Located about 70 kilometres from Delhi, the Visual Arts Institutional Campus is in the suburbs of Rohtak, a city waking up to its potential and undergoing massive changes as an envisaged educational hub for its youth. The mammoth scheme is not only one of Rewal’s largest projects but also, he points out, one of the most interesting project briefs after the Parliamentary Library in New Delhi (AR October 2002).
The ambitious programme combines state-of-the art teaching institutions for architecture, fashion, film and television and fine arts in a single campus. With the aim of being one of the best of its kind in north India, the project also sets out to build a cross-disciplinary culture of knowledge where students can intermingle and collaborate to expand their minds, ideas and resources. As well as discrete buildings for each academic programme, the 22-acre site accommodates a communal zone, accessible by all institutes and visitors, with a large auditorium, library and conference room along with hostels and other amenities.
The need to devise different identities for each of the four institutes and then collate them in a single setting provides a concept that simultaneously distinguishes and unifies. It also reflects the higher purpose of education where students seek individual goals but can come together for the greater good of shared enlightenment. Constructing a manifesto with this in mind, Rewal considered older Asian exemplars, notably Taxila and Nalanda, and European models such as Bologna University and Oxford where diverse study units are consolidated in rich educational environments through structured axes, clustered forms and defined interactive spaces.