Gun House (Charles Correa Now)
Militry Education Campus, Mahaveer Marg, Old City, Khanpur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380054, India

Built for the Ahmedabad Rifle Association, the Gunhouse has seen a lot of changes. The building consists of two blocks, each of 12x12 meters. Unconventional diagrids were used in the construction, supported by four columns in the middle of the walls rather than the ends.

Over time the building has been modified as it has taken on new functions. However, the office of the Rifle Association (which commissioned Gunhouse) still looks much like it did when the building was inaugurated. I met Mr Chandrakant Shah, who has been working in the office since 1976. He told me about how they have retained the structure and how they have been able to recover its costs. Pointing to the ceiling, he said, "Even these fans are as old as the building. They were installed in 1962, and they are still working. This building was built at the cost of 3 lakhs. After its construction, Gunhouse rented it out for sixty-six years. We had taken a loan from Ahmedabad Cooperative Bank and repaid it in 6 years from rents. We used to charge 6,000 rent back then and collected 72,000 rent in a year."

In 1969, after the loan was paid off, the Rifle Association office, which had been in the old city since 1947, moved into Gunhouse. Mr Chandrakant also told me that the building is also designed to be 'bomb proof'. He said, "In the early days, it used to store around 10,000-15,000 units of ammunition, so it was a risk; even a fire was a risk. This is why all the walls are made of einforced cement concrete. Look at these four strong pillars, which support the structure."

The walls at the office entrance are embellished with a series of black and white photographs, almost as if they are looking over (or after) the office. "They were the people who were presidents, mayor of Ahmedabad. The first one was Dadasaheb Mavlankar, the first president in 1947. The second one is Chinulal Chivan Bhai, who was the mayor of Ahmedabad. The third one is TG Prabhu, who started Gunhouse. He was active in the independence movement after 1947 and also started the Rifle Club of Ahmedabad. The last one is our ex-chairman, Babu Bhai, also the owner of Natraj Cinema. They all were well known." says Mr Chandrakant.

In 1967, ironically, the office of Rifle Association also held an agency of LPG gas which was in business until 2005. Remnants of the agency's presence can still be seen in different office areas in the form of posters and cards.

The facade facing the road is still recognizable, although it too has been modified. The two blocks behind it have transformed beyond recognition. The first floor is rented to a gym and a garment-making unit. "A lot of people come here to photograph," said the gym owner, who has been just trying to make ends meet since he rented the gym just before the COVID pandemic hit India. On the other side, the garment factory accommodates around 20 migrant workers, mostly from western Uttar Pradesh. The switchboards have been replaced in most areas, and the space modified to accommodate gym equipment and tailoring units on both ends of Gun House.

I asked Mr Chandrakant what has changed since the building was initially constructed, to which he replied, "We haven't changed anything in this gunhouse office, but other portions have been changed. We had a Dhaba [hotel] and terrace on the third floor, which we sold off, and they've done new construction there. That person has converted it into his residence. He is now in America. In 2002, we sold off the backside of the ground floor as well. Both the areas on the first floor are rented. This matter has been going on in the court since 2011. We are not giving into them [people who have rented the first floor]; they want the possession of the building. The inside structure will be the same for everyone because it is so strong that we cannot even pin a nail in these walls."

-Nipun Prabhakar, 2021

Militry Education Campus, Mahaveer Marg, Old City, Khanpur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380054, India
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