Selected Entries 2019

Architecture and Power - In case of a Public Building

Archiit Chatterjee
School of  Environment and Architecture | Navi Mumbai

The thesis investigates the idea of Power and its relationship with built space.
Public Buildings are very important institutions for any society to function. It reinforces social identity of any
respective context. The research focuses on Public buildings of Mumbai, i.e. The Ward offices that run under
the Municipality of Mumbai. These institutes are meant to be Public in its character and holds up a very
strong identity in society, it can be also seen as the reflection of a city within itself. With reference to the
context of colonial Bombay, there was a certain character been demonstrated in the spatial form of
Government Institutions that followed the path of Patron and Patronage driven identity into the cities
In today’s context the upcoming Public Institutions follow similar default strategies by replicating the
monolith and monumental imagery with a rigid hierarchical section in its built form so as to establish a
strong position and identity in its context and generate a sense of power in the name of Public building.
These aspects make a visitor (public) hesitant to enter/visit and follow up his/her work or ask query
regarding his/her respective concern. The rigid organizational setup structured sectionally in the building
makes one feel trapped inside the bureaucratic layer. For Instance the city of Vasai-Virar (northern suburb of
Mumbai) has got a recognition as ‘Mahanagarpalika’ just a decade ago. The whole idea of City and
Citizenship is very new to the developing agrarian landscape.
The Municipal Corporation have plans to propose a new Administrative building that should stand out and
create its own identity in the urban context. The proposed renders by the Corporation resembles the use
spatial elements like pediments, colonnades and dome from Pre independent Colonial rule into today’s
democratic urban landscape, completely isolating itself with fenced walls double the scale of a human and
against the sensitive ecology around its context.
Each space has its own identity in some or the other way, standardization of Public building alienates the
citizens from approaching the Government. There is an urgent need to understand what local ideologies
stand for and how a public building can create an identity of Publicness in its truest sense.
The thesis responds to all the parameters and proposes a public building that holds a public space at the
ground that is ecologically responding as a nature park, since public parks are spaces that the people of
Vasai-Virar often visit and where one does not really feel intimidated but rather comfortable. Fusing a
Government building within a nature park brings the people much closer to the government and thereby
creating a true identity of Public institution.