Designing the camp of Kumbh

Prabhu Premi Sangh Camp, Prayagraj, Studio Saransh

The scale of everything related to the Kumbh Mela is massive and this camp despite being the largest in the Mela, is known for its macro to micro detailing. From conceptualising a new theme every 3 years to showcase the varied architectural heritage of India, to detailing up to soft furnishings, while giving equal importance to hygiene and a focus on ease of maintenance, the design team aims for the perfect camp. Being a winter Kumbh, work at the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela had to be executed in freezing temperatures and adding to the challenge, the land for the camp was allotted merely 30 days before the Mela commenced, due to the changing course of the Ganges River on the bed of which the Mela is established.

The Kumbh Mela camp designs are conceptually rooted in Indian tradition. For the Kumbh 2019, the focus was on using rich, decorative carvings and paintings, typically found in traditional towns of Madhya Pradesh. As a reflection of the vision of the Spiritual Head of the organisation, the camp was conceived like a traditional Indian fortress, which would typically have within, a Palace, a Temple, a Yagyashala, Dining Halls and Kitchens, and houses to accommodate permanent residents as well as visitors.

A person would experience the grandeur of the largest camp of the Kumbh Mela by entering through a 52 ft high entrance gate in a 913 ft long wall with the look of a fortress.The layout of the camp was such that on entering the camp one would get a panoramic view of the site, hence a central ‘Darshan Chowk’ was planned with important buildings surrounding it. The camp was designed keeping in mind the mass influx of people and so the heavy public movement areas were all located to the front of the camp while the more private residential areas were not accessible to visitors.

The campsite spanning across 22 acres with a built-up area of 3.1 lakh sq.ft. was executed in a very short span of 32 days. A massive human resource of 500-700 people was employed, who worked round the clock for setting up the camp, within a constrained time period and under extreme weather conditions of freezing temperatures. The camp was designed in a manner that could accommodate a mass influx of 10,000 visitors every day without chaos. The camp comprised of an Events Pavilion with a seating capacity of 3,000 people, Dining Halls that fed about 12,000 persons per day, and various residential cottages and dormitories to accommodate 2500 people. The camp was equipped with a total of 950 toilets with a concealed water supply and drainage system.

Saransh is an architectural partnership studio based in Ahmedabad, India, operating in the fields of architecture, planning and interior design. The studio was founded in 1994 by Manish and Malini Doshi.

At Saransh, they believe that good design follows strong concepts, and concepts evolve as cohesive responses to multiple factors. Their design approach has two layers to it; firstly, understanding the requirements of the clients and devising a programme that addresses them; and secondly, conceptualising and detailing in line with those requirements. As a result, the design vocabulary is diverse, contextual and driven by client’s needs with each work maintaining a distinct identity despite overlap in typology. Saransh especially focuses on economic and material sustainability, keeping the project cost low and optimising available resources to stay true to the original design intent.

With the addition of Malay Doshi, Kaveesha Shah and Neel Jain, Saransh is expanding, diversifying and streamlining in tune with the sensibilities and requirements of a rapidly expanding clientele.

Fact file
Project Name Prabhu Premi Sangh Camp at Kumbh Mela 2019 – Studio Saransh
Location Allahabad/ Prayagraj, Uttarpradesh, India
Client Prabhu Premi Sangh
Design Team Malini Doshi, Manish Doshi, Purvi Tank, Heli Mistry, Nirali Patel, Aashini Desai
Commencement Date 08.12.2018
Completion Date 09.01.2019
Area:Ground Surface Area: 9,13,000 sq.ft.; Built Up Area:3,10,000 sq.ft.
Photographer Satvik Bhavsar

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