The Triveni Kala Sangam is a cultural and architectural landmark in the city of Delhi. Designed by Joseph Allen Stein in 1957 in the part of Lutyens’ New Delhi dedicated to cultural activities, it has remains as one of the icons of post-independence architecture in the city. Stein, an architect and urban planner, was trained in California, but produced the bulk of his remarkable oeuvre of buildings in India. Known for his sensitivity to form and climate, his architecture has inspired an entire generation of architectural practices.
The existing building can be read almost as a campus of individual blocks, each specifically designed for a specific purpose and that is reflected in the nature of their respective elevations. A four-storey classroom block is joined by a wall-less entry foyer to the art gallery and the open air auditorium. A three storey extension to the north was built in 1977 which accommodates additional classrooms, artists’ residences and a 200 seat auditorium.
Despite being built to Mr. Stein’s fastidious attention to quality, the building has started showing its age, both by being non-compliant to new safety norms and by general deterioration under the ravages of the climate, where temperatures swing by almost 50ºC through the year. The highly polluted air in the city doesn't help either, especially as the building is situated in proximity to the central business district of Connaught Place.
In 2013, AKDA began the process of upgrading the building, first to comply with more stringent fire-safety regulations and then to preserve the building’s façade, including the signature screen, or jaali. The first physical manifestation of this process is an external metal stair, providing an additional egress point from the auditorium. Rather than try to design something that would blend in with the subdued character of the building, the stair was designed to be a departure from the old, retaining the spirit of what Stein sought, as opposed to the physicality. Fabricated entirely from steel, with minimal vertical supports, the stair is attached to the side of the building on a largely blank façade. Rendered in bright orange, the addition enlivens the sculpture court into which it descends.
Mandi House,New Delhi
Triveni Kala Sangam
© AKDA | Amit Khanna Design AssociatesPhotography by Amit Khanna