Architecture of Interconnectedness: IIM Bangalore

Main campus, IIM Bangalore

Designed by the Pritzker Prize Winning architect Balkrishna Doshi, IIM Bangalore campus is rooted in the Indian architectural traditions.  It is an architecture of interconnectedness that combines ancient teaching methods with collaborative learning, and synthesizes architecture, urban design, and landscape. 

3rd Institute of national importance

IIM Bangalore was the third management institute of national importance in India.  It was established in 1973 by the Government of India to educate management executives that would be sympathetic to the needs of the poor in India.  Pritzker Prize Winning architect Balkrishna Doshi was entrusted with the task of designing the new campus.  He saw this as an opportunity to create an architecture of interconnectedness that would be rooted in the Indian architectural traditions. 

Architecture of interconnectedness

Early explorations included various teaching methods, lessons learned from the IIM campus designed by Louis Kahn at Ahmedabad as well as unique characteristics of Indian architecture, urban design, and landscape design.  The emphasis was to search for architecture that would synthesize these precedents and offer a sense of continuity without imitating them.    

Guru teaching in a relaxed natural setting
Guru teaching in a relaxed natural setting 1

Gurukul, collaborative learning and open university

The teaching methods of ancient Indian Gurukuls offered an approach where a Guru provided education to his disciples in a relaxed natural setting.  The lessons from IIM Ahmedabad included collaborative learning methods with interconnected buildings as well as challenges to campus development due to its rigid geometry.  The campus plan of the Free University at Berlin offered an approach that would allow flexibility as well as growth without compromising the campus identity.

IIM Bangalore sketch by Doshi
IIM Bangalore sketch by Mr. Doshi 

The Campus Plan

The site at Bangalore was on a hilly area in the south side of the city.  The climate in Bangalore supports lush vegetation and facilitates social lie to flow freely from indoor to outdoor spaces.  The institute was viewed as a traditional Indian city characterized by interconnected spaces forming streets, squares, steps, ledges, galleries and overhangs.  In addition, the campus plan needed to be open and flexible while maintaining interconnectedness between buildings, plazas, and courtyards. 

A journey of discovery

Mr. Doshi described the campus plan as a journey of discovery where you would discover new architectural experience at every turn and in every courtyard.  The façade would utilize locally quarried stone with concrete components interspersed with projecting window elements.  Windows on each floor would project out several feet to provide shade for the window below. Such an arrangement offered climate control and architectural accent. 

A journey of discovery.
A Journey of discovery 3

Internship experience

I worked closely with Mr. Doshi in the development of design vocabulary for the campus buildings during my internship in 1976-77.   The campus was completed and opened in 1983.  I had an opportunity to visit the campus in 1985 and gave a presentation at U Penn Department of Architecture in 1991 on comparative study of IIM campuses at Ahmedabad and Bangalore. 

IIM Bangalore sketch plans
Sketch plan and section

Bollywood Tribute

I was pleased to learn that when a popular Bollywood director needed a campus for his 2009 film “3 Idiots”, he selected IIM Bangalore after visiting many college campuses in India. It provided the best setting for academic excellence and campus life.  That is a tribute to the success of this campus as a place for learning, and its unique contribution to campus design.    

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