05 April 2020

Interview - Amit Gupta & Britta K Gupta (Studio Symbiosis)

There is a lot of scope for design professionals due to lack of sports infrastructure.


Studio Symbiosis is an international design firm with offices in India, Germany, U.K. and Singapore. The Noida based architectural firm has spearheaded the design of a multi-purpose stadium in Rae  Bareli, the political pocketborough of the Gandhi family. The stadium project designed for the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, and launched by Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi in 2011, showcases rural India as a sporting showground with cutting edge design standards. AMIT GUPTA and BRITTA KNOBEL GUPTA, principal architects at Studio Symbiosis, outlined their vision for the project in particular and sport in general in an interview with CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES.


Tell us about the inspiration of Studio Symbiosis’ design of the Athletic Ripples, the sports complex project inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi. What are its key features and how challenging is it to implement from the Indian milieu perspective?    


‘Athletic Ripples’ is a project based on interfacing the user and his built environment into a coherent whole. The program has been translated into trajectories of movement. These flow lines generated the formal idea which is underlined by interweaving of the various activities. This results in creating a design with an inherent quality of interaction.  The program analysis resulted in the distribution of the various functions on site. Conceptually these programmatic zones were treated as pebbles dropped in water.  It is the inference of the water field, thus creating ripples giving a guideline for the formal design language of the project. The central pedestrian zone caters for the primary movement on site. This linear zone has been kept exclusively for the pedestrians, thereby instilling the feeling of being in a green sports complex. A continuous silhouette has been designed for the project. The design proposal seems to be emerging from the landscape and creates the various forms still keeping an overall gesture. As a design outlook it has been taken into account that being a sports complex an atmosphere of being nested in nature is created. The built form does not sit in disjunction with the surroundings, but on the contrary flows out of the landscape itself.


Does it derive from any other known example of sports stadia from across the world?


The typology of Athletic Ripples emerges from the nature of the activity itself. It is not derived from any example of sports stadium existing, we went to the grass roots of the design, analysing the requirements of the stadium itself in term of viewing angle, interaction of the athlete with their fans in the stands, overall challenging the typology of the stadium itself and thereby creating a contemporary example of the same. 


What is the current on the ground status of the project which was flagged off some time ago – and how true is it being to the design originally conceived by you? 


The project is following up on the design as presented to Sonia Gandhi, with the design and planning evolving as the other technical fields are integrated in the design. 


Tell us about the other stadia/sports projects which bear the Studio Symbiosis signature?


Studio Symbiosis is involved in a wide variety of projects ranging from master plans, hospitality, offices, interiors, whereby the key criteria is to create a robust and efficient architectural piece, that are amalgamated with their surroundings. Athletic ripples is the first Sports City designed by Symbiosis, there is another stadium being designed by us in Uttar Pradesh, the details of  which cannot be disclosed at the moment.  All projects are unique and bear a Symbiosis signature as the typology might change but the methodology of analysis and implementation remains the same. Some key projects underway in our office include a 200 room hotel in Ahmedabad, Trans Ganga Masterplan, Mundra Hotel, Jajmau Redevelopment, Allahabad Masterplan, to name a few.  


Where does India stand in terms of design when it comes to sports infrastructure? What needs to be done to enhance quality? Can you think of any ‘good looking’ stadia?


Sports is one of the building blocks of a country which needs to be enhanced and promoted in India. There are international standard stadiums in India in terms of facilities but in terms of projects that act as design landmarks we think there are none at the moment. Jawaharlal Nehru once said that “Dams are the temples of modern India”. In view of the contemporary outlook it could well be said that sports complexes are the temples of contemporary India.


Can you briefly enumerate the key problems and challenges associated with the design and development of stadia and other sports infrastructure in the country?


A good and efficient design would take the same amount of capital as a very average looking one. However there is a misconception that a good looking design is always an expensive design. However, an elegant design is simply “elegant” and timeless and nothing else. It is up to the architectural team to resolve the design to the extent that it becomes feasible on ground and can compete with any other design.  This for us is the main problem with developing sports infrastructure in the country. Looking back at the London Olympics, Beijing Olympics, the Football World Cup in South Africa, all the countries put in such a spectacular built-up of stadiums across the country which becomes a legacy and inspiration for the generations to come. This kind of motivation to create such a legacy is missing. 


What are the areas of opportunities available currently in sports infrastructure for designer architects like you?


Sports infrastructure is one of the most fascinating areas of development. It relates to an active use of movement, speed, interaction, collaboration – all key terms leading to a well crafted architectural piece. With the country booming and the lack of infrastructure of sports stadiums and sports cities there is a lot of scope for design professionals in the years to come. But there seems to be a growing trend of leading projects being awarded to international design firms with Indian firms acting only as local architects. We at Studio Symbiosis feel very strongly about this – it would be instructive if anyone could show us one project in the UK which is done by an Indian architect with the British firm acting as a local architect. With the legacy of Doshi, Correa, Raj Rewal, we should take the onus on ourselves as designers who understand the country and the people to be more actively involved in the design process from inception itself.               

Ripple Effect

The Athletic Ripple sports complex is solar powered and harvests piezoelectric energy from the crowds that enter its gates. The 31,000 sq m sports city built over an area of 100,000 sq metre is designed to minimise congestion, contains an impressive array of sustainable and energy-efficient building solutions, and accommodates a cricket pitch, football ground and an athletic running track.

Leave a Comment

Email Address
(will not be published)