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Singapore students’ master plan for Nalanda Univ

A group of architecture students in Singapore have drawn up a master plan for the revival of ancient Nalanda University in India.

Singapore: A group of architecture students here have drawn up a master plan for the revival of ancient Nalanda University in India which had East Asian and Chinese students during its functional period from 5th Century CE to 1197 CE.

"We will present the draft plan to the Nalanda University directors later this year and hope to participate in the final competition for Nalanda campus master plan," Ng Si Jia, the group leader of the architecture students from the National University of Singapore (NUS), said.

Architecture students, researchers, academics and diplomats met yesterday at the Nalanda-Siriwijaya Centre at NUS to discuss and review the plan, `The Nalanda University: A Mother Plan for the 21st Century Campus`.

The plan was put together by the all Chinese group of 14 architecture students and includes two students from the Nanjing University of China who are in Singapore on a student exchange programme.

The modern building concept-based plan stresses on including local farming on the 150-ha of the 180-ha site to make it self-sufficient in food supplies and incorporating the contribution of the community within the vicinity as has been the case at the ancient centre when 200 villages supplied food to the campus residents.

The plan also emphasizes on inculcating local cultural, environmental and ecological elements in the campus though the revived university would draw international students, including from China, according to the presentation.

Singapore`s top architect and NUS Adjunct Professor Tay Kheng Soon took the students on a week-long tour of India and visited the ruins of Nalanda in Bihar as well as the site for the new university, "to get them the feel of area" before working on the plan.

While it was only a study project, the target would be to participate in the eventual design and plan, stressed Miss Ng, who will graduate later this year from the NUS.

"But we will continue to pursue this project," she added, stressing that it was a life-time experience of visiting India and the Nalanda site from January 30 to February 6 this year, during which they met Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal.

Prof Tay said he believed the revival of Nalanda would help change the current faculty-based teaching to more open concepts.

International students would join the Nalanda University, which was scheduled to be functional from 2013.

Singapore, India, China and Japan are leading the main sponsors for reconstructing the University, estimated to cost USD 1 billion. More donations were being sought for the university project.