Sarabhai University Masterplan

The design of a notional collegiate institution in Ahmedabad becomes the vehicle for investigating the environmental opportunities within the campus typology at tropical latitudes. A fragment of the emerging campus masterplan is developed to explore potentially rich elision between internal and external space to promote academic endeavour.

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A radial arrangement above a free ‘mat’ plan develops, creating a hybrid configuration of two classic institutional formulae. It allows direct routes between the fundamental elements of the campus and the schools and colleges. Legibility is maintained by providing a clear focal point, whilst at a finer grain each ‘School’ comprises a mat arrangement of buildings clustered around secondary courtyards to promote cross-disciplinary interaction.

Real space allocation data of existing institutions reveals that, despite the wide range of space type and sizes, the space provision could ultimately be divided into two broad families, which could be organised in such a way as to provide a flexible architecture catering for both the public and private life of a research driven institution. A generic layer of private research, study and administration floats above a sunken layer of specific space types (auditoria and seminar space) that can be reallocated quickly between Departments.

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Sandwiched between these two layers, the open ground plane provides a fluid transitional layer of flexible outdoor space.

From an environmental perspective the proposition of both sinking and raising the programmatic elements of the campus creates a diverse range of environments activating outdoor space for private and group study. Coupling Passive Downdraught Evaporative Cooling (PDEC) and ground cooling provides a low impact environmental strategy to ‘correct’ ambient conditions to fall within a more realistic adaptive comfort band in high summer.

See here for developed PDEC faculty building designs.