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Vastu Shilpa Foundation

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India-380054

Nalanda University, Institutional-College

We envisage Nalanda University as the campus of the future, positioned at the forefront of global education and hub of intellectual excellence. Equally, the master plan of the campus must be an iconic beacon that attracts global attention for adopting sustainable methods to achieve social and economic integration of the local community.

The location of the campus in a predominantly agricultural area implies a larger impact on the adjacent areas. This is why we chose to enlarge the study perimeter to the surrounding villages. Our reflection has led us to believe thereexistsa need for the university to engage with inhabitants from surrounding villages by opening its doors. A large part of the campus is reserved for development and dissemination of information about modern practices in agriculture and biotechnology. There is a tremendous potential here, and we would like to work with the local people to further define the contents of this outreach program.

The master plan integrates sustainable practices at every phase of the project, from site planning of the campus through creation of infrastructure, cost-effective ways to both reduce consumption of natural resources and minimize dependency on off-site building materials. The plan allows for incremental growth and flexible expansion and phasing while preserving the agricultural and environmental basis of the region.

The intent is to create a model campus plan by digging the university’s multifaces of identity, its belonging, its time.

Planning Themes:

A455-acre campus is planned for an eventual 7000 population. It is composed of three primary land use elements:  the academic facilities, student/staff housing, and campus preserve to advance agriculture as the area’s major economic engine.

Like many historic settlements, the lake forms the epicenter of the campus. After careful analysis of the terrain and the flooding pattern of the site we suggest creation of a manmade lake that feeds on a network of storm water channels. By using water as the main theme, the plan seeks to accentuate the existing pedestrian linkages between the campus and surrounding villages.

The different components of the campus are clearly articulated as interconnected clusters grouped around the lake. All the buildings are positioned along the water networks, thus creating a generative system that can grow in small increments. Each cluster could be developed separately and independently. The balanced public space structure, together with diverse program and sustainable infrastructure systems, create a multilayered identity for the campus.

By limiting vehicular access to the perimeter of the site, the plan enables 80% of the campus to be reached by walking and bicycling. Combined with pedestrian and bicycle friendly pathways, this network connectivity links academic facilities with residential quarters, recreational facilities, green areas, and cultural amenities. Electrical or bio-fuel vehicles will transport people around the campus.

Sustainability is more than deploying high-tech energy saving methods. Fundamentally it is addressed through orientation of buildings along anorth-south direction and surrounded by water features reminiscent of the Nalanda ruins. The campus grid is angled to maximize cooling breezes off the lake. The plan allows for infrastructure implementations in phases.

More than half the site is open, made up of the campus reserve and landscaped public spaces. Collectively these areas help to recharge the aquifers, in addition to harvesting rainwater from roads and rooftops. The plan aims to recycle 100 percent of water used on the campus.

The tranquil landscape comprises a mix of agrarian landscape with rotating crops, fruit orchards, and grasses, andlily ponds, which flow between the buildings, capturing the breeze and encouraging outdoor activities.

Close-knit buildings allowing for creation of shaded open spaces define the fine-grained built character of the campus. The green, water and built networks overlap each other to become one. This network is laid out after careful overlap of existing linkages, drainage patterns and size of land subdivisions. The aim is to create an integrated ecosystem where flow of air, water and energy are channeled inan almost natural way.

One of the most important aspects and a key sustainability strategy is the high-level of programmatic flexibility of the building. In addition to housing multiple diverse academic programs, the design and location of the movement cores allow the programmatic contents of the building to be adjusted not only in terms of location, but also proportionally – in relation to one another- without disrupting the basic legibility and use of the building.

Strategies of sustainability employed in this building prefigure those of the larger campus. These strategies include: the use of compressed stabilized earth blocks as the main building material; the use of soil from the site itself as against procuring from off-site to manufacture compressed stabilized earth blocks; the use of integrated boxes of masonry to achieve seismic stability; deploying construction systems that reduce the amount of concrete used, and the use of thick cavity walls to increase thermal resistance.

By applying these parameters to the individual block, the adjacent buildings can reciprocate the system to create an urban volumetric logic while simultaneously ensuring a spatially varied and visually stimulating built-scape.

In addition to the principles of referential reciprocity we suggest a whole palette of ideas operating at different scales: from the scale of individual cluster to the scale of the campus to the scale of individual building. The ideas include the cooling as well as cleaning of the air through use of selected native plants, use of photovoltaic panels on building rooftops and shading the central lake. The campus combines state-of-the art technologies with planning principles of erstwhile Nalanda University to create a carbon neutral and zero waste campus.

The plan reserves a large tract of land within the campus primarily for advancing agriculture as the area’s major economic engine. It proposes setting up a research centre that focuses on ecological research, demonstrating advances in biotechnology to address the future needs of the existing local community, and fulfilling Nalanda University’s outreach objectives.

The whole master plan in itself is transitional, as it demonstrates the integration of the campus into a large eco-system of the site.

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

ZingyEdit: Architectural water outlets done in concrete, recharging up the landscape present beneath. Weaved in a confluence of concrete and brickwork, landscaping elements are crafted at different places across the courtyard. Sky-walks add up as, an interesting social bridge connecting the insides with outside, allowing the people passing by to interact with the exterior environs.

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

ZingyEdit: Showcasing extensive brickwork, these built modules create a community of their own. A stepped structure, this gives an edge to the design.

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Comments:

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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