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Jain Heritage Museum

Culture Interior Design I Koba, Gujarat

Client Shree Mahavir Jain Aradhna Kendra

Area 95,000 Sq. ft

Status Ongoing

Photographer Rajesh Vora

Team Shimul Javeri Kadri, Roshni Kshirsagar, Mansi Shah, Anshita Hinduja, Kinjal Vora, Tanvi Namjoshi

The brief given to us was to create an environment that showcased 10% of their extensive collection of miniatures, exquisite bronzes and rare scrolls among other things. 

The SMJK Trust commissioned us to design a museum as a repository for their existing collection of Jain artefacts collected over years by the acharya and stored within their campus in Koba, Ahmedabad. The campus, consisting of a temple, a library and hostels and dining facilities for guests is a much-frequented stopover for Jain pilgrims. The area allocated to the Museum is a 2-acre parcel of land that lies between the temple and the hostel facilities. It is lush with neem trees and currently contains a small pathway that connects residential and religious activities.

The brief given to us was to create an environment that showcased 10% of their extensive collection of miniatures, exquisite bronzes and rare scrolls among other things. Optimizing natural light and ventilation was critical since the use of electricity is kept to a minimum in Jain practice.  

The building draws its light and ventilation te shaded courtyard

Our solution has been to create a building that draws its plan from the Mandala but lifts itself off the ground completely on stilts with a shallow water body in the centre within which the existing neem trees nestle.  The building draws all its light and ventilation from this shaded and filtered courtyard and presents a calm lime plastered exterior with inlaid Jain graphics and glass jharokhas. The internal skin of the building facing the courtyard is entirely composed of vertical louvres of white marble jali that bring in the air and ventilation in a highly modulated manner responding to simulated studies on sun and wind paths.

The museum journey : A parikrama in itself 

The ground level of this building becomes a free and open community space with trees, waterbody, sculpture and a temporary exhibition space allowing the young or old visitor to meander and relish the atmosphere. A ramp by the water leads slowly up to the exhibition gallery which has been designed like a “parikrama” in a Jain temple.  The creation of an environment that draws from the heritage of the religion, as well as the crafts of its practice but creates a contemporary community space has been the goal of this architectural and interior project.

The Jain Heritage Museum architectural design footprint of the museum is rooted in the layout of the Ranakpur Jain temple superimposed with the arrangement of concentric mandala diagrams. The symmetrical and layered plan has accommodated existing trees on site by creating smaller courtyards around them and slightly shifting the axes. A system of slender stilts on which subsequent floor plates appear to float, create voids and volumes across the museum journey. The museum showcases artefacts linked to Jain acharyas, celebrating spiritual and archival connections. It defies conventional "black box" museum design, featuring layered plans, stilts, and courtyards that enhance climate responsiveness and community engagement.

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