The commission was for adding a new floor to the academic block of IIIT-B, India`s premier institute for advanced studies in IT. Program included academic classroom space, and research labs for industry. Brief required minimum disturbance to existing structure, which remained occupied and in use during the construction phase.
Bangalore’s equatorial location, 900m altitude and rolling topography dotted by small lakes, combine for a unique local weather noted for it’s sharp daily fluctuations. It’s relatively mild climate has also fostered an active horticultural tradition , giving it the name ‘Garden City’.
The project is located in a suburb reserved for the flourishing global IT industry. Existing campuses here are planned as collections of hermetically sealed glass buildings in green park like settings ; chasing an elusive Silicon Valley dream.
New intervention presents a nature friendly- climate responsive counterpoint to it’s local precedent –the sealed glass box. Open terraces, tied to three existing light wells, are left along the periphery of the extension floor. Newly planted green edges of extension floor merge with distant old trees of the site, drawing exterior landscape seamlessly into the building. An interior corridor, with raised perforated roof and clerestorey ventilator, meanders through ; admitting daylight and allowing the building to breathe. A vineyard type green layer shades new roofs of workspaces, reinstating former land use of grape cultivation common in the local region.
Interior street is an ‘in between’ space with urban sensibility, promoting human interaction and exchange of academia and industry. Remnants of old roof are improvised here as ‘ground’ elements, and absorbed into the streetscape as layers from the past.
On the other hand, the street is infiltrated by nature, recording dramatic daily changes in exterior conditions ; interspersed with episodes of landscape coming in. The dappled light effect, pervading the interior, abstracts quality of space under a tree- an ancient symbol of education and enlightenment in India.
The project negotiates old and new, exploring inventive play of contrasting characters : nature and urbanity. This recalls oppositions of traditional Indian landscape types ; of ‘aranya’-wilderness, ‘kshetra’-field and ‘nagara’-city. While doing so, the rooftop extension also presents a critique of prevalent corporate architecture promoted by the IT industry.