Architecture is both a storyteller and a historical mapper. The built elements of the city provide insight into its past. It is an indication of the different rulers who may have ruled over the city. It reflects the materials local to the city. It may symbolise the city’s climate as well as the measures used to address it. Similarly, it highlights the different notable architects who have worked in the city to help establish the city’s present and future.

Likewise, Ahmedabad‘s built history reflects the era of Islamic kings. The Pol architecture in the old town addresses the city’s hot and dry environment, and how buildings were designed to provide comfort to users. Modern architecture in the city celebrates legends like B.V. Doshi, Le Corbusier, Charles Correa, and Louis Kahn, who have shaped the city and its charm. Ahmedabad is a favourite destination for architectural enthusiasts. One such structure is the Sanskar Kendra, established in the 1950s. Sanskar Kendra is a museum that showcases the rich history, culture, art, and architecture of Ahmedabad.

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Sanskar Kendra _©Cemal Emden

Sanskar Kendra and its Vision

Sanskar Kendra was envisioned as a cultural institution for Ahmedabad by the city’s distinguished inhabitants, including Chinubhai Chimanlal Seth, Ahmedabad’s first mayor from July 1950 to August 1956.

Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier created the museum in his characteristic modernist style, with an exposed brick and concrete façade. The design adheres to his Museum of Unlimited Growth theory which follows flexible design and spiral pattern with few restraining walls allowing for simple extension of the galleries and wall sides.

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Entry to the building _©Fondation Le Corbusier

The museum’s structure was meant to withstand the hot heat in Ahmedabad, therefore it has sun shading devices, extensive landscaping, and a roof with 45 water basins. The structure is built on columns above the ground. The courtyard with a sunken pool serves as the museum’s focal point, with an open-to-sky ramp leading to the exhibition halls.

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Courtyard and the ramp leading to the exhibition _©Cemal Emden

The Architecture of Sanskar Kendra

Le Corbusier’s idea for Ahmedabad adhered to his principle by designing a square form with 50-metre sides, supported by a reinforced concrete structure that lifted the exhibition chambers above the ground on pilotis, enabling public space to thrive beneath.

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Plan of the Building _©Fondation Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier envisaged the possibility of extension up to 84 metres per side, potentially extending the display area from 2,500 to 7,000 square metres. Several of Le Corbusier’s key ideas are reiterated in the museum, including the free plan, the grid of pilotis, the architectural promenade, the ramp, and the roof garden, which has been converted into a thick parasol floating over the building to shelter it from sun, rain, and heat. Le Corbusier’s façades include a red brick infill. Skylights penetrated the roof, allowing light into the galleries. 

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Section of the building _©Fondation Le Corbusier

The museum’s outside facades are earnest and of excellent proportions, with little pretence or spectacle. It resembles a casket hoisted off the ground. The precinct can be approached from the road and one has to go through an ill-defined public area before crossing beneath the building to the inner courtyard, where a ramp leads to the top level and an inviting main room. Le Corbusier expressed, “We enter upstairs in a square spiral nave formed of a double span of seven metres between posts also spaced seven metres apart: total fourteen metres.”  Throughout the structure, the concrete remains bare and exposed. Cast from a steel formwork rather than wood, it is virtually smooth and responds to shifting light.

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The Ramp creating a smooth transition _©Cemal Emden
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An insight into the materials _©Heimo Echensperger 2016
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Blurring the boundaries between inside and outside _©Cemal Emden
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The built elements inside the structure _©Fondation Le Corbusier
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The open plan for easy flow of exhibitions _©Fondation Le Corbusier

The Museums 

The structure includes two fascinating museums. On the ground floor, the Kite Museum features insightful displays about the history of kite flying, pictures, and a collection of over 100 kites, many of which were hand-painted by Bhanu Shah, a city-based artist who was profoundly affiliated with the cultural centre. This museum highlights Gujarat’s kite-flying tradition during Uttarayana, also known as Makar Sankranti. This collection has steadily expanded in scope, and it is exhibited at the museum alongside other noteworthy illustrations and pictures.

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A free-flowing plan housing the exhibitions _©Cemal Emden.

The city museum provides an insight into Ahmedabad’s cultural legacy. This museum houses religious, secular, artistic, and everyday artefacts from Ahmedabad’s various religious groups, including minorities such as Jews and Parsis, as well as sections dedicated to the freedom struggle, with a focus on Mahatma Gandhi’s life and the role of Ahmedabad residents in the independence movement, and historical photographs. One of the museum’s incense sticks is among the tallest in the world.

 Exhibits in the museum’s public sections include the foundation block of Ellis Bridge, archaeological sculptures, a 1907 Fire Engine, a statue of Queen Victoria, and a fountain transferred from Kalupur to the museum.

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The rich culture of the city _©Cemal Emden

The Vastu Shilp Foundation conceived and curated the museum’s interiors to reflect the complexities of Ahmedabad’s past. The exhibits are presented in parts separated by low-heightened panels made of wood or MDF board. Architecture models are enclosed in glass, although to-scale architectural components such as chabutro and portions of a traditional home remain free-standing. 

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Chabutro in the courtyard _©Cemal Emden

The Unrealized Vision of the Building 

Le Corbusier’s museum was never assembled as planned. For example, the water garden on top was not completed. The initial concept also called for a social landscape or promenade around the structure, complete with an open-air theatre, an auditorium, and a multipurpose area known as a ‘boîte à miracles’, or ‘miracle box’. This was for a variety of uses, including social gatherings and seminars, while the open-air theatre might have hosted classical Indian dance and music exhibitions. Le Corbusier also planned an open-air platform in front of the building for wandering handicraft and textile markets, both of which are major aspects of Ahmedabad’s culture and the rural areas around it.

Decline of the Sanskar Kendra

Concerning the main building, mindful rehabilitation of the major fabric is urgently required, especially in regions of fracturing concrete. However, the structure has been practically abandoned in recent years, with fractures and leaks in the concrete. The interior installations and permanent displays also require extensive renovations. The courtyard needs biodiversity, textiles, or light sculptures at night, and the water basin should be replenished with water lilies and other plants. 

The fabric must be restored by the architect’s ideas, but the contents and exhibits can be completely transformed to meet current security, education, and tourism expectations. This amazing structure must become the shop window that the history of this great city deserves, rather than a victim of short-term thinking. 

Sanskar Kendra is now in despair as a result of neglect and abuse. Due to a lack of displays, the structure has gone quiet as a cargo warehouse. The museum has been shut down since 2020. Nobody is permitted to access the premises since the building has weakened and is no longer safe for human occupancy. Even though the museum has several exhibitions highlighting Ahmedabad’s cultural riches, it is also an exposition of the architects’ vision for the city and the country. It serves as a landmark for the city, as does its modernist architecture.


A 4 Ahmedabad (no date) Sanskar Kendra – A4ahmedabad, A 4 Ahmedabad. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Curtis, W.J.R. (no date) World Architecture Festival 2024 – ARTICLES2 (cloned), World Architecture Festival 2024 – Home Page. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Jadon, R. (no date) Revitalization of le corbusier’s legacy Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad, NBM Media Pvt. Ltd. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Joshi, N. (no date) Sanskar Kendra City Museum: Karnavati Atit Ni Jhanki, Museums of India. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Réalisations > Musée, Ahmedabad, Inde, 1951-1957 (2023) Fondation Le Corbusier. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Sanskar Kendra (2024) Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Sanskar Kendra City Museum (no date) AMC Heritage City. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 

Sanskar Kendra Museum (no date) #SOSBRUTALISM. Available at: (Accessed: 05 May 2024). 


Shreya is an enthusiastic interior designer. Bringing a positive change in the society through meticulous research and design is her ultimate goal. She is always on the lookout for broadening her design perspective through experiencing and reading with a keen interest in sustainable design methods.