New Delhi, India

The Institute of Social Sciences in New Delhi is a carefully conceived response to a severely constrained context, defined by a narrow and deep plot, with a shared party wall on one side and a three meter set back on the others. It faces on a major arterial road with heavy traffic.

The plan evolved using the shared party wall zone for services, stairs, elevator, vertical shafts and circulation with two working wings extending around a central garden courtyard and two atrium gardens, providing shade and ventilation. Diagrammatically, this became a row of five square footprints, with the first, middle, and last squares being open to sky garden atria.  The result is a fabric of open exterior, and ‘in-between’ working spaces, within a diverse building program.  There are meeting rooms, a library, administrative areas, faculty offices, research areas, open courts, a subterranean café, auditorium and gardens.

The design contains numerous ‘hang-out spaces’ in courtyards and terraces that step down into basement activity levels. Low walls become seating for informal meetings, cupping small groups together. The landscaped terraces running under the entire building generate diversity within a carefully knitted visual fabric. The three vertical atrium gardens surrounding the two working wings create shaded microclimates in the hot Delhi summers, shading and ventilating the interior spaces. Passages connecting the two wings with the services on each level overlook the central courtyard atrium, becoming verandahs sharing the dense gardens below.

The building is intricately finished in tooled Jaisalmer stone, sand stone ‘jaalis,’ metal work and a variety of polished flooring stones, set into intricate designs. Drawing on the Moghul craft traditions of the region, and employing carefully articulated spatial transitions; the institute creates a clear separation from the chaotic ‘exterior’ world and its pristine interior spaces, integrating gardens with crafted built form.



LocationNew Delhi, India

Built Up Area1,252 Square Meters

Site Area0.42 Acres



The Institute of Social Sciences

Prime Contractor

Laxmi Builders, New Delhi


Structural Design : Agora Consultants, New Delhi

Landscape Design : Ar. N.G. Shastri, New Delhi

MEP Design : Krim Engineering, New Delhi

Interior Design : Pradeep Sachadeva Associates, New Delhi

Construction Management : Prof. Narayan Swamy


Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw

Design Team

Prof. Christopher Benninger, Madhav Joshi and Manisha Boradkar with Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates