Toll plazas are one of the most neglected forms of contemporary architecture. Millions of people use it every day, some to cross territories and others to earn a living. When the Vadodara Bharuch toll plaza was to be built on NH 8 in Gujarat, the client wanted to create a new bench mark in the tolling industry. This led to intense research, which broke down the toll plaza into fundamental elements based on need, form and function. Essential to a tolling system are island booths to seat people who collect toll, a canopy for weather protection, an office or management block and a tunnel to connect the islands with the management. The interesting aspect of a toll plaza being that it never sleeps! As a function it has to operate round the clock.
The canopy and booth were found to play an important role in creating a strong visual dialogue and hence, it came as no surprise when the client asked Archohm to build them the ‘best canopy’. Archohm played with various concepts and then finally decided to recreate the notion of ‘canopy’ itself by removing it altogether and providing independent winged shelters.
The wing-like membrane structures were devised so that they could be vertically aligned for most of the months with a mechanically controlled system for weather protection. For the additional safety of the employees, concrete booths were designed and exaggerated to a height of 10 meters. Functionally, these tall dramatic structures provided an increased visibility for the approaching traffic and their colored signage centric lighting helped enhance the entire visual experience of the plaza.
The two prominent building blocks namely the control block and the office block also reflect the ‘wing’ concept as they both comprise of wings jutting out of central glass towers. The control block has been positioned centrally for better visual access and future expansion options of the plaza. The office block stands adjacent to the site which gives it more privacy. The blankness of the façades is to reduce the impact of smoke and sound on the buildings due to heavy vehicular traffic. Also, courtyards and side windows have been well placed to capture natural light.
Experientially, Vadodara Bharuch toll plaza is like an oasis on the highway and marks the next generation of design in the tolling industry
Location: Gujrat, IN