Keywords Change this

Regionalism, Post-independence Architecture In India, Research Institute, Local Materials

Project timeline

? – 1971


Education & Research

Location Change this


Also known as Change this

Centre for Development Studies

Architect Change this


Article last edited by Bostjan on
October 10th, 2020

Trivandrum - CDS Change this

Trivandrum, India
by Laurie Baker Change this

The campus for the research institute, Centre for Develo ...

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Description Change this

The campus for the research institute, Centre for Development Studies, is one of Laurie Baker’s best campus designs, located in a residential area on the northern outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. The 10 acre campus stretching across a heavily wooded site houses the Library, Computer center, auditorium, hostels, guesthouses and residential units for the staff.

The Site Design

The design is a response to the sloping contoured site and seems to grow out of it. There is hardly a straight line with each structure curling in waves, semicircles and arcs. Baker pays careful attention to the contours on the site and also the location of trees. The forms of the buildings also follow the site with curved walls and building forms along the contour. Often, when trees are obstructing the building, Baker simply molds his walls around the trees so as not to disturb it. There are little courtyards in between buildings, often acting as an extension of the building itself and also pools of water which help in microclimatic control through evaporative cooling. The roofs had often interesting shapes with funny openings at certain location. These openings were Baker’s interpretation of the gables which were tilted into the wind direction funneling it into the space.

The Administrative Building

The main administrative building is the focus of the campus, with the 6 storey circular library tower behind. The main entrance is majestic, sloping up towards the sky with the side walls welcomingly sloping outwards towards a wide set of steps. Baker has symbolically not provided a front door. The building is totally open, symbolic of an institution whose aim is to promote research into helping the poor. The library tower is a circular tower with an external jaali wall which encloses a circular staircase in the centre. The staircase winds around a circular shaft which runs from the bottom level all the way till the top. Baker has used this shaft to provide forced ventilation inside the spaces. There are small openings in this shaft at each floor level. The air is forced through these openings and escapes through the open top of the shaft, maintaining a good flow all around. This shaft is based on the simple principle of Stack effect. The perforated jaali wall on the external side allows plenty of diffused natural light inside and creates a beautiful ambience for reading.


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