An architectural tribute to Bhai Kanhiya

The proposed gurdwara design centres on providing free medical based services to Sanggat and public, to help the sick where possible


Gurdwara Design | 15 May 2017 | Asia Samachar |

By Vishal J. Singh

Bhai Kanhiya was undeniably an astonishing man.

A faithful devotee and follower of The Ninth Master, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Bhai Kanhiya was compassion personified in human form. We have all heard stories about his selfless serving of the wounded on the battlefield, by giving precious sips of water to friend and foe alike, regardless where their individual loyalties lay. Via these stories, we see through his loving acts of mercy that he truly did see all of mankind as belonging to one race and saw no discrimination between anyone, which fuelled his spirit and determination to serve all those in need, without making judgments based on caste, creed or colour. Undoubtedly this spirit of compassion lies at the essence of what makes him a true Sikh, and what makes him such an endearing figure to the Guru himself and to the countless generation of Sikhs from the past till the present. As mentioned before, he is known to have served water to the dying and to all who lay clinging to life itself in the hopes that the sewa he provided would help nurse the wounded back to health. In the spirit of that selfless sewa focusing on the restoration of good health to those who lay sick and feeble, the concept for this proposed Gurdwara design was conceived, as a tribute to such a kind and merciful soul.

Inspired by his kind, selfless and compassionate temperament, the proposal for the following Gurdwara design is centered on the idea of providing free medical based services to the Sanggat and to members of the public, Sikh and non-Sikh alike, to help the sick where possible. This design proposal embodies the idea of combining the primary function of a Gurdwara, which of course is a house of prayer for the followers of the Sikh faith, and as a community centre as well, while providing an additional form of sewa, which is to provide to the public a scope of free medical services to those in need to help them recover back to good health.

Gurdwara by lakeside | Sancturary for healling – Vishal J Singh

The Gurdwara complex based on this proposal incorporates the idea of having individual medical clinics, called Capsules, attached to the design of the complex itself. The circular units as seen in the image above, identified with a series of red coloured panels on the left of the image above bordering the lake, are arranged next to the Main Darbar Sahib complex, which is designed as a circular hall as well, which in turn is connected to a Langgar Hall that is also designed as a circular structure to create a sense of unity between all the buildings of this proposed design.

Circular elements, such as the design of the walls were favoured over straight lines ( that tend to create box – like structures )  and were emphasised in this design because curved lines are more graceful, “softer” and elegant to visually experience rather than the rigidity and hardness of straight lines, and fits in with a natural landscape better from an aesthetic point of view. The element of water in this proposal too plays a significant role in the overall design of the Gurdawara, as water is a important natural element that helps to create a serene and tranquil atmosphere for the Sanggat who come to pray and serve here.

Gurdwara by lakeside | Sanctuary for healling – Vishal J Singh

The entrance of the Gurdwara is marked by a series of timber posts and stone plazas and walls, which are natural materials that create a calm impression upon entering the premises. The main entrance is then divided into two paths, where the main path leads to the Darbar Sahib and the Langgar Hall, passing by the Nishan Sahib Plaza, while the other entrance leads to a circular path connected to the Capsules allowing direct access for physicians and patients alike, bordered by a water feature pond and views of the lake itself.

Gurdwara by lakeside | Sanctuary for healling – Vishal J Singh

Entering through main gate and proceeding straight takes the Sanggat straight to the Main Darbar Sahib and The Langgar Hall, where the Nishan Sahib Plaza is located adjacent to both structures. The Darbar Sahib is crowned with a lotus dome, referring to a sculptural concrete dome that is based on the shape of a lotus, a ‘kamal’, subtly symbolising love and purity in our art and poetry. Both these structures have glass walls all around to allow for views of the surrounding environment, which in this location consists of the lake and the verdant greenery to be visually enjoyed at any given spot and to help create a serene and soothing landscape for the Sanggat to enjoy.

Gurdwara by lakeside | Sanctuary for healling – Vishal J Singh

The site in which this Gurdwara is placed, which is by the lakeside, plays an important role in the overall design of this complex. The Gurdwara complex is placed next to a lake, and the three individual medical units are placed nearer to the lake, as to allow the soothing presence of water help the sick to recover and be restored to good health. Each of these three individual medical units, the Capsules, take full advantage of the views and close proximity of the lake as to allow patients enjoy a serene landscape to aid in their recovery. These Capusles are visually identified by a series of red coloured panels located at the exterior wall of the structure, as red and white are international symbols for medical structures and buildings all over the world.

The Capsules as seen in the image above, marked by the distinctive red panels, have clear, direct access to the views of the lake and are connected by a circular timber deck pathway shaded by a canopy above. These Capsules consist of health-based facilities that offer all sorts of medical services such as dentistry, health restoration and recovery, medical checkups and diagnoses, and so forth as part of the sewa given at this Gurdwara, and are generally designed as individual clinics that can be structurally attached to the complex of the Gurdwara.

The design concept for this Gurdwara was inspired by the acts of restorative mercy that Bhai Kanhyia would perform when in service of the Ninth Master upon being summoned to go into battle. He saw no difference between the victor and the vanquished on the battlefield, as both laid gasping for their final breath, and helped all those in need medically wherever he could. Such exemplary behaviour embodies the divine philosophies of “service above self” that is contained within the teachings of the Sikh faith and this design for this Gurdwara is an architectural tribute of sorts to the greatness of his deeds in the hopes that if such a medically based service can be provided in any Gurdwara complex, we would always be reminded of the kindness of the Bhai Kanhiya and aspire to help others where we possibly can as well.

Waheguru Bless.

Vishal1aVishal J.Singh, an aspiring architect, holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur


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