Conservation groups urge preservation of Charles Correa’s endangered modernist stadium

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Conservation groups, including the Twentieth Century Society and World Monuments Fund, are urging for the preservation of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India. The stadium, designed by Indian architect Charles Correa, is at risk of being demolished as part of Ahmedabad’s bid to host the 2036 Olympics. The Twentieth Century Society spokesperson described the stadium as a remarkable example of innovative post-Independence design and called for it to be saved.

According to local newspaper Ahmedabad Mirror, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has given initial approval for the demolition of the stadium, with plans to replace it with a modern facility. The stadium, built in collaboration with engineer Mahendra Raj, features a sculptural facade and partially covered stands with a cantilevered, concrete roof. It has fallen into disrepair and has been declared unfit for use by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

The World Monuments Fund named the stadium on its most under-threat buildings list in 2020 due to its architectural significance and its representation of India’s post-independence period. The organisation worked with the Getty Foundation to create a conservation plan for the stadium and is now calling for the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to reconsider its demolition plans.

The demolition of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium follows a trend of significant 1960s architecture being threatened with demolition. Earlier this year, it was announced that Kenzo Tange’s modernist gymnasium and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad dormitories, designed by Louis Kahn, are also at risk. Other structures facing demolition include Japan’s Nakagin Capsule Tower and Scotland’s brutalist megastructure, The Centre Cumbernauld.

The conservation groups are hopeful that the city of Ahmedabad will seize the opportunity of its Olympic bid to revitalize and preserve the historic stadium, setting an example for preservation efforts across the country. The fate of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium remains uncertain, but the conservationists continue to advocate for its protection.

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