The British Council is the first point of contact for those who seek British higher studies as well as for the dissemination of the English language. It is also a place that hosts art and cultural programmes, whether British, Indian or global. It is the demand of such a space and creating this ethos was the brief that Morphogenesis deciphered as the need of the retrofit.
Morphogenesis viewed this as an adaptive-reuse opportunity, ensuring carefully that the ethos of the institution permeated their redesign strategy. The conservation of the original design story was integral to the intervention. The building, a design collaboration between two masters of the craft — British artist Howard Hodgkin and Indian architect Charles Correa, is a modern landmark in the city. The original building is replete with symbolism on the inside as well as the outside.
The intervention maintains the continuum of history, while new systems that work with contemporary work formats are introduced. For instance, the hoteling concept of a workstation, remote working functionality and biophilia were integrated to improve the indoor air quality. The enhancement it brings to the livability quotient of the space sits well within the Morphogenesis belief that the new work paradigm has blurred boundaries between work life, social life and personal life.
Therefore, most spaces are flexible in terms of function and use. The library, for example, can be converted into a town hall or a recreational area, making it a participative space. Breaking away from the general assumption of break and redo, the designers created a flexible, multitasking setting that intertwines culture, education and work. Additionally, the design approach emphasises the use of regionally extracted and manufactured materials, minimal waste-to-landfill, efficient fixtures for water and energy conservation, and measures to improve occupants’ wellbeing.
Sensitivity to the building’s past, with a conscious usage of material and consumption, has led to the British Council being awarded a LEED Platinum rating under the Commercial Interiors category by US Green Building Council, making it the first British Council worldwide, to be awarded this honour.
Client: British Council Division, British High Commission
Project: The British Council
Location: New Delhi
Project size: 72,000sqft