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Indian National War Museum

Discipline : architecture
Program : museum
Location : New Delhi, India
Period : 2016
Site Area : 44,200 ㎡
Total Floor Area : 28,558 ㎡
Credit : IAA
The design of the Indian National War Museum is a holistic balance of nature, atmosphere and built architectural form tied together by the distinct spatial guidelines of Lutyen’s Delhi. This entire composition within the surroundings of the ‘C’ Hexagon at the National Capitol Complex is reflected on to the proposed National War Memorial. The concept attempts to communicate a sense of merit, prominence, significance, and perpetuity long associated with the Indian military.
Being a celebratory symbol of the Indian Armed Forces, the museum will be located at Princess Park along the ‘C’ hexagon. Sharing the same vicinity as several prominent state houses, the building celebrates the hexagonal grid of the Lutyen’s masterplan by featuring a truncated octahedron with hexagonal and square faces. The 26m high faceted void acts as the central atrium welcoming visitors to the museum complex that stretches on either side of the octahedron. The atrium connects to the proposed National War Memorial at Lawn 1 of the ‘C’ Hexagon through a tunnel that terminates at the octahedron 10m below ground level in a raised circular platform floating above a shallow moat. This connection also doubles as an immersive exhibition space that takes the visitor through a transient experience from the Museum to the Memorial and vice-versa.
The concrete shell of the octahedron is clad with white Makrana marble and interspersed with triangular openings that fill the void with natural light evoking a sense of resplendent wonder. The atrium has been strategically orientated with the axes of the ‘C’ hexagon and the proposed War Memorial so as to provide a visual link during approach as well as harmonize the spatial connection between the Museum and the Memorial.
Reflecting on Delhi’s rich architectural heritage, one cannot help but get inspired by the intricate and subtle nuances of Mughal architecture. The design seeks to incorporate this tradition by referencing iconic examples such as Fatehpur Sikri. While the truncated marble octahedron symbolizes a focal point akin to the Salim Chisti Memorial, the remaining Museum references the red sandstone walls and screens as the external envelope. A dual envelope of external sandstone screens and internal walls acts as an insulating skin that moderates the internal temperature during harsh summer months. The flowing horizontality of the mass is truncated by four volumes placed above the structure towards the end of Copernicus Marg.
In terms of spatial organization of the complex, the layout responds to Lutyen’s hexagonal masterplan. Facing both the India Gate Circle and Copernicus Marg, the two primary Museum display wings span on either side of the central atrium. They are connected by circulation core aligned along the side of the ‘C’ hexagon. With a dedicated special display area on the ground floor, one can access the remaining exhibition spaces on other floors through a network of connecting elevators and escalators. Added visual connection within these spaces is achieved by the introduction of void spaces within the display and circulation floors. The plan provides a flexible layout where one is free to choose the manner in which they want to experience the museum.