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This is one of the most highly regarded institutes of its kind, thanks to its combo of creativity and practical orientation Vimal Chander Joshi reports

education Updated: Jan 20, 2010 09:48 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

An old bike perched atop a tree, a broken chair installed aesthetically on a platform – these and many other striking examples of creativity adorn the campus of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA). The small buildings irk students, but SPA is set to shift to a bigger campus, spread over 20 acres, in Vasant Kunj.
Of the faculty, Abhishek Sharma, an SPA alumnus, says, “The teaching methodology here is commendable. For teaching different designs, students are taken to the areas and establishments that are known for their architectural marvels. We were taken to Jaipur for its havelis, to Chandigarh for its planned urban design, to Kerala for its Jewish settlements and Goa for its churches.” Sharma is now a final-year student of Master’s in landscape architecture at the Graduate School of Art, Harvard University.

Famous for: Its reputation and heritage. A lot of famous architects have walked through its doors, but SPA’s most renowned ex-student is a writer by profession – Booker winner Arundhati Roy. Many of its alumni go to top universities abroad for further studies. “In my batch at the Architectural Association (School of Architecture in London), there were four students from the SPA,” says Ankita Gupta, an alumna who has just finished her MA in landscape urbanism from the Architectural Association, London. “At SPA, they give international dimensions to the syllabi,” she says.

Programmes: BArch, BPlanning, MArch, MPlanning, Master's in building engineering and management and Master’s in landscape architecture

Infrastructure: The school has two small campuses near ITO crossing and a hostel in Maharani Bagh. It has acquired a site of 20 acres to the south of Jawaharlal Nehru University for its new campus. An adjoining plot is also expected to be allotted to it.
SPA has a library with nearly 71,000 books and thesis reports, besides a rich collection of reports of international seminars and conferences organised by Unesco, WHO and World Bank.

Found on campus: “We are taken for field visits to places like Himachal and Kerala, where we are taught measurements, sketching and other elementary knowledge of design and architecture, taking monuments, temples and planned towns as case studies. Most of our teachers are practising architects and are also the jury members for our projects,” says Amit Kurien, a second-year BArch student.

The school began in 1941 as a department of architecture of the (then) Delhi Polytechnic. It later got affiliated to Delhi University and integrated with the School of Town and Country Planning of the government of India, after which it got its current name – School of Planning and Architecture, in 1959. In the 38 years of its existence, the school has attained eminence. In 1979, it was conferred the status of deemed-to-be university by the (then) ministry of education and culture.

“I wish the campus was bigger. Though a new campus is being constructed in Vasant Kunj, by the time it is ready for operations, all existing students will have passed out,” says Roshni Chatterjee, a final-year student of Master’s in environmental planning.