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Planning, organizing and coordinating an Architectural students tour

 We recently had the opportunity to organise a tour for the 7th semester students of Architecture from Manipal College. The group was travelling to Goa to case study students housing. We got on board as a travel consultant just a week before their scheduled arrival in Goa. 

Some of the larger campuses in Goa are 

Within a week we had to get permissions to visit these campuses, plan the logistics and prepare a daily scheduling. 7 days may seem a lot of time to put this all together but we were under pressure because our scchedule was depended on these permissions and we were anxiously awaiting an affermative reply from the administrative department of these campuses. After all the students were traveling all the way to Goa only for these case studeis. 

All 3 campuses were in 3 different parts of Goa and the students chose to stay in the touristy Calangute. So travel to and from the hotel had to be factored in. As per the dates of travel, 1 of the days was a Sunday and no visits to any of these campuses were possible on a Sunday. 

Saturday, Monday and Tuesday were the only days the visits were possible, We were little sceptical if we would get the permission to visit any of these campuses on a Saturday. More over the students were arriving by train, the arrival time at Thivim railway station was 1150hrs. Even if we get permission, the students had to go to the hotel, check in, have lunch and then travel for the visit. There was also the possibility of the train arriving late. The date of arrival was 29th July and the west coast was reeling under a month of very heavy rains due to which most trains were running late on the Konkan railway route.

Day 01 | Saturday | Luck did play its part in everything falling into place
BITS had some college event so the only window possible for the visit was a Saturday afternoon, but they were strict about the timing that no visits were not possible post 1700hrs. We got lucky with the train journey, the train departed Udupi and arrived Goa perfectly in time. Visiting BITS was a priority so the students drove straight from the railway station to the campus. Anticipating delay in train arrival we had organised packed lunch. We had negotiated with a cafe to deliver packed lunch at the station. Proper coordination with the cafe made sure that the packages arrived in time. One of the many things we could pull through because we are a Goa based travel company. It would have been slightly more difficult if we were a company based out of Mumbai or any other city. 

Making sure, good quality food, hygenically packed and delivered on time was crucial and we could pull it off because we had foot on the ground to follow up with the cafe since morning. With the train arriving in time and the packed lunch in the bus meant we had an additional hour of buffer time. So we had quick discussion with the faculties and decided to have a short break at Mall de Goa, students could take a break here and refresh themselves before the case study BITS. 

We reached BITS in time and was met with the Estate Manager who showed us around, students could also visit the housing block as the fresh batch was yet to join and the rooms were vacant. After the visit to the campus we drove back to the hotel, to check in and overnight stay

Day 02 | Sunday | The only day for some sightseeing and relaxation
No visits to campuses were possible on this day so we planned the day around visiting the Museum of Goa (MOG) which is designed by Ar.Dean Dcruz. The space is Goa's largest contemporary art gallery telling the story of different aspects of Goa from it's history to it's politics to it's popular culture. Some of the most acclaimed artists of Goa's works are showcased here including Dr.Subodh Kerker who is the curator of the space. 

Day 03 | Monday | When we ran out of luck yet pulled of an interactive session 
The first half of the day was planned for the Goa Institure of Management visit. The GIM Campus is beautiful on top of a hill and overlooking the beautiful western ghats in Sakhlim. We were lucky to have this visit during the monsoon season the views were stunning. Apart from the beautiful campus the challenge for us as travel planners was, after the visit where do we have lunch. There is nothing around the campus. the timing for the visit was 1000 hrs to 1300hrs. We could not find a decent restaurant near by, also the town nearest to the campus had narrow roads and even if we found a good place the bus could not access it and we could not expect the students to walk long distances after a hectic case study of walking around a large campus. We requested the canteen at the campus and after initial reservations they agreed, which saved us time. 

After lunch we make the long drive back to Calangute, we had initially planned a visit to Studio Matter, other than design, Studio matter has got various publications and initiatives that document contemporary Architecture and we plugged an interaction with the team at their beautiful studio. The studio itself is small and could not have accommodated 40 studnets, the plan was to gather at the lawns but due to incessent rains the lawns were inundated and it was not possible to have the session. Our friends at Studio Matter was kind enough to have Ar. Ankit George one of their senior Architects come to the hotel and make a presentation of a few projects right from conceptualization to execution. Thus after a mild hiccup and with the good will of team at Studio Matter we pulled of a fruitful day of case studies and an interactive session. 

Day 04 | Tuesday | A small calrification that saved us the whole tour 
The new NIT Campus which is allmost ready, but hasnt begun operations yet, it is located at Cuncolim towards the southern tip of Goa. The permission to visit the campus was obtained, but there was a slight confusion, we got an email with the permission from the operational campus in Ponda which is in a different direction. The confusion in our mind was are we visiting the opeational campus in Ponda or the under construction campus in Cuncolim. We made multiple calls and spoke to someone in the administrative department snce the day before to get calrity but we were not getting any confirmation of which campus to visit, if we drove to the wrong campus, it would have ruined a productive day. With this confusion in mind and without a confirmation from the administrative department we begin our journey hoping that we end up in the right campus. Enroute we get a call from NIT confirming that our visit is for the Cuncolim campus. With a sigh of relief we drive south and when we reach there we were surprised, the team there had made arrangements for our visit and we were hosted well, the experience that the students got in an allmost ready project was invaluable, apart from that the civil engineers prepared a very detailed presentation which gave many technical information. 

For this day we had arranged an interactive session with Mozaic Studio headed by Ar.Dean Dcruz.-
 Factoring in the long journey from Cuncolim back to Mozaic Studio which is Porvorim we had to plan a quick lunch. Points for us travel planners to keep in mind when we organize lunches en-route are 
  • Bus should reach the restaurant or near it and there should be enough space for parking and turning a large bus around
  • Good and clean washrooms
  • The group wont have much time so we need quick service, a restaurant that is full with regular lunch customers wont do as we wont have time to wait for tables to get free
  • A comfortable space that could accomodate 40 guests. 
  • The space has to be close to Mozaic Studio, after the lunch we had to visit the studio in time and it could not be possible if the restaurant was off the route. 
Considering all this we found the perfect restaurnat after a little deliberation, - 

 the students reached in time, had a comfortable lunch and then we proceeded to reach Mozaic studio  in time for our appointment. Thus we managed to pull of another day of productive visits and interactions. 

Planning Architectural tours need a little understanding of the subject, a little sensitivity to the agenda and experience of having worked with different Architectural groups. Organising these tours are something that we truly enjoy, every tour is different and the learning from each tour adds to our experience. 


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