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New building designed for NIEC -

The Northern India Engineering College has been conceived as a Centre for Graduate and Post-Graduate education in Engineering at a time when this field continues to witness continuous and sustained growth. The fusion of the industrial, manufacture oriented systems with the information driven ‘silicon’ technology; has created a vast new range of opportunities in engineering. NIEC aims to be a centre for academic and research excellence in the field of emerging technology.

From the very beginning the architects have received inputs from the clients including the trustees and the staff of the current college regarding the design of the new campus. The guiding principles set out at the very outset were as follows:

  • To create an environment that fosters academic excellence.

  • To design a building with character and dignity worthy of an institution of higher learning.

  • To incorporate measures for the conservation of resources in both planning and design.

  • To allow for further expansion.

  • To generate a design which retains clarity while incorporating complex functions.

  • To create a series of inter-related open and enclosed spaces within the complex so as to unify the built environment and the natural environment.

  • To redress the problems of the physical environment within the site and its immediate neighborhood.

  • To optimise allocation of built up areas, and disposition of functions.

  • The underlying concept behind the scheme was one of providing a humane living and working environment, to provide some relief from the dehumanising, mechanical nature of current technology. However the building does not intend to shy away from modernity, harnessing technology and using technology passively rather than as an overt medium of expression. The aim is to create a functional environment, which could express the formal character and higher aims of the institution while responding to the needs of informal gathering and individual contemplation.

    The architectural idiom that evolved in the process of addressing these seemingly dichotomous demands on space is the creation of larger formal spaces linked to a series of informal yet structured street like spaces that act as the main active areas and movement corridors within the academic complex, to which one could relate in terms of scale of buildings and open spaces, materials used etc.

    On the broader scale, the disposition of functions and placement of buildings on the site was determined by certain physical parameters, primarily the linear shape of the site, the entrance available chiefly from the front 20m wide road and the limited frontage available for the complex since two sides are JJ clusters and one side is MCD housing.

    In physical terms this has been translated into a series of movement patterns:

  • The formal route, used by visitors and during ceremonies leads from the entrance up a formal vehicular ramp and grand steps to a portico, flanked by the two major public buildings in the complex, the auditorium and the library block, both of which form some sort of a gateway through which one ascends to the raised courtyard. The two central courtyards are surrounded by the five departments of the institute and the simplicity and clarity of the massing is apparent even to the casual visitor, the formal entrances to each of these departments is off this space. The formal nature of the space is accentuated by the regularity of the facades. The library block at the entrance is a rotunda and offsets the stark rectilinear forms used elsewhere.

  • The informal route used regularly by the students and faculty is essentially the two side roads running parallel to the central courts. The main vertical circulation within the academic blocks is from the porches off these side roads, as are the cross connections within each academic block. In contrast to the formality of the central court these spaces are informal and active and have a richness of form, character and elements.

  • The services and vehicular circulation routes which abut all the buildings providing for adequate servicing and access (including emergency access) to all the buildings within the complex.

  • The buildings have been designed as compact functional units rather than as a monolithic complex. Within the academic complex, it was determined that the best functional arrangement would be to create a series of buildings that would accommodate the needs of different departments while maintaining a commonality of architectural elements and equivalency of volumes.

    Each of the academic blocks comprises of lecture halls, labs and faculty rooms arranged around a central common space at all levels. Bridges at alternate levels to provide escape routes in case of fire as well as handicap access interconnect all blocks.

    The hostels are designed as a series of single or double-seater rooms doubly loaded around a central passage with the common functions at the ground floor level in the centre. The commonality of architectural elements and materials unifies the complex while each component expresses its individual functional and formal (ceremonial) character.

    The palette of materials used in the complex includes freestanding exposed brick masonry and articulated blue Delhi quartzite panels. These are expressed as continuous vertical elements. It is in the internal spaces and courtyards that the intensity of the spatial experience is best elaborated with a series of balconies, walkways, staircases, and fenestration, levels and planes that generate a rich spatial experience.

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