The Gandhi Bhawan is a structure of modest scale, located in the southeast quadrant of the original campus of Panjab University. Along with the Fine Arts Centre (Teaching Block and Museum), Pierre Jeanneret’s University Library Building as well as the Students’ Centre, it forms the “Cultural Core” of the University. This “Cultural Core” was originally intended to be one of the major activity zones and central axes of the University’s Master Plan, wherein would be located all the ‘special’ structures conceptualised by Jeanneret, with the open-air theatre and the Convocation Hall marking its south-east and north-west terminals. This intended spatial organisation is not immediately clear when one visits the university today, since several changes to the original master plan, including the non-implementation Jeanneret’s Convocation Hall and introduction of several new structures have impaired its legibility. Nevertheless, despite this, several design decisions, such as the considerable distance and the vast expanse of green lawns, a prominent row of tall palm trees along the approach road, the exclusive use of white external surfaces as also its distinctive form – continue to add to the visual integrity of the Gandhi Bhawan. It is set apart from all surrounding structures and upholds its intended position as the ‘geographic and symbolic centre of Panjab University’s cultural core’ (Joshi 1999).
The Panjab University Campus itself is located in Sector 14, in the northeast quadrant of the original plan of Chandigarh.It now extends to Sector 25 of Chandigarh. Bound by Madhya Marg on the northeast edge, Vidya Marg on the southeast, Dakshin Marg on the southwest edges, and the Patiali-ki-Rao Reserve Forest on the northwest, the University campus is akin to an independent township. Besides buildings to house the teaching and other functions of a University, the campus also accommodates housing as well as other social and cultural amenities for its students’ and staff. Though separate, the campus is closely linked with the rest of the city. A large part of the University contains a number of historically significant structures (apart from the Gandhi Bhawan), constitutes a well demarcated “heritage zone”. As described by Kiran Joshi in Documenting Chandigarh, her seminal work on Chandigarh’s architectural heritage, This zone differs from all others (in Chandigarh) on account of its function, activity structure, the extremely generous scale of its open spaces, and an unusual architectural vocabulary not used elsewhere in the city. It also becomes significant for a collection of buildings representing a different aspect of Pierre Jeanneret’s creative potential. (Joshi, 1999)