Sanskar Kendra – City Museum Ahmedabad
Sanskar Kendra is an Indian cultural center in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, which houses two museums, famous for its building designed by the celebrated architect Le Corbusier. The building takes its name from Sanskar Kendra, the first major of Ahmedabad. Despite the construction being in rather bad conditions and needing major maintenance works and updates, the museum is still worth a visit because of its historical importance.
Completed in 1956, the home of the museums was designed in the early ’50s by Swiss-French architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, best known as Le Corbusier, as part of a larger development which also included the local Mill Owners’ Association headquarters and two private houses, Villa Sarabhai and Villa Shodhan. Roughly in the same period, Le Corbusier was designing the urban development of the city of Chandigarh, Punjab.
Le Corbusier’s building
Le Corbusier designed the museum with great attention to the local conditions, therefore adding an array of sun shading systems, intensive planting, and a roof equipped with 45 water basins, each with a surface of 540 square feet and 13-foot deep, aimed to mitigate the hot climate of Ahmedabad.
The Ahmedabad Museum in 1961, photo © Richard Langendorf
Plans, cross-sections, and west elevation
Photo © FLC-ADAGP
The museum, which encompasses a total surface of 27,000 square feet, is designed upon a 23×23 feet grid marked by an array of thin reinforced-concrete columns, the pilotis, 11 feet high. Le Corbusier also paid special attention to natural light, therefore the whole building is characterized by a skillful balance between sunlight and shade, with deep concrete and brick clad courtyards where skylight, shade, and water are mixed in a coherent ensemble.
The museum courtyard under construction (photo © FLC-ADAGP), in 1966 -10 years after completion (© Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith) – and today (photo by Shruti Gaonkar)
The Sanskar Kendra building currently houses two museums.
The Museum of the City – through objects, artworks, and historical documents – presents the history of Ahmedabad from the 11th century, when it was known as Ashaval, onwards.
The Kite Museum celebrates the long tradition of kite-flying, which for many Indian people embodies a particular mystical and religious significance.
The City Museum Ahmedabad, interior views, photos © FLC-ADAGP
Images above and cover © Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith
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