Conservation groups call for Charles Correa’s under-threat modernist stadium to be saved

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium by Charles Correa

Conservation groups including the Twentieth Century Society and World Monuments Fund have called for the 1960s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India, to be saved from demolition.

The groups made statements following news that the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, which was designed by Indian architect Charles Correa, is set to be demolished as part of Ahmedabad’s bid to host the 2036 Olympics.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India
The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad is under threat of demolition

“The SVP Stadium is a modernist Indian coliseum: a remarkable example of innovative and expressive post-Independence design, and one of architect Charles Correa’s most distinctive buildings,” said a Twentieth Century Society spokesperson.

“We join international voices in calling for this architectural and sporting landmark to be saved, and not face the same fate as the Hall of Nations in Delhi [designed by Raj Rewal] – demolished in 2017 despite a global outcry.”

Demolition “in-principle greenlit”

The stadium is set to be demolished and replaced with a modern facility ahead of the potential Olympics in 2036, reported local newspaper Ahmedabad Mirror.

According to the publication, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has “in principle greenlit the plan” to demolish the building.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India
It was designed by Charles Correa in the 1960s

Designed in collaboration with engineer Mahendra Raj, the stadium was built largely from pre-cast components and has a distinctive appearance with a sculptural facade. Its stands are partially covered by a cantilevered, concrete roof.

In recent years the stadium has fallen into a state of disrepair and has now been declared unfit for use by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

Stadium “characterised India’s post-independence period”

The stadium was named in the World Monuments Fund’s most under-threat buildings list in 2020 due to its architectural significance.

According to the organisation it “represents the progressive ideals and experimental spirit that characterised India’s post-independence period” and is “notable for its visionary use of concrete and cantilevering”.

At the time, the organisation worked with the Getty Foundation to create a conservation plan. It is now urging the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to reconsider its demolition plans.

“As the city of Ahmedabad plans its 2036 Olympic bid, we are optimistic that this is an opportunity to breathe new life into the historic stadium and recommit to its conservation,” said the conservation organisation.

“We welcome the Amdavad Municipal Corporation’s proposal to re-examine our conservation plan in light of the Olympic bid and hope that the project can become an icon for preservation and revitalisation across the country.”

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India
The stadium has a distinct sculptural form

The building is the latest significant piece of 1960s architecture to be under threat of demolition with news that Kenzo Tange’s modernist gymnasium is set to be demolished coming earlier this year and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad dormitories designed by American architect Louis Kahn also under threat.

In Japan, demolition has begun on the Nakagin Capsule Tower, while in Scotland a brutalist 1960s concrete megastructure named The Centre Cumbernauld is set to be demolished.

The photography is courtesy of the World Monuments Fund.

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