Dr Bimal Patel at the Idea Exchange. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav)
With a capacity to accommodate 800-1,200 people, the Lok Sabha hall inside the new Parliament building will accommodate both Houses twice a year for the joint parliamentary session — unlike the current Parliament where the sessions take place inside the Central Hall. “This was a suggestion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Dr Bimal Patel, architect and urban planner, whose Gujarat-based firm won the consultancy bid for the coveted redevelopment project of the Central Vista in New Delhi.
On Wednesday, Patel, speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, said the Central Vista redevelopment project is expected to be finished by 2024, which is the deadline set for his firm. Patel said the PM wanted to ensure the project is “not stuck endlessly”. “I’ve worked with him in the past, so I’m not surprised,” he said.
Patel said the facade of the new Parliament will be made of Agra red sandstone, like the rest of the structures. “This is not a break from the past; this is in fact taking the past and working with it,” he said.
Talking about the triangular shape of the new Parliament building, which will be built adjacent to the current one, Patel said the “triangle is a part of sacred geometries”, citing the example of jaalis of Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and the interlocking triangles of the Sri Yantra mystic design. The new Parliament will also have a spire, which could be gilded like several places of worship across the country, said Patel, since “the Parliament is a sacred building, it’s a temple of democracy”.
Inside the halls, the seating will continue to be arranged in a “horseshoe shape”. Patel also emphasised the need to improve the acoustics inside Parliament, saying they are consulting with a San Diego firm, comprising mostly of physicists.
The veteran architect, who heads Gujarat-based HCP Design, Planning & Management Pvt Ltd, explained the seven objectives of the Central Vista project. “It is to modernise Parliament’s facilities; consolidate, rationalise and synergise government functioning; provide adequate facilities for the Vice President and PM; refurbish and better equip the Central Vista avenue; strengthen cultural institutions in the Central Vista; commemorate 75 years of India’s Independence; and demonstrate that a project of this magnitude can be executed speedily,” he said.
Under the plan, the VP’s and PM’s residences will be shifted on either side of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where hutments exist at the moment. The National Museum will be shifted from its current location on the Central Vista to the North and South Blocks, and a new National Archives building will be constructed behind the current one. The Central Secretariat will comprise 10 buildings with eight floors each, and Patel said it will be based on the concept of “transit-oriented development”.
New Delhi was unveiled in 1931 after architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker spent 20 years building it. The two are credited with building the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Blocks, Rajpath, India Gate and the National Archives.