MAEER MIT’s Institute of Design, Pune (Under Construction)

Project head: Lokus Design Pvt. Ltd.

In association with TheBusride Design Studio

All learning is simultaneous, and especially so for design students. The classroom is only an instructional space, and proves insufficient as a format in today’s context. Design students must be groomed to be people of the world. They must inculcate agility in thought and action and be sensitized to cope with diverse information and media. This demands newer formats for teaching, environmental learning and developing special analytical skills. The project brief was extremely challenging. We were part of a team of architects, interior and industrial designers as well as branding consultants working closely with the governing council and the client MAEER’s MIT. Our task was to prepare a Campus Master Plan and Conceptual Design for the new Institute of Design (ID) at Loni, Pune. The site is located on the south bank of the river Mula-Mutha, on a large tract of land famous by the name Rajbaug, with the actor Raj Kapoor’s retreat-bungalow still embellishing the site. There were three other institutes built by our clients in close proximity to the site chosen for ID – Gurukul being one of them.

The site on the banks of the Mula-Mutha river

The Mula-Mutha

Since the classroom type was to be completely re-constituted, our attention was directed to the open and semi-open spaces outside the classroom. We were convinced that developing these first would provide great insights into the design of the studio/classroom spaces. As a result, the plan was structured about two generic elements; the arcade (light grey) and the pavilion (dark grey) indicated in the plan below. The arcades or ‘design thoroughfares’ traverse through the built spaces in the form of skylit streets, bridges, gardens or semi-covered colonnades and form the interactive spines of the campus. The pavilions structure interior space contrary to their outdoor associations and form the spaces designated for group work. The rest of the campus is ‘found’ amongst these ordered spaces. The narrow alleys designed between the buildings constantly frame the river giving the institute building a kind of transparency and also providing ceremonial walks down to the river.

Conceptual Design

Aerial views of the campus

Sketch views of entry (left), a design thoroughfare (centre) and the workshop (right)

Entry to the Institute of Design

A continuous roof-scape as seen from atop the auditorium roof

The institute was conceived as having two distinct domains. One, for those visiting the campus and the other, for those living in it. The distinction played out in the form of a continuous roof-scape designed to be the domain of the students. While the institute maintained its formality on grade, the roof provided an informal retreat; purposefully kept unfinished, incomplete, with an expanse to encourage student interventions (installations, structures, graffiti) and even providing venues for student council meetings. This roof-scape would also become that romantic space where the river actually seemed part of the institute.

The Foundation Pavilion

The first year foundation course is held in a pavilion, nestled into the lowest contour of the site closest to the river. It is partially isolated from the rest of the institute buildings while also being located at a significant junction of a number of thoroughfares to the river. ‘Here students are expected to unlearn as much as learn’. Two formats for teaching were explored. The brightly lit indoor studio environment is complemented by an outdoor amphitheatre on the roof, both integrated into a single sectional profile. The amphitheatre is embellished with a roof garden conducive to informal dialogue and discussion.

Each individual studio is always part of a whole

The Studio Complex

The studios for the different disciplines are designed as a complex where individual studios are always part of a whole. This complex is meant for the senior students who have specified their field of interest. The focus here was on designing group work-spaces for each discipline complemented by areas of common use between disciplines. These common interstitial spaces are programmed as open to sky landscaped areas, skylit circulation spaces, computer and discussion rooms, exhibition spaces and most importantly informal spaces for inter-disciplinary learning. Each two-storied building is supported at the center by four columns with its cantilevered slabs free for access, light and connectivity to the rest of the complex. The four-columned space is meant specifically for group meetings.

Disclaimer: The institute is being built on a basic footprint only suggestive of our conceptual design. And although most of the institute is recognizably different from our proposal, it is the studio complex that still bears an uncanny resemblance to what we had designed.

The studio building

Skylit courtyard spaces between studios

Skylit thoroughfares between studios


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