Ahmedabad, India

School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University

The School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University, is designed as a place to foster interdisciplinary learning – an institutional space where students and faculty would work together in an academic setting bringing with them lived experiences from different cultural perspectives. Furthermore, the building was one of several buildings planned on the campus and its strategic location both in proximity to the entrance to the campus and adjacent to a historic building was a constraint and a challenge. An early decision in the design process was thus to make the base or ground floor of the building spatially porous in order to allow easy access to the historic building, now being repurposed for a management school. In addition to being close to the entrance, the porosity on the ground floor would be welcoming and allow easy access to the first building on arrival.

Within the building the, main entrance was articulated as a triple height lobby, with split levels shaded terraces overlooking the entrance thus acting as a hub and a place for students to congregate and interact. Adjacent to this hub, key public functions are located such as an amphitheater for casual gathering and events as well as the main entrance to the central library. Designing an institutional building of this size meant organizing and planning for a large range of functions, including lecture theatres, research labs, seminar halls, classrooms, library and faculty offices of varying capacities. However, the design intent was not to zone these functions separately but rather create a rich mix of proximities to encourage encounters between students from different disciplines. Thus, the building is stratified both horizontally as well as vertically to create a more random mix of facilities to encourage chance meetings and interactions – moments where people can engage with one another spontaneously, while crossing a lab or descending an internal stair between classes. Most spaces in the building are flexible, anticipating changing needs and requirements. 

 With Ahmedabad’s hot and dry climate, the circulation is designed at the centre of building to make an insulated and well-ventilated space. All usable spaces are shaded with a double façade, with operatable louvres, that protect the surface from the sun and reduce the ingress of dust and heat. Integrated in the façade are planting areas for growing vines that help in controlling the temperature of the building through evaporative cooling.