Located in the capital of Odisha, Krushi Bhawan is a modern facility developed for the Government of Odisha’s Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment by Studio Lotus- an Aga Khan Award-nominated Architecture practice based in New Delhi, India. The project wonderfully exemplifies how a building can, through innovative design and formal understanding, celebrate local context, craftsmanship and sustainability. Today, the building has become a cultural landmark of the state, which is the third-largest contributor to India’s grain supply. The built mass of Krushi Bhawan asserts a unique visual identity with a distinctive brick façade inspired by Ikat patterns of Odisha handlooms, created using clay in three different colours that represent the geographical diversity of the region. The brick-louvered screen also acts as a solar shading device. The project comprises a library, learning centre, auditorium, training rooms, public plaza and a garden while the offices for the government administrative centre have been moved to the upper floors. The firm has shared detailed info about the project with SURFACES REPORTER (SR). Take a look:
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Krushi Bhawan sits adjacent to the old ministry office with several ancillary structures of power in the vicinity, such as the Police Commissionerate Building and the State Guest House. The use of vernacular materials serves as an example of how the government can become chief patronage for regional crafts, and sustain the communities and economies built around them.
Krushi Bhawan thus seeks to embody the idea of truly inclusive architecture – created for the people, built by the people, and expressive of their collective cultural identity.
Layout of Spaces Within Building
It was originally planned as a purely administrative space; Studio Lotus drew inspiration from Königsberger‘s original vision for Bhubaneswar where he saw the Capitol Complex with a host of government offices becoming “a lively point of public life”.
Thus, the architects’ suggestion to include public functions and community spaces to create a building that would add to the city’s social infrastructure was willingly embraced by the Clients.
This attempt to include the building into the public domain has been achieved by designing the Ground floor as a free-flowing public space that opens out into a Plaza, which is an extension of the street.
Congruent to the project objective, the ground floor comprises a learning centre, a gallery, an auditorium, a library, and training rooms. Similarly the roof top has been designed to house urban farming exhibits and demonstration of agricultural best practices.
The 130,000 sq.ft administrative centre has been designed as an office for a team of nearly 600 people, in addition to accommodating spaces for community engagement and learning.
The offices for the State department and Directorates – which require restricted access – have been placed on the first, second and third floors.
A Hub For Imparting Skills
This allows the offices to be secured off, making it possible to keep most of the other facilities open to the public even on holidays. Through exhibitions, workshops, haats (weekly markets), lectures and school visits, these public spaces become a hub for imparting skills and sharing knowledge that engage diverse sections of the city’s population.
The ground floor, thus, functions as a public node that turns the traditionally austere image of government facilities into one that is welcoming, inclusive and collectively owned.
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As befits the climatic conditions of the region, the design scheme for Krushi Bhawan consists of a central courtyard that opens through a series of colonnades into the Public Plaza. The Public Plaza consists of a garden with native Flora, featuring an informal amphitheatre and a pond that cools the forecourt.
The primary entrance pathway is lined by laterite lattices and trees, and performs multiple functions – from a common area for employees to congregate in and eat together during lunch hour, to a place for hosting small gatherings.
Use of Regional Materials and Traditional Narratives
The distinct visual identity of Krushi Bhawan has been derived from regional materials and vernacular narratives, expressed in a manner that is responsive to the local climate.
Over 100 highly-skilled artisans have come together to create a vibrant and contemporary narrative of traditional Odia craft depicting agricultural folklore and mythological stories, envisioned at an unprecedented architectural scale. For instance, the tribal craft of dhokra (cast metal craft) has been adapted to make light fixtures that wrap around the ground floor columns, as well as metal screens that line the building corridors.
The pedestal level and North Wing use locally-sourced laterite and khondalite stone. Hand-carved khondalite lattices provide a sense of enclosure to the Central Court. Similarly, agricultural motifs have been displayed across the building through a variety of craft techniques – such as the bas-relief carvings in laterite along the Public Plaza, which depict ripe paddy crops illustrated in the Odia Pattachitra (cloth-based scroll paintings) style.
In the Central Court, a Crop Calendar has been created on a stone inlay floor, which displays the harvesting cycles for the most prevalent crops in Odia farmlands.
The upper floors of Krushi Bhawan feature a distinctive brick façade inspired by Ikat patterns of Odisha handlooms, created using clay in three different colours that represent the geographical diversity of the region. This brick-louvered screen wraps around the building like a second skin.
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Indigenous Passive Design Strategies
The firm incorporated passive design techniques to contribute to the sustainability parameters of the building. The courtyard morphology and the inclusion of a stilt level aid optimal air circulation through the building, whereas the low window-to-wall ratio and deeply recessed windows and balconies help lower heat gain.
The building profile along the Central Court is characterized by staggered masses which enables self-shading and blocks direct glare. The use of locally-sourced materials has also lowered the carbon footprint of the construction process.
The façade has been designed to ensure 100% daylit internal spaces. Further, a double-skin facade strategy has been put in place at the complex, which consists of DGU on all external fenestration with louvers and sill projections that act as shading devices – a system that reduces heat gain to 40% by regulating ingress of sunlight.
Bhubaneswar experiences significant drops in night temperatures through the year. Taking this into consideration, a simple Night-Purging system has been devised for cooling and ventilation. Through this mechanism, cool air gets pulled into the building through the northern façade when temperatures drop at night, by means of a custom designed ‘low-tech’ damper system.
The high thermal mass of the building traps the ‘coolth’ and becomes a ‘coolth’ exchanger with the surrounding air in the day, when outside temperatures are higher. Consequently, the building achieves high thermal comfort for its users while cutting down the need for air-conditioning via HVAC systems to only 20% of the built spaces.
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Other interventions include solar panels on the terrace, on-site rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment, and an anaerobic bio-digestive solid waste management system which generates compost and fertigation water for the landscape.
The modern architecture of the building transcends the typical closed office campus morphology by integrating governmental functions with direct community engagement and education.
Through a meticulously developed spatial programme, the complex brings the Odia farmers and the citizens of Bhubaneswar into the fold and facilitates their interaction and collaboration. It thus seeks to present with its design and building process a model of frugal innovation that celebrates culture, seeks to include the neighbourhood and is highly sustainable and relevant to what countries such as India need.
Take A Visual Tour To Krushi Bhawan Designed By Studio Lotus
Typology: Institutional (Government Administrative Centre)
Name of Project: Krushi Bhawan
Location: Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Address: Unit 4, Keshari Nagar, Bhubaneswar, Odisha - 01
Name of Client: State Government of Odisha (Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment)
Design Firm: Studio Lotus
Design Team: Ambrish Arora, Sidhartha Talwar, Raman Vig, Sachin Dabas
Site Area: 2 acres
Built-Up Area: 1,30,000 sq.ft
Start Date: 2013
Completion Date: 20th September 2018
Photographer: Sergio Ghetti, Andre Fanthome
Structural: NNC Design International
Mechanical: Sterling India Consulting Engineers
Electrical: Sterling India Consulting Engineers
Civil: M/S AVR Infratech
Landscape: ROHA Landscape Architects
HVAC: Sterling India Consulting Engineers
Plumbing: Sterling India Consulting Engineers
PMC: Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation
Crafts: Collective Craft (crafted jaalis & folk art)
Glass / Concrete: M/S AVR Infratech
Sanitaryware / Fittings: Parryware
Flooring: Somany, Johnson
Air Conditioning: Bluestar
Lighting: Wipro & Philips
Paint: Asian Weather coat
Art / Artefacts: Collective Craft
Environmental Graphics: AV Bose
About the Firm
Founded in 2002 by Ambrish Arora, Ankur Choksi and Sidhartha Talwar, Studio Lotus is a multi-disciplinary award-winning architecture and design practice based in New Delhi. The firm believes in delivering enriching design solutions through a value-driven process empowering all stakeholders and the environment. The practice has been covered extensively in leading publications across the world including Architectural Review, The Guardian, Domus India, Architectural Digest India and the Forbes India Annual Issue.
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