Ar­chi­tec­ture Raj Re­wal As­so­ciates

Domus - - CONTENTS - Pho­tos by Fer­rante Fer­ranti and Ar­chi­tec­tural Re­seacrh Cell

Na­tional In­sti­tute of Im­munol­ogy, New Delhi

The Na­tional In­sti­tute of Im­munol­ogy (NII) in New Delhi de­signed by Raj Re­wal in 1990 was a key project in his oeu­vre of in­sti­tu­tional and hous­ing projects ar­tic­u­lat­ing his ap­proach to­wards a lan­guage that was con­tem­po­rary from an In­dian per­spec­tive. A set of cases such as the mor­phol­ogy of towns and ci­ties like Jaisalmer or Udaipur be­came very cru­cial in defin­ing this lan­guage for mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary build­ing in In­dia. And this was worked out through pre­cise de­tail­ing of ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments as well as de­sign­ing the use of ma­te­rial, such as sand­stone. In­te­grat­ing struc­ture, form, and his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences has been the main­stay of Re­wal’s oeu­vre, and the cam­pus for NII ar­tic­u­lated this into a set of a beau­ti­ful se­quence of spa­ces as well as ar­chi­tec­tural ex­pe­ri­ences. The cam­pus is now seen as an ur­ban neigh­bour­hood and an in­ti­mate se­ries of spa­ces — in­ter­con­nected court­yards and ter­races, pro­ject­ing jharokha-type struc­tures, and framed path­ways. The ex­act logic and ar­tic­u­la­tions are con­tin­ued in the re­cently com­pleted phase of the cam­pus. Re­wal’s ar­chi­tec­ture has con­sis­tently ex­tended a set of his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences into present times in the be­lief of a time­less­ness he as­so­ciates with cer­tain ar­chi­tec­tural for­mu­la­tions, and a spa­tio-vis­ual ty­pol­ogy has emerged quite uniquely from his ex­per­i­ments. To ex­tract his works from the read­ings of In­di­an­ness and the for­mula of the In­dian-mod­ern may ac­tu­ally al­low one to read and draw out a de­sign ty­pol­ogy that pro­duces vis­ual en­coun­ters through spa­tial nar­ra­tives, and of­ten the ju­gal­bandi be­tween space and vi­su­al­ity in­ter­est­ing tilt­ing the bal­ance in one way or an­other. A lan­guage of vis­ual el­e­ments as com­po­si­tions seen through cer­tain spa­tial for­ma­tions and nar­ra­tives is the con­stant strug­gle in Re­wal’s build­ings, and in more re­cent projects, his mas­tery over this method­ol­ogy of de­sign has al­lowed him to be more play­ful, bolder, ex­per­i­men­tal. In this sce­nario, to visit a cam­pus de­signed by him ear­lier, and re­cently com­plet­ing an­other phase of it, may ac­tu­ally help in re­view­ing an ar­chi­tec­tural jour­ney be­yond for­mu­laic the­ses or sta­ple la­bels of In­di­an­ness and so on.

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