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Amdavad Ni Gufa by the Pritzker Prize Winner, B.V.Doshi

Did you know an iconic impact when an artist meets an architect? Well, familiarize yourself with the Amdavad Ni Gufa by the Pritzker Prize winner, B.V.Doshi. You can recognize the building as white mosaic domes on the ground, which in reality is the roof of a graphic gallery below it. The building eventually became a holistic habitat reflecting contemporary architecture’s social and cultural traditions.

Image source : archdaily.com
  • Building Name : Amdavad Ni Gufa
  • Location : Ahmedabad, Gufa
  • Architect : B.V. Doshi
  • Building Type : Art Gallery
  • Primary Building Material : Ferrocement and Mosaic Tiles

During a discussion with his friend Maqbool Fida Hussain, Doshi suggested creating a partial underground habitat to combat the heat of Ahmedabad. Thus after 30 years, when Hussain required a gallery to showcase his artworks, Doshi designed Gufa, an underground gallery. He also hired Hussain to curate artwork that matched Gufa’s uniqueness. It is amusing as the building is a unique juxtaposition that merges the art and architecture. 

What did we tell you earlier about iconicity when art meets architecture? It seems like Amdavad Ni Gufa fits the query perfectly!

Image source: sabrangindia.in

Even though words can describe the space, you might need a direct experience to understand the essence of the space. However, we shall try our best to explore you to the underground sanctuary in Ahmedabad, the Amdavad Ni Gufa. Join us as we explore the underground gallery, concept, and design aspects.  

B.V. Doshi’s Design Approach

Balakrishnan. V. Doshi is an Indian architect, urban planner, and professor. He believes his works are an extension of his lifestyle, dreams, and philosophies toward architecture. His works reflect the contemporary expression of functional, cultural, and social needs. His experience working with Le Corbusier and Louis Khan influenced Doshi to adopt modernism of regional styles and create a sustainable holistic habitat.

His entire career revolves around Doshi unfolding the architectural significance in India as an architect and an educator. He believes in encapsulating his experience by educating the younger minds and founded the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad. His contribution to architecture landed him the highest architectural honor, the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Features of Amdavad Ni Gufa

Constructed in 1992 in Ahmedabad, Amdavad Ni Gufa, is an underground habitat that merges art and architecture. You can find the building as white mosaic domes on the ground, which in reality is the roof of a graphic gallery below it. The building eventually became a holistic habitat that reflects social and cultural traditions.

  • The entire gallery complex resembles a cluster of circles with white mosaic domed roofs.
  • The interior gallery gains structural support through tree trunk-like columns that resemble the stone age.
  • The gallery merges the concept of computer-aided construction styles to build a unique contemporary gallery to bridge the regional scale.
  • The curved interior walls have paintings of Hussain. In other words, you find him adapting the curved wall as his canvas and creating a marriage between art and architecture. 
  • The building uses local materials and labor to handcraft this contemporary beauty.

Design and Planning

Did you know that the word ‘Gufa’ literally translates to Cave. Since Hussain and Doshi were unanimous about the underground gallery, visualizing it as a cave suited it better than any other. Doshi also derives his structural aspects of the gallery by designing trunk-like columns that resemble the tree trunks within the cave.

And guess where Hussain shall host his painting in such a curved interior? 

Hmm, can you try brushing your memories on cave painting? 

Image source: telegraphindia.com 

Hussain excelled and used the gallery’s interior walls to surpass the gallery’s uniqueness as his canvas. Walking through these caves can be an authentic experience you might not want to miss!

The gallery merges traditional ideas with a contemporary outlook using local labor and sustainable materials. The construction of the gallery complex occurred in two stages. The first included the actual domed gallery, while the second stage completed the complex with its complementary spaces like a cafe, pavements, and indoor exhibition halls. 

  • You can enter the building complex through a series of steps leading to the underground gallery. 
  • The gallery’s entrance is curved, as the entire structure is an interplay of circles and ellipses. 
Image source: architectmagazine.com
  • Interior of the gallery is devoid of any straight lines. Even the structural supports were irregularly shaped columns and had no rigid shapes. 
  • Doshi used computer-aided construction techniques to create the domed exterior of the roof. The preciseness of these domes was calculated based on the climatic condition of Ahmedabad and its sunlight patterns. 
  • Speaking of light, Doshi incorporated strategical apertures for the skylight. These domes had small circular openings based on the site’s sunlight pattern to increase the aesthetical experience within the gallery. The light through these skylights also enhanced the mystical vibe within the gallery. 

Material and Construction

Gufa shined like a diamond in the sea of rigid structure. When modernism and contemporary ruled the architecture with geometric forms, Doshi redefined the expression of contemporary with traditional adaptation. And let us remind, back in 1992, this underground was the first attempt in India. Huge ambition can invite huge risks. Doshi combated these constructional hurdles using computer-aided software’s to curate the dome structure.

Image of construction of Gufa. Image source: hiddenarchitecture.net
Image of construction of Gufa. Image source: hiddenarchitecture.net

The gallery’s foundation consists of a simple floor wired mesh with mortar. The structural components of the gallery are the irregular columns placed strategically to withstand the building load. The use of a minimal layer of Ferro cement avoided unnecessary load on the structure. 

Mosaic tiles on the roof of the domes. Image source: hiddenarchitecture.net

Broken crockery and waste tiles covered the domes on the exterior to add a sustainability quotient to the gallery. Doshi believed in sustainability through regional and traditional materials. 

The snake pattern on the domes wasn’t the original plan, Doshi. However, during construction, Hussain suggested the fluidity to flow on the exterior and directly drew the patterns on the domes.

Conclusion

Architecture can export you to timeless spaces. We may not survive the cave life now, but experiential spaces like Amnavad Ni Gufa can be a great place to experience such essence. With his simplicity and philosophies, it’s inevitable to differentiate Gufa from Doshi or vice versa. As we said earlier, this iconic place where art marriages architecture can only be experienced to get the best of it. 

By Hajara Banu

Hajara Banu is a professional architect, content writer, and strategist. She is on her journey to share her love of architecture, design, and content creation. Besides writing, Hajara loves coffee and often experiments with cooking and organizing in her free time.

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