Excerpt:Dholavira Interpretation & Research Centre, an academic project by Devanshi Patel from the Faculty of Design, CEPT University, focuses on the building’s shape in a way that reacts to the harsh desert climate of Dholavira, India and protects the valuable, centuries-old artefacts on display as exhibits.
Introduction: Designing an Interpretation and Research Centre for the renowned Harappan archaeological site of Dholavira in Kutch, India, is the main goal of the academic project. The centre will showcase a collection of goods and antiquities made of diverse materials that were discovered during the excavation. Dholavira is situated in the Kutch region, which has a very hot and dry climate. Therefore, the primary objective of the project was to design the structure in a way that responds to the harsh desert environment and protects the priceless, centuries-old artefacts on display as exhibits. The building’s shape was developed using four main criteria that were discovered through site study and analysis: get enough indirect natural light for the museum, maximise view of the ancient ruins from the building, and maximise thermal comfort through passive cooling design strategies (Sun, Wind).
The Harappan civilization’s fifth-largest archaeologically excavated site, Dholavira, was found in 1968. In the western Indian state of Gujarat, it is situated in Khadir Bet in the Bhachau Taluka of the Kutch District. The Interpretation and Research Centre is situated near the entrance to the Dholavira site, serving as both a point of entry and a resource for essential information about the site in the form of exhibitions and orientations. A pedestrian bridge that spans an active stream connects the Interpretation Centre to the archaeological site that has been excavated for tourists.
The Interpretation Centre has the following features: a welcoming foyer, an area for visitors to check their belongings, a space for interpretation and exhibitions, a room for documentation and photography, an amphitheatre for documentaries to be screened, offices for a curator, researchers, and support staff, restrooms for visitors and staff, a cafeteria, and a kitchen.
The hot and dry Kutch district, where the archaeological site Dholavira is situated, experiences extremely harsh winters and summers. The summertime temperature is between 35 and 50 degrees Celsius, and the wintertime temperature is between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius. With only 450 MM of annual rainfall, the area has a hot and arid climate.
Creating a matrix of concepts with different solutions for desired criteria, such as design strategies for maximising views from the site, passive design strategies for heat and wind, and design strategies for optimising natural light, was the first step in the design process for designing the Centre. The building form was built based on the concept of ‘matrix of ideas’, first by prioritising and choosing design ideas, then by superimposing them to create several iterations.
Numerous inspections of the roof structure were done in order to determine the best angle at which the structure might lessen the amount of direct UV radiation that entered the display area. The VELUX programme was used to determine how much light entered the structure for each iteration.
Concrete fins were added after the analytical process utilising the proper angle calculations, which also aided with structural stability. The structural stability of the vertical free-standing concrete walls’ junctions and structural components was investigated. The metal truss exhibition modules are what hold the six gigantic vertical walls together, giving them extra stability throughout the planned interior space.
The centre’s purpose and space planning were done in a way that the largest bay serves as a transition zone to connect different exhibition modules and fundamental utility needs for the exhibition centre. The reception, cloakroom, café, gift shop, director’s cabin, public restrooms, and architectural exhibition modules are all located on the ground floor.
Clay and ceramic exhibitions are on the first floor, while exhibits made of metal are on the second floor along with the auditorium. The rationale behind this layout is that each metal truss cuboidal container contains exhibits made of the same material, so it is important to keep the interior at a consistent temperature and light level to keep them safe.
The main requirement that led to the development of the lengthy, enormous concrete cavity walls to shield the interior metal truss system from direct sunlight is a double-skinned construction. In order to provide structural stability, minimise direct sunlight, and provide a clear view of the archaeological excavation site, fins were built on both ends of concrete walls.
The Bhungas of Kutch regions’ bamboo roofs served as inspiration for the development of the roof composed of Castellated I-beams so that sunlight strikes at least two surfaces before entering the internal exhibition spaces.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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