Six months ago Professor Sangeeta Bagga of Chandigarh College of Architecture received a special call from the Rashtrapati Bhavan press office. The task given to him was to survey the heritage building and suggest ideas to highlight the complex geometry of its flooring, which had never been documented before.

Several visits were planned, and Bagga, along with three other faculty members and six students, worked day and night to complete the work on time. The result: an illustrated book titled Interpreting Geometries that highlights the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s one-of-a-kind flooring, its unique and repetitive patterns and designs, and its use of rare stones.

A particular study focused on floral motifs in relief on geometric backgrounds. (Sourced/Express)

On the last day of his presidency, he was among the three books published by former president Ram Nath Kovind, in the presence of his successor (and now President) Droupadi Murmu, Vice President Venkaiah Nadu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I&B Minister Anurag Thakur. The other two books published that day were of a more personal nature – Moods, Moments and Memories: Former Presidents of India (1950-2017), A Visual History; and First Citizen – Illustrated Record of President Ram Nath Kovind’s Term.

According to Bagga, Interpreting Geometries is based on their research into the intricate flooring patterns of Rashtrapati Bhavan, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1929 for the Viceroy of India. “Lutyens was strongly influenced by classicism. Building New Delhi was his first major urban project, and he fused many styles into his aesthetic, even using chhatris and copoles,” she says, “but this type of floor pattern he didn’t used nowhere else. The flooring pattern engages you, it keeps changing with movement; in fact, the floor has an impact on functionality.

She says it shows that he had begun to explore her aesthetic while designing this particular building. “He used to write letters to his wife here, which greatly influenced his work, his father was an artist who painted; the Rashtrapati Bhavan is the ultimate example of his design aesthetic, like a grand finale to anything he has done elsewhere in the capital,” he remarks.

The meticulous designs of the floors, different from each other, make it a collector’s item, says a statement from I&B Ministry, which published the book.

Kovind called the book an “add-on” to Rashtrapati Bhavan’s knowledge and research, and expressed his views on flooring – how different and unique it is in every space, as he experienced over the course of of his five-year work routine.

While the introductory chapter describes the design philosophy and creation of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the other chapters include several architectural floor plan drawings, flooring model drawings and interpretive sketches to understand the flooring of soil in different stages. The decoding of the patterns was carried out by the authors on the basis of available archive drawings of flooring created by Lutyens at the start of the project, based on design principles (symmetry, rhythm, balance, order and hierarchy).

A particular study focused on floral motifs in relief on geometric backgrounds. The book highlights the know-how of the craftsmen who worked tirelessly for 18 years to build this residence. The meticulous designs of the floors, different from each other, make it a collector’s item, says a statement from I&B Ministry, which published the book.

He says the idea for the publication stems from the building’s inherent importance as the residence of India’s first citizen. Flooring patterns, both floral and abstract, cross different areas of the complex and connect them – loggias, porticoes, entrance halls, stairways, large halls, ceremonial halls and auxiliary spaces .

There is extensive use of materials such as red sandstone, buff stone, marbles, Indian patent stones, wood and terrazzo by Lutyens to present a visual aesthetic that enhances spatial quality, sequentially as well as the flow of the interior. spaces from one area to another, says the book. It is a unique example where a building of such a colossal and lavish nature and proportion in India has used the art of geometry in the flooring, he adds.

Besides the president’s office, the H-shaped building has four wings – Guest Wing, Family Wing, Press Secretariat and Cabinet Secretariat – on its four sides. The second volume – due out early next year – will detail the flooring patterns in four wings of the building. Bagga says these findings can be used to decode flooring geometry in similar projects in the future as well.

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