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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Vidyalankar Reloaded, Mumbai, India

New images show striking flexible learning environment as complete
From an old industrial structure in Mumbai, to the new centre of learning in the Vidyalankar campus, it would be difficult to imagine a more vibrant transformation than that of the recently completed Vidyalankar Reloaded.

Planet 3 Studios Architecture were unanimously chosen by students and educators to design this 35,000 sq ft space. The story of the design began with the dilemma of a torn decision between demolishing or preserving the existing structure. In a meeting one of the educators keen on preservation scribbled the building out of a photograph with a marker. As the case continued and the decision eventually led to the preservation, the photo was saved as a memento and became the inspiration for Vidyalankar's unique facade.

The result of this incidental moment is a daring and extremely functional facade which provides just that, a new face for Vidyalankar that will elevate the educational facility and ensure a worldwide profile. Appearing almost as though a tiger has ravaged the exterior, a semi-enclosure is created where students can work, rest or play in the shade, the enclosure also functioning to cool the building. Part-mirrored on the outside, the building reflects its surroundings and in turn absorbs the rest of the campus to become its centre.

Not to be confused as a one-trick pony, Vidyalankar Reloaded is as colourful on the inside as it is on the outside. With only the basic shell of the existing industrial building to work with the interior had to be shaped by various enclosures leaving space for creativity in abundance. The program of studies dictated that multiple flexible learning spaces must be created and the building itself was to be used as a resource for the other buildings. In reaction to this flexible units were created and the building was given additional space by the introduction of a mezzanine floor.

"The design language is intentionally indeterminate, almost as a knock on the head to wake students out of mental stasis," say Planet 3 Studios. "A staircase with a railing evoking frayed, open edges of a traditional Indian wicker basket rendered in stainless steel, a slide connecting two levels, game board near the entrance and strategically punctured roof with skylights illuminating the interior corridors, all reiterate the unique nature of this facility."

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

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