The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India is an autonomous, not-for-profit institution established in 1983 to nurture entrepreneurship talent through innovative education, training and research. In 1985, a national competition was held to select the Architect for its proposed 23-acre campus in Bhat, at the north western edge of Ahmedabad. Bimal Patel won the competition and was assigned the project.
The project is notable for its simplicity and vernacular sensitivity. It represents the search for a post-colonial idiom for India and uninhibitedly uses references and associations drawing from the many layers of pluralistic historic memory that characterize the sub-continent. It has won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992.
The client’s brief sought an innovative campus which fostered learning and evoked a combined sense of modernity and tradition. It specified the provision of classrooms, seminar halls, a 250-seat auditorium, a library, hostels, dormitories, faculty housing, a kitchen and dining, board room and administrative facilities, besides attendant facilities.
Exposed brick and exposed cast in-situ are the primary construction materials of the project. Besides, doors are fabricated in timber, galvanized iron sheeting is used selectively in the semi-open areas and the flooring is in kotah stone and cement concrete.
The concept of the campus emerged from the desire to reconcile 2 disparate paradigms in campus planning viz. the creation of introverted built environment with internal courts against the creation of an ensemble of detached buildings distributed over a campus and interlinked with paths.
The campus is, therefore, conceived as an ensemble of 7detached buildings set in a lush landscape and structured by a series of open-to-sky courtyards and loggias. The 2-storeyed buildings are organized along two axes, perpendicular to each other and originating from the entrance pavilion. While the administration, training and research buildings are located along the primary axis, the hostels, kitchen and dining hall are organized along the secondary axis. The primary axis is enriched by the enclosed open-to-sky courtyards occurring along it and the deliberate ordering of movement along this axis creates controlled vistas as well as a sense of enclosure. The focal point of the institute is the main court defined by the canteen and auditorium and intended as an informal meeting place for the faculty and students.
While the institutional buildings occupy the higher segment of the site and are visible from the main access, the residential precinct is assigned to a more secluded and tranquil quarter and segregated from the institutional cluster by a large green buffer. The buildings are simple, strong geometrical forms and impart a formal character to the campus. They exhibit a restrained and austere use of materials and the nature of their spaces is solemn and serene. The flush pointed brickwork of the buildings with corbelled bands, corrugated galvanized iron sheet roofs with decorative wooden eaves trimmings and the overpowering symmetry lends a quaint sense of historicity to the campus. The varying degree of enclosure in the transitional spaces creates patterns of light and shade and provides an inviting environment for interaction and repose.
The campus is also highly climate responsive. While its open-to-sky courtyards help to moderate the microclimate, the verandahs, recessed windows in thick masonry walls, RCC slabs insulated with inverted clay pots and china mosaic finish on the roof terraces help minimize heat gain.