Climate engineering to promote visitor comfort at the world’s tallest temple
The Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, located in the area where Hindus believe the deity Krishna spent his youth, will be the tallest temple in the world upon its completion in 2020. The temple’s central tower will reach a height of 689 feet, and its base will cover 5.5 acres of the 62-acre plot on which it is situated. Outdoor space is central to the designers’ vision for the site, in part because Vrindavan’s forests and groves are considered to be places where Krishna engaged in outdoor pastimes in his early life.
The temple’s designers face two notable challenges. The first centres on the safety and performance of the building itself. As tall as a 70-storey building, the structure must be designed to withstand both wind and seismic activity. The second key challenge relates to visitor comfort inside the temple and on its large surrounding terrace and grounds. Vrindavan’s average daily temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius. The project team turned to us for specialized climate engineering expertise to help them design for the safety and comfort of temple visitors.
Our climate and meteorology specialists began by conducting in-depth statistical analysis of local climate data. We distilled large volumes of information--including years of wind data from Indira Gandhi International Airport, dry bulb temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation information--into a clear, meaningful portrait of the area’s conditions at various times of day throughout the year. We used this portrait to analyze the conditions that could be expected throughout the complex itself given its specific configuration, as well as the natural and built environment that surround it.
The next step was to consider how people would actually experience these conditions. The design of a public space must recognize the complex interplay of variables that affect people’s comfort--from objective climatic conditions to people’s clothing, expectations, level of exertion and individual physiology. At RWDI we use a robust, survey-based metric for human comfort that integrates a large range of variables. This approach produces an overall measure that can be used to inform and assess the design of outdoor spaces. We combine our meteorological analysis with the use of this metric to help designers shape environments that create the most comfortable conditions possible for the largest number of people.
Based on our analysis, we were able to isolate specific times and locations at which temple visitors faced an increased risk of discomfort. We offered a number of recommendations that could be adopted individually or together to mitigate these risks, keeping visitors as comfortable as possible in all seasons. These included:
- The creation of trellises wrapped with lush vegetation along the skywalk leading from the parking area to the temple. This feature provides shade and adds to visitors’ sense of welcome.
- The installation of grass turf along the terrace surrounding the temple to give visitors a cool, soft surface to walk on.
- The addition of extra ponds and fountains along the terrace.
- The incorporation of a system to let water flow among the various water features in ways that maximize cooling effects for visitors--for instance, under the terrace floor to reduce the temperature underfoot for barefoot visitors, and along walkways to offer evaporative cooling.
In addition to this thermal comfort work, we supported the design of the temple itself by providing comprehensive wind tunnel studies for both its structure and its exterior envelope.
The Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir remains under construction. The design team has welcomed our analysis and continues to work toward the completion of a project that will bring increased attention and traffic to a site that has long held a special place for Hindus in India and around the world.