Anant Raje (1929-2009) stays one of the most talked about personalities in the field of Indian Architecture. A ‘guru’ to several leading contemporary designers of the day, Raje has been a great educator. Younger generations, get to know of him through his buildings, most prominent of them being the Institute of Forest Management in Bhopal, built in the 80s.
Built in concrete, the building’s interiors interact with the exteriors through a medium of concrete arched skin that seems to wrap around, standing lightly along the periphery giving the overall building a certain lightness of form. The magnificence of the clear sky was brilliantly framed through the circular rings supported on the arches, as carefully and precisely as one would stack cards.
 
  Instead of concrete being rendered into a monolith, the façade displays a variety of textures in concrete and stone. It is in the geometry of these arches that one could understand the architect’s faith in precision of form. The internal corridors, larger than what one would require for such a small number of users tend to hold the building together formally, tying down its ends and making way for the spaces such as the landscaped courtyards to breathe out towards the open.   The external skins aimed at affecting the atmosphere inside, seem to eat up a lot of volume from the building, even at times failing to provide comfortable light and ventilation conditions. These volumes, although without any formal functions attributed, help frame the natural environs.
 Looking at the main building that sits atop the landscaped surroundings, one might sense a similarity of form with the IIMA building thanks to the arches and courtyards and other similar (but essential) elements, one might even argue that the building is far away from being a monolith, not being too loud in spite of the concrete. Similarities could rightly be considered as learnings from the architect’s mentor, Louis Kahn, when one observes in the institute, the compactness of the plan, righteous use of material and respect shown towards precision of form.
Though, one might even feel that enough justice has not been done to Raje’s own ideas of innovation, when one sees mere modifications to certain formal elements so as to fit in perfectly well in the larger picture, and not many innovative approaches to tackle issues related to  light and ventilation within. However the building, seems to be truly ahead of its time and completely in compliance with Raje’s philosophy of architecture which aimed at simplicity and honesty.
Reference:
Tribute to Ar. Anant Raje, Insite magazine, 2009
and reviews of the building given by the users
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