A Museum is a guardian of history, documenting the past to save it from oblivion. But specifically, what propels a war museum to a prime altitude is its ability to inspire the visitors. It showcases the sacrifices and achievements of those who laid down their lives for the country. An ode to the courage of the soldiers and a way to remember them, a war museum treads the line separating the past from the future.
The National War Museum is proposed in the Princess Park around the Hexagonal Gardens of the India Gate. Surrounded by Colonial architecture, the attempt was to reinterpret the existing style into something that speaks to present India.
It was important to concentrate on the ‘Spirit’ of space and let the architecture not be dictated by mere ‘Styles’. The design anticipates how architectural typology would have shaped up over the years if allowed its natural progression. It had been true to the definition of a Museum and yet had to stand-out, to be a representative of Young India—a symbol of the progress of the Nation and the Defense Forces.
The challenge was to retain most of the 2000 trees marked on the site while growing more for every tree fallen. This limited the site to small pockets that could be utilized as courts. The design responds to that by linear vertical structures that had primarily ancillary functions while the last storey is a span between these verticals to allow for ample free-flowing space for the gallery. Each of these galleries had courts on two sides, allowing sunlight to penetrate for the vegetation below. Some of the courts’ houses memorials for the three defense forces. The building footprint is carefully oriented to form visual corridors and flowing spaces while being sensitive to flora and fauna.
The design for the National War Museum aims to bring about a shift of perspective in the way Museums are perceived by young India. Standing-off to the Indo-Saracenic style, a reflection of British colonization in the past, the Museum is visualized as an iconic building that undoubtedly belongs to the present. The Structure and space within would be a celebration of the glory of the armed forces representing the advancements and metamorphosis the country has gone through and is yet to undergo.