Essay: University architecture project

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List of Figures

Fig. 1 – University of Bombay (Mumbai) in 1857 along with Rajabai Clock Tower.

Fig. 2 – Main building, University of Bombay (Mumbai) in 1857.

Fig. 3 – University of Mumbai, Fort in 2017. Clicked by author

Fig. 4 – Rajabai Clock Tower, Fort (Mumbai).

Fig. 5 – Rajabai Clock Tower, Fort (Mumbai). Clicked by author

Fig. 6 – University of Mumbai, Fort (Mumbai). Clicked by author

Fig. 7 – University of Mumbai, Kalina (Mumbai). Clicked by author

Fig. 8 – Jawaharlal Nehru Library at University of Mumbai, Kalina campus (Mumbai). Clicked by author

Fig. 9 – University of Mumbai sub-centre, Ratnagiri. Clicked by author

Fig. 10 – Roof Layout of University of Mumbai sub-centre, Ratnagiri.

Fig. 11 – Model replicating University of Mumbai sub-centre, Ratnagiri.

Fig. 12 – University of Mumbai sub-centre, Ratnagiri. Clicked by author

Fig. 13 – Friendship Centre at Gaibandha, Bangladesh.

Fig. 14 – Plan of Friendship Centre, Bangladesh.

Fig. 15 – Friendship Centre, Bangladesh.

Fig. 16 – Training Hall at Friendship Centre, Bangladesh.

Fig. 17 – Friendship Centre, Bangladesh.

Fig. 18 – Map (Google) showing political boundary of Kalyan, Maharashtra.

Fig. 19 – Map (Google) showing the site allowed for Mumbai University sub-centre by Kalyan – Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC).

1 – Introduction

1.1 – Abstract

The Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has officially allotted the plot measuring about 35,000 sq. mt. (8.64 acres) located at Gandhari Area1, having an approximate geological address as 19°15’32.9″N 73°08’11.2″E to the University of Mumbai for the construction of its sub-centre.1 Proposed site is at proximity to the main road, thus making it convenient for staff & students; also Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Transport (KDMT) buses adds to the comfort. Although the proposed site is about 4 kms away from the Kalyan railway station (nearest) but it is expedient for a person residing at the neighbouring areas as compared to the University of Mumbai – Fort / Kalina. The site is surrounded by 20 mt road on two sides & 9 mt road on other two sides with open spaces & a few residential buildings.

For case study; the Fort Campus, the Kalina Campus, the Ratnagiri Campus (Sub-Centre) & the Friendship Centre at Bangladesh are taken into consideration.

University :

A university is an institution of higher education & research which grants academic degree(s) in variety of subjects. It is a corporation that provides undergraduate, graduate, post graduate & doctorate education.2

In India, there are universities privately headed as well as headed by the central or state government.

The following are a few types of universities :-

Central University – These are established by act of parliament & are under the purview of Department of Higher Education, Government of India. There are about 42 Central Universities.

State University – They are sun by the state government & are established by respective state legislative act. There are about 274 State Universities of which about 170 receive central assistance.

Deemed University – It is a status of autonomy granted by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, on the advice of the UGC, under section 3 of UGC Act, 1956. There are about 130 Deemed Universities.

Private University – They can grant degree(s) but are not allowed to have off-campus affiliated colleges. There are about 85 Private Universities.

Autonomous University – They are under the administrative control of the Department of Higher Education.3

1.2 – Background Study 4

In accordance with “Wood’s despatch”, drafted by Sir Charles Wood in 1854, The University of Bombay (Mumbai) was established in 1857 after presentation of a petition from the Bombay Association to the British colonial government in India. The University of Mumbai was modelled on similar universities in the United Kingdom, specifically the University of London. The first departments established were the Faculty of Arts at Elphinstone College in 1835 and the Faculty of Medicine at Grant Medical College in 1845. Both colleges existed before the university was founded and surrendered their degree-granting privileges to the university. The first degrees awarded in 1862 were Bachelor of Arts and Licentiate in Medicine. Initially, the Town Hall in Mumbai was used as the university’s offices.

Until 1904, the university only conducted examinations, awarded affiliations to colleges, developed curricula and produced guidelines for colleges developing curricula. Teaching departments, research disciplines and post-graduate courses were introduced from 1904 and several additional departments were established. After India achieved independence in 1947, the functions and powers of the university were re-organised under The Bombay University Act of 1953. The name of the University was changed from University of Bombay to University of Mumbai in 1996. In 1949, student enrolment was 42,272 with 80 affiliated colleges. By 1975, these numbers had grown to 156,190 and 114 respectively.

1.3 – Justification

There are currently 711 colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai & a total number of 5,49,532 students have enrolled till date.5 These numbers are increasing rapidly due to privatisation of higher education & an additional 200 – 250 colleges are required in the coming years planned.6 With this we can estimate its growth rate & size. Also, it would prove helpful to the academic community in this region (Kalyan) & other neighbouring regions or regions far away from Mumbai but comparatively closer to Kalyan for university related work or query as it would no longer be required to travel all the way to its main centre.

Additionally, it would cater to the needs of the academic community like documentations & can initiate Central Assessment Program for professors. This proposed area is about 8 acres & would be administrated by an officer of the rank of Assistant Registrar. Such sub-centre would prove beneficial to a large number of students in this region (Kalyan) & other neighbouring regions or regions far away from Mumbai but comparatively closer to Kalyan, as it would reduce travel time.

Along with the benefits gained by academic community in Kalyan & other neighbouring regions or regions far away from Mumbai but comparatively closer to Kalyan, it would be helpful to the main centre also, since a sizeable amount of load would be transferred here. This would also lead to decentralisation & such decentralisation would prove fruitful in terms of work efficiency & administration. As a result, the overall productivity would increase & would give rise to new opportunities in the academic s

Considering these & various other elements the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has officially allotted the plot to the University of Mumbai for the construction of its sub-centre, measuring about 35,000 sq. mt. (8.64 acres) located at Gandhari Area,7 it is at a close proximity to the main road & thus, making it in a convenient zone.

1.4 – Aims & Objectives

The main aim & objectives of the Institute are:

To provide facilities of higher education to the working population, women and adults, who wish to upgrade their education or acquire knowledge in various disciplines.

To provide education for poor and such other people who cannot attend regular face

to face class room teaching.

3. To help the Students upgrade educational qualification, for academic achievements in the process of lifelong education.

4. To develop education as a lifelong activity so that the individual can refresh his/her

knowledge or can acquire knowledge in new areas.

1.5 – Scope & Methodology

The following are the scopes of this topic :

To position institute as a premier institute responsive to emerging needs of learners by providing education for all.

To produce high quality graduates and contribute towards sustainable development of the university by supporting creation of excellence in teaching, learning and research.

The institute shall strive to promote innovative strategies for creation and dissemination of knowledge using available media and technologies so that university graduates acquire relevant capabilities to contribute with diligence to national development and global knowledge pool through their caliber, professionalism, value system and sense of service.

This will be achieved by providing high quality self learning materials with extensive learner support services and to take education to the unreached and promote community participation for local development.


2 – Case Studies

2.1 – List of identified Case Studies & Justifications :

The following are the case studies incorporated in this dissertation :

University of Mumbai, Fort – To study the administration & work hierarchy.

University of Mumbai, Kalina – To study the spaces & area differentiation.

University of Mumbai Sub-Centre, Ratnagiri – To study the spaces & area differentiation.

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Bangladesh) – To study designs, aesthetics, working & details having architectural importance.

2.2 – Case Study 1

University of Mumbai, Fort :

The main campus is at Fort, near the southern end of the city of Mumbai. It houses the administrative division of the university. It is built in the Gothic style of architecture. The Rajabai clock tower is located in the lawns of the campus. The convocation hall of the university has been awarded the status of a heritage structure. The University of Bombay (Mumbai) was established at the Fort Campus in 1857.8 In the same year, universities were established in the two Presidency towns, namely – Calcutta and Madras. University of Bombay – Fort Campus was one of the 111 first educational institutions established by the British in India following Sir Charles Wood’s dispatch on education in 1854.9

One of Mumbai’s landmarks, the Rajabai Clock Tower is situated in the Mumbai University campus at Fort. It houses the university library. Based on plans by British architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and completed in the 1870s, it was modelled on the Big Ben clock tower of London.10 A businessman, Premchand Raichand contributed monetarily to the construction of the tower. It is named in memory of his mother Rajabai. It is 280 feet tall with five storeys. At a height of 30 feet from the ground, there are eight statues representing the Indian castes, the tower clock is reported to have played 16 tunes including Rule.11 The ground floor has two side rooms, each measuring 56 x 27.5 ft (17 x 8.5 m). The tower forms a carriage porch 2.4 m2 (26 ft), and a spiral staircase vestibule of 2.6 m (28 ft). The Tower, over the carriage porch, has a square form up to the gallery at the top of the first level which is at a height of 68 ft (20.7 m) from the ground. The form changes from a square to an octagon and the height from this gallery to the top of the tower is 118 feet (36 m) and the third stage to the top of the finial is 94 feet (28.7 m), thus making a total height of 280 feet (85 m). The Rajabai Tower at South Mumbai is located in the confines of the Fort campus of the University of Mumbai. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect, and was modelled on Big Ben, the clock tower of the United Kingdom’s houses of Parliament in London.12

The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1869 and construction was completed in November 1878. The tower stands at a height of 85 m (280 ft) and at the time it was the tallest building in India. The tower fuses Venetian and Gothic styles It is built out of the locally available buff coloured Kurla stone and stained glass. University Library and Rajabai Clock Tower above, is unique among the building which enhance the beauty of the first city in India. Rising to a height of 280 feet it catches the eyes of visitors as one of the most attractive architectural features of Mumbai.13

The ground floor has 2 side rooms, each measuring 56 feet x 27.5 feet and a staircase vestibule 28 feet square. The Rajabai Tower forms a carriage porch square feet in front of the building. The Tower, over the carriage porch, has a square form up to the gallery at the top of the first stage which is at a height of 68 feet from the ground The form changes from a square to an octagon and the height from this gallery to the top of the tower is 118 feet and the third stage to the top of the final is 94 feet, thus making a total height of 280 feet. Above the first gallery in niches cut in the pillars at the corners of the octagon are carved stone figures representing different races and costumes of Western India and higher still are figures representing the communities of Bombay State including the Parsi, Memon, Gujarati, Maratha and Kathiawari communities. It is said that during the construction of the building which took nearly 10 years, not a single accident occurred despite the hazardous heights.

2.3 – Case Study 2

University of Mumbai, Kalina :

A large campus is situated in Kalina, Santacruz in suburban Mumbai. Much of its
230 acre area (9,30,000 m2) is reserved for the development of future disciplines. It has on-campus graduate training and research centres. Several departments offering courses in the streams of here. Science, technology. commerce and humanities are located; however, all colleges of engineering affiliated to the University of Mumbai are privately-owned. The university does not have an engineering department and department of medicine of its own.

An indicative list of centres and institutes located in the Kalina Campus National Centre for nano-sciences and nanotechnology- a research facility department of biophysics, the only department of its kind in western India  – Jawaharlal Nehru Library Examination House, also known as Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Bhavan. It houses the office of the Controller of Examinations, Garware Institute of Career Education & Development.

It offers various courses including one in medical transcription and management courses like Agriculture, Business Management, Pharma Management and Tourism Management. MUST FM, the campus radio station of the university operates from here at 107.8 MHz frequency.

Modulation Alkesh Dinesh Mody Numismatic Museum displays currency from different parts of the world and belonging to various periods of time. Alkesh Dinesh Mody Institute for Financial & Management Studies (ADMI) is Mumbai University’s Department college, second after Jamnalal Bajaj Institute for Management Studies with their BMS, MFSM and MMS programme Department of Extra Mural Studies. It conducts weekend courses in many disciplines including astronomy, astrophysics, plant and animal taxonomy, hobby robotics and hobby electronics. The Institute of Distance Education (DE) offers distance learning courses in humanities, sciences, commerce, computer science and information technology Western Regional Instrumentation Centre (WRIC) is a research and training facility for Instrumentation Engineering and Science Centre for African Studies Centre for Eurasian Studies Rose garden featuring over a hundred varieties of roses. Marathi Bhasha Bhavan-Centre for learning the Marathi language conducts academic activities and cultural activities associated with the language. 

The following divisions are incorporated in this campus :

1. Sports Complex

2. Play Ground

3. Staff Housing

4. Ayurvedic Department

5. Botanical Garden

6. Boys Hostel

7. Guest House

8. Auditorium

9. Jawaharlal Nehru Library

10. Institute Of Distance Education

11. Marathi Bhasha Bhavan

12. Printing Press

13. Hostel Staff

Jawaharlal Nehru Library (JNL) at Vidyanagari is built on modern architectural principles of modular construction. The collection here is divided into social sciences; pure and applied sciences and humanities; separate stacking and reading rooms for these collections facilitate easy access.

The central library – Jawaharlal Nehru Library (JNL) is located in the campus at Kalina. It houses 8,50,000 books, documents and scientific journals, thesis, encyclopaedias, along with over 30,000 microfilms and over 1,200 rare manuscripts, international monetary fund reports, census records and several hundreds of e-journals. The library catalogue is computerised. Most books in the library are on topics of basic sciences, social sciences and behavioural sciences.15

2.4 – Case Study 3

University of Mumbai Sub-Centre, Ratnagiri :

Visualising the need to cater academic and administrative services to the students of Konkan region, the University of Mumbai initiated an administrative sub-centre at Ratnagiri on September 5, 1989.16 Initially the main purpose of the sub-centre was to decentralise some of the student services. Due to the constraint of space, expansion of student services as also introduction of courses could not be realised. Initially, the sub-centre was located in the premises of a B.Ed. College near bus stand. Later, it was shifted to Gogate – Joglekar College. A few Diploma courses were initiated from here. The academic activities of the sub-centre began when the it was shifted to Thibaw Palace and were inaugurated at the hands of Hon’ble Shri. Manohar Joshi, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra on June 10, 1997.17

Beginning with the academic year 1997-98, all the student services and some necessary based academic courses were offered by the University from the sub-centre. The University of Mumbai subsequently acquired 13 acres of land for sub-centre at plot no. P-61, MIDC, Mirjole (Ratnagiri) and shifted its base into its own premises.18

Ratnagiri District is a paradise untouched by new culture It is a land as beautiful as its people who are simple, soft spoken, easy going and hospitable. Adventurous travellers, holidaymakers and nature lovers are drawn to this beautiful paradise. The scenery of this District has been shaped by a partnership of geography and civilisation. It has green hills, deep valleys, and emerald green paddy fields. There are a number of stunning beaches also. There is something special for everyone to enjoy and discover. It has its own specialty of summer fruits like Alphonso mango, Kokum Jackfruit, Cashew-nut, Jamun.etc. There is a regional speciality-Konkani food, made from rice, fish and coconut. It has a wide variety of wild-life, vegetation and birds.

The Ratnagiri district covers an area of 8208 sq. km.19 Weather of Ratnagiri fluctuates between 15 degrees to 33 degrees.20 Sea Breeze is enjoyable nearly throughout the year. Distance : From Mumbai (via Chiplun): 325 km; From Pune (via Chiplun) 345 km.21 General Information: Population – 15,44,057 (1991 census).22

Climate : Tropical Clothing – Cotton Clothes.23

The Experience : The campus involves not only the visible, physical and measurable system but also directly expresses and supports invisible, psychological and immeasurable systems of human interactions. The spatial experience within through the nuances of light and shade evokes inspiration. The journey within establishes a relation between the learning and living environment. The courts provides interactive nodes to the faculty and the students. Subtle variations of light modulations of ambient air and changing vistas evolve an emotion between the user and the space. The supporting vertical member extended through the entrance canopy terminates into a clock which reminds of the Rajabai Clock Tower at University of Mumbai – built in 1857.

The Centre aspires to create an academic Environment which offers to its students, an opportunity to interact amongst themselves beyond the formal teaching and learning spaces and contributes towards the overall development of the personality of the students. The essence of education is the transmission of values reflected in the Campus, the truthiness in the use of the form material and details organisation built and unbuilt spaces Architect Style, Nashik has designed the Campus.

Site Strategy : Architecturally, the site strategy has resulted in the evolution of series of courts along the axis parallel to  the south-west of the site. These courts give identity to each cluster. The buildings comprising the clusters are the means of definition for these courts and are either standing free, partially or fully engaged into the fabric of the centres giving spatial and programmatic meaning. The Project follows phasing closely and is designed so that each court will be completed within a single phase of the construction. Each of the clusters can function independently or in concert with the others.

For symbolic reasons the theatre and the library are free standing buildings. The Library maintains its figurative and literal distance to assert its importance and imply its position of the knowledge centre as a whole. The unity of spaces and variety of court sizes and types attempt to spatially express the inclusive nature of the centre joins its institution in the single task of preserving and promoting education. The clock tower and use of local material indigenously symbolically transforming the Mumbai University sub-centre into an emblem of the city.

Existing Infrastructure : The current infrastructure available at the sub-centre comprises of one of the several blocks that are designed for the campus. The Academic Block, as it is called is utilised in the following manner :-

Guest Rooms, Four Lecture Halls, One Store Room, One Working Office for Adjunct Professors, One Common Instrumentation Facility, One Auditorium, One Laboratory for Chemistry Students, Two Laboratory for Environmental Sciences Students, One Library-cum-Reading Hall.

 Academic Facilities : At present the Ratnagiri sub-centre possesses oldest academic infrastructure comprising of M.Sc laboratories and some common research facilities include facilities for conducting independent research besides the routine practical work that is done by the post-graduate students of organic chemistry and environmental sciences in addition, individual faculty members have developed their own niche areas of research, such as Organic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Biodiversity, Environmental Impact Assessment, Ethno-botany, Groundwater Analysis and Rural Development, with the available infrastructure.24

Library : The Ratnagiri Sub Centre has modest reference collections (Reference Books, Scientific magazines and Journals, besides Films /Documentaries on global environmental issues): Reference Books – 4000; Journals – 46; DVDs – 250; News Paper -5.25

Accommodation: The Plan for establishment each for boys and girls has been approved and of the two Hostels (One construction work relating to the same would commence once necessary funds are made available by appropriate authorities.) The city of Ratnagiri as well as the villages adjoining the MIDC where the Ratnagiri sub-centre is situated (within the Mirjole Gram Panchayat zone) cater to the needs of outstation students (both boys and girls) who get a decent accommodation (as paying guests / independent flats) at much reasonable costs. 

Proposed Development Of Ratnagiri Sub-Centre : Phasing Incorporated in the development of proposal of Ratnagiri Campus is the strategy for phasing construction, which hence proposes three distinct phases. The construction is from administration as early as possible to minimise disturbance and covered corridors to have direct access to individual clusters in turn giving protection from heavy rainfall.

The building progress of the centre would move in relatively complete  increments since the court’s associated with each phase would be substantially finished in sequence annexed to move away. During Phase I, administrative block was constructed which is currently housing all the academic and administrative activities of sub-centre. The Phase Il is likely to be commenced as soon as appropriate allocation of funds is made.

Phase II : The Phase II would begin with academic cluster. One block – hostel phase, one block – Warden’s Quarters (One of the Warden’s Quarters shall function as guest house till the completion of final phase.)

Phase III (a) : The third Phase shall consist of academic cluster. One block – hostel phase, one block – library-cum-resource centre, director’s residence, theatre complex, guest houses. This phase shall also include development of outdoor areas like knowledge kund, parking and drop off areas – thus giving a finished touch to the academic and hostel clusters. 

Phase III (b) : This part of the third phase of construction would consist of theatre complex, and guest houses. On completion of both parts of Phase II, in turn after completion of construction phase of the sub-centre as a whole, the symbolic front door of the campus will be opened.26

2.5 – Case Study 4

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha (Bangladesh) :

Introduction :

The Friendship Centre is a training facility for a non-governmental organisation in the flatlands of rural, northern Bangladesh, near the Brahmaputra-Jamuna River. Friendship has done transformative work in the region and the people who are trained here live in the floodplains of the river, on land that floods almost annually, and on sandbars that are destroyed every time the river is in spate.

To build on this site with a conventional building, (earth- fill, foundations and raising the building by 2.4 metres, the level necessary to prevent flooding) would have required three-quarters of the budget. The architect, Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury, chose then to build directly on the low land and protect the entire site with an embankment which could be built and maintained for much less. In response to financial constraints, The architect articulates an architecture of the essential – the basic and fundamental are at the core of this design process and at the centre of the lives of the people the building serves. So within the extreme limitations of means there is a search for what he describes as the “luxury of light and shadows, of the economy and generosity of small spaces, and the joy of movement and discovery”.

Contextual Information :

(i) Brief historical background –

Bangladesh is geographically situated in the delta of the Ganges-Brahmaputra river system and though there are hilly topographies within the territory, a majority of the country is in the deltaic basin. To understand the quantity of fresh water in this landscape, here are some astounding figures – one- fifth to one-third of the entire surface area of Bangladesh is covered in water during the monsoon (June – September), and often half of the country is underwater during floods. There are 58 rivers in this country. The relationship of land to water is continuously negotiated, both in nature and in man-made interventions, which is something that becomes very apparent when you are there, especially in the rural terrain.

The people of this region, in the flood plains of the mighty Brahmaputra-Jamuna River, are extremely poor as there isn’t much economic sustenance in the vicinity. They exist with the knowledge that with every monsoon the ravages of the river could destroy their lives, yet they stay only because the alluvial soil is rich with fresh silt deposits. They live on chars (sandbars or riverine islands), too poor to have access to a boat, and isolated from the world except when the river is shallow enough that they can wade across. The NGO Friendship has worked with them since its inception, initially to give them healthcare, with the help of a floating hospital.

Friendship was founded in 2002 by Runa Khan, who is the Executive Director of this NGO. Recognising that the broader goal of enabling these communities to improve their living conditions and gain control over their lives requires more than healthcare support alone, Friendship has progressively built its distinctive integrated community-development model, which includes: health; nutrition; education; disaster management; infrastructure development; good governance; and sustainab
le economic development.

There are two of their sites, one on a char, where all structures could be dismantled – traditionally made of bamboo and thatch, but now also of corrugated galvanised-iron sheets. Friendship had provided them boats, started a school, and with funding had helped them raise cattle and goats. In the fields they grew corn. The organisation had started a small centre with looms, and was teaching the women (apparently unusual in this community) to weave. The health centre was a small examination room and a group of women sat in a circle outside, participating in a session on personal hygiene. The young woman leading the group was trained by Friendship at the Centre. It was later learnt that the char will have to be evacuated before this coming monsoon as it had shown signs of cracking, and will be destroyed by the river.

The second site was the floating hospital, a converted riverboat with operating theatres, an ER, etc. There were post-operation facilities on the riverbank, again built with materials that are easily dismantled. The hospital was staffed by local people except for two doctors – a surgeon and anaesthetist, and two nurses who had come for two weeks from France. After two weeks, different doctors would come in, and the boat would move downstream to provide healthcare to another group of villages.

(ii) Local architectural character –

The local architecture is very simple – the temporary structures built of bamboo, thatch and galvanised-iron sheets. More permanent structures are built on raised mounds of earth, on the edge of low-lying paddy fields. These are homes in brick masonry, plastered and lime-washed. There were a few shops, some temporary, some permanent, lining at times both sides of the road. No other structures exist – the lack of government buildings or any other infrastructure was surprising.

Kashef Chowdhury says that some of the inspiration for the building came from the Buddhist monasteries in the area, and the exposed brickwork, stark character and quadrilateral layout are clearly the architectural influence.

The most prominent building material in Bangladesh, in fact in all of Bengal, is terracotta. Crafts are often in terracotta, as the clay in the delta is exceptional. Also, there is very little stone available in the region, and so all construction of low-rise structures is in brick, usually load-bearing, or reinforced-concrete frame with brick. There are thousands of brick kilns dotted across the country, as this is a large part of the informal economy.

(iii) Climatic conditions –

Situated just north of the Tropic of Cancer, Gaibandha is hot and humid for most of the year, with the average temperature around 25.2°C. The temperatures are highest in August, at 28.6°C, and lowest in January, with an average temperature of 18.2°C, which gives the average temperatures a variance of 10.4°C annually. The monsoon is long – again almost five months of the year, from May/June through September, with average annual rainfall around 208 cm.

(iv) Site and surroundings –

The site, like its surroundings, was a paddy field. It is slightly lower than the road, and is part of a landscape that continues in all directions – lush green, studded with small sheds and low-cost structures.

(v) Topography –

The land is flat, with small ponds, trenches and culverts to drain or hold the large amounts of water in the clayey soil.

Programme :

History of the inception of the project –

Friendship realised that they needed a Training Centre to train their staff. Initially their work was in the same geographic region, but as they expanded they needed to provide accommodation for the trainees for the duration of the workshops.

(ii) How were the architects and specialists chosen?

The architect had worked with Friendship on a few earlier projects – mainly soil engineering and designing bunds around villages on chars, to prevent soil erosion. They had worked together on the design and implementation, and found that to get the additional soil for the bund they needed to make a small pond. This was given to the villagers to set up hatcheries for fish farming.

Friendship went back to the architect when they decided to build a Training Centre, and he in turn put together a team of consultants.

(iii) General Program Objectives :

The client, Friendship, is an NGO that works with those people who live in the remote char’, or sandbars/ islands in the river. They had an idea for a Training Centre for classes or meetings, or as a facility they could rent out as an income generator. Architect Kashef Chowdhury says, “We wanted to take this idea further and truly create a centre, around which the activities of this wonderful organisation would revolve, but that could also serve as a place which brings people together. In this way the architecture needed to be simple and bare: a response to the economy of the region, and with a quality of calmness and serenity that echoes the nature of its riverine landscape setting.”

The programme initially was very sketchy and they had no written statement, but the architect had previously done preliminary designs for another training centre so with Runa Khan, the Executive Director, they developed the preliminary brief. And then, after a number of discussions, they finalised the programme that was adhered to and got built.

Friendship at that time was a much smaller organisation, and Khan received feedback on the future needs from her field operations – from people like Md. Rifiquzzaman Pollob. He pointed out certain additional needs, such as classrooms that could have the option to be combined to become one, the dining hall that could have two spaces for times when two sets of training or conferences were going on, and two “flats” for longer-term researchers or trainers with families, etc.

It was the architect’s idea to have the training pavilions, and other such pavilions – for reception, dining, etc. as this helped organise the space and allow for cross-ventilation. The architect says that Khan was very open to new ideas for the programme and listened to his suggestions, but would get field operations to corroborate them.

Therefore, it was a process of interaction and feedback to advance the programme, which took more than six months to develop and fine tune.

Description :

Building data –

This is what was built, after considering requirements, site and funding:

01. Training Facilities :

1 – Reception : 71.5 m2

2 – Offices : 31.8 m2

1 – Library : 14.3 m2

5 – Training Rooms : 328.4 m2

5 – Training Pavilions : 38.1 m2

2 – Breakout Pavilions : 43.9 m2

1 – Mosque : 32.7 m2

1 – Tea Shop : 6.1 m2

3 – Toilets : 23.4 m2

02. Accommodation Facilities :

12 – Rooms (Men) : 158.5 m2

7 – Rooms (Women) : 101.1 m2

2 – Apartments : 74.8 m2

3 – Staff Quarters : 48.3 m2

1 – Dinning : 136.8 m2

1 – Kitchen & Pantry : 22.8 m2

1 – Housekeeping Services + Store : 22.8 m2


Total Area = 1,155.3 m2

ulation, Courtyards, etc. 1,886.4 m2

Water Treatment plant 11.8 m2

Generator and Guard Room 19.8 m2


TOTAL BUILT AREA = 3,053.3 m2

(ii) Evolution of design concepts –

Response to Physical Constraints :

The low-lying land was the most challenging physical constraint as it meant raising the structure by 2.4 metres, which was not possible within the budget. The solution was building an earthen bund around the plinth and then descending in to building via two entrance stairs at opposite ends.

This set up a vocabulary of a walled town – of the peripheral bund, with the spaces looking inward and organised around a series of courtyards.

Response to User Requirements :

The architect had to find a design solution to build within the budgetary constraints. It meant stretching the budget to the maximum, building in flexibility to design for future growth, and structuring the programme accordingly.

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