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VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE | Taleem
Nestled at the foot of Shivalik Hills, Chandigarh or The City Beautiful, was born out of specific historic context. It was one of the first modernist cities of independent India. Product of Nehru’s vision, Le Corbusier planned it analogously to the Human Body, each building was as a part of whole - a whole permeated by an eloquent symbolism. Drawing from this existing urban fabric, our project revitalizes a former District and Sessions court, built in 1966, to create a Vocational Training Centre. The Centre will be an epicenter for learning, across all genders, ages and income groups, for skill development and imparting practical knowledge. Thus, encouraging marginalised part of the community to generate additional sources of income. The choice of repurpose is hence apt to the surrounding context.
Tucked between the local market, a gurdwara, a government school and residences, the plot contrasts with the density outside to a more empty space inside. The built structure wraps its volume in the predominance of brick, respecting the natural texture and earthy tones. The court consisted of two courtrooms dotted with several clerical offices and other small record rooms.
The idea was to design outside-in, providing possibilities for outside work and teaching. Opening up the ground floor and court rooms, thus generated a sequence of urban and free flowing space blurring the lines between exterior and interior. This rendered the rigid structure of building a more welcoming and warm nature. The ground floor has walls only to bar the administration, toilets and storage spaces. Its mixed programme confers on it the status of public space, accommodating a covered market and exhibition area, to celebrate the products made during classes. Introduction of the water body enhances its meditative character. The ground floor, in turn promotes spatial polyvalence, becoming a single space with multiple uses.
A light well has been created in the double height space, which brightens the area and obtains the integration of solidness and void. This again enhances the playfulness of the space. The sill of the windows, with faulty frames, have been redeployed to use as seating spaces. The concrete flooring of the place has been kept intact. Kitchen is present at the rear end of the building and continues into the open area to facilitate Indian cooking. Retaining all the structural beams and columns of the building, the first floor hasn’t been subjected to much changes. The large rooms have been converted to three indoor classrooms with attached terraces, library and storage. The terraces act as expansion of the classrooms. The three classrooms frame the central light well and can be used to learn a wide range of practical professions. The classrooms are opened to let in the cool breeze and facilitate ventilation, during the soaring summer temperatures.
The precious informal outdoor spaces around the building double up as congregation space for talking, cooking, performing and learning, and the extension of the bazaar. It is in this unbuilt public space that the built completes itself.
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