Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, designed by Charles Correa

Ahemdabad’s iconic Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Slated for Demolition

Designed by renowned architect Charles Correa and engineer Mahendra Raj, the iconic stadium faces demolition.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, designed by Charles Correa

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The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has declared the historic Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium unsafe for hosting sports events and large gatherings, marking the end of an architectural era. Designed by architect Charles Correa and engineer Mahendra Raj, this stadium has been an iconic symbol of modern architecture and held immense cultural significance in the city.

Often what we choose to demolish is more potent as a cultural comment than what we choose to build. The slated demolition of Charles Correa and Mahendra Raj’s Sardar Vallabhai Patel stadium in Ahmedabad, a national icon of immense architectural and structural significance is both a culturally situated and situating act. Its potential demolition is a telling comment on our inability to adequately address both the pragmatic and theoretical concerns of our modernist heritage.

Architect Rahoul B. Singh, RLDA Studio

As per the news published in Ahmedabad Mirror, the stadium displays evident signs of wear and tear, including cracked seating areas and gates, as well as exposed and rusting iron elements that pose safety risks. A senior official from the AMC remarked, ‘It is unsuitable even for hosting cultural events. So, It worth noting that the stadium lacks heritage status, making its replacement a more viable option.’

But it is unclear, if any expert advice was sought to conserve the iconic building.

Riyaz Tayyibji, Principal architect at Ahemdabad based Anthill Design, shared,

“The news to demolish this stadium is shocking, more so since a year ago there seemed to be a very positive response by the municipal corporation towards the need for its conservation, with an understanding of the historical importance of its structural design and the manner the stadium and the area around it are used by the people of the area. The municipality seemed open to work with local stakeholders and international experts together in the best interest of conserving this important building. The justification for this demolition being a required upgrade for Ahmedabad’s 2036 Olympic bid seems myopic. If it is in-fact part of a larger sports infrastructure plan, surely such an isolated and piecemeal approach to a single structure is not the manner in which the AMC should go about this exercise? The demolition of a structure of this stature will be an international stain on Ahmedabad’s World Heritage City reputation and ability to care for its important buildings.”

About Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel Stadium

In the early 1950s, the Cricket Club of Ahmedabad (CCA) was granted a generous gift of 67,000 square meters (80,000 sq yd) of land by the Province of Bombay. The purpose was to construct a magnificent Cricket Stadium and a Club House on this plot. CCA, in turn, transferred both the land and the project to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation at a nominal cost. An agreement was reached to establish separate management for the Stadium and the Club House, while the original members of CCA formed a new club called The Sports Club of Gujarat Ltd.

The distinguished industrialist and former Mayor of Ahmedabad, Sheth Chinubhai Chimanbhai, took a proactive role in commissioning the globally renowned architect Charles Correa to design both the Stadium and the Club House. Charles Correa, a luminary in modern progressive architecture, is also celebrated as the creator of the Gandhi Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati River, which stands as a tangible embodiment of Gandhian philosophy.

Regarding the stadium itself, its roof, covering a vast seating area for 50,000 spectators, is a marvel designed to be supported by a single point. It represents a pioneering example of a cantilevered, pillar-free stadium, the first of its kind in India. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, only one wing of the stadium was completed. Besides Sheth Chinubhai Chimanbhai, the other founding members included Narottam K Jhaveri, Martandrai G. Shastri, Jayantilal Chimanlal Kusumgar, Jitendra Jiwanlal Thakore, Hariprasad Keshariprasad Thakore, and Ramanlal C Parikh.

In an era where urban development often prioritizes modernization at the expense of heritage, preserving the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium would be a testament to the city’s commitment to maintaining its cultural and architectural heritage. It would send a powerful message that modernity and tradition can coexist harmoniously.

Delhi based architect and academician, Prof. K T Ravindran shared,

“This stadium represents a remarkable collaboration between two of the most iconic figures in Indian architecture, Charles Correa and Mahendra Raj. It marked their inaugural joint project upon their return from the United States. Even today, the enduring appeal of the folded plates and expansive cantilever structures they designed remains evident, making it a timeless classic. As a prime example of modern heritage, it is imperative measures are taken to ensure its preservation.”

Considering the fact that, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium is a living piece of history and a symbol of modern architectural heritage, the AMC should explore preservation and conservation as a viable option to honour the stadium’s legacy while meeting the city’s evolving needs. By doing so, Ahmedabad can showcase its commitment to preserving its rich cultural and architectural heritage for future generations.

Featured image © Carlo Fumarola

9 Responses

  1. Once the rot begins in any RCC structure due to oxidation of steel bars, preservation just for the sake of sentimental value is a costly and futile exercise.

  2. However tempting it may be to build an even larger stadium, it is culturally, financially and politically more beneficial to retain, restore and take pride in conserving a historical icon; this will be a far wiser decision, with multiple gains in the years to come, so future generations will be thankful instead of living with the sin of destroying our own rich heritage & inheritance.

    1. No one could say this better. How much better to repair, conserve, than tear down! But given the destruction wrought in Delhi, the complete disregard to our rural & urban environment as 4 lane highways rip through national parks, this is hardly surprising. But it is important to register our outrage.

  3. Those in administration/ power need to begin to recognise the place of contemporary architecture within the fold of cultural, built heritage. I believe that the local municipal authorities did have a plan to complete this incomplete stadium which began in 1959, however, for various political conveniences this kept on getting shelved. Now, one learns that they want to demolish this beautiful effort that combined architecture and engineering gracefully. Architecture requires maintenance and some of its wonderful history definitely does need it desperately. Bulldozing such works for ‘ larger, bigger, state of art ambitious works’ does not speak well of the understanding of culture in this country.

  4. It’s the only stadium in the city ppl can use free morning and evening for the health and fitness workout. Instead of demolition of entire structure the risky structure can be demolished n re made instead of whole thing. As far as Olympics n steps to make infrastructure is concerned it’s a joke, cos non of the track in Ahmedabad be it the Gujarat University sports complex track or other sports complex with running track are not used by public thn y are we making such stadium wn it is of no use for local ppl and aspiring top athletes of the city.

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