Friday, October 14, 2011


The Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology, established by architect B.V.Doshi in Ahmedabad, has been moulding young students into architects for the past 39 years, evolving as one of the premier institutions for architecture studies in the country. The campus is located in the heart of the Ahmedabad city, in the university area and has been designed by Doshi himself. Doshi and his contemporaries believe that a student of architecture must be surrounded by beauty and art, so that he/she develops into a well rounded creative person, ‘sensitive to the emotional, spiritual, cultural and aesthetic dimensions’. This philosophy is epitomised in the campus design itself, with built and open spaces forming a harmonious whole with nature, interspersed with sculptures, installations and other art works.
The language Doshi has used is of exposed brick with concrete, emphasising the slabs and the beams to create a natural coarse texture which has weathered over the years and now almost forms part of the land. The buildings are organised as double storeyed linear masses, open from both sides, letting in plenty of light and ventilation into the studios. In addition, there are inclined skylights on top of the studios, perpetually letting in natural light into the spaces. The studio spaces have bay spaces facing the exterior, creating semi-private spaces which are yet totally open to the exterior - spaces where the individual can be alone with nature even in the environment of a studio.
The entry to the complex is through a long axis which ends up in facing a blank wall. One is forced to turn, go down a flight of brick paved steps and turn then again to enter the main wide flight of steps leading up to the library. This forms the main axis, which runs along the side of the library block with steps rising up ever so slowly towards the framed entrance to the library. On the right side is the double storeyed studio block perpendicular to the axis of the library. One gets glimpses of a long framed visual axis running through the open ground floor of the studio block. The levels are articulated to create subtle demarcation of spaces.

There are small structures of the wood workshop and the tv room, which helps in containing space. The neem trees provide a perpetual changing pattern of light and shade. The steps in fact become external activity hubs with students using the levels for reading, organising informal discussions, performances or even for simply lazing around.
There is a small canteen on the corner of the axis of the studio block. There are external built in seats which encourage discussions and which over the years have evolved into the most active vibrant part of the entire campus. Both students and faculty sit around this space, chatting, discussing and one of the most favourite phrases heard in the campus is ‘let’s have a cup of chai’. This space is a true reflection of the spirit and culture in the campus with a great atmosphere of interaction, informal discussions and learning. And one of the other great thing is that the campus is open to external architects and student architects who flock to Ahmedabad to do their training, thereby allowing them to be part of the atmosphere of this great campus, including access to the great canteen food.

The campus is full of neem trees, which, as Doshi keeps saying were planted over the years since the initial phase. The beauty of the campus is that the buildings help in containing the spaces and creates external spaces and platforms, which act as extensions into the open nature. There exists a harmony running throughout the whole campus, building and nature coexisting in a comfortable relationship.

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