Shortlisted Entries 2020

Eclectic Architecture of Santiniketan

Harsh Dobariya
Indubhai Parekh School of Architecture | Rajkot

“I never taught my students, I just give them an environment.” – Aristotle

How does the environment take shape? Does any factor govern the environment? Can we shape our environment? If yes then how?

In response to that, architecture plays an instrument to create an environment for human beings. Dwelling into this realm and finding answers for the same I touched a place and paradigm of Rabindranath Tagore, Santiniketan.

My curiosity lies behind the idea of crafting such a place more than its physical presence. Rabindranath Tagore first shaped Santiniketan in his perceptual world. Engaging with his ideology regarding the place results into such aspects; Environment for education, Nature driven curriculum, Freedom of mind-body, Art-musicdance in daily life, Spiritual education, Teacher-student’s relationship, Education in harmony with life and Cultural synthesis which act as core ingredients of the creative environment of Santiniketan.

Santiniketan is a result of a small experiment by Tagore which has taken shape as a global learning platform for exchanging thoughts and culture. With time and such a scale of progression comes many issues like managing, funding, and space to accommodate evolving needs and people. As a result, building interventions start coming on their own to suffice those needs generating an architecture that conflicts with the vital ideology for Santiniketan by Tagore.

The dissertation project emerges out of this context and aims to shape an architectural environment that responds to the ideology crafted by Rabindranath Tagore for Santiniketan. Kala Bhavana-the the school of fine arts, is one of the significant genesis, and the pivot of Santiniketan which is taken as the study area. Along with the principal intension of this dissertation, the project brings much complexity to comprehend its existing architecture, Space configurations, placement, orientation, circulation, material, and construction, building expression and experience, and the physical context in which it is being located.

The project conceives to expand the Kala Bhavana campus through designing the following spaces: foundation year studio with exhibition space, mural art workshop, individual painting studio for PG students, textile and ceramics design studio, graphics design studio, and outdoor working area with a total intervention area of around 1800 square meter.

Designing an environment that responds to Tagore’s ideology in current context demands stronger strategies to translate those ideas into physicality. The following derivations become a strong foundation for the design; the relationship of man (user)-nature and nature of architecture, the idea of indigenous and innovations, Flexible and transformable space, community and contextual participation, climate, and cultural response. These strategies, engage the community in building spaces where the wall becomes a medium of expression, the material creates a dialogue between the existing and the extended spaces, the scale of spaces create very subtle character in the campus. 

The Intervention fragmented into five neglected areas of campus and designed according to their respective micro context to activate and reconnect them with the existing legacy. In a way, design intervention become a bridge between the ideology and the existing context as a response to the conflict.