Public Spaces

HISTORIC MONUMENTS JANTAR MANTAR AND MUMBAI MUSEUM

MANY historic monuments over the years have become an integral part of the nation’s culture. Today, we take a walk though the timelines of two such structures that have become a vital part of India’s history – Jantar Mantar in Delhi and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

JANTAR MANTAR
Located in the heart of New Delhi, Jantar Mantar holds a special place in the hearts of the people of the metropolis. Comprising of 13 huge architectural and astronomical instruments, it was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II; he built five across western and central India.

1724
There’s much confusion about the year of construction of the Jantar Mantar. A plaque was placed at the site in 1910, mistakenly suggesting the year of construction to be 1710. Archaeological research revealed the construction to have begun in 1724.

1763
His son, Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I refused to pay allegiance to the Kacchawaha kings since succeeding to the leadership of the Jats. Soon after the construction of the Misra Yantra, one of the four distinct astronomical instruments at the Jantar Mantar observatory, it was looted by Maharaj Jawahar Singh

1795-1803
The observatory was mentioned in the collection of aquatints of British artists Thomas and William Daniell as the Observatory at Delhi.

1846
Even Syed Ahmed Khan, the 19th century philosopher, Islamic reformist and scholar, in his record of the historic buildings of Delhi, Atharal Sanadid, stated that the instruments have fallen into disuse and are almost in ruins.

1852
Raja Rama Singh II of Jaipur commissioned conservation work for the most imposing Yantra of the observatory, the Samrat.

1867
More than a century after its construction, the Jantar Mantar had decayed considerably. It had reduced to picturesque ruins.

1909 – 1910
Although negotiations had begun as early as 1889 between the Delhi District Board and Jaipur State, the elaborate restoration project began in 1909.

1960
The Yantra became intriguing architectural shapes or archaeological remains. The symbolic, spatial and functional link between Yantras and the Bhairon temple had been severed. Hence, a wall and a gated entry was built between the two in 1960.

2000
The gate was sealed in 2000 to introduce a ticketing system for the observatory.

2009
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) nominated Jantar Mantar for world heritage inscription in 2010 for cultural sites.

2014
Once known for its historical and architectural importance, Jantar Mantar has now become the unofficial designated protest site in Delhi.

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CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI MAHARAJ VASTU SANGRAHALAYA
One of the oldest museums in Mumbai, it has strived to preserve documents and photographs, especially related to its history.

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1904
Eminent personalities including Sir Phirozeshah Mehta, Justice Chandravarkar, Justice Badrudin Tyabji, Narotamdas Gokuldas, David Sassoon, Jamshetjee Jeejeebhoy and Kikabhai Premchand got together to create something unique on August 14, 1904, in the form of the museum, to honour the visit of the Prince of Wales

1905
The foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales and the museum was named after him. It soon started collecting important documents, art pieces and relics to display.

1909
Architect George Wittet, the then consulting architect to the government, was appointed to design the museum building.

1911
The statue of Prince of Wales, sculpted by George T Wade, was donated by David Sassoon to commemorate the visit of Prince George and Princess Mary of Wales.

1909
Construction of the building began in 1909 and was completed in 1914. The cost of the block and the necessary additions and alterations amounted to about rupees nine lakh.

During, the construction, the collection was stored in the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society basement, now known as the Asiatic Library.

1914
During World War I, the building was used by the military as a hospital and subsequently for the Children’s Welfare Exhibition.

1915
The museum acquired Indian miniatures and other antiquities from the well-known collection of Seth Purushottam Mavji, which were once a part of the treasures of Nana Phadnis (1741-1800), a minister in the Peshwa period.

1919
The famous excavated artefacts from the Buddha stupa of Mirpurkhas were brought to the museum by its excavator Henry Cousens.

1921
The building was formally handed over to the board of trustees by the Public Works Department.

1922
The museum was opened to the public by Lady Lloyd, wife of Lord Lloyd, the Governor of Bombay.

The major art collections of Sir Ratan Tata and Sir Dorab Tata were bequeathed to the museum. The Tata collection comprises two major sections, the European and the Far Eastern. Some outstanding Indian antiquities such as textiles, arms, bronzes and paintings formed part of this magnanimous gift. Lady Ratan Tata donated the furniture for the galleries.

1934
The museum was also enriched by the gift of antiquities from the Sir Akbar Hydari collection.

1995
A very interesting and valuable collection was added from Karl and Meherbai Khandalavala Trust.

1998
The Prince of Wales Museum was renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, after the city was renamed Mumbai in 1995

2010
The textile gallery, the first in the city, was launched in April.

2017
New galleries were launched in July, highlighting the early phase of the JJ School of Art and the progressive art movement.

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Mayong: Land of Black Magic

Assam. The land of beautiful hillside and valleys, gardens and scenic landscapes, also hides a secret: a dark secret about black magic and cursed objects. Mayong Central emporium is a collection of such objects and artefacts

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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On the banks of the Bramhaputra, in the quiet land of Assam, Mayong is a tiny village in the Morigaon district around 40 km from Guwahati. But this tiny village holds huge secrets and is popularly called the Land of Black Magic. Once upon a time it was considered to be the cradle of black magic and dark curses in India.
The name itself, some believe, comes from the Sanskrit word, Maya, which means illusion or magic. Some locals believe the name came from the Dimasa word for an elephant, which is Miyong, while others believe the land to be a part of Mother Shakti herself.

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You can easily find the names Mayong and Pragjyotishpura (the ancient name of Assam) in many mythological epics including Mahabharata. It is said that chief Ghatotkacha of Kachari kingdom took part in the battle of Mahabharata after attaining magical powers from this place.
A walk through the village and a few conversations later you will be familiarised with the folklore and the stories of men disappearing into thin air in certain areas.
Some might even convince you that people can convert into animals or beasts during certain times of the year that can be only magically tamed. The locals insist that sorcery and black magic were traditionally practised and passed down over generations. Some suggest that the great saints and witches of Mayong linger around and live in the forests even today.
Many people believe that magic in Mayong was used for social welfare. One of the magic tricks led to curing an illness from a distance only by cutting a handful of plants while chanting some secret incantations.

Folklore suggest that in the earlier days there lived a sorcerer by the name of Chura Bez in Assam. The word of his magical powers had spread far and wide. Chura Bez was known to be able to disappear into thin air just by muttering the ‘Luki mantra’.
And not so long ago Mayong was infamous for human sacrifices or Narabali as the locals call it. They believed this pleased mother Shakti. Excavators had recently dug up swords and other sharp weapons that resembled tools used for human sacrifice in other parts of the country. This suggested that human sacrifice may have occurred in the Ahom era in Mayong.
Inaugurated in 2002, the Mayong Central Museum and Emporium is viewed as a time capsule of past culture. It appears unassumingly simple from the outside. But as you walk in, you encounter some of the strangest exhibits you’d expect in a museum.
Ancient manuscripts of Black Magic and Ayurveda and various mythological epics line the shelves. Some are even showcased in glass exhibits to point out particular rituals of black magic.

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Crafted stone statues, seashells and old coins and old jewellery like necklaces and rings that have been said to be cursed or worn by black magicians from long ago are neatly arranged in the museum. All of these artefacts were once used in rituals or used by those who would perform them.

It has successfully served as a tourist hub for Assam, which is hardly surprising because it is without a doubt totally intriguing. All those who visit can learn of the origins of tantra and are given demonstrations of ancient rituals by the locals. This is certainly unlike any other museum experience.
Crafted stone statues, seashells and old coins and old jewellery like necklaces and rings that have been said to be cursed or worn by black magicians from long ago are neatly arranged in the museum. All of these artefacts were once used in rituals or used by those who would perform them.
Amongst the many scriptures that have been excavated the museum displays are palm leaves, terracotta and bronze items with archaeological prominence dating back at least a century.
Mayong has an eerie silence that stands in utter contrast with its dark and chaotic history. That is what draws in tourists from around the world to this small village in Assam.
Today, in the days of technology and science, people often dismiss magic as superstition. But there are still many people in Assam who would go to these witch doctors with their troubles and miseries.
Mayong is now a famous tourist and archaeological spot because of its rich wildlife, archaeology, pilgrimage, eco-tourism, adventure and river tourism.
Also close to Mayong is the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, which has the highest density of one horned rhinoceros in the world. If you’re 40 km from Guwahati and have an hour to kill, head to the sanctuary. At least, you will go back with a bagful of spooky stories to tell your buddies. With rich wild life, mysterious stories and so much more, Mayong and Assam have a lot to offer. So plan your holiday to Assam, where we’ve heard the tea is really good.

ZIPPING THROUGH AMRITSAR & CHANDIGARH

If you are planning a road trip to the north and then driving through the cities of Amritsar and Chandigarh, we’d say that’s a great idea. Join us as we take you around to marvel at these scenic cities that make driving a pleasure

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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opular across the world for amazing food, high-energy dances and bountiful fields, Amritsar is a delight to visit. Like all tourists the first instinct is to visit the Harmandir Sahib or popularly known as the ‘Golden temple’. But on your way to the temple, passing through the lively lanes you will be drawn to the attractive shops that bustle with buyers. These shopping and eating friendly streets are a common sight in Amritsar.
Conveniently located on the historic Grand Trunk Road (GT Road), also known as National Highway 1, Amritsar is very well connected by road network of the north and driving down to the city is much simpler.

Especially with the government spending close to Rs 450 million to convert the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of the GT Road into four lanes. An elevated road connects the national highway to the Golden Temple just in case you were coming from further away and in a hurry to visit the Temple. Buses run to and fro from many neighbouring cities and towns. Within the city there are cabs, auto-rickshaws and buses that take you around the winding streets.
The Amritsar Metro bus or the BRTS is relatively new and is aimed at reducing traffic and air pollution.
The Government of Punjab has pledged Rs 580 crore for development of the BRTS.

Although work is still in progress in some areas, people have already started loving this new speedy way of getting around the city.
But as we step out of the city, the Amritsar-Sri Ganganagar National Highway (NH-15) is giving commuters a tough time. The 3km stretch has a number of potholes and is always busy with blaring traffic. The highway is an important route to connect to the southern part of the country. The narrow road doesn’t allow buses and trucks to pass.
So if you’re taking this route during peak hours, you’re asking for trouble. And the railway crossing just adds to the frustration of drivers.

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Chances are you’ll be stuck there for hours. We suggest keeping a deck of cards in the glovebox.
But instead if you were ready to drive about 4 hours east, you would reach the beautiful well-planned city of Chandigarh. From gardens for rocks to roses, Chandigarh has something in store for everyone. It is aptly called City Beautiful.
Post independence, committees were set up to plan cities. Chandigarh was one of the earlest planned cities. The master plan was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. A Polish architect called Maciej Nowicki and an American planner, Albert Mayer, laid out the plans. In 2015, BBC called it as the Perfect City in the World in terms of architecture, cultural growth and modernization. It is also cleanest and first smoke-free city in India. Take a bow, Chandigarh.

The city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country. And, no wonder highest per capita vehicles. Clean roads and public spaces make Chandigarh a pleasure to live. The buzzing nightlife and serenity of nature with trees and lush green spaces all make it as the happiest city according to a survey by LG electronics.
The smooth roads make you feel like a dream. If you love the feeling of open roads and wind splashing in your hair, don’t miss driving down the Geri Route (sector-8, 9, 10). Driving to Zirakpur is one certainly not to be missed. Stop by a dhaba and enjoy cholebhature. Head up north and soon winding through the hills will be an enchanting experience. Throughout the city you will find wide, well-maintained roads that make commuting a pleasure. Traffic is well controlled and going to a neighbouring city is a scenic experience.
So pack your bags and head north. Amritsar and Chandigarh roads help you explore the beautiful cities.

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NATIONAL RAIL MUSEUM

Railways form nerve centre of Indian economy. It has a rich history. Join us as we take you on a joyride to the one place where all the history is preserved with love and care.

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

Chanakyapuri in New Delhi is known for its affluent neighbourhood and for being a diplomatic enclave. But what makes it famous is the National Rail Museum. Hundreds flock daily to this amazing, one-of-its-kind museum, to take a tour and experience the rich history of Indian Railways. Reaching the National Rail Museum is easy by bus, cab, or metro rail.
Its origin dates to the early 70s though the idea of a transport museum was planned as far back as 1962. Thanks to Michael Graham Satow, a rail enthusiast, the museum took shape after foundation stone of the Rail Transport Museum was laid by then President of India VV Giri on October 7, 1971.

Nearly after six years it came to life when the then Minister for Railways Kamlapati Tripathi inaugurated on 1st February 1977.
Originally the Rail Transport Museum was planned as a part of a larger complex covering the history of Railways, Roadways, Airways and Water-ways in India but later developed into a full-fledged National Rail Museum in 1995.
The Museum spread over 11 acres is an elegantly designed octagonal building. There are exhibits housed both indoor and outdoor.
The indoor gallery comprises six display galleries, and a large open display area laid out to replicate the atmosphere of a railway yard. How to go about covering the enormous area of 11 acres, one may ask.

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Nothing to worry as a toy train is at hand to carry you around.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets cost Rs. 50 for adult and Rs. 10 for child and on weekdays and weekends it is double at Rs. 100 for adults and Rs. 20 for children. Tickets for the simulators, virtual coach rides and toy train rides can be bought at respective counters.

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First of its kind museum in the country, it has the largest number of real, life-sized exhibits of train engines and components.
One can see locomotives and coaches from the princely states across the Indian subcontinent and some of the best train engines ever made in India.
It serves as a home to steam engines like the DHR 777 B, the P Class 31652, the Phoenix, to name a few. It also has many diesel and electrical engines including the Prince of Wales Saloon, the Gaekwar Baroda Saloon, the Nilgiri coach and the Viceregal Dining car. One gets the taste of royalty, first hand walking close to the exhibits.

The Patiala State Mono Rail (PSMT) and the John Morris Fire Engine are the rarest operational exhibits of its kind in the world. The Patiala State Mono Rail was built way back in 1907 and was based on the “Ewing System”. Designed by Col. Bowles this mono rail first ran between Bassi and Sirhind 6 miles a day and the unique train consisted of a track of single rail. The main load (almost 95%) is borne by the single rail while the rest is borne by the balancing wheel which runs on the ground.

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This train built by Orenstein and Koppel of Berlin ran until October 1927.
Once cars and buses came the unique mono rail became obsolete.

Luckily an engine and a Chief Engineer’s Inspection car somehow managed to evade being scrapped in the railways scrap yard till 1962. The remains of Patiala State Monorail Trainways was discovered by a railroad historian Mike Satow.

Thereafter, one engine was restored to working order by the Northern Railway Workshop at Amritsar. Chief Engineer’s private inspection car too was reconstructed completely restoring them to running condition. And now they are proud exhibits at the National Rail Museum in New Delhi.
If one wants to celebrate birthday the restaurant inside the museum can be booked for a private party. Meeting room, lawns and auditorium are also available for booking. There is souvenir shop and walk out happily with a scale model of classic steam or diesel engines and coaches.
National Rail Museum is indeed fun going around for all ages. It also teaches us the glorious past of the evolution of Indian Railways. Next time you would want to ride a train for vacation.

NEHRU PLANETARIUM, MUMBAI

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The universe is vast, mysterious and really interesting. Join us as we set you up on a date with the stars at Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai.

The iconic white dome is hard to miss if you are cruising down Worli sea face. Nehru Planetarium, commissioned on 3rd March 1977, is one of Mumbai’s most visited tourist attractions. It is one of the five planetariums in India that are named after India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. These are located in Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Bangalore, and in Allahbad as Jawahar planetarium. In fact, the one in Pune was established in 1954 and is Asia’s first planetarium.

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Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai. This cylindrical structure and white dome spectacle is a delight to all stargazers and space lovers. The building was designed by one of India’s most prominent architects, J.M. Kadri. The simplistic yet stunning architecture is a delight to the eyes and makes a proud statement to the timelessness of the late 70s style of architecture. It captures the essence of Mumbai’s inclusivity with the entry fee still being ₹60 for adults and ₹40 for young astronomy enthusiasts. And for a group of 25 or more students, the entry fee is a mere ₹20.
It soon became immensely popular among astronomers and children alike in Mumbai. The planetarium also serves as a center of logical study for students and amateur scientists of astronomy and space science. The planetarium also plays host to various discussions and lectures based on astronomical and cosmological events from time to time.

School kids love to participate in the science quiz contests, astro painting contests, astro poetry and even science elocution. Since its establishment, it has conducted thirty-one astronomical presentations and boasts of being the only astronomical centre, which includes both the concert and the movie auditorium. Even now, shows are conducted on a daily basis. And if it’s the weekend and you haven’t booked a day in advance, chances are the show might be running house full.

The special Planetarium’s sky shows are the quintessential treat for everyone who visits the place and strives for an incomparable learning experience. ‘Tryst and Destiny‘ was the first show and it outlined the stars and constellations like they had donned the sky on the night of 14 August 1947. The second show “Mahatma – The Eternal Light‘ recreated the celestial configuration as on 2nd October 1869, the day Mahatma Gandhi was born combining it with other historic events from his life. Since the very beginning, these shows have mesmerized the visitors. Currently, ‘The Wonders of the Universe‘ and ‘Invaders of Mars‘ are featured. Amidst all the activity, the planetarium houses an art gallery, a restaurant, a library and a cultural centre.
Inside, an exhibit attracts many at the first sight, it allows you to check your weight on each planet of the solar system and the moon. Next, a 14 cubicle exhibit called the ‘Discovery of India’ takes you through the journey of India through the ages highlighting art, philosophy and academics with major architectural and artistic works, photographs and audio visuals. This roomful of history also has a scale model of a tram car, a railway engine, a steam lorry and a supersonic jet. And if you stroll down to the basement, you will find yourself in the middle of a huge marble-paneled auditorium with amazing acoustics and the capacity to comfortably seat at least a thousand people at a time. This auditorium is the usual venue for various classical music concerts, plays, seminars and dance recitals. But what really takes the cake is a 45 minute show called ‘Stars and wonders of the universe’. The show happens every day and in English, Hindi and Marathi.

The planetarium, over the years, has become a platform for aspiring astronomers and has helped build a

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community of people who want to get a closer look at the universe and uncover its mysteries. It also makes special arrangements on different stellar occasions to watch, study and photograph eclipses and other major events like meteoroid showers. Various telescopes and other high-tech astronomical equipment allows any curious kid to explore the depths of the universe. The Digital Planetarium projector, Digistar-3, and Universal Planetarium Projector have showcased the magnificence of the celestial world to over 96 lakh people in 26 years.

Nehru planetarium also has a mini mobile planetarium for people in rural areas to create awareness and keep them updated with all astronomical news.
And if you that’s impressive, wait till you visit the Nehru Centre Library. It has a wide collection of over 30,000 books. These include religion, literature, social science, astronomy, biographies, geography, history, and various other disciplines. A peaceful ambiance, well-equipped cyber-centre, audio-visual facilities, and even a kids section, this library is perfect for a little quiet time with yourself and a book.

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And of course, then there are the various workshops and programmes organised for students, teachers and other professionals that keeps it the hub of intellect and conversation in the city.
Even a walk in the campus is very informative and a one of its kind experience. It is lined with plants and herbs of over 1000 varieties including many rare species. The Nehru Planetarium truly captures the love of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s love for kids and will continue to inspire and instill dreams of becoming astronauts and scientists in kids for years to come.

ANNA CENTENARY LIBRARY SUSTAINABLE, LOW-ENERGY BUILDING

Sensitive architectural design and efficient building services solutions have resulted in a sustainable, low-energy building, delivered within a commercially viable budget without compromising aesthetics

WORDS: TILLANA DESAI

THE Anna Centenary Library in Chennai is a state-sponsored library named after the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. It has all the credentials of a landmark project.
The Tamil Nadu government last month allocated Rs5 crore for buying books for the top library. One of Asia’s biggest libraries – located on an eight-acre plot of land in Kotturpuram – the library was opened in 2010.
The state-sponsored Anna library is named after popular Tamil leader and former chief minister C.N.Annadurai. The library has a state-of-the-art auditorium with a seating capacity for 1,200 people, an open air amphitheatre (for 800 persons) and a massive food court.

The library houses a massive 1.5 million books besides newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts for alternatively-abled people, electronic and audio-visual media, computers and internet access. A research laboratory of internationall standards is another key feature.
Interestingly, the project has been awarded the LEED Gold Rating (new construction) by the Indian Green Building Council in recognition of its energy-efficient design with a rating of 43 points.
The detailed and accurate planning principles implemented during the construction of the library have played a key role in determining its sustainability and energy-efficiency.

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Roof overhangs, Pergolas, metal louvres provide distinct architectural features creating an identity for the complex, while cutting off heat and glare

The library block, for example, is located at an angle that allows for maximum daylight from the northeast. The auditorium is located southwards and has fewer openings, enabling both blocks to function independently.
A large expanse of landscaped area in the foreground with overlooking terraces helps cut off noise and provides visual respite. The roof of the auditorium has also been developed as a landscaped amphitheatre taking advantage of the structure and minimising internal heat gain.
The low-energy architecture has been achieved through an environmentally-responsive design, using both passive features and resource-efficient active elements, which have helped achieve an overall energy saving of 28.33 per cent.

• Roof overhangs, Pergolas, metal louvres provide distinct architectural features creating an identity for the complex, while cutting off heat and glare

THE ACTIVE ENERGY EFFICIENT ELEMENTS INCLUDE:
• Materials – solar-efficient glass with an SHGC of 0.2 and VLT of 24 per cent with a U value of 0.9 Btu/hr.ft2oF helps to harness maximum daylight and minimise heat gain. Special over deck insulation of 75 mm thk expanded polystyrene provides a U value of 0.059 Btu/hr.ft2oF for the roof. More than 60 per cent building materials are recycled and locally sourced thus reducing the embodied energy component
• Lighting – an average LPD of 0.6W/ft2 has been achieved by using a combination of LED and CFL lamps.

Actual energy consumption is further reduced by providing individually controlled task lights. Daylight sensors along the periphery and motion sensors in the interior stack areas
• Air-conditioning: Air-cooled chillers with efficient COP, heat recovery wheels, VFDs, VAVs and DCVs controlled through centralised IBMS has helped create an energy efficient airconditioned public building
• Waste water recycling: An annual saving of 65 per cent in fresh water requirement has been achieved by using 100 per cent available grey water for landscape irrigation and flushing (dual plumbing) 100 per cent rain water harvesting through recharge pits and collection sumps and water efficient fixtures complete with sensors

DESIGN FEATURES:
• Appropriate orientation where all reading areas are located in the north and east next to glazed facades
• Thermal buffer zones have been created on the SW – to reduce heat ingress – by locating service cores, non-conditioned spaces and a nine-floor high atrium with outward sloping glass
• Landscaped terraces at several levels including the green open air theatre on the roof of the auditorium and a landscaped courtyard in the heart of the library help create visual relief and reduce the heat gain from the roof

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INDOOR ENVIRONMENT QUALITY
Indoor environment quality in this public building is to be monitored, measured and controlled by use of LOW VOC paints and non-toxic recycled eco-friendly materials from carpets, boards to housekeeping chemicals, bettering ASHRAE requirement for fresh air by 30 per cent and using CO2 sensors and MERV 13 filters for monitoring and controlling air quality.
Interiors are finished with eco-friendly, locally available, recycled materials. Colours, graphics and imagery create a bright and inviting atmosphere for both serious and leisurely reading.

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Spatial planning and interiors of each section are customised to different types of users. Common spaces like lobby and atrium form interactive nodes where both permanent and temporary displays disseminate information on a variety of topics.
Thus, sensitive architectural design and efficient building services solutions have resulted in a sustainable, low-energy building, delivered within a commercially viable budget without compromising aesthetics.