In the Historic City of 52 Gates (Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India), the creation of a 53rd Modern Day Iconic Gate marks a revolutionary milestone which leads us into a whole new world of technological progress. Aptly named, the Elephant Gate (Elephant being a Symbol of Strength across various cultures) by the Creator and Designer of the Iconic Structure - Architect Pranav Shankar (from Mumbai), this structure stands tall in heart of the city of Aurangabad, less than a kilometer away from the Aurangabad City railway station; primarily designed to be an Entrance way structure to the Institution of Engineers India (IEI - Aurangabad Local Centre).
The Institution of Engineers (IEI - India – Aurangabad Chapter), a reputed national association having one of its centers in Aurangabad, planned to demolish their existing entrance gate structure and create a new, more iconic one in 2017. This project was given to the students of MGM’s JNEC (Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College) in the form of a Design Competition, with a view to encourage the students as well as give them a platform to showcase their design abilities in the best possible manner and to obtain a creative and logical design for the gate structure. Out of four finalists, Ar. Pranav Shankar’s design was selected as the best, most appropriate, and aesthetic prototype.
Ar. Pranav Shankar’s concept of creating the iconic entrance gate structure went through hours of research and studying the requirements of the members and the institution for which the gate was to be made. Through his design, he wanted to showcase the life of an engineer whose creations always end up in working outputs. The 'Live' aspect was what he wanted to depict. However, he also wanted to give due respect to the age-old heritage structures which form the basis of the city, namely, Ajanta and Ellora caves which are the greatest engineering feats performed by ancient architects who were well versed and had maximum knowledge of engineering, mathematics, and all other related fields.
The form of the gate borrows inspiration from the ancient entrances to the Ajanta Caves which are simple structures with curving barrel vaults at the top supported by strong massive and intricately carved pillars in stone. Thus, the gate structure represents this symbolism in a more modern, technological way but paying homage to the ancient structures. The modern engineering marvel 'Space-frame' has been utilized in the design, the sciography i.e., shadows cast by the Space-frame throughout the day as the sun moves by, make up the - Live aspect of the design. It has been specifically painted in bright dashing red to make a contemporary statement which also makes it a strong symbol of modernity!
The barrel shape has been evolved by the creation of a curved concrete cantilever slab – One of the largest in the city. The link between the slab and Space-frame symbolically represents the joining of two hands or the 'Namaste' gesture which relates to the traditional culture of welcoming a person which is the basic purpose of any iconic entranceway structure. The design also incorporates a tall freestanding column which is a representation of the ‘Dhwajastambha’ at the Entrance to the Kailash Temple at Ellora which acts as a label to the structure indicating the place to which the entrance belongs, along with the logo of the institution.
The Elephant is considered as a symbol of power and strength across various cultures. It has been of great use in creation of the greatest Mega-structures from time immemorial. Thus, we can see an elephant in Ellora too, in every carving, where the architects of those times have paid their respects to the Elephant in every possible way. Similarly, Ar. Pranav Shankar has tried to bring the elephant into the design, but in a more silent yet symbolic way, where the pillars act as four legs and the curved freestanding mass acts as the trunk of the elephant.
The design also demanded for a compound wall re-design and security cabin. The compound wall has also been designed by the Architect with full consideration of the requirements of the institution as a campus. Instead of providing simple railings, he has tried to bring into the design, even the modern-day engineering masterpieces like the Bandra-Worli Sea Link which have played a major role in proving the country’s engineering prowess. The design also houses an LED scroll panel within one of the columns displaying the date, time and current prices of engineering materials thus making the setup an informative and technological one. Further, Ar. Pranav Shankar has also made way for landscaping which proves that nothing is complete without mother nature's intervention. The lighting scheme for the night-time has also been designed by the Architect, keeping in mind the colors of the logo of the Institution of Engineers and their importance.
Creator and Designer of the Iconic Structure - Architect Pranav Shankar (from Mumbai)
Structural Engineers: Landmark Consultants, Aurangabad
(The Structure was inaugurated; on the 17th of October 2021, by the auspicious hands of Dr. Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance as Chief Guest and Engineer Vijay Ghogare, Chief Engineer - Water Resource Department – Aurangabad Region as Guest of Honor.)