Vastushilpa Consultants
Pune, India | View Map
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Flame: Foundation for Liberal Arts and Management Education

Vastushilpa Consultants as Architects

Nestled on the slopes of the Sahyadris, the FLAME arises as a testament to man’s ever increasing need to be in touch with nature, and its myriad of inspiring and thought provoking creations. This educational institute believes that the process of learning extends far beyond the classroom, into encounters of nature; people and life…

The conceptualization of this University is to give living expression to the wisdom of embodying nature within man’s creation. Conceived as a place of 'liberal education', the approach to design in itself gives impetus to lateral learning. A place aimed at establishing the relationship of students with life all around them, goes a long way in imbibing a way of lateral thinking in addition to the impartment of knowledge within the classroom. FLAME is the epicenter of a university town, envisaged to have bustling streets, bazaars, sports arenas, cultural centers and social amenities that goes into nurturing a settlement. The town is set on a scenic site of 1200 acres near Pune, in the state of Maharashtra, India. The site topography resembles a saucer, a valley surrounded by undulating hills that rise 200 m high, with the Sahyadri mountain ranges seen one after the other. The waterfalls, brooks, tropical species of trees, are all natural forces forming a part of the picturesque site. One of the peculiarities working in India is the constant change in any given situation, imparting a hybrid nature. The site boundaries, contours and the program brief for this project kept on changing, which made it difficult to move on with the design. So a lateral approach to design ethos reveals from this understanding of 'constant change'. So the uncertainties are acknowledged with due respect. And thus, an ideology to work with the known, holding on to identified inviolable values, and moving forward in lifting the spirit emerges as the design philosophy. If one watch carefully, this is the imbedded attitude in India from the ancient time. The design postulates the 'bazaar of education', a rather unusual approach to a campus design. This echoes to the idea of 'constant change' combined with 'evolution of time'. This texture could be felt in an Indian village street. The strong visual forces, looking on to the hills, combined with the activities makes the intended 'places'. Thus an open to sky pedestrian 'spine' emerges as the salient design feature that connects the various blocks, enacting as a 'breathing space'. The sequencing of program fabricates casual encounters, those accidental running into known and unknown faces, instituting the people from various disciplines to interweave and share knowledge - to share life. The classrooms, laboratories, faculty rooms, performing arts, visual arts studio and recording studio play a part in the making of the spine. Orientation of the spine along the north-south direction keeps a major part of the spine in shade, creating cool spaces of repose in the hot tropical sun during the day. The silhouette of shadows along the spine creates interesting patterns to behold. Innovative combination of clad and bare concrete surfaces explores a palette of myriad textures and play of light, augmenting the visual interest. The ideology of minimum alteration of the original topography, leads to the twists and turns of blocks with the contours of the rolling ground. Thus the otherwise compact planning is eased and stretched out with this approach. Minimal footprint is achieved with the careful programming of the day-today activities in the university. Thus achieving a reduction in add-on landscaping, and water requirements. As one meanders along the spine, the spatial variation in terms of their constriction, heights, enclosures and framing of nature, makes one realize the connection to the 'beyond'. The spine merges to the university plaza, analogous to the core of a galaxy spread around. It becomes the loci of coupled activities for the residents of the town and the academicians, a confluence of the university and the town. The plaza grows up to the rooftops of Library, Dining Hall, Reception and Administration, through grand stairs and a bridge. Thus the three dimensional ordering of spaces along the spine culminates in the plaza, creating the feeling of expansiveness and limitless in the learner. This plaza is linked to the upcoming town centre thereby achieving a perfect blend of university and community.

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