The Secret Of Campus Design with CCBA

The lecture hall complex proposal for IIT, Hyderabad – Ar. Christopher Charles Benninger (CCBA, 2016) (Source: Archello)

Campus design and Christopher Charles Benninger are synonymous in the world of architecture. Ever since he set foot on the Indian architectural scene in 1962, Ar. Benninger has been a part of the creation of numerous iconic educational institutions in India and abroad. CCBA Designs (Christopher Charles Benninger Architects), the architectural practice founded by Ar. Benninger in 1999, has been recently awarded with highly prestigious commissions for the architectural design of premier educational institutions: the Azim Premji University at Bengaluru; and the Indian Institute of Technology, in Hyderabad, along with the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata. These commissions frame the body of knowledge that Ar. Benninger has developed over a period of more than half a century of practice in the contemporary Indian architectural milieu.

Site plan drawing of the Mahinda World College, Pune – Ar. Christopher Charles Benninger (CCBA, 2001) (Source: Aga Khan Award For Architecture)

Ar. Benninger demonstrates his mastery of ‘placemaking’ eloquently in the Mahindra United World College masterplan. This ability to carve out meaningful public containers from the challenging terrain of the Sahyadris is a testament to his skill in extracting detailed well-connected schema from the administrative requirements of these institutions. Benninger was awarded a Business week/Architectural Record Award in 2000 and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001 for his use of local materials and architecture in the design of the campus.

The Academic building at Mahinda World College, Pune – Ar. Christopher Charles Benninger (CCBA, 2001) (Source: Archello)

In Benninger’s words, “As architects we bring to the context more than just the utilitarian goals…we seek the poetry in the place, the lyricism in the built-forms and vibrancy in the inhabitants’ lives.”

Digital Sketch of the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies  , Pune – Ar. Christopher Charles Benninger (CCBA, 2007) (Source:CCBA)

His ability to work with large scale campuses is in part due to his training as an urban planner during his time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has developed several frameworks to his approach to space-planning and meaningful placemaking, some of which he elucidates on in his book, ‘The Architecture Of Modern India’ (ISBN: 978-8857226873). Benninger’s best known architectural works are a cluster of academic and educational campuses in the mountainous region between Mumbai and Pune in India. These include the Center for Development Studies and Activities, the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, the YMCA International Camp at Nilshi; the Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies and the International School Aamby. His architecture unifies the abstract formality of Western architectural planning and spatial conditioning; with the earthy and site-inspired palette of materials and forms. The Centre for Life Sciences Health and Medicine in Pune is a radical departure from his earlier work in this regard, by employing incredibly sensitive space creation to aid in the recovery of its inhabitants. In this campus, Benninger adapts the complex functional program by employing sustainable building practices to bring human dignity and loving care back within the cultural continuum.

Centre For Life Sciences, Health And Medicine, Pune – Ar. Christopher Charles Benninger (CCBA, 2005) (

Ar. Benninger also subscribes to the spiritual tradition of ‘guru-shishya’. He has mentioned Ar. B. V. Doshi as being his architectural ‘guru’ amongst others including Gropius, Raje and Wright. His older book, “Letters To A Young Architect’ (ISBN: 978-1461123958 ) begins with a salutation to the architectural gurus he has had the fortune of meeting and learning from in his life. It is a poignantly beautiful happening, that the man who respects teachers and knowledge so much, is at the helm of creating some of India’s most influential educational institutions.

India House, Pune – Ar. Christopher Charles Benninger (CCBA, 2008) (Source:CCBA)

Comfortable with both extremes in scale and detail; from the urban planning and design of Bhutan to the architectural detailing of his studio-office-house ‘India house’, Christopher Charles Benninger is a pioneering Indian architect who is still going strong. His half a century’s worth of architectural and planning output is the living testimonial to his impact on India and beyond.

Designing spaces for learning is not a straight forward output – your design should nurture creativity, learning, and curiosity. The unifying language, developed by CCBA over 4 decades of practice, and it’s vocabulary consists of various design principles – scales and proportion, balance of inside and outside, design as a template between immediate and surrounding landscape and most of all, expression of materials in its natural form.

-Dariaus Choksi, Director – Architecture, CCBA Designs

In th 8-week ACEDGE STUDIO by Dariaus Choksi from the Christopher Charles Benninger Architects, we will explore the secrets of campus design. For course details please follow the link :

The studio will follow a case study demonstration methodology to express the lessons for campus design and  is intended mainly for:

  • Architecture students intrigued by the process of designing campuses
  • Teachers who are in charge of design studios at their institute
  • Practicing professionals who appreciate Ar. Benninger’s style and would like to learn from the masters at CCBA

Enroll now! The course begins on the 5th of January, 2019:

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