Unveiling India’s first purpose-built Parliament
Real Estate

Unveiling India’s first purpose-built Parliament

The Indian Parliament has a brand new building designed to address the present and future needs of efficient parliamentary functioning. Allow CW to take you through the design, construction and rating processes of the new structure.How the design unfoldedThe new building measuring...

The Indian Parliament has a brand new building designed to address the present and future needs of efficient parliamentary functioning. Allow CW to take you through the design, construction and rating processes of the new structure.How the design unfoldedThe new building measuring about 21,765 sq m was to be constructed on a triangular-shaped plot measuring approximately 10.5 acres. Hence, the design team from HCP Design, Planning & Management (HCPDPM) decided that a triangular building would make the best use of the available space as well as lend itself well to the three primary functional requirements—the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and the courtyard.Prior to developing the initial design, the design team studied the architectural language of the existing Parliament House, a Grade I heritage building, the utilisation of space, the facilities and adjacencies, circulation routes, protocols and security arrangements, furniture requirements, the additions and alterations made to the building, and its expansion possibilities.In describing the similarities between the new and old parliament buildings during a presentation at CEPT University, Dr Bimal Patel, Principal Architect, HCPDPM pointed out that the old parliament had a corridor running all around it, then a ring of office spaces, then the Lok Sabha with a lobby and a corridor outside, likewise, the Rajya Sabha and the library, and lastly, a central hall.By placing the offices at the periphery, and the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha within the new building with the same horse-shoe seating arrangement, the formal order and symmetry of the existing structure has been preserved. Essentially, the design team has taken its cues both from the past, the existing structure, as well as from the future needs of the Indian Parliament.The halls in the new building are designed for a higher seating capacity than the existing ones (396 for the Rajya Sabha hall as against 245 in the existing building, and 768 for the Lok Sabha hall as against 552) bearing in mind that the number of parliamentarians is expected to rise after 2026. Instead of having a separate central hall for joint sessions, the Lok Sabha has been designed in a way that it can expand to seat 1132 during joint sessions.The new building also plugs in more offices, modern technology and adheres to accessibility protocols. Consequently, all the three entrances of the new building have ramps, both chambers have dedicated desks for wheelchair-users, and every floor has wheelchair-friendly toilets. Elements infused into the designRed and white sandstone were chosen for the building’s exteriors to complement the existing structure as well as to ensure that the new building harmonised well in the historic urban precinct. Coming to the interiors, the traditional green and red colour schemes of the existing Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha chambers respectively were maintained. However, the designs of these chambers were inspired by national symbols.“The aesthetic theme inside the Lok Sabha chamber that informs all the fabrics, carpets, etc. is based on the idea of the national bird,” according to Dr Patel, and he elucidated that this use of national symbols was prompted by the fact that the parliament is an “institution that welds India’s diversity”.The Rajya Sabha is inspired by the national flower, the lotus, while at the heart of the courtyard sits a magnificent banyan, India’s national tree.To reflect India’s diversity, regional arts and crafts were incorporated in the design. So, for instance, the bespoke carpets for the halls were hand-made by 900 weaver families in 25 villages in Badhoi district of Uttar Pradesh. Stone carved bands, furniture detailing, jali designs, ceiling patterns are some other features from across the country. In their design, the Constitution hall and the Constitution gallery both symbolically and physically put Indian citizens at the heart of the democracy. A large skylight at the top of the Constitution Hall is framed by a decorative ceiling that depicts the cosmos and night sky (midnight) of January 6, 1950. A Foucault’s pendulum suspended from the centre of the skylight connects the cosmos with the earth, its motion signifying rotation, the passing of time, and India’s strident progress as a nation. The floor pattern below the pendulum shows Delhi’s precise location on the globe, and its relationship with the cosmos on the day the Constitution was adopted.Sourcing diverse materialsThe building’s beige and red sandstone cladding came from Sarmathura, the granite for the flooring came from Lakha, the Kesariya green marble used in the backdrop wall of the Lok Sabha came from Udaipur, the red marble used in the backdrop wall of the Rajya Sabha came from Chittaurgarh while the flooring of the Constitution Hall features Makrana white marble.All the furniture, doors and 6500 sq m of wooden panelling/wainscoting are made of solid teak wood from Nagpur. The wooden floors of the offices, work halls and committee rooms are made of bamboo from Agartala.“Sourcing all these materials started 6-8 months before start of these activities at site and wasrigorously followed-up at each level of production because the ecosystem for such materials is not well developed in India,” shares Sandeep Navlakhe, Executive Vice President & BU Head, Buildings, Factories & Airports, Tata Projects. ‘We stationed a person at each processing unit to resolve challenges and highlight any potential disruption.” Sourcing equipment making use of semi-conductor chips, like multimedia units, was also challenging because these have been in short supply since the Ukraine-Russia war broke out, adds Navlakhe. “We incentivized suppliers to provide the equipment in time and made backup arrangements just in case.”Surmounting design & construction challenges Designing through the Covid-19 pandemic was challenging. With the team compelled to work from home, collaboration became difficult and the design process needed to be improvised. For instance, all the design development sketches of the new building were done on small sheets of paper—whatever could be accommodated on dining tables, living room desks and window sills.Construction got underway just after the first wave of the pandemic only to be disrupted once again during the second wave.“We had to contend with significant losses of time for a large project on a tight two-year deadline,” says Navlakhe. To minimise this impact, Tata Projects established accommodation for the workforce adjoining the site, deployed a doctor and nurse onsite who periodically checked the workers and vaccinated them, created a quarantine ward and isolation ward, distributed food and medicine to the workforce, and maintained social distancing on site in the accommodation area.“During construction we had to ensure that the existing parliament proceedings weren’t disturbed by way of noise, vibration, security threat, etc.,” continues Navlakhe. “So, we placed vibration sensing devices in the adjoining building and put up a 10-metre high noise barrier between the existing parliament building and the new parliament building.”Logistics was another challenge because of the limited space in the plot, adds Navlakhe. This was worked around by establishing a reinforcement yard, batching plant, labour accommodation and store in Kirti Nagar. Onsite logistic challenges were mitigated by adopting innovative ideas such as use of controlled low-strength material, pumpable soil, special equipment such as a mast climber, cherry pickers, mobile crane, etc.Working towards a top ratingThe new parliament building is designed for a GRIHA 5 rating.Although most of the features behind this rating pertain to design—such as energy efficient design, water conservation, improvement in indoor air quality, etc.—some construction- associated features were controlling onsite dust and pollution, minimising the usage of water for construction, etc.“We used mist spray and wheel washes to control dust, curing compounds and water ponding in slabs to minimise the use of water, energy-efficient electrical equipment, BS IV-compliant construction vehicles, we recycled and reused approximately 50,000 kl of water during construction, we re-used construction waste (820 kg of plastic waste was completely recycled and converted into usable products such as t-shirts, bags and benches) and we had 4040 trees relocated to an eco-park developed by the NTPC (not a single tree was cut),” shares Navlakhe.Such meticulousness reflects in every aspect of the new structure.

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