Designed by Bimal Patel; completed 1987 Near Ahmedabad, India
Commended by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1992) for the “confident use of
formal elements growing out of the Indo-Islamic architectural heritage,” the
Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, designed by Bimal Patel, can be
conceived as a series of open courtyards and transitional arcade spaces that provide a
primary organizational framework for various scattered buildings. Situated on the
outskirts of Ahmedabad near the Bhat village, this institute is the outcome of an enterpris
ing collaboration between its director, Dr. V.G.Patel, and the architect.
The institute is formally organized as fragmented buildings that are laid out in an L
shape and unified by a system of corridors. It is entered through a plaza that is shaded
with trees. The entrance kiosk, with its green pyramidal roof, is the pivot from which two
axes extend. The first axis has the administrative offices and training and research centers
and ends in the library. The second axis has two sets of residential quarters, a kitchen,
and a dining hall and ends at the water tower.
The first axis proceeds straight ahead as one enters the kiosk. It has a reception area
off to one side and shows glimpses of the major courtyard, which sets off an austere yet
monumental looking residential building that has a gateway flanked by squat circular
towers at a distance. One is drawn through this axis that has alternating courtyards
extending from it on one side; these courtyards house the administrative part of the
complex, with research and training areas on the opposite side. It ends with a poetic view
of a plain exposed-brick wall that has a window set in it, framing the trees outside. The
library sits adjacent to this space. Staircases off this axis lead to the upper level, which
has a low corridor that follows the lower one on one side and is connected across to offer
views of the lower corridor and courtyards. The second axis, which leads to the
residential quarters, is interspersed with circular areas that look like squat towers from the
exterior and that are used for various activities, including indoor games such as table
tennis, and as sitting areas.
The buildings are constructed of exposed load-bearing brick and have reinforcedconcrete
lintels and frames, with flat concrete and corrugated galvanized-steel roofs—all
materials that are associated with low-cost building. These materials have been
meticulously detailed with great refinement. The buildings are low, two-story structures
that are connected through corridors and walkways, which also surround the various
courtyards. The smaller courtyards are paved and have water bodies and trees that help
create shade and enhance the natural ventilation system, and the large courtyard between
buildings is landscaped with grass and has trees surrounding it. This project has been
extolled for its low maintenance, easy replicability, and concern for saving energy
through the use of courtyards for natural ventilation.
Although formally there is an aspect of monumentality that is emphasized by the
circular tower-like forms, by the framed views, and by the uniformity of courtyards (as
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well as the materials used), this aspect is reversed in terms of the scale, as the buildings
are quite low in comparison with the scale of the courtyards they surround. In addition,
stepping-down devices on the roof accentuate the low scale. The formal alignment and
deflections that frame particular vistas are geared toward underscoring special areas of
the institute. The corridors that unify the institute contribute to the visual delight by
alternating between light and shade, with courtyards opening on the sides. In addition to
these corridors are alternate views of flat and arched lintels spanning adjoining courts,
staircases leading up to the walkways at the upper level, a variety of framed views at both
the upper and the lower level, and a rhythm in the arcades.
The project is greatly indebted to the vocabulary used by Louis Kahn in
the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad and can ultimately be
summarized as encompassing a restrained and refined monumentality. It is noteworthy that this was the architect’s first
major commission.

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