A Stairway to HeaVAN

Semester II Design Assignment

Van Vihar, Bhopal is India’s only wildlife sanctuary that lies within a city. It features an undulating landscape framed with a lake on one side, and hillocks on the other, making the land rich in ecological terms.

An exploration of form, and materiality, the assignment was to design an Entrance Pathway to Van Vihar – India’s only wildlife sanctuary that lies within a city. The Entrance Pathway was to include – An Entrance Gate, Security Cabin, Ticketing Counter, a Kiosk, Toilets, a cycle shed and a repairing shop.


170221 Site Plan Site Plan


Underlying Design Concept

Van Vihar – or the land where reside trees, should be treated as so, and hence, every constituent component of the entrance pathway was designed keeping in mind the same.

No trees were harmed in the design process, and none shall be harmed during its execution.

A Shellfish Approach

A Gastropod Shell, or simply a snail’s shell was picked up as a memento from the walk across Van Vihar. The memento was an essence of all that is Van Vihar – open, yet protected. A transient journey to a safe, calm place that resonates with everything that is around it.


The Design

Image_to_JPG0077-01.jpgSite Plan


A Healing Patch – The Entrance Gateways

Made to bridge the scar that the road gives the hillocks, the entrance gateway is inspired in form from the volutes of the shell, symbolic of the concept of ‘Shell Resonance’. It acts as a material transitional buffer between the city and Van Vihar.



Presentation Sheet – Entrance Gate


Administrative Essentials – Ticketing Counter, and Security Booth

The Ticketing Counter, and the Security Booth were designed prioritising function, and rationale. The Two structures are visually linked to each other, and are easily accessible by both – Visitors and staff.



Presentation Sheet – Ticketing and Police Booths

Utility and Access – The Toilets

Adjoining the road, and situated near the entry point; the placement of the toilets on the site was done keeping in mind various factors including functionality, wind directions, and purpose.

A rammed earth wall introduced to the rear of the building makes it structurally sound, and deals with the shear produced by the massing of the hillocks. The basic understanding of a rammed earth wall was based on the usability of the earth that would be excavated for the toilets. A sustainable practice, rammed earth walls bear load to a high extent.


Presentation Sheet – Toilet Design


Nestled in the Hills – The Kiosk



Presentation Sheet – Kiosk Design

The dull browns that make the hills are generally left unseen by the visitors who walk awestruck by the brilliant blues of the lake. Considering this forethought a window for opportunity, the kiosk was nested in the hillocks.

The kiosk was based on two levels; the first where a visitor may purchase food, enjoy it and leave. The second where the visitor may choose to take the curved ramp and explore the natural plaza that the site forms, or choose to take the very accessible deck that forms the roofing for the kiosk and be greeted by magnificent vistas of the lake.

The kiosk is formed out of a rammed earth wall as a shear barrier from the hillocks, and a light bamboo structure that makes for a well ventilated and lit up interior, and a more natural exterior. As designed, the kiosk nestles in the hills; standing out, without ever standing out.

Physical Model – View

Physical Model – Top View




Embedded – Cycle Shed and Repairing Shop

Presentation Sheet – Cycle Shed and Repairing Shop

With the kiosk designed as the highest structure in the complex so as to provide the visitors magnificent natural views, the cycle structure was designed in such a way that it was low, and would blend in its surroundings.

Embedded in, the submerged floor of the cycle shed conceals the bicycles from the visitors until they discover the shed, a practice of denial and reward as a measure of promoting cycling in the area.

The structural columns have been designed with L-Systems, a biomimic technique for the branching of trees, and hence the structure appears as not a mechanical utility block, but as a cluster of shaded trees.



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