Transparence 2010's regional round saw some exciting and fresh ideas converging to design a convention centre.

Architecture, to many of us, is an art that is ingrained in our minds right from our childhood. Be it designing and constructing colourful Lego sets or building sand castles in the air when asked about our dream home, we know it only too well. However, for those young talented minds that seek to develop their dreams and translate them into reality, Saint Gobain India presents an opportunity to showcase their creativity through Transparence.

Big participation

Transparence 2010 is a national-level design and architecture competition held for students across the country. This year, during the South regional round, Chennai witnessed a whopping number of 216 students registering from top colleges.

The registrations poured in from many institutions including the School of Architecture and Planning, Anna university, Hindustan College of Engineering, MEASI Academy of Architecture, Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Chennai, to name a few. Held at the Anna University, the theme for Transparence 2010 was to design an ‘International Convention Centre'. The jury for Chennai constituted of Jyothiram of CRN Architects and Pramod Balakrishnan of Edifice. Unnikrishnan, National Head, Structural Glass Solutions, Saint Gobain Glass India, gave away the prizes to the winners of the South regionals — Shruthi G. of MSRIT college, Bangalore and Kaushik of Manipal Institute of Technology.

Unique convention

From among a plethora of designs submitted, the ultimate winners turned out to be Debanil Pramanik and Kaushik Keshav of Manipal Institute of Technology. Though the competition was tight, their unique convention centre, Confluentia, as they named it, stood out. Adorned with an unpolished gemstone, the design was an initiative to portray Mumbai. Says Kaushik, “We attempted to capture the spirit of Mumbai through this design.” To add a tinge of filmy style, the design captured some enticing Hindi films and award events. But why Mumbai? “It is the hub of convention centres. Hence, a design where state of art blends with the aesthetics,” says Kaushik.

Confluentia is surrounded by garden with a two meter high base which holds the structure like a trophy. While the ground floor of the building portrays a corporate look with meeting rooms, café and the VIP lounge, the first, second and third floor consists of an exhibition hall with large partitions, viewing gallery and a plenary hall with large seating area. While the lecture halls and mini theatres occupy the fourth floor, the fifth floor is embellished with a grand state hall with an exquisite see through enclosure.

Adding a dose of conservatism to the design, the building includes other features like water harvesting through condensation, photovoltaic film to generate electricity and heat absorbing gel to keep the glass facades cool. Nonetheless, one must be proud to admit that such ambitious, creative and environment-conscious architects are on the lookout for, for they make our place a better place to live in.

As Julia Morgan once said, “Architecture is a visual art and the buildings speak for themselves.” Transparence 2010 South regionals has left Chennai with lot of suspense if the South winners would emerge winners in the finals to be held in Hubli in January 2011.

Susan is a student at the School of Communication, Anna University.