CCBA Designs, led by Prof. Christopher Charles Benninger , is a prestigious architectural firm based in Pune, India, renowned for its innovative and contextually sensitive creations. Their collaboration with CEPT University has resulted in inspiring architectural solutions that blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings and embrace local culture while emphasizing sustainability.
Through their designs, CCBA has enhanced the educational experience at CEPT University, known for its excellence in architecture, planning, design, and management.
The firm’s remarkable project at CEPT includes the Foundation Centre, providing functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces for studios, classrooms, and a lecture hall. CCBA Designs’ expertise in promoting environmental consciousness is evident through the implementation of rainwater harvesting systems, contributing to water conservation, and the creation of recreational areas that encourage community engagement and well-being.
With a history dating back to 1962 , CEPT University has played a transformative role in the lives of many individuals and has been instrumental in the development of the city. The collaboration between CCBA and CEPT serves as a testament to the power of thoughtful design and sustainable practices, demonstrating the positive impact of architecture on both the community and the environment
The project comprises of three components: The Foundation Centre, Lecture Hall and the Kund.
THE FOUNDATION CENTRE
The Foundation Centre stands as a testament in its own way. Though its completion was slightly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre’s formal inauguration took place at the beginning of 2022, marking a significant milestone.
Comprising six studios, six classrooms this center caters to a diverse array of educational activities. The classrooms and studios together can accommodate 300 students, ensuring a conducive learning environment.
One of the standout features of the Centre is the basement which merges with the existing iconic grass hillock, which holds immense popularity among students at the University. Skillfully integrated with the courtyard encompassing the lecture hall and studios, this natural landscape adds charm and tranquility to the learning space.To foster a sense of connection and continuity with the neighboring School of Architecture, the design incorporates ground-level open spaces and discussion areas that extend under the building. This thoughtful approach not only links the iconic grass hillock to the inner courtyard but also promotes collaborative engagement among students.
In addition to its academic facilities, the Centre houses well-planned administrative and utility segments, streamlining various operational aspects and ensuring efficient functioning.The architectural language of the Foundation Centre harmonizes with the nearby School of Architecture, drawing inspiration from its materials palette, which includes exposed brick and concrete. The spatial layout also responds to the surrounding landscape, establishing a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces.
As visitors approach the centre from the university entrance, they are greeted by a spacious promenade that culminates in a striking double-height foyer, creating an impressive and inviting entryway.The artistic spirit is well-embraced within the Centre’s design, with murals and artwork adorning concrete slabs and walls, infusing the space with creativity and expression. Moreover, the exposed concrete jack-arched ceilings pay homage to the traditional architecture of Ahmedabad, further reinforcing a sense of cultural continuity.
In conclusion, the Foundation Centre not only serves as an academic hub but also symbolizes the efforts of the architects to create a space that harmonizes with its surroundings and fosters a conducive learning environment for students. Its thoughtful design and attention to detail make it a remarkable addition to the University campus, leaving a lasting impact on all who pass through its halls.
The Lecture Hall stands to the generosity of the Brahmabhatt family, whose support made its construction possible.
A lecture hall with a capacity for up to 450 participants, the auditorium’s design prioritizes the proximity between the speaker and the audience, ensuring an immersive experience for everyone. With a generous seating capacity for 429 individuals, the hall is well-equipped with acoustic panels on the walls and a baffle ceiling to achieve optimal sound quality. Centralized control systems govern the lights, HVAC, and sound system, offering the convenience of dimmable lights for various settings and moods. Additionally, the building has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, featuring accessibility provisions such as a lift.
The carefully crafted auditorium stands as a testament to his dedication to creating spaces that foster meaningful experiences and enrich people’s lives through thoughtful design and attention to detail. It represents a new milestone in his illustrious career as an architect, resonating with the essence of CEPT’s transformative vision for the city and beyond.
The Kund, located to the west of the studios, assumes a central role and stands in contrast to the iconic grass mound situated in the east. Functioning as a dual-purpose feature, the Kund serves as a rainwater harvesting system during the monsoon, capturing and restoring rainwater, while also transforming into a recreational space during the dry season.
The Kund is an open air amphitheater and student activity center. These facilities are supported by administrative and utility areas. This thoughtful design ensures that it remains a significant focal point throughout the year, offering environmental benefits by conserving water resources during rainy periods and providing a pleasant area for leisure and social activities when the weather is dry.
The integration of this multi-functional element showcases the architects’ commitment to sustainability and their ability to create spaces that adapt to the changing seasons, fostering a harmonious relationship between nature and human activities at the CEPT University campus.
As architects worked on this project, the main focus was on optimizing the design to ensure its sustainability. Design and massing were carefully considered to avoid tree-cutting while minimizing the building’s footprint. Placing the structure in a way that complements both the existing built fabric and the surrounding open space was also a key aspect of their approach. Moreover, close attention was paid to material sizing and detailing to reduce wastage. Prof. Benninger believes that sustainability is an integral part of the design process and not merely an additive. It involves making conscious decisions at every stage, from conceptualization and planning to the final design. Sensitivity to the context and climate was importance during the design stage, and this consideration continued into the material selection and specification phase.
The CEPT name holds great significance in Indian architectural education, and the building that was created had to symbolize both the past and the future. While the exterior of the building aesthetically harmonizes with the existing campus, the interiors are equipped with cutting-edge technology. By drawing inspiration from the site and its surroundings, the aim was to build a masterpiece that seamlessly blends with and enhances the campus’s aesthetic and legacy.
One of the innovative features that were incorporated was the dual function of the ‘Kund’ amphitheater. Careful space planning allowed it to serve as a gathering place for students year-round while also functioning as a rainwater pit during the monsoon season. All the water from the entire campus is drained into the amphitheater, which serves as a means of groundwater recharge, promoting sustainable water management.
The building’s architectural design was influenced by its context, leading to the innovative use of standard materials instead of unconventional ones. To harmonize with the iconic red-brick walls of the campus while ensuring durability, a unique section was devised, sandwiching a load-bearing frame structure between Flemish-bond brick walls.
This approach facilitated easy repairs by passing all services through removable brick faces. The use of locally sourced glass bricks for diffused lighting in walls and ceilings reduced the need for artificial lighting.The primary goal of the project was to enhance student life by providing open-use spaces and activity hubs. The open basement and the Kund were envisioned as new activity centers, while the Studios and Lecture Hall offered conducive environments for learning. Throughout, the project paid homage to the language and legacy of the existing campus, achieving its objectives through a thoughtful combination of design and technology.
To conclude , This project was made with the aim of enhancing student life and providing open-use spaces for the students. The open basement and the Kund have been envisioned to become the new activity hubs of the campus. Along with this, the Studios provide a pleasant work environment and the Lecture Hall gives the campus a new dimension in terms of educational possibilities. At the same time, the project honors the language and the legacy of the existing campus. Design and technology come together to make these goals possible.
DESIGN, C. (no date) CEPT-CCBADESIGN, CCBA designs. Available at: https://ccba.in/project/foundation-centre-cept/
Bineeta Ghoshal et al. (2022) Main story – cept gets a new foundation centre by Benninger, My Blog – My WordPress Blog. Available at: https://www.eastindiaperspective.com/2022/01/11/cept-gets-a-new-foundation-centre-designed-by-charles-benninger/