Architecture Raj Rewal Associates
Jang-e-Azadi Memorial and Musuem, Kartarpur, Punjab
KM:Your architecture, for long, now has consistently articulated a logic of symbolism in compositions through your use of elements, materials, as well as technology. How do you see this emerge now in this most recent project — Jang-e-Azadi? RR: Symbols have multiple resonances. Different persons react in a different manner to the building forms, sculptures and paintings. How one fuses rational and innovative structures with poetic elements and spatial arrangements is a challenge. I often consider precedents to guide me. Jang-e-Azadi is basically a memorial to the valiant sons of Punjab who gave up their lives for the freedom struggle. The complex is primarily conceived as a pilgrimage centre, largely influenced by the Golden Temple in Amritsar without imitating its forms. The entrance hall leads to a series of courtyards, comprising an amphitheatre, the minar, and eventually to the martyr’s memorial, surrounded by circular galleries. For the form of the memorial and entrance hall, I considered Indian precedents such as the Sanchi Stupa where a circulatory movement related to the life of Buddha is an important factor. I have also been influenced by the later Mughal memorials like the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb. I was deeply moved by the Pantheon in Rome, a vast circular edifice with an imposing roof having a circular opening.
There is strong sense of iconicity that you have tried to combine with public-ness in some of your very recent projects such as the Rohtak University, and very much so in the Jang-e-Azadi project. Could you explain how you manage the Adbhuta (wonder, amazement) contained in iconicity and the Karuna (compassion) expected of a public place simultaneously? Iconic structures may be simply sensational unless they have something deeper to convey. Public buildings may symbolise certain values which may have multiple resonances. People come to the minar at the Jang-e-Azadi with folded hands. Young married couples visit the complex to be blessed with a brave child. Personally, I endeavour that the structural element of design itself signifies the dominant symbolic concerns. I call it the Rasa, the emotional flavour, which should imbue the design. The Jang-e-Azadi’s circular memorial and the entrance hall are based on doubly curved concrete shells in the form of four petals which support the steel domes. The sense of exquisite beauty and lyrical rhythm is the hallmark of Punjab’s sense of design as evident in the marking of web-like patterns in woven design of Phulkari textile motifs which are based on flowers and plants. The other source of influence on design was the strong and vibrant rhythm of Bhangra dance which is echoed in the sinuous and dynamic form of the complex.
Project: Jang-e-Azadi Memorial and Museum Location: Kartarpur, Punjab Client: The project was launched by the Punjab Freedom Movement Memorial Foundation, under the chairmanship of Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Member Secretary Foundation and the Government of Punjab with special efforts of Vinay Bublani (IAS), Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation. Architect: Raj Rewal Design team: Raj Rewal, Ankit Bansal, Aishwarya Tripathi, Amrita Halder, Abdul Razzaq, Jaikeshav Mishra, Sanjeet Bose, Ram Avtar Project Area: 31,205 sq m Civil contractors: Deepak Builders, Punjab Implementing agency: PWD B&R, Jalandhar Cantt. , Punjab PMC: Subhash Anita & Associates, Chandigarh Structural Consultant: Mehro Consultants Services Consultant: Gupta Consultants & Associates Landscape Consultant: Studio Earth (Geeta Wahi Dua) Lighting Consultant: Space: Light Architecture (Ruchika Singhal) Initiation of Project: 2014 Completion of project: 2018
Structure, space and light are the guiding factors, both in the Parliament Library as well as Jang-e-Azadi. The context of the site and various cultural connotations create the vital difference between Parliament Library and Jang-eAzadi. The utilisation of white marble for the Martyrs’ Memorial in Punjab is an important element of change because of its association with sacred temples. The other difference between the Parliament Library and Jang-e-Azadi is the dominant form of the minar, which is a symbol of victory against the colonial rule. The eternal flame within it honours the martyrs. The other features include amphitheatre and a light-andsound laser show. What would you say are the key frames and ideas with which we should understand this architectural complex? Jang-e-Azadi is a project for struggle against colonial rule. My aim was to translate into forms and spaces the memory of events that happened during the last two In your journey with contemporary architecture in India, how do you see the narrative, and the architectonics change and develop from the Library at the Parliament complex to the Jang-e-Azadi campus? Life in architecture is a long journey and the idea and values about design go through a certain evolution. Having studied and worked in Europe, I considered the efficient utilisation of structural system and space as the basic tools for functional architecture. At some stage, I was pushed into teaching History of Indian Architecture. Teaching is a great way of learning, and later I curated an exhibition of traditional Indian architecture for the Festival of India in Paris. Traditional Indian architecture based on craftsmanship has always respected and exploited the nature of materials such as stone, bronze and wood, and made no distinction between the functional, the decorative and the symbolic. All three aspects were woven together to create a rich fabric of design.
hundred years, and whose wounds are still fresh. My concern was to create a vocabulary of design in terms of a traditional pilgrimage centre which would appeal to the general public and relate to values inherent in regional culture. Punjab was the last province annexed by the British in India in 1840 after the death of Raja Ranjit Singh. The subsequent wars and struggle for freedom “Jang-e-Azadi” forms the background of the large museum. The idea of the Martyrs’ Memorial is rooted in contemporary technology and modern techniques of display and exhibition. The
Could you elaborate and explain in detail the concept and design for thE complex? As I see, it is one of the most expressive campus designs from you, rich with material expression the play of scale and technology, carrying people through a narrative of courtyards defined by bold structures, and a play with monumentality of scale and technology, with more delicate references such as the Phulkari... The complex is planned with dynamic open spaces which fuse the diverse requirements of the pilgrimage complex. The focal point of the spatial arrangement is the circular edifice inspired by precedents like the Sanchi Stupa, Mughal memorials and the Pantheon in Rome. However, the idea of an iconic memorial is rooted in contemporary technology and modern techniques of display and exhibition. The galleries across two levels are arranged in a circular formation around the memorial which can also be approached independently from a secondary entrance. The structural forms are defined by spherical concrete shells, reinforced by diagonal ribs echoing the forms of flower petals to honour the valiant freedom fighters. The aim of the design is thus to galleries at two levels are ranged in a circular formation around the memorial which can also be approached independently from a secondary entrance. The space between the Memorial and galleries is an important feature where large displays about the Jallianwala Bagh [Massacre] and other events can be exhibited.
create a lively pilgrimage complex as a sequence of three interconnected courtyards, culminating at the martyrs’ memorial with the statues of freedom fighters surrounded by exhibition galleries. The entrance hall with the ticket counter leads to the first courtyard surrounded by shops, administration and a few seminar rooms. The entrance is linked to the food court, a cafeteria and library. It is possible to visit the restaurants without buying tickets for the museum galleries and shops. The second courtyard is enclosed by an auditorium that can accommodate 300 persons on one end and a temporary gallery with changing exhibits. The central feature of this courtyard is the open-to-air amphitheatre/people’s forum. On special days, the amphitheatre would be utilised for dance performances, poetry recitals and lectures. The third courtyard forms an introduction to the main circular enclosure. It has a movie hall for 150 persons, which shows films, and an exhibition hall. The sinuous form of the complex with its fluid spatial organisation is interspersed with three overhead links which tie up the upper floors to the administration wing. The courtyards are based on subtle spatial enclosures which diffuse the harsh sunlight and promote social and intellectual encounters. The circular forms at the gateway and martyrs’ memorial are composed with four petals, inspired by Punjab’s famous Phulkari flower-based textile patterns, symbolising a gesture of honoring for eternity the valour of freedom fighters. The circular hall of the memorial is 40 meteres high with a span of 33 metres and is lit from the top with a translucent steel and glass roof. Another source of influence on the design is the strong and vibrant rhythm of the ethnic dance form, Bhangra, which is echoed in the sinuous and dynamic forms within the complex. The logical, contemporary structural forms echo the essence of a flower. The structural roof in domical form in steel is covered in translucent glass. The external surface of the petals is clad with marble, taking cues from sacred connotations. The Entrance hall forms the introduction to the complex. It frames the views of the iconic memorial and gives way to the minar, located in the first courtyard. The gateway or ‘Deodi’ is an important feature of the complex. Its