So, every time we come to this place, we think, what more can we add, either it’s a small bird feeder or small gym or some computers…  The centre is always alive... children are added year by year. And gradually, there was a need of phase two - to add more classrooms. 

The centre is now converted into a full-fledged school. We’ve added four more rooms. 

Here, we also become more sensitive in terms of spending; as every rupee is a donation and we at HPA, feel accountable for its use. So, we work on uncompromising design with cost savings. 

"ManavGulzar community centre ArchitectHirenPatel Nostalgia indiaartndesign"

This is the reason why this project is very close to our hearts. A small, good design decision has become a big blessing over here.

One comes back and listens to teachers; see their dedication in teaching their children... an ego of a designer will melt down immediately.

This place makes me more grounded....... That is why I like to come back here… again and again.

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