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Green Tribute to a Social Reformer

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Best Architecture is synthesis of several elements like space, structure, services and materials. The character of a space can be enhanced through the relationship of the spaces. The feel of authenticity of a space is maintained through the perfect blend of mass, colour and lighting. The structure Padayatri Smarak in Western Maharashtra at Kasegaon on the Pune-Banglore highway is built in the memory of a social reformer from Western Maharashtra, Rajaram Bapu Patil, who follows the principles of aesthetic and functional design. The eco-friendly project is designed by Architect Pramod Chaugule.

Rajaram Bapu Patil was born in ‘Varkari’ clan and followed the principles of simplicity and honesty. He was a multidimensional personality. He became known in the political scene because of several reforms he brought in and ‘Padayatras’ which he did throughout the country to reach up to the poorest of poor. The characteristics of a true ‘Varkari’, which were inculcated in him, helped him bond with people as well as to become their leader. Therefore, the memorial had to portray the transformation of a person from a simple background to a national leader using various themes incorporated in the plan through sculptural, pictorial and structural depiction.

Architect has divided the phases of R.B.Patil’s life into four parts starting from his field work for the poor to his various achievements. The sculpture also depicts his transformation into a great personality and the momentum he gained in his social reforms. It is intended to become a centre of information about rural development and function as a study centre.

The project is set up on a land of about four and half acres.

Plan – The simple, rectangular form is divided into lower ground floor, upper ground floor and first floor. Lower ground floor consists of an auditorium along with green rooms for performances, lectures and slideshows for sharing information and entertainment. It also has an office for ‘Patasanstha’ (a co-operative bank) and dining room for VIP’s attending the function and visiting the bank. Two spacious staircases reach upper ground which is provided by two museums for displaying the various phases in Bapu’s life. First floor consists of a space for Board meetings, a library, the Chairman’s room and a skywalk.

Landscape – A magnificent bronze statue of Rajaram Bapu Patil which is made up of hollow bronze and 10’.6’’tall stands against the back drop of a modern and imposing structure amidst lush greenery. Various levels are created to reach up to the statue. These levels are extensively landscaped. The elevation of landscape is the reflections of the levels Bapu reached through his reformation in green revolution around the local areas.

Flooring is composed of rough, locally available flag stones with sprinkling of green grass in between. Steps are provided to reach till the statue with a simple but boldly painted yellow railing. The flooring laid is in interesting square or diamond pattern.

A beautiful fountain is provided in front of the statue which is lit duing night. Gradual levels are provided to reach to the statue and the building. The mound surrounding the statue is planted with ‘hariyali’ and a wonderful rock garden is created with exotic plants in front of the statue. The simple, straight and grand structure clearly pays homage to the persona of the great reformer. The gradual ascend of the mounds clearly depicts the journey of man from lowest to top.

Various walls of black basalt stone are seen in the elevation against which stand a beautiful monument and a magnificent building. An area is located around the well where a typical village scene will be created. The four way water cascade provided at the feet of the statue represents Rajarambapu’s work in lift irrigation revolution for farmers in and around the area.

The building at the backdrop is a composition of simple semicircle and rectangle with bold colouring and external treatment of facades.

An imposing white arch stands as a back drop to the statue which is white in colour and cladded with Alubond. Multicolored fins stand on either side of the arch representing the ‘Panchamahabhoot’ coloured in magnificent blue, green and brown, the colours relating to the Mother Nature. Green flower beds can be seen connecting the fins at intermediary levels.

At the entrance façade stand two rectangles cutting the arch protruding from it. The faces of these rectangles are treated with an attractive black cladding. The black severity is broken by small white rectangular patterns. A steel railing is seen on the first level provided for a skywalk to give the feel of structure and the surrounding landscape. The arch represents Bapu’s protecting arms and his support for downtrodden. The walkways in the landscape are dedicated to the speed gained in his life. People can walk around on the walkways and get the glimpse of the structure from different angles. A ramp is provided with a railing for the handicapped following the trail to main walkway to get a good view of the memorial.

The transformation of Bapu’s life from a humble villager to an active and capable leader is seen through the large photographs which are hung in the entrance foyer below the skywalk. The designed structure is perfectly energy efficient and in tune with all ecological factors as climate, rainfall and landforms. Architect has given consideration to the climatic factors as the sun, wind and radiation while designing the structure.

The elevation of the building from sides reflects the simplicity of forms and colours designed in unison. Huge windows are provided at the sides of building for a proper light, ventilation and giving an airy feeling inside the building. The landscaping provides a temperature moderation and freshness to the surroundings.

The site is designed in consideration with several parameters of design such as site, landscape, built form, materials and other control measures. This makes the structure functionally perfect and aesthetically magnificent. The main aim of meeting the occupants need for thermal and visual comfort is achieved here.

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