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Architecture

International Design Competition For Golden Temple Environs

by AMANDEEP SINGH MADRA

 

 

The beauty, peace and tranquillity of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs - The Darbar Sahib or The Harmandar, more popularly known as The Golden Temple - is in sharp contrast to the public area that spills out in front of the entrance to the complex.

The disorganised dust bowl that forms the current entrance plaza has long been recognised as a huge wasted space. Aesthetically unattractive, it is a dusty cross-road for people, VIP cars and scruffy vendors. This is not lost on the civic authorities who have now turned their attention on this last undeveloped part of the outer environment of the Harmandar Sahib Complex.

Now, this final area - over 9400 sq m in size is to be redeveloped to provide a plaza that will complement the civic grandeur of The Golden Temple and provide a lively venue for formal and informal events and congregations. Upto almost half a million devotees visit the Harmandar each day. Over 30 million Sikhs, and millions of others from every other faith from around the world, consider the location amongst the most spiritual of places and as such the plan to develop an entrance plaza will be of great interest to many people.

In an attempt to select the best of the design and architectural talent from around the world, the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board have chosen to launch an international architectural design competition to redesign the Golden Temple Entrance Plaza.

Launched this week, the competition calls on experienced architects around the world to create a fore-court or plaza in front of the imposing main entrance portal to the complex. As it is surrounded by the diverse environment in the historic core of the historic walled city of Amritsar, the competition site calls for the provisions of a community-sensitive approach and a design that complements the medieval architecture of the existing buildings.

The competition calls for a design that will attract national and international visitors but will also preserve the essence of the space out side of any gurdwara; namely a Jorra Ghar (place for storing shoes before entering). An ambitious 500 sq m semi-basement is envisaged that will include a hall for 400 people, an information desk, a V.I.P. Lounge and a Press Gallery.

Launching the initiative, Simran Singh from the Punjab Heritage and Tourist Promotion Board, commented on the importance of the site for state tourism.

"The Golden Temple is extremely important to us as we as a state are identified with the Golden Temple. Spiritually, it is important not only to the Sikh community but [all] people ... Our objective of conducting this competition is to beautify the entrance to this holy site."

A further planned innovation is the addition of an interpretation centre to act as an educational resource for visitors from around the world. Simran continues: "An interpretation centre right at the entrance will enable people to understand what they will witness once they enter the premises of the Golden Temple. It will show-case to the visitors the history of the Gurdwara along with the spiritual importance this holy place holds in the hearts of the people."

From the iconic Sydney Opera House to London's ultra Modern Millennium bridge, architectural design competitions have delivered edgy and innovative design ideas that civic bodies are otherwise unlikely to conceive. As such, this competition could prove to completely revolutionize the way that millions of pilgrims and visitors alike experience this most sacred religious site of the Sikhs.

For more information, visit the competition website: www.goldentempleentranceplaza.in 

 

[September 24, 2010. Courtesy: ukpha.com - Edited for this site.]

Conversation about this article

1: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), September 24, 2010, 4:29 PM.

It's great to see this kind of improvement plans. I would like to make an additional request to have a competition to develop appropriate pamphlets with few photos (not a book) to explain to the visitors regarding The Golden Temple in various languages. Sometimes I have seen visitors asking questions of other visitors. This project would not cost much and will be very informative and effective.

2: Harinder Singh Kohli (Canada), October 01, 2010, 10:59 PM.

It is very uplifting to hear about this project. The fear I have is that it may become expedient for politicians to get some mileage out of this issue. It has happened before many times. It is a very important matter and due time and resources should be provided to accomplish the desired result the first time around ... and without bickering. Can we do it?

3: Lara (Mumbai, India), April 08, 2011, 4:06 AM.

The competition was won by Design Associates Inc. of B-3, Sector-26, Noida. Does anyone have any idea about the proposed plans? It is not available on any of the websites.

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