Located in the heart of Ahmedabad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium is a historic icon that has stood the test of time. On the other hand, it is also one of the largest stadiums in the world, with a capacity of 50,000. The design of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium by Charles Correa represents the modernist ideals of post-independent India. Moreover, it is one of the few open areas in the city of Ahmedabad that is devoid of such spaces. After six decades of hosting numerous cricket matches, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium is awaiting the verdict on its demolition, sparking debate nationwide.
The History of Cricket and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium
Cricket’s introduction into Indian culture dates back to the British era, who used it as a tool for racial discrimination. Only, the elite class had the opportunity to play the sport and did not popularise the game for the masses. As a fight against this suppression, the first cricket match in Gujarat College tore down the barriers of caste and religion in 1845. Thus, one could say that the passion for cricket in post independent India correlated with racial equality and political progress. Clearly, this was the sign for the need for a cricket stadium in the country.
Thus, the Government of India granted Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) permission to build the stadium. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium was one of the first stadiums to be built after independence in the 1960s. Although numerous domestic matches were taking place in other stadiums, this was the first stadium to host international tournaments.
Introducing Charles Correa and Mahendra Raj: The Builders of SVP Stadium
The stadium’s design blends art and technology, which is a testament to the combined efforts of the architect and engineer. Ar. Charles Correa was one of the world’s leading architects and gave a new face to modern India. Meanwhile, Er. Mahendra Raj’s collaboration with countless architects was pivotal in the completion of several modern structures, like Pragati Maidan. Their collaboration resulted in a new star in the constellation of post-modern architecture in India: the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium.
The Architectural Prowess of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium
Le Corbusier’s influence on Charles Correa was evident in the design of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium. It was first of its kind to utilise folded cantilevers, which was a light-weight form that reduces material and construction costs. The delicate folded plates rise from the ground with a 20 m long cantilever roof.
It was an experimental effort at a time when there was no means of testing with computers other than using models. Being a handmade structure with folded concrete, the construction also required extensive labour.
Present Day Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium
The addition of the circular walking track in 1995 transformed the stadium into a common public space. The space is flexible and is used all day round by people of all generations for various activities. However, with the adjacent Narendra Modi Stadium, it is no longer in use except as a cricket coaching facility. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium has become a space that the city relates to.
Why is SVP Stadium Getting Demolished
On April 27, 2022, an assessment by the AMC declared the stadium unfit for use due to concrete weathering. Apparently, cracks are developing in the exposed concrete due to the expansion and contraction of the steel with the temperature changes. During rains, the moisture tends to seep into these cracks, which leads to the weakening of the structure.
At the same time, Ahmedabad’s bid to host the 2036 Olympics triggered the need to demolish the modernist structure. AMC believes that the conservation measures can turn out to be costlier than the demolition, and they are lacking funds for maintenance. Luckily, organisations like the World Monuments Fund and the Getty Foundation are working towards developing a plan to protect the monument.
Can The Public Voice Protect The SVP Stadium?
The demolition of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium is not the first time that we are hearing about it. Buildings such as IIM Ahmedabad dormitories and Pragati Maidan are also under threat in the name of structural problems. Although we are conserving historic structures, there is a serious neglect of India’s modern monuments like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium. Demolition of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium is not only a loss of heritage, but also leads to concrete waste in the open. In fact, demolishing a concrete building is worse than building it.
But what can you do about it? You can sign this petition supporting the plea that the AMC reconsider their decision to demolish this prominent landmark.
The post Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad: Raze or Not? appeared first on The Architects Diary.