City Landmark – Stein’s Architecture, India Habitat Centre
A work of art.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s like a beautiful art mural shattered into pieces.
This is actually the building’s multitudinous ceiling panels reflecting off the water puddles. It just stopped raining here at the India Habitat Centre.
A cultured Delhiite, of course, will find it impossible to avoid the centre. Nowhere else in our Capital do we find such a huge array of art exhibits and music recitals, to say nothing of big-ticket book launches.
If this wasn’t enough, the graceful building and gardens amount to a visit unto themselves. Indeed, one of these days you ought to visit the cultural complex for the sole purpose of examining its kicky architecture. It’s magical the way closed spaces are made to entwine with the outdoors, effortlessly mellowing down the city’s harsh daylight into something kinder, softer.
Designed by American architect Joseph Stein, the centre is a work of art. All you need do is wander about the atriums where the quiet area is fused with trees and sumptuous gardens: and pools with lotus leaves and gold fishes floating silently in the water, while flowers and vines spill about all over.
This is typical Stein (1912-2010) that also characterises other notable Delhi buildings he designed, like the India International Centre nearby.
The atrium at the entrance is also littered with a fair sprinkling of sculptures as permanent exhibits. One of them is of a woman, her lips contracted into a kind of passionate kiss that demands a kiss-back.
This evening the waning daylight is entering through the shading panels above; with the diffused rays of the setting sun falling into the atrium as softly as a thief tip-toeing about.
And now for the best experience—look up at these panels on the roof. They are dotted with hundreds of birds, like airport passengers awaiting their flights. The sight is almost beyond belief. Should you ever have to move out of Delhi, this scene may come back to haunt you every time you think of our fair city.
Come back soon.
For Stein’s sake