aXis - Le Corbusier Library for Ahmedabad, India

Location: Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Critic: David Bell

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Indian Context - The Ghats

Traditional architecture is everywhere in India - but perhaps one of the most known systems is that of the Ghats. Over millenia a series of stairs and buildings were constructed along the river banks, allowing for easy flow to and from the water. Similar access can even be seen in the countless Stepwells that dot the Indian landscape. In many ways, the river becomes a direct extension of the city and those who live there.

Perspective view from riverfront

In Ahmedabad, however, the Sarambathi River is anything but accessible. Looking towards modern techniques of development and land reclamation, the city constructed massive retaining walls along the river banks, allowing for more land to build on. As such, the river has been almost completely removed from the context, which it bisects directly! Thus, this project in many ways sought to reconnect the river to the people, to bring back those traditional tropes, yet to do so in a way that recognized both the modern context as well as Le Corbusier's ATMA Building (or the Millowner's Building), of which this project is a direct extension.

Site plan

Programming - Continuing the Axis

The Millowner's Building features a very clear axis through its lower levels, evident from the dramatic ramp, which Le Corbusier very intently shows and then breaks. This project continues the axis through to the river. A water way flows from ATMA to the river, however the path on which people travel moves back and forth along and across it, affording new views and moving in and out of spaces, while still recognizing the axis.

Longitudinal Section
Ground level plan

From Corb to Sarambathi - The Promenade

Just as Le Corbusier's process was always about the Promenade, so too does this project seek to create movement and process. The Program of library and gallery is a place where people go, yet the building simultaneously functions as a place which people move through. This movement and stillness combined reflects the traditional and modern ways of life within India. The promenade through the complex also echos the old streets of Ahmedabad, moving in and out of spaces, constricting, then opening.

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