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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Museum of Indian PMs design a rip-off, claims architect Rewal

The museum is being built by the Centre at a cost of Rs 271 crore on the premises of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). 

Written by Shiny Varghese | New Delhi |
Updated: October 18, 2018 1:58:18 am
An artist’s impression of the upcoming museum at Teen Murti complex

Architect Raj Rewal (84) claimed that the design of the yet-to-be-built Museum of the Prime Ministers of India in the Teen Murti complex has been plagiarised from his design of the Library Block at the State University of Performing and Visual Arts, Rohtak. The museum is being built by the Centre at a cost of Rs 271 crore on the premises of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).

A letter from his office to NMML Director Shakti Sinha, on Wednesday, reads: “We are astonished to notice that the salient feature of the Ashoka Chakra (Dharma Chakra) on the slanting roof of the proposed design is a rip-off of the design by Mr Raj Rewal… In fact, this building is the focal point of the entire campus of 22 acres of land… The design of the campus and the library in particular had been published prominently in various architectural magazines in India and abroad, which received wide acclaim for its innovative design.”
Raman Sikka of Sikka Associates Architects, which is designing the museum, said, “We’ve conceptualised the design to represent the hands of Prime Ministers shaping a rising nation, and the Dharma Chakra from the flag is a symbol of a rising India. The allegation of plagiarism is baseless; our concept is unique. One cannot break down parts of a building to find other similar parts. The building and its concept have to be seen as a whole.”

the Library Block at the State University of Performing and Visual Arts, Rohtak

Rewal’s design for the four-year-old University Campus has as its centre a cylindrical sandstone-clad volume, which has an inclined disc with photovoltaic cells. A flight of stairs takes you from the auditorium below to the conference room on the first floor, and library on the upper level.

When contacted, Sinha said he hadn’t seen the letter: “In the jury, we had a member from the School of Planning and Architecture too. We collectively chose the design. We will certainly investigate the architectural plans and ensure there is no violation of any legal norms.”

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Copies of the letter were also sent to the ministries of Culture, and Housing and Urban Affairs. Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma had laid the foundation stone for the museum Monday.

Rewal, who was chairman of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission from 2011-2014, has to his repertoire projects such as the Parliament Library, Asiad Village Complex, and the recently demolished Hall of Nations at Pragati Maidan.

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