In the ever-evolving realm of architectural brilliance, a paradigm-shifting project unfolded eight years ago at Thapar University in Patiala, Punjab. Spearheaded by visionary architects Sonali Bhagwati and Sohrab Dalal, founders of Design Plus Architecture (DPA), in collaboration with MCM, Dublin, this ambitious venture aimed to redefine the educational landscape and elevate Thapar University to new heights.
Thapar University, with a mission to ascend the ranks of premier educational institutions, embarked on an audacious journey to accommodate 15,000 students—a significant leap from its initial enrollment of 5,000. Recognizing the profound impact of architecture on the learning experience, the university’s leadership set out to expand its facilities, creating an environment that could seamlessly accommodate the burgeoning student population.
“At the core of our responsibility was to design educational structures that not only met the university’s requirements but also injected a crucial element of innovation, a hallmark of modern educational institutions,” emphasized the architects, Sonali Bhagwati and Sohrab Dalal, founders of Design Plus Architecture (DPA) at the project’s inception. The original campus, sprawled across an extensive tract of land surrounded by verdant fields, laid the groundwork for a harmonious coexistence between nature and architecture. The architects undertook the challenge of infusing traditional and modern elements to redefine Thapar University architecturally.
The focal point of this transformation was the majestic learning laboratory buildings—a multi-story edifice adorned with a striking red stone facade. Within this academic enclave, students and faculty discovered tranquility amidst a myriad of green spaces, ranging from serene gardens to lush lawns and peaceful groves. These areas provided a serene escape from academic rigors, fostering opportunities for relaxation and contemplation. The design paid homage to tradition while embracing innovation, reflecting the university’s commitment to a holistic educational experience.
Beyond its aesthetic allure, the campus prioritized environmental sustainability. Energy-efficient solutions and the maximization of natural light became integral components, aligning with the new institute’s mission to reduce its environmental footprint. A noteworthy addition was the Learning Centre—an open-air theatre seamlessly integrated into the academic environment—designed to inspire and elevate the learning experience.
The university classrooms were meticulously crafted to create an environment highly conducive to learning. A tiered floor arrangement, featuring rows of vibrant yellow chairs, ensured each student enjoyed an unobstructed view, significantly enhancing the overall learning experience. Cutting-edge technology, including projectors, whiteboards, and a state-of-the-art sound system, further elevated the educational quality. Lofty ceilings and expansive windows ushered in ample natural light, setting the standard for efficient, student-centric design.
As Thapar University continues to inspire and empower the next generation of learners, its architectural evolution remains a symbol of unwavering commitment to excellence in education and design. With state-of-the-art facilities and thoughtfully designed spaces, Thapar University promises a radiant future for students and leaves an indelible mark on the architectural landscape it graces.
In this transformative journey, the lead architects, McCullough Mulvin Architects, in collaboration with Designplus Associates Services Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, crafted an environment where innovation, tradition, and sustainability converge seamlessly. The design team—comprising Sohrab Dalal, Valerie Mulvin, Ruth Oherlihy, Prashant Arora, and Sonali Nandi—played a pivotal role in bringing this vision to life.
Capturing the essence of this architectural marvel is the lens of Christian Richters, whose photographs immortalize the fusion of nature, innovation, and academic brilliance that defines the reimagined Thapar University.
Today, standing as a beacon of educational excellence, Thapar University’s architectural metamorphosis serves as a testament to the transformative power of visionary design, creating an environment where learning transcends the conventional, and students are nurtured in spaces that inspire greatness.
Location: Patiala, Punjab (In association with McCullough Mulvin Architects)
Thapar University Boys Hostel + Girls—Built-Up Area: 525,000 sq. ft. Completed: 2019
Thapar University Learning Centre—Built-Up Area: 542,000 sq. ft. Completed: 2020
Design Team: Sohrab Dalal, Valerie Mulvin, Ruth Oherlihy, Prashant Arora, Sonali Nandi
Photographs: Christian Richters