Dr. Bimal Patel has been a practicing architect for 38 years, with professional experience in urban planning and urban design. While leading the architectural firm- HCP which also specializes in planning and project management, he is the chairman of the Board of Governors of the School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal as well as the president of CEPT University in Ahmedabad. He founded the Environmental Planning Collaborative, a non-profit organization for planning research and advocacy. He has won many accolades along with the Padma-Shri award for many of his contributions to the urban design and urban planning field in India.
The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India established in 1985, Ahmedabad was one of the initial projects of Dr. Patel. Spanning an area of 9,120 square meters, this non-profit institution was designed to provide specialized entrepreneurship education, training, research, and consultancy services. For the design of this institute, a competition brief was introduced which called for an innovative design that provided an amalgamation of traditional and modern architecture. Another requirement of the client was that the structure should not be dependent on artificially sourced energy.
With the view of referencing the vernacular Islamic and colonial-style prevalent in Ahmedabad, a series of buildings were planned of which 4 would be used for academic purposes and 2 for the living spaces for the students. These buildings each had their enclosed courtyard as its major source of light and ventilation with cloistered walkaways to connect the indoor spaces to it. This sequence of open and closed spaces facilitated interaction and appreciation of the surrounding nature.
Covering 6000 square meters built up area, this institute comprises buildings along 2 axes, of which one is dedicated to academics and other for student facilities. These include 4 classrooms, 4 seminar halls, a 250-seat auditorium, a library, hostels, a café, dormitories, faculty housing with 6-row houses and 6 flats, a kitchen and dining, board room, and administrative facilities.
This elegantly designed campus reflects its Islamic influence through its construction style with the exposed brick-and-concrete pattern. The timber doors, the galvanized iron sheeting to cover semi-open areas and the Kota stone flooring is used for its simplicity and economic value. This construction style paired with its technologically effective design produced an excellent example of low-cost, low-maintenance building, and hence received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992.
With the overall linear massing of the campus, with larger courtyard areas as compared to the smaller 2-storeyed buildings, the design creates an inviting environment for the inhabitants. The main courtyard linked to the canteen and auditorium, intended to be used as a space for interaction, is the focal point of the design.
The academic buildings are easily visible from the main entrance, while the dormitories and private areas are sheltered from the institutional buildings with a green buffer between them to ensure privacy. The formal nature of the design is enhanced by the geometrically shaped buildings with equally geometric courtyards.
While maintaining its aesthetic appeal, the structure is also climate responsive. By the use of open courtyards for light and ventilation, use of local and economic materials, the cloisters, thick masonry walls with recessed windows for heat insulation and RCC slabs covered with inverted clay pots and china mosaic finish for the roof terraces to reduce heat gain, the design reduces its energy consumption.
Though being one of his earlier designs, this project is one of the most commended works of Dr. Bimal Patel due to its environmentally sound innovative design with the focus being on the development of interactive spaces and connectivity. It and many other designs that followed are reflective of the architect’s vast knowledge and expertise in architecture and urban planning, land use planning, and architectural history.