We intend to give back Princess Park to the city by restoring its connection with its adjacent roads. And an underground tunnel connecting to India Gate grounds can be much more than just functional, serving instead as an active space of memory – as a memorial promenade whose walls act as a canvas for acts of bravery and sacrifice. This integrated response between the park, the museum and the memorial can forge a new urban connection.
Museum’s central idea
The museum is a floating pavilion, tied together by beams – with the ground plane left free for public movement, gatherings, and displays of military tanks and fighter aircraft. This porosity serves as a counterpoint to the fortified character of its immediate precincts.
We have avoided simply placing “objects” in a park – instead, choosing to situate the museum and its entrance pavilion such that they delineate urban edges along the Copernicus and Tilak Marg. These ‘walls’ are floating and dematerialised through canopies of trees.
Layout and growth system
The military barracks on-site shared certain relationships with their internal streets and trees. These are maintained by a new and rhythmic system of parallel bays made of habitable service walls. The dense texture of the old city is abstracted such that one discovers an inner world of courtyards, corridors and inward-facing balconies, as one traverses the museum. The elements of the proposal are organized in a sequential loop – from entrance pavilion to museum, culminating in a memorial tunnel that leads to the India Gate gardens. This urban tension with the India Gate is accentuated by a vertical element that arises from the museum’s horizontal “texture”.
1 Passage of Memory Entrance
2 Memorial Connection
3 Green Intensification Area
Architect's Postscript - August 2018
As an architectural practice, we at MADe primarily partake in international competitions for the love of pursuing ideas. We found it difficult to work on the project for the National War Museum in New Delhi in 2016, however. The competition brief contained very little information about the site. Considering how important the location of the programme was, as it was situated near India Gate, it was surprising that urban guidelines were not outlined.
Usually, competitions for important public buildings are preceded by numerous feasibility studies that cover aspects like programme, linkages, accessibility, volume studies, and integration into the broader urban context. In the absence of any information defining the urban parameters that govern the project, everything seemed to have been left to the discretion of the jury. Perhaps the current dispute that the competition is embroiled in may well have its genesis in the flawed manner in which it was organised in the first place, without any adequate research.
Indian National War Museum (Passage of Memory) | Date: 2016 | Location: Delhi, India | Surface: 60,000 m2