‘ The way forward for architecture is culture. ’- Philip Johnson .

The Jaya Prakash Narayan Interpretation Centre/ Museum of Socialism in Lucknow has been conceived to galvanize broader  civic and cultural exchange  through its public architecture. It is placed in a location that offers the citizens of Lucknow multiple choices of repose, business, recreation, and sports within the International Convention Centre.

Typology: Public Building
Name of Project: Jayaprakash Narayan Interpretation Centre (Museum of Socialism)
Location: Lucknow
Name of Client: Lucknow Development Authority
Name of Client’s Firm: Lucknow Development Authority
Contact Person: Ms. Sharuli Bisht
Address: C-28C, Sector-8, Noida-201301 (Uttar Pradesh)
URL: www.archohm.com
Principal Architect: Mr. Sourabh Gupta
Architecture Design Team:  Amit Sharma, Sanjay Rawat, Dipankar Dutta, Bhoomika Singhal, Ram Sagar, Neha Aggarwal, Shahzad Ahmad
Experience Design Team: Siddharth Bathla, Shubham Agrahari, Divya Makhijani, Prashasti  Chandra, Masood Khan, Anshika Bhandari, Rishabh Kaushik, Harnehmat Kaur, Aakash Srivastava, SourabhKhurana, Vimal Rautela, Harsh Chauhan, Varun Sood, Dheeraj Pandey, Manish Singh

Site Area : 18.6 acres (75464 sqm)
Built-Up Area: 3355 sqm.
Start Date: October 2013
Completion Date:  October 2016
Photographer : Andre Fanthome, Bharat Aggarwal
Project Cost:  35.98 cr

CONSULTANTS

Structural: ROARK Consulting
Mechanical: Sunil Nayyar Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
Electrical: ARCHOHM Consults
Landscape: Shaheer Associates S.J.A. Consultants
HVAC : Sunil Nayyar Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
Plumbing: Sunil Nayyar Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

Museum of socialism, lucknow by Studio Archohm - Sheet3
©Andre Fanthome, Bharat Aggarwal

Together they take their place on the land, defining a vital node and generating the matrix around it. The vision, conception, and design vocabulary collectedly endow a current value to one-time events but stand their ground in enabling a ‘new-found’ institutional identity that reflects the polarised views of communal authorities, curators, historians, and the general public. The contemporary nature of the museum’s architecture takes responsibility for creating what will be the future’s history while charting the current one. Although it celebrates the dogma of socialism and its topmost proponents- Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) as a cultural phenomenon, it also takes on the onus of reflecting their ‘Zeitgeist.’

The monolithic and bold form that emerges from the configuration of primordial shapes is a replication of  the monumental architecture  of old culture. Still, as  a reinvented ascetic archetype , it now exemplifies empowerment. The clean and clear lines speaking of the notion of simplicity as being embedded in fundamentals belie the complexity of the program, the experience, and the spatiality of the inside.

Museum of socialism, lucknow by Studio Archohm - Sheet5
©Andre Fanthome, Bharat Aggarwal

The wedge-shaped museum is a slice of the same shape and size sculpted from the mass of the International Centre structure and juxtaposed with it,  creating its own identity  while owing adhesion to it through an allied program and the vocabulary of architecture.

The gateway as a void is the entrance to the interpretation centre, the silhouette of the grand arch pushing the limits of structural design.

The straight and chronologically oriented journey of witnessing JP is real; a resemblant and synchronous surreal trip is created intriguing, complex, and layered using the third dimension.

Museum of socialism, lucknow by Studio Archohm - Sheet6
©Andre Fanthome, Bharat Aggarwal

The  play of levels  within is made distinguishable for visitor’s elements of perpendicular circulation as ramps and various stairs and steps help physically navigate and combine the interlocking volumes.

The museum within is  an experience in space  divided into four zones ; immersion, internalization, reflection, and congregation . These enable immersion of information, driving curiosity and contemplation, which is anticipated to lead to reflection and assimilation in that sequence.

The rhythm of climbing steps is matched by the visual rhythm of panels and displays used as metaphoric connectors to JP’s life.

The  volumetric composition  enables the creation of bespoke backgrounds for the thematically designed experiences while furnishing the necessary curatorial flexibility required by the typology. Platonic volumes induce clarity into the visceral experience of space while echoing JP’s character. Volumes within volumes add layers of complexity and surprise to the experience of space-making. Internally, volumes interlock effortlessly to bring about the sense of ‘ a collective ’- a resounding notion in the institution.

Museum of socialism, lucknow by Studio Archohm - Sheet7
©Andre Fanthome, Bharat Aggarwal

The triangular shape of the facade is extrapolated from the wedge sculpted out of JPN International Centre. It diagrammatically represents the triad of tenets of JP’s socialism; freedom, equality, and brotherhood celebrated and etched in multiple languages on the terracotta panels, spelling the installation of the unitary even as a part of the whole.

Natural light  makes its presence felt, understood, and valued. With the institution’s introverted character, the facades are blank walls. Inside, its tonality is suitable for the visual spread, enlightening the minds absorbing it and empowering continuously inhabited spaces to ‘ be cool by nature.’ Sunken yards, light wells, and huge incisions along the entire stretch of the steps of the congregation bring in light that has been stripped of its intensity and harshness. The pavilion sits in a body of water in the sunken yard; it seems to float, making light of the massiveness. Water is employed as a medium of reflection; the structure reiterates its soul-searching mission. Water is also a landscape element with an ecological point of making.

The austere expression of materials sub- intentionally echoes JP’s honest and unpretentious character. At the same time, the audacious form makes a bold architectural imprint that is imperative and purposeful- meant to push people towards questioning fundamentals and brave expressions in pursuing change. Since the sculptural building is cast in concrete. With strength being its name, it makes the larger-than-life dimensions appear palpable and moulds itself to permit flexibility to the schema housed within. While the institution commands a contemporary reading of its presence, the terracotta cladding exemplifies cohabitation through its indigenous warm, earthy, and deep texture. This convergence of tradition and modernity expresses the ephemerality and plurality of Indian architecture and culture. The formal asceticism in the use of stark and straightforward material imbues richness and genuine nobility, for, when used honourably by men, materials speak honourably for them.

©Andre Fanthome, Bharat Aggarwal

The ‘skin’ is an external covering of bespoke terracotta tiles- its perforations allow for air influx and ventilation. The dry cladding with an air gap between the truth wall filled with rock wool keeps the insides cool and comfortable, helps cut down the city clamour, and enables the immersive museum experience to be smooth and undisrupted by noise.

The museum is not a container for storing frozen moments of history but an environment where creativity and imagination breed the constant renewal of culture as a force for inspiring collective consciousness.

Author

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