Designed by Kalayojan Architects
The rocky terrain of Gulbarga hosts the eastern regional centre of the Visveswaraya Technological University (VTU), umbrella organization under which the various colleges of engineering spread all over Karnataka operate. Gulbarga, with a history of Islamic rule from the Bahamanis to Adil Shah and Aurangzeb, is dotted with architectural remnants of the bygone era. The hot and dry cityscape is defined by arcades and domes and punctuated with heat relieving water-bodies, which were the material that formed the first impressions on the architect’s mind.
The layout of VTU Gulbarga was dictated by the placement of the administration building at the southwestern corner of the site, which is far removed from the entrance at the opposite northern edge of the site. This placement was guided by the clients’ request for vaastu guidelines to be followed which necessitated the placement of the administrative headquarters in the south western direction.
The rest of the planning mainly involved an effort to preserve the visual dominance of the administrative building despite pushing it into the background, while simultaneously achieving the required levels of connectivity between the various elements of the campus. This was achieved by taking the approach road from the entrance, past Sir M Visveswaraya’s statue, extending right upto the administration building, without being is visually interrupted by any other built form. This approach road forms a sort of an unintended axis about which the other buildings find their places.
The layout also displays the usual segregations between residential and academic zones as well as between the vehicular and pedestrian movement on site, which cannot be missed in any Kalayojan campus design. The vehicular road, after entering the VTU Gulbarga site, forks out at the junction next to the aforementioned statue, to form two loops each embracing the residential and academic zones respectively and serving each building on campus from their external sides. This helps maintain a pedestrian connectivity between all the buildings within each zone, enhancing the peaceful, academic environment on the campus.
The layout is essentially dominated by three buildings, the administrative headquarters, the post graduate studies building and the library. These are ancilliated by the residential staff quarters, students’ hostels, clubhouse and other amenities.
The class three and four employees residences have been placed on a strip of land accessed separately from outside the campus while being connected to the rest the campus. The library stands out on the entire campus, physically as well as visually, being a centrally placed curvaceous building at the edge of the waterbody on site, enjoying its pride of place as the sanctum sanctorum of the campus.
Functions requiring external involvement, like the auditorium and seminar hall, have been placed closest to the entrance to the site, facilitating easy access from outside without causing any disturbance to internal institutional functioning.
Two most important influences on Kalayojan’s architecture are the pure geometrical forms offered by traditional symbolism which lend themselves easily to internal planning and the guidelines offered by local geography, climate and architectural history of a site. So also with VTU Gulbarga, where pure geometrical forms like the circle and square have been juxtaposed with domes, arcades and screen walls from Gulbarga’s cityscape, to bring about a functionally efficient campus design while being faithful to the city’s cultural ethnicity.
Hierarchical and functional importance is best demonstrated by visual dominance. So also, the administrative building dominates this Gulbarga Campus, with its massive dome supported on a large rotunda, capping an impressive cubic mass. The dome houses the workplace of the highest decisive body of the university’s administration, the senate hall.
The linear block of the post graduate studies building, which curves gently with the approach path striding alongside it, has screenwalls enveloping its longer east and west facing sides, to cut the harsh heat of Gulbarga before it enters the building. The stepped arcades that adorn the west facing screenwall are reminiscent of the city’s indo saracenic architectural idiom. The eastern screenwall turns again to pure geometry, with a collage of squares that let in a mitigated quantum of heat into the building and its various courtyards.
The courtyards, of carefully modulated proportions, not only serve to break the monotony of the linear interiors of the post graduate studies building. They also help to ventilate the interiors with air that gets cooled within their shaded confines. The courtyards offer a visual treat with an arrangement of geometrical forms that juxtapose each other.
A library on any Kalayojan campus enjoys special dedication from its design team. The talking point of the Gulbarga campus too, is undoubtedly the library which, besides being centrally placed, also creates a visual niche for itself with its unusual form. This building was originally planned to be finished in coloured mosaic, along with the administration building dome, again to acknowledge the local architectural influences, as well as to provide an external surface that would reflect much of the heat away from the building.
The semi circular plan and strategic placement of the guest house serve to offer the occupants a panoramic view of the entire academic zone while being physically closer to the residential side. The hostels, being linear in plan, have been opened up vertically for inmate interaction using a set of cutouts which are staggered at different floors.
The finishes on all external surfaces involve colours bordering on whites and brights, which effectively reflect and cut down the heat of Gulbarga. The interiors of the academic buildings at The Gulbarga VTU campus are defined by the quality of light being allowed to enter each part, owing to the profusal of screenwalls, deep set windows and other sunbreakers.
Architects: Kalayojan Architects
Project Name: Campus for Eastern Regional Centre for VTU
Location: Gulbarga, Karnataka
Area: 24,000 SQ.M. (Build-up Area), 17 Acres (Site Area)
Status: Completed in 2016
Architect in Charge: Sanjay Porwal