The National War Memorial inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on February 25 is a unique one both in terms of concept and its design. Designed by Chennai based WeBe Design Lab, a decade old team of eight partners from the School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, is located in the heart the Lutyens Zone in the Capitol Complex in New Delhi. Rs 176 crore project, the National War Memorial is designed as complex spread over 42 acres of lawn 1, lawn 2 and lawn 3 and part of lawn 4, in the C – hexagon, comprising of Param yodha sthal, the Rashtriya Samar Smarak and the plazas.
The construction of the memorial had to adhere strictly to the guidelines of the Central Vista Committee, Delhi (the governing body of the Raj Path for Lutyens Delhi) and the structure had to be designed in such a way that the height of the built form not to exceed 1.5 meters above the ground level. The design of the National War Memorial was conceived carefully to retain the existing open character of the public space and the aesthetical sanctity of the Lutyens planning.
The design concept of the National War Memorial is inspired from the notion of Chakravyuha, one of the most efficient battle formation techniques used in the ancient warfare. The design intends to create an experience of walking amidst soldiers in a war field in its varied layers. The concept is interpreted as five concentric circles of varied elements as layers with its own functionality and conveying different emotions (protection-bravery-sacrifice), at different levels.
The outermost layer or circle is the Circle of Protection or the Rakshak Chakra, followed by Circle of War or the Yudh Path. The next layer is the Circle of Sacrifice or Tyag Chakra, then the Circle of Bravery or Veer Chakra and finally Rebirth or Punarjanam.
The landscape of the National War Memorial(Rashtrapati Samar Smarak) is inspired from Mughal gardens which emphasizes the belief of gardens being the door to the heaven. Some features adopted from the Mughal gardens include the sequential arrangement of different layers of the landscape. The outer ring has flower bearing trees arranged in a perfect order like a fleet of soldiers. The next ring is an earth berm followed by small and medium size shrubs with white flowers and fragrance symbolising peace and purity.
The Param Yodha Sthal is separate and a unique space for all the jawans who have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest form of recognition given for military personnel. The August Kranti Maidan is developed as the Param yodha sthal dedicated to the Param vir chakra awardees. The park is designed with the existing trees in position and well laid out pathways. The landscaping accommodates the bronze statues of 21 param veer chakra awardees.
WeBe Design Lab had won the international competition to design the National War Memorial of India hosted by the Ministry of Defence in 2016.
(source: WeBe Design Lab)