HUMANE ARCHITECTURE : Campus Design by Sarbjit Bahga, published by White Falcon Publishing, is a monologue on the planning, architecture and design of Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health, Amritsar, Punjab, India designed by Architect Sarbjit Bahga. This book describes the challenges in designing a mental hospital and the experiences of the architect.
Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health (VSIMH) which was earlier known as the Government Mental Hospital, Amritsar was established in 1948. The new complex replaced the old one in 2003 when its condition gradually deteriorated to the most inhumane level. The hospital campus for the insane is located on a 47-acre plot in the heart of the city of Amritsar. The state-of-the-art new hospital is a unique model in itself with respect to its planning and architecture. The designing of such a hospital was a gigantic task for the architect, especially when no such prototype existed in India prior to its establishment. The architect and his team of advisors evolved an indigenous model which fulfils the requirements of its inhabitants and suits to the local conditions as well.
All the building blocks in the campus have been laid out on a strict Cartesian pattern with symmetrical juxtaposition reminiscent of traditional Indian campuses. The building masses and open spaces are ingeniously interwoven to create a “building-in-the garden’ effect. The entire hospital complex has been linked by vaulted corridor running independently through the open spaces with greenery on both sides. This 1018-metre long connecting corridor is the largest in the world and thus has entered into the Guinness World Records under the category-“Longest covered concrete corridor”. Thus keeping in view the uniqueness of the campus, the author decided to compile a befitting treatise on it.
The book starts with Matthew Lowther’s statement, “… When building and user begins to develop an almost subconscious dialogue we have the beginning of Humane Architecture. … Humane Architecture is concerned with the live experience of form; a sympathetic architecture which guides people through life in a more comfortable and less inhibited way. It does not use form and materiality merely for effect, but manipulates them such that their inherent qualities become an emotional feature of the design and provoke a stimulating and rewarding relationship between buildings and people.” The above statement is perhaps the best description of the design of the campus of VSIMH.
HUMANE ARCHITECTURE: Campus Design by Sarbjit Bahga is a unique treatise which focuses on its subject in a sharp manner. It is recommended that every architect, urban designer, planner, engineer, landscape architect and hospital administrator and the students of these disciplines must go through it in order to have a better understanding of how a unique and indigenous model can be evolved for a unique problem.