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Competition: Indian National War Museum, New Delhi

India’s government has launched an international competition for a new National War Museum in New Delhi (Deadline: 12 October)

Open to architect-led multidisciplinary teams, the two-stage contest seeks proposals for a landmark complex on a 4.3ha site close to Edwin Lutyens’ India Gate.

The project within New Delhi’s Princess Park Area will include a tunnel connecting the museum to the National War Memorial nearby.

New Delhi

New Delhi

Source: Image by Alexandra Rieder

Edwin Lutyens’ India Gate

According to the brief: ‘A National War Museum has been planned in New Delhi as a tribute to Indian soldiers and to showcase the nation’s military culture, customs, traditions and history.

‘The museum is envisaged to be a world-class, state of the art building which will be a “must visit” landmark for those visiting New Delhi.’

The 42.7 km² district of New Delhi was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker as the new capital of the British Raj in 1911, and organised around a dramatic central mall known as the Raj Path. New Delhi remains the centre of India’s government and is home to several national museums, institutes and sporting venues.

Last year the government withdrew an ambitious application for the area to be granted UNESCO world heritage status over fears the status could limit future construction projects.

New Delhi

New Delhi

Indian National War Museum contest site

The National War Museum, which is backed by India’s Ministry of Defence, will explore Indian military history, profile human the experience of war and showcase a range of significant artefacts and documents.

Multisensory auditoriums, galleries, exhibition areas, research rooms, restoration and archive facilities, storage vaults and other central facilities will all be required.

Proposals should preserve established trees on the prominent site and respect the ‘grandeur and style’ of nearby landmark buildings such as Baroda House and Hyderabad House.

Nine shortlisted teams will receive around $3,000 USD each to participate in the contest’s second stage and draw up detailed designs.

Schemes will be judged on their response to the local microclimate, respect for the surrounding buildings and landscape, user friendliness and flexibility.

The winner – set to be announced on 31 December – will receive approximately $75,000 and the design contract.

A second place prize of around $50,000 and third place prize worth $25,000 will also be awarded.

How to apply


The deadline for registration is 12 October

Contact details


View the competition website for more information

Salisbury Plain Heritage Centre case study: Q&A with Richard Woods

The partner at Purcell discusses lessons learned designing a new home for the Royal Artillery Museum in Wiltshire, England



Richard Woods

What issues are important when designing interpretative facilities for such sensitive subjects?

One of the most important issues was to get the balance right between communicating the facts of war and the experiences of war. The Royal Artillery Museum has an internationally significant collection to present. It has also collected many human stories. We worked hard with our client and their exhibition designers to understand and communicate the relationship between the objectification of artefacts and the reality of how and why they were used, and how this affected the experiences of those at war. It is all too easy to separate the reality of conflict from the cultural associations that objects hold. But, by focussing on personal histories of the people involved we are better able to understand the reality of war.



Salisbury Plain Heritage Centre by Purcell

How will your project create a new centre exploring Wiltshire’s military history?

Salisbury Plain is an exceptional landscape, shaped and preserved over the last century by the British Armed Forces’ occupation of the land. Building in this unique and protected place has allowed us to extend our ambition to communicate people’s experience of war beyond the confines of the exhibition itself. As such, the building is designed to be part of the landscape, amplifying the visitor’s relationship to the land, playing with contours, degrees of enclosure, and the dynamics of elevation and trajectory when framing key views.

Setting up strong contrasts, the lower floor level provides an immersive exhibition environment, deliberately denying the visitor the liberty of views out. The extensively glazed upper floor level is much more outward looking, aligned to take in fantastic views that include the Southern Transit Route, which will continue to be used by the armed forces as a track for military vehicles.



Salisbury Plain Heritage Centre by Purcell

How would you set about designing a new national war museum within Edwin Lutyens’ New Delhi masterplan?

While Lutyens’s New Delhi presents a very different landscape to Salisbury Plain, the new museum will address a number of similar concerns. These will range from how to create a suitably strong architectural presence while establishing a harmonious relationship with the Lutyens’ masterplan, how much to draw on the wider physical and cultural landscape when presenting its collection and how immersive or outward-looking its environment should be. A disciplined control of these dynamics will be key to addressing this design challenge.



Source: Image by Andrew Putler

Salisbury Plain Heritage Centre by Purcell