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Image © courtesy Raiji Architects

VOL 26 (6)

FEB 2013

` 200




Looking Back Thinking Ahead

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

let’s partner


An architect, photographer and thinker, Aga Khan Award nominee Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury shares his inspirations, aspirations and qualms in his search for a “new architectural tradition” in Bangladesh. Images: courtesy URBANA | Eric Chenal

A graduate from the Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka, Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury established URBANA with Marina Tabassum in 1995. After 15 years of remarkable creative resilience, the practice was nominated for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2010 for the design of the Chandgaon Mosque in Chittagong. IA&B: You have cited Louis Kahn as your greatest inspiration. Can you elaborate on the aspects of his work that have impacted you? KMC: As we all know, Kahn is widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and architects in recent memory. Not only has he advanced thought and philosophy in architecture but has also produced - and in some cases demonstrated his philosophy through - some enduring masterpieces. I return to his words very often, as it deals not only with ‘beginnings’ but has layers of thought with respect to ‘what will be’. Both these aspects are important, as they do away with fashion, trends or ‘isms’, again something which is at the core of what I seek. IA&B: The architecture of Bangladesh has a long history rooted in culture and religion. Is there any particular aspect/feature that you find especially fascinating? KMC: The geo-cultural region of Bengal holds a sea of inspiration. But the land-water-climate matrix that has influenced and many times generated the architecture was also responsible for its reduction to ruins. Therefore, while there are fascinating examples of brick, terracotta and other forms - not excluding the beauty of the ruins - the sheer volume of ‘lost’ architecture means there is scope and need for architecture to form a new tradition, if it were possible, and which would then warrant a fresh study of the historical examples in light of this impending ‘new tradition’. IA&B: What are your comments on the dwindling status of sketching and hand-draughting in the digital age? KMC: Computers and digital processes have had a most emphatic effect on the building industry, not only in the hugely increased efficiencies but in reducing construction and design times. Architecture, which arises out of the coming together of substances - real physical matter and light, space, sound and so forth - must involve, in the processes of its creation, the sensory response to such simple acts as sketching or the study of a physical model. The ‘body’ involvement of the designer in

the creative process - in lieu of the virtual connection of the digital alternative - can, I feel, better translate to an inspired participation on part of the architect in the created work. IA&B: You have stated that you prefer separating your practice from the influences of ‘the passing world’. Can you describe how your studio functions? KMC: My studio is located in the heart of the city but in a cul-de-sac and by the side of a lake. I encourage my team to think that we are in an island - where we hear everything, know everything but ‘reconsider’ everything. In this way it becomes possible to do research in a noise-shadow - by ‘noise’ I mean the proliferation of texts and images and what is fashionable, what sells and so on - leaving us the silence and unadulterated concentration for design work. IA&B: You have previously stated that ‘time is of the essence’. Can you please elaborate? KMC: I have felt that clients and architects give less time and focus to the process of design than to the execution of the design. But if architecture is a process, it is comparatively a slow one. As in construction, so in design, the processes demand time. In my studio, each project is given extended time for research and study so as to reach a level of innovation and original expression. For the process of design of architecture, there is no wrestling time. IA&B: Your work shows sensitivity to crafts, form, place-making and context. How are these attitudes important to your architecture? KMC: I seek to do an architecture which finds root in history with strong emphasis on climate, materials and context - both human and natural. This region has always been renowned for its crafts and handwork and by my close association with craftspersons, I have tried to incorporate detailing of materials which brings out the special aspect of this tradition. And I have rarely looked at forms as a separate entity but rather as a shaper of spaces, and

Studio interactions.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


the direction of prayer was all that was fixed and rest could be variable and close discussions with client and locals allowed for the acceptance of that rationale. IA&B: Are there any contemporary Indian practices/projects that you find particularly interesting? Why so? KMC: There are many and some have become very good friends. And there is a lot of thought and discourse that have resulted in some very sensitive works. But my concern is the other 99% - the cosmetic types that have filled the urban-scapes, especially in the real estate sector. In light of the spirit that is India, much remains to be desired in terms of architecture for the new vibrant economy.

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha.

which enters into a dialogue, however subtly, with the landscape and with its people. IA&B: The Friendship Centre at Gaibandha connects instantly with its users. How are such user-built form interactions important to architecture? KMC: Architects are like artists and poets except that their art is to be ‘used’ every day and their poetry must be heard and understood by those for whom the project became in the first place. In many of today’s overly optimistic energetic economies, the desire for iconic and expressionistic architecture seem to bypass this age-old wisdom. But architecture which is born only to attract will, possibly, in time pale in comparison to those that have risen out of deep considerations. IA&B: With the Chandgaon Mosque in Chittagong, you broke free from the norms of a traditional mosque, to fashion a contemporary language. Did you face any difficulties in reception? KMC: None at all, as it arose from a rational analysis of what is ‘essential’. One came to the realisation that the end wall in

Chandgaon Mosque, Chittagong

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

IA&B: How do you maintain a balance of tradition and ambition in your designs? KMC: By ambition, I understand the ambition of the project or the ambition of the people for whom the project is created. This in itself can fuel imagination in conjunction with the advantages of tradition. But what is to be guarded is the ambition of the architect himself, which invariably results in the play of ego of the designer. That is why I have been suspicious of the capacity of ‘signature’ architecture or architecture driven to be overtly attractive. IA&B: You have previously stated: ‘I wish I could be an optimistic; but don’t forget I live in Bangladesh’. How do you see your practice in the future of architecture in Bangladesh? KMC: Bangladesh is on the rise and it should continue to do so, pending political stability. But I don’t see myself restricted to Bangladesh - I much prefer the context of the Indian sub-continent. This is a region alive with culture and strong in its heritage: it has much to give by way of inspiration and asks of us to cover much ground in terms of architecture in particular and art in general. The project Friendship Centre at Gaibandha by URBANA is chronicled in this issue in the article titled ‘The Memory of a Ruin’ on page 44.

VOL 26 (6) | FEB 2013 | ` 200 | MUMBAI RNI Registration No. 46976/87, ISSN 0971-5509 INDIAN ARCHITECT AND BUILDER




Looking Back, Thinking Ahead

Principal Architect at Dhaka-based URBANA and Aga Khan Award nominee,

Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury shares his ambitions and reservations in his search for a “new architectural tradition” in Bangladesh.

40 CURRENT Chairman: Jasu Shah Printer, Publisher & Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah Chief Executive Officer: Hemant Shetty EDITORIAL Assistant Editors: Maanasi Hattangadi, Ruturaj Parikh Writers: Rashmi Naicker (Online), Sharmila Chakravorty, Shalmali Wagle Editorial Co-ordinator: Parikshit Vivekanand Design Team: Mansi Chikani, Prasenjit Bhowmick, Kenneth Menezes Event Management Team: Abhay Dalvi, Abhijeet Mirashi Subscription: Dilip Parab, Deven Arora Production Team: V Raj Misquitta (Head), Prakash Nerkar, Arun Madye Head Office: JMPL, 210, Taj Building, 3rd Floor, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001, Tel: +91-22- 4213 6400,+ 91 -22-4037 3636, Fax: +91-22-4037 3635 SALES Brand Manager: Sudhanshu Nagar E-mail: MARKETING TEAM & OFFICES Sales Co-ordinator: Christina D’sa E-mail:

Au courant updates on events, exhibitions, competitions and news.


The Memory of a Ruin

In resonance with the historic sites in its surroundings, the Friendship Centre

at Gaibandha by URBANA is a matrix of pavilions that reflect rural and

community ethos.



The Young Designers ‘13 demonstrate an unequivocal direction in their selection

of architectural agendas.


Silent Musings

Carved in the depths of its site, the Stone House by Soumya & Jills Architects is

an environmentally sensitive escape.


Weaving a Home

The Rohan Avriti Project in Bengaluru by Collage Architecture Studio creates a

Delhi: Preeti Singh / Manu Raj Singhal 803, Chiranjeev Tower, No 43, Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110 019 Tel: 011 2623 5332, Fax: 011 2642 7404, E-mail:,

model house, weaving in the idea of an ideal home.


Rustic Sophistication

Giving the aspirations of different generations a collective, tangible form,

Gujarat: Parvez Memon Mobile: 09769758712, Email:

Raiji Architects design the 32 Royal Enclave with a traditional yet futuristic

architectural expression.

Bengaluru/ Hyderabad: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: 09833104834, E-mail:


Reconnecting with Nature

Chennai / Coimbatore: Princebel M Mobile: 09444728035, 09823410712 E-mail:

The Riverside Retreat in Kotagiri by Senscape Architects Pvt Ltd studies

architectural styles of its context to extract lessons and reconnect with

the earth.


A ‘Triangular Prosody’

Pune: Parvez Memon Mobile: 09769758712, Email:

The Office for Huphen Fabricators Pvt Ltd in Nashik by Rohit Fegde

tackles a simple program and unexciting site with intentional complexity

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt. Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021

and experimentation.



Recycle, Repurpose… Transform

Using a climate-responsive, restorative strategy, Munjal Bhatt Architects alter

an abandoned warehouse in Bharuch, into a corporate guest house.

Mumbai Parvez Memon 210, Taj Building, 3rd Floor, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001, Tel: +91-22- 4213 6400,+ 91 -22-4037 3636, Fax: +91-22-4037 3635 Email:

Kolkata: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: 09833104834, E-mail:

Printed at M.B.Graphics, B-28 Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG.D.Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, , 210, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.


Picturesque Getaway

Repurposing an existing building into a contextually appropriate hotel, The

Retreat in Baigunay by Prashant Pradhan Architects is a haven amidst a

natural setting.



India Shining

A sustainable design, the Solar Pavilion by Studio VanRo in Yarra Village ensures

electricity in far-flung villages of the country.


An Unbroken Tradition

An outcome of cross-cultural ideas, the ‘Villa Ecologique’ in Nkok, Gabon by

Team Architects propagates the inherent way of life in the equatorial context.


Blurring Boundaries

Delhi-based It’s All About Design converts a redundant opaque factory into an

evanescent workplace, through clever elimination of boundaries.


Expressing Ethos

The College Architecture Studio Office in Bengaluru weaves the firm’s

philosophical ideals into a design that highlights simplicity and the importance

of team spirit.


Designing Langue

Creating design elements that are unique to the place, the Alliance Francaise

Education Centre in Mumbai by Traction Studio speaks more than one language.


An Urban Sanctuary

Vector Designs transforms a vacant land along the storm water channels

of Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune into a thriving ecological lung that benefits the

urban neighbourhood.


Eco Bench

Henri Fanthome Office for Architecture conceives an Eco-Bench for the Aravalli

Bio-Diversity Park, using recyclable eco-friendly materials.


Refrigerator Coffee Table

Arjun Rathi’s Refrigerator Coffee Table recreates identity by provoking thought

through an unusual yet functional design.


The Plane

Delhi-based Amit Khanna Design Associates creates The Plane, a dramatic

lighting fixture employing floating planes of wood and glass.

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt. Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Printed at M.B.Graphics, B-28, Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG.D.Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr. D. N. Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.



2013 Mock Firms International Skyscraper Competition Category Type Deadline

: : :

International Open to all March 1, 2013

Category Type Deadline

: : :

International Open to all April 9, 2013

With the theme “Rediscover the Future,” the competition aims to attract aspiring young design professionals who will be challenged to produce an iconic super-tall structure for Amman, Jordan and Chicago, IL. Programmatic targets include design solutions for a diverse and comprehensive vertical healthcare community. The finalists will be sharing the unique experience of interacting with leading design professionals and having their ideas evaluated by the same. The Mock Firms model aims to help facilitate the formation and function of simulated-architectural design firms from collegiate and secondary school students.

Taste in architecture is assumed to be like the taste of food. The pleasure derived at the sight of an appetising building is comparable to dinner at a nice restaurant. The competition consists of two parts: one conceptual and one practical. In the conceptual part, the participants are invited to make sketches of their visions of interaction between architecture and food - for both exhibition and publication. The second part of project is the realisation and includes the design of a terrace/verandah and summer pavilions of a café. The competition encourages architecture beyond typology, functions, rules and regulations.

For further information, log on to: Web:

For further information, log on to: Web:

Prix Ars Electronica 2013

2013 IVSA Conference: Call for proposals and papers

Category Type Deadline

: : :

International Open to all March 8, 2013

The Prix Ars Electronica has served as an interdisciplinary platform for everyone who uses the computer as a universal medium for implementing and designing their creative projects at the interface of art, technology and society. The Prix Ars Electronica is one of the most important awards for creativity and pioneering spirit in the field of digital media. The event calls for entries in seven categories, including a youth competition. Since internationally renowned artists from over 70 countries across the world participate in the Prix Ars Electronica, it has established itself as a barometer for trends in contemporary media art. For further information, log on to: Web:

SixtyNine-Seventy, The Spaces Between: An Urban Ideas Competition Category Type Deadline


International competition Architecture and Food: gourmanization of the space

: : :

International Open to all March 23, 2013

Category Type Deadline

: : :

International Open to all April 30, 2013

The Center for Urban and community research at the Goldsmiths, University of London has announced the International Visual Sociology Association 2013 Annual Conference with the theme ‘public sociology’. The organisers have dedicated the 2013 IVSA conference to the concept of the ‘public image’, and the ways that visual sociology can meet Burawoy’s challenge of bringing a sociological understanding of social life to a vibrant, active and diverse public. Public and urban sociology endeavours are expected to bring sociology into dialogue with audiences beyond the academy; an open dialogue in which both sides deepen their understanding of public issues in cities. For further information, log on to: Web:

World Design Capital 2016 Category Type Deadline

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International Open to all April 30, 2013

Salt Lake City, Utah boasts a stunning natural setting, numerous cultural amenities, a unique history, a vibrant retail core, and a thriving and diverse business community. Currently, it lacks connection between many of these elements. The design competition seeks to harness ideas from around the world that will activate the spaces between with creativity deeply rooted in the city’s rich context. The competition invites design teams to re-envision the circulation areas and passages of two blocks in Salt Lake City’s downtown; seeking comprehensive ideas for the in-between spaces, developing them into the connective tissue linking the area’s cultural amenities.

The World Design Capital, a biennial designation awarded to cities in recognition of design achievements on terms of city promotion and development, embarks on its fifth cycle with the 2016 designation. Since its inception by International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) in 2005, the WDC has increased in stature to become what is a highly coveted global title, garnering expressions of interest from every region in the world, and fostering citizen pride in the design accomplishments of WDC-designated cities. Cities are encouraged to compile and submit their bids along with the application form for 2016.

For further information, log on to: Web:

For further information, log on to: Web:

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


APPLIED: Research through Fabrication Date Venue

: :

February 28 - March 3, 2013 Dallas, USA

In its fourth year TEX-FAB is to continue the theme of APPLIED: Research through Fabrication which began with a competition in 2011, narrowed down to 4 finalists by the first-round jury at TEX-FAB 3.0 and proceeded to a second-round at the ACADIA 2012, Synthetic Digital Ecologies Conference. This year’s event will bring together leading practitioners whose focus on digital fabrication and design is breaking new ground. The exhibition is accompanied by a Keynote lecture by Lisa Iwamoto and a day-long symposia at the University of Texas at Arlington, School of Architecture. The final two days of the symposia are dedicated to a series of workshops led by a cadre of experts covering a broad range of topics. For further information, log on to: Web:

Ecobuild 2013 Date Venue

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March 5-7, 2013 London, UK

Ecobuild is considered to be the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. More than just an exhibition, Ecobuild aims to bring together communities from across diverse sectors to learn, share, innovate, experience and discover the future of sustainable building and construction. Ecobuild has already featured 1,549 exhibitors, a cutting-edge educational programme and dozens of interactive attractions. In 2012, it cemented its position in the industry, attracting over 57,000 attendees. This year. the arena brings together big debates and speakers to the heart of the exhibition with 12 streams, a three-day seminar programme featuring over 700 additional speakers and two additional one-day conference streams: Property and International. For further information, log on to: Web:

361° Conference: Architecture of Purpose


Date Venue

: :

March 6-8, 2013 Mumbai, India

Designing Design Education for India Date Venue

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March 13-15, 2013 Pune, India

The DDEI conference aims to bring together design educators, researchers and professionals from within India, Asia and around the world to discuss, deliberate and determine the nature and future of design education framework in India for the period 2014-2019. This conference aims to understand and anticipate the roadmap for Design Education in India for this ensuing period. The proceedings of the conference will contribute to design enabled nation building; contributions that will effectively pave way for the next generation design education in India. The conference is proposed to be a unique and engaging platform for discussing the design education in India. It is expected to be an outcome-oriented event and envisages moving beyond ubiquitous philosophical arguments to the real issues concerning design education and its implications on future design professionals. For further information, log on to: Web:

Future Traditions - 1 st eCAADe Regional International Workshop Date Venue

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April 4-5, 2013 Porto, Portugal

The eCAADe (the Association for Education and research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe) is promoting its 1 st International Regional Workshop, which is going to be held at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP). This initiative is titled “Future Traditions”, and it is composed of single-day workshop sessions followed by a single-day conference event for papers presentation. Its main goal is to understand and debate how digital technologies can contribute to rethink traditions and to inspire the future of architecture. For further information, log on to: Web:

MediaCities Conference Date Venue

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May 3-5, 2013 Buffalo, NY

As one of the oldest and the most respected design forums in India, the 361° is an initiative by Indian Architect & Builder to create a truly relevant dialogue on architecture. In its sixth edition, the conference plans once again to host individuals who lead the thought and practice of architecture and as an extension - design in the world. Over past five versions, the conference has established a thought-exchange program with its presentations and discussions thus chronicling a multitude of ideas and innovations that have had a significant impact on our habitat. This year, the 361° Conference aims to elaborate on the concepts of identity, expression, value and desire over three days.

The fourth MediaCities Conference reflects on the pluralities and globalities, in MediaCities everywhere. The essential part of the discussion will border new lines of inquiry and emergent relations between urbanity and digital media found in non-western cities, in post-capitalist cities, and in cities hosting civic turbulence or crossing international boundaries. It will also tap urban-medial relations that are taking shape differently in urban milieu. MediaCities aims to expand the understanding of both media and the city today, and to articulate new sites of practice and working methods for an expanding field. The fourth installment of the MediaCities conference inaugurates its transition to a roving event taking place every two years in different cities around the world.

For further information, log on to: Web:

For further information, log on to: Web:

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Eduardo Souto de Moura Honoured with Israel’s Prestigious Wolf Prize

Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum to Construct Modern Addition

Portuguese architect and 2011 Pritzker Prize winner Eduardo Souto de Moura has been honoured with one of Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize this year. Souto de Moura is being honoured for his achievements in architecture while other prizes will be given to scientists in the fields of physics, mathematics, chemistry, and agriculture. The Wolf Prize is awarded annually since 1978 by the Israel-based Wolf Foundation. Scientists winning the Wolf Prize are often top contenders for the Nobel Prize. The list of previous prize winners in the field of architecture includes David Chipperfield (2010), Peter Eisenman (2010), Jean Nouvel (2005), Alvaro Siza (2001), and Frank Gehry (1992) among others. Eduardo Souto de Moura will be receiving this honour from Israel’s President Shimon Peres in person in the month of May in Jerusalem.

Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum is moving forward with its next phase of development and will soon construct a distinct new addition. The new USD 5.5 million wing, designed by GreenhiLi Consultants, will be a stark contrast to the 19 th-century, neoclassic original structure, as it features a modern structure clad in titanium that will float weightlessly above a glass encased atrium. This atrium will continue up, filling the interstitial spaces between the old and new structure, while connecting the galleries on all three levels and revealing parts of the interior gallery to street-level pedestrians. The new wing will be a respectable and different addition to an important heritage structure. The new galleries will take advantage of natural light and provide a different experience for the visitor

Belgrade’s is known for its signature ‘Modernist’ movement, which has produced a number of iconic buildings throughout the mid-twentieth century. Focused on urban regeneration, the project will join forces with Sou Fujimoto’s proposed ‘Cloud’ on the adjoining Sava waterfront to revitalise Belgrade’s cultural axis. Zaha Hadid’s Beko Masterplan aims to transform the currently inaccessible factory site into Belgrade’s next cultural hub.The entire ground floor will be dedicated to civic space, the 94,000sqm complex will feature residential, retail and commercial areas, along with a large scale convention center, five-star boutique hotel and an abundance of public destinations. Public, private, indoor and outdoor spaces are fused together by “flow lines”, as each space is meant to seamlessly connect to one another. The historic site, which was purchased at a public auction by the Greek company Lamda Development in 2007 for EUR 55.8 million, features striking views towards the confluence of Belgrade’s two rivers. The Kalemegdan Castle is located only 500m away from the city center and on top of a cultural axis that connects some of Belgrade’s most important destinations.

Thomas H. Beeby Named 2013 Driehaus Prize Laureate American architect Thomas H. Beeby has been named the recipient of the 2013 Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame. Beeby has designed an array of cultural, academic, religious, residential, and commercial buildings during his expansive career. Beeby is the 11 th in line to receive the Driehaus Prize laureate and is also the Chairman Emeritus of Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects (HBRA). Seven of Beeby’s projects have received the National Honour Award, the highest design distinction, from the American Institute of Architects, including the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for Paul Newman in Ashford, Connecticut, the Rice Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the master plan for Paternoster Square in London with John Simpson and Terry Farrell. As one of the “Chicago Seven” architects who challenged modernist orthodoxy in the 1970s and 1980s, Beeby helped bring traditional architecture and urban design back into the public consciousness.

Studio Fuksas Wins Chengdu Tianfu Cultural and Performance Center Competition The studio of Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas has won the international competition for the first cultural center in the city of Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province which was hit hard by a terrible earthquake in 2008. The project of Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas was conceived as an architectural project that would be a visual treat. The site covers a total area of about 110,000sqm; the elliptical shape of each building gives the impression of a perpetual motion and continuous vibration. The surface of the facade is a continuous ribbon coated with a metal skin with openings geometric design that allows natural light to enter the interior of the four volumes. The complex is made up of a center for the performing arts that houses two theaters for a total of 1800 seats and a music hall (600 seats), a cultural center that includes a theater with 2600-3000 seats, an exhibition gallery, offices for the Writer and Literary Association and an apartment building for artists.

Norman Foster’s Sainsbury Centre Listed On the recommendation of the architecture minister Ed Vaizey has listed Norman Foster’s first major public building: the 1977 Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. The popular public art museum, which houses the collection of Lord and Lady Sainsbury, was granted grade II protection for its innovative engineering, fine design, historic association, flexibility and group value. Its revolutionary design features an innovative, prefabricated modular structure that is cleverly designed to allow for subsequent extension. Vaizey explained “Norman Foster’s design for the Sainsbury Centre is recognised around the world as a high point of the British ‘high-tech’ movement and, by any standards, a modern classic.” To this Foster stated: “My first meeting with Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury was around this time of year, almost 40 years ago. On the morning of New Year’s Day 1974 I arrived for what I was told would be a brief meeting about a possible museum project. Little did I know the extent to which that meeting would influence my future as an architect and also my personal life? A building is only as good as its client. The architecture of the Sainsbury Centre is inseparable from the enlightenment and driving force of the Sainsburys themselves and the support of the University of East Anglia. I am delighted that the significance of the museum that we created together has been recognised by this listing.” Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Zaha Hadid to Regenerate Historic Site in Belgrade


The Memory of a Ruin Echoing celebrated historic sites and the uncomplicated aptness of its surroundings, the Friendship Centre in Gaibandha by URBANA is a fractured pavilion-like composition that unravels as a matrix of interwoven volumes and spaces on one level, and on another, as an inspiring notion of working alongside rural and community ethos. Text: Shalmali Wagle Images & Drawings: courtesy URBANA | Eric Chenal | Anup Basak

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



A matrix of interwoven volumes and spaces. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


A typical rural image of Bangladesh.

The idea of subterranean ‘ruins’ as architecture of fascination flaunts a rich genealogy; from the clandestine tunnels, caverns, labyrinths of Moscow to the stepped wells of Adalaj, through Piranesi’s imaginative architecture of concealed prisons, to Louis Kahn’s obsession with topographical aesthetics and Lebbeus Woods’ whimsical aggregates of the ‘Underground Berlin’. Incorporating the idea common to these conceptions, of architecture integrating seamlessly with or within the landscape, the Friendship Centre in Gaibandha by URBANA filters the essence of the language to adapt it to its situation. Marked with a distinct modernist stance of crisp cubic volumes, the complex echoes with the rural simplicity of its immediate surroundings while developing a compliant relationship between architecture and the aquatic landscape.

A village in a nearby char.

Neighbouring Buddhist monasteries from the 8th century AD.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

In defiance of its stuttering development and the weight of historical and geographical tragedy that it bears, Bangladesh is a nation gifted with primeval swamps of the tiger-filled mangroves, unseen relics of long-forgotten Buddhist kingdoms, lush and lurid tea plantations, tribal groups and glorious beaches that stretch on for eternity. In a temperamental terrain that alternates between emerald green paddy-fields and swirling, churning flood waters, the Friendship Centre is a knitted terracotta complex that appears to be a fragment of a remote settlement of a distant time, now stranded on the flood plains that surround the small town of Gaibandha in the north of Bangladesh. The inspiration is unmistakeable. The region is surrounded by both well-known as well as undetected Buddhist brick monasteries dating to the eighth century and earlier. With 50 per cent of the population engaging in agriculture, the blessing of the alluvial soil and the brunt of the seasonal deluges, the town is encircled by fields and mounds with homesteads, a perpetual image of rural Bangladesh. The design entwines these two dominant strings of character. Kahn was always emphatic that the landscape of Bangladesh demands an ‘architecture of the land’. He gave extensive


The land before construction, 2008.

thought to grouping buildings in a setting of water and vegetation, typical of the Bangladeshi landscape; one preponderant reflection being how buildings take their place on land. The Friendship Centre intensifies his inception. It demonstrates that architecture comes together in a particular way in the delta, and that the age-old deltaic practice of ‘dig-and-mound’ can be engaged as a modern interpretation, negotiating with the same. Although buildings at the Friendship Centre are actually above the ground and only utilising the terrain with embankments, the topographic inclination and fascination with construction is evident from the earth excavation, foundation work and the configuration of building propositions. The burrowing labyrinthine is reminiscent of the exposed ruins of the Roman hypocausts. It initiates a dialogue on a possibility in architecture and its extension to the idea of a mere manipulation in the topographic continuum. Here, architecture is conceived not as a building, but as a reorganisation of the ground surface, involving excavation, mounding and earth-sheltering. Despite being precarious land-forms, chars − with their rich soil and abundant fish − draw people, mostly the poorest in the country, for farming and fishing. Social conditions and economic opportunities, however, remain limited in these remote island-like chars. Undertaken as a project to facilitate human development and organisational growth by providing a platform of learning and sharing within the community, the Friendship Centre is a training centre for the NGO, Friendship, which works with people inhabiting these chars. The Centre trains people, rents out facilities for meetings, training and conferences and provides temporary accommodation during these events. Spread over a lavish 2-acre site, the Friendship Centre is situated close to the Gaibandha town, which hosts other offices of the NGO. A short distance away in the opposite direction is the ‘Ghat’ or the riverbank from where boats for neighbouring banks arrive and depart. Though the setting is completely rural, it is easily accessible from both directions.

Initiation of construction.

During construction.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

































SECTION THROUGH THE COMPLEX Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




View from the ground level.

A link between two blocks.

ELEVATION ABOVE THE GROUND Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



View towards the dining and the second entrance.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Reception pavilion.

The site is a low-lying area, a predominantly agricultural land susceptible to flooding if the embankment for the town is breached. Prohibitive costs for landfill, as well as seismic activity and the low load-bearing capacity of the soil, discourages the option of raising the site above the high flood level of 8 feet. The 9210sqm complex in itself is rather rudimentary, laid out as a matrix of pavilion-like buildings, open-courts, pools and walkways. With topographical modulation in mind, the design creates an embankment around the site and arranges pavilions within that bounding enclosure at the existing ground level with load-bearing, exposed brick. It persistently maintains a connection with nature and natural materials, basking in the freshness and greenery surrounding the compound, while at the same time accommodating modern amenities required for a comfortable stay within its minimalist walls. The spaces are divided in accordance to their functions; the outer ‘Ka’-Block contains the reception pavilion, offices, library, training and conference rooms and pavilions, a prayer space and a small ‘cha-shop’; and the ‘Kha’ Block, connected by three archways, hosts private functions and houses the dormitories, the dining pavilion and the staff and family quarters. The laundry and drying shed is located on the other side of the pond. The entire complex is devoid of artificial air-conditioning and employs lighting through LED and energy-efficient lamps. Its fractured pavilion-like volumes allow for natural lighting, ventilation and cooling, further facilitated by the internal courtyards, pools and the earth-covered green roofs. The internal spatial quality invokes the image of an ordered village or the campus of a Buddhist monastery, as well as the horizontal matrix of a Mughal fortified-palace owing to

its embanked periphery and terracotta-red mood. It establishes a particular association with neighbouring monastic complexes emulating their quadrilateral organisation, stark bare disposition, exposed brickwork, and, above all, the enigma of ancient ruin. Extending its idea to environmental sensitivity, an extensive network of septic tanks and soak wells ensure that sewage does not mix with the flood water. Rainwater and surface run-offs are collected in internal pools, and the excess water is pumped off to an excavated pond, also used as a fishery. The predominant material used is local hand-made brick, both for construction and as a finishing material. Load-bearing masonry structures on brick foundations rise as exposed-brick surfaces, merging with brick flat arches, true arches above and the paving and flooring on the ground. The choice is predominantly governed by traditional and historical references, economic constraints and the intention of employing locally produced bricks, made from the earth on-site and encouraging local manufacture. However, the project, being situated in an earthquake-prone zone, does submissively adopt a hybrid structure, composed of sparse, but vital, reinforced concrete elements where necessary. The flooring in rooms employs locally sourced mahogany, unpolished and unvarnished and that in the meeting rooms, offices, the dining and accommodation blocks employs a reasonable but thermally suitable stone. All surfaces, including internal walls and ceilings, in the complex are left un-plastered and un-painted, ensuring that the cost of periodic maintenance remains low and practical. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The pavilions.

Internal courtyards.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Dormitory units.

The Friendship Centre indicates a new point of departure in architectural discourse of the region. Architects, in general, operate predominantly from urban centres, continuously and complacently producing flamboyant buildings that placate the increasingly energetic economies. Very few attempts embrace the challenge of working in the vast rural hinterland or the environmentally delicate flood plains. Besides, this pertinent link with the hydro-geography of the delta, it also beckons a sensitivity to the significance of the community and its development. It serves to bring together some of the poorest of the country, yet in extreme limitation of means, and works for their growth, through and within a search for the luxuries of light and the shadows of the economy, of the generosity of small spaces and the joy of movement and, above all, of discovery and potential in the bare and the essential.


View towards the entry.

Project : Location : Architect : Design Team : Client : Civil Contractor : Carpentry Contractor : Initiation of Project : Completion of Project :

Friendship Centre Gaibandha, Bangladesh Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury Anup Kumar Basak, Sharif Jahir Hossain, Matiur Rahman, Zafar Ahmed, Phansak Thew Friendship (NGO) Golam Mostafa Bandarban Timber Traders & Saw Mill, Extreme Wooden Door May 2008 December 2011

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The Weaver Bird artistically weaves leaves together to build its nest. The creatures of the wild are born with just one instinct – survival! When an architect sets about building his ‘nests’, the relevance may be different; but the driving force is still an AGENDA.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




rchitecture can have many agendas. It is sometimes an estimative response to ubiquitous necessities, sometimes a development of an imaginative urge to create; occasionally an attempt to re-connect with nature and its forces, while occasionally an imperative societal compulsion; at times an impulse to protect the remnants of a glorious past, and at others, a challenge to enforce reformation and salvage an uncertain future. But what matters, is the evidence of strong outcomes that follows the deliberate decision of owning one. IA&B’s Young Designers 2013 demonstrate a strong and equable direction in their selection of agendas of architectural concern. Complementing them with steady connections between the conflicts they pursue and the solutions they derive, the agendas meet unassuming yet substantial outcomes. Strongly rooted to their basics, respectful of natural forces, deeply concerned with communal improvement and unwavering in creative resolve, they carry with them a rejuvenating zephyr of architecture honest to cause. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


SILENT MUSINGS SOUMYA & JILLS ARCHITECTS, KOCHI Since 2010, Soumya & Jills Architects has been creating work characterised by sensitivity to space, context and user identities. Its diverse work in this short span of time includes a school and a cultural centre, individual residences, weekend homes, interiors and housing. The endeavour is to create architecture that is articulated through evoking the senses and the intangible; celebrating space and life. Text: Maanasi Hattangadi | Images & Drawings: courtesy Soumya & Jill Architects

Carved in the depths of its site, the Stone House by Kochi-based Soumya & Jills Architects is sculpted as an environmentally sensitive escape, a memory of the colonial architecture and a remnant of its context.


unnar has never been a land of extravagance. Canvassing the slopes of steep hills, layers of tea estates lay twinkling in the mountain mist. It holds this kind of scenery that allows one to take time to reflect, and allow the space, peace and beautiful landscape to evoke serenity. It is aptly sited for privacy and the remote indulgence of a weekend home - The Stone House designed by Kochi-based Soumya & Jills Architects. “The feel of crushing the dry fallen leaves against the soft grass, the murmur of wind hurrying past the tall trees, or the incessant sound of cicadas, the dancing shadows of leaves on white plaster. The eyes are drawn angling up along the soaring roof while the hand touches the roughness and impermeability of cold stone, the smooth transparency of delicate glass, which the trees reflect on. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

The warmth of fire to save the chill of the night wind. Eastern light that wakes up to an early morning. As one walks up the stairs, the space and scale seems measured through light, material and strain of muscle. Silence that falls uninitiated.” – Soumya & Jills Architects A narrow trail clings to the face of the steep sloping hill. Wedged in a clearing, the house negotiates a transition between the built typology of the region and contemporary expressions. The architects explain, “The site and context of the location were the primary determinants that shaped this project. The building had to be sited in a clearing, already made in a steeply sloping plot. Responding to the lie of the land, it was decided to have an inclined profile for the building and to keep the roofline



Tracing the hilly contours, the house is nestled within a site clearing.

The architecture is non-opulent, exploring a restrained material palette and stark angular geometry. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



STORE 330X210












+45 LVL

buffalo grass 1


BED ROOM 1 440X380





















open terrace

toilet court


open terrace



Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013












The entrance is marked by a shallow verandah enclosed under the single folding plane of the roof.

Embedded in the sceneries and silence of Munnar, the house reciprocates the client’s idea of classic vintage feel.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Chimney Glass window

Mezzannine floor




Existing rocks on Site

“Progressing through space,” the architects say, ”as the circulation weaves through the building and around it; a sense of constriction and release is made to be felt.”




low, thereby reducing the impact of intrusion into the pristine landscape. The house buttresses itself against the existing rocks; hardly rising above the contour line.”


Stairway Hall

The foliage is sparse and the blunt volume stands as a space that humanely engages with the prosaic complexities that nature has to offer. It is layered with the clients’ sensibility and a classic vintage feel, its modesty reciprocating their idea “of sustainability, giving back to nature and respected human effort”.

SECTION 2-2 Tile roofing over steel truss



Bed room-2

RR Retaining wall


Open sun deck

Bed room-1


Reflecting pool



Open court

Fixed glass RR Retaining wall





SIDE ELEVATION Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Reflecting pool

As one trudges uphill, the house gradually reveals itself. One eases into a relaxed setting before the gathered form where the landscape composed of abundant tea bushes, strewn textured pebbles, endemic grass known locally as buffalo grass and fallen leaves lays soft beneath ones’ feet. Dressed in tranquillity, the wandering pauses at walkways and decks characterised with ‘kadappa’ and ‘kota’ indulgently designed as a reversal to let it blend with the background. In earthen tones of red, the roof banks over in a singular architectonic expression. It funnels down its larger expanse, enclosing a ‘verandah’ to silently entice the visitor in as an entrance. The architecture closes in thereon and the movement orients around the living/dining spaces, a mezzanine space, a stairway, three familial bedrooms, pantry and a caretakers’ room. The effect is both pragmatic and poetic. One moves forward unique visual and tactile encounters woven through the growing scale of the fabric and its textures. “Progressing through space,” the architects say, ”as the circulation weaves through the building and around it; a sense of constriction and release is made to be felt.” Linear and amply lit, the spaces span out cohesively in the interiors. A stone fireplace and chimney tower ties the parallel planes of the roof and spaces together. Painted in white, the structural framework stares unabashedly out amidst the natural surfaces. The furniture is scant and tasteful while the walls recess inwards to accommodate shelves. For a massed built form, there is a degree of porosity throughout. Light peeps in offering a myopic view of warming stone walls as the solid semblance of the design opens out subtly in places to invoke an engagement with the natural surrounds. Taking flight from the ground level, a lofty staircase of 1.2mx7m extends out to the intimate spaces above. Each element is ambiguous and revels in classic detailing. The approach curates light, scale and material to create moments. Rough-hewn boulders


The expression is contemporary but remniscent of the colonial architecture typology of the region .

Pragmatic and poetic, the design is textured with light.

Landscape decks composed of Kota and Kadappa stone with soft pebbles and grass are integrated as pauses in the planning.

The design opens out in several spaces to engage with the outside.

The detailing of elements relies on only basic material involvement. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The plan spans out to include the living/dining spaces, a mezzanine space, a stairway, three familial bedrooms, pantry and a caretakers’ room.

A staircase of of 1.2mx7m ascends to the intimate spaces.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

In close encounters, the experience interacts with the natural surrounds.


With cohesiveness and subtle interventions, the approach celebrates the locale.

assemble out on the hilly terrain embracing the large windows unexpectedly in the corridor. Facing east, the bedrooms bask in fleecy morning light, tangibly and continually in immediate relationship with the outside through voluminous openings and balconies/decks. The materiality evolves as a souvenir of the site it stands on. The values of nature translate into physical space and condense the design as an absorbed extension of the context. The load-bearing walls are shaped from granite quarried from nearby hills, stones for hard landscaping and retaining walls from within the site and by skilled labour sourced locally. The interiority and roofing plane is enhanced with usage of ‘kota’ and ‘kadappa’ stones for flooring etc and MP tiled roof. Thoughtfully integrated roof-level slits on the North-Western envelope channel streaming afternoon sunlight in and solicit a stack-ventilation effect. Possibilities in sustainable technicalities are adapted in form of formal and theoretical concerns wherein a comfortable micro-climate is induced owing to the doubly tiled roof, stark stone walls, roof level slits and a fireplace. The peripheral engagements like the landscaping of tea bushes and local buffalo grass contribute to local employment. The effortlessness and essence of each derivative script a persuasive and relevant dialogue with nature. “As seasons go by, in course of time, vines and ficus climbers will grow on the stone walls, and the roof tiles will take on a shade of brown. Slowly as it ages gracefully, we hope the building shall engaged in plucking the tea leaves later, thus creating and sustaining local employment,” surmise the architects. Prompted by reading of the site, the formal expression is reminiscent of the historical colonial architecture of the region.

The architects mention, “Qualitative aspects of the colonial like light, material and scale was referred to, while trying to maintain a fresh design approach. The slope of the site generates the form, and the design language of the building is in this case is contextual, as opposed to ‘colonial’ or ‘contemporary’.” Rooted in the co-existence of inherent forms, its architecture questions the relationship of built form to the landscape and explores this intersection. Angular geometry and drama is coaxed out of the traditional typology. The whimsicalness of a weekend home deeply engraved in the terrain crafts a collection of poetic but performative spaces. It assumes a posture of absolute respect - of silence and retreat - brokering a dialogue between eras, typologies and the concept of timelessness.

FACT FILE: Project Location Architect Design team Client Project Area Contractors Initiation of Project

: : : : : : : :

Stone House, Munnar Poopara, Munnar, Kerala Soumya & Jills Jills Philip, Soumya Augustine Mr. Salus Wilson 3500sqft Manoj Narayanan Jan 2011

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


WEAVING A HOME COLLAGE ARCHITECTS, BENGALURU With creativity and innovation at the core of their practice, Collage Architecture Studio is dedicated towards creating intelligent and avant-garde designs that exhibit timeless and enduring qualities. Text: Alifiya Mehamdabadwala | Images & Drawings: courtesy Collage Architects

When Collage Architecture Studio was appointed to create a model house for Rohan Builders’ Rohan Avriti project in Bengaluru, they, in turn, managed to weave the idea of an ideal home.


ow does it feel when one’s dream of an ideal home comes true? When that perfect house one has been aching to live in materialises in front of their eyes? That is the exact feeling one would get when entering the model house created by Collage Architecture Studio for Rohan Builders. Taking the builder’s concept of a PLUS home - where P stands for ‘perfect ventilation’; L for ‘lively light’; U for ‘utmost privacy’ and S for ‘smart space’ - to a new horizon, the architects gave birth to an endearing, stylish and classic home in the green city Bengaluru.

these trees by creating frames within frames. Each layer is separated physically, yet visually gives a feeling of connectivity and movement, creating architectural picture frames which capture the natural greenery through punctures in the walls. The transcendence of frames fills one up with curiosity as to what lies ahead. The pergolas between frames invite in interesting lighting. The play of light at different times of the day animates various shadow patterns, which in turn add to the dramatic effect of the entire plaza.

The 1,500sqft site is a part of a larger ongoing project. Hence, the challenge was to create the model home without affecting the ongoing construction activities and, at the same time, create an environment around the model villa that would show no signs of the ongoing construction around.

The entrance plaza is adorned with a water body that complements the natural surroundings. It has been strategically placed so that the water reflects the sky down to the earth. During the spring season, it becomes a quaint ‘URLI’ which naturally beautifies the plaza as well as the view from the waiting lounge. The refreshing green of the leaves brings the pristine white walls of the structure to life. A sense of freshness prevails throughout the area due to these minute detailing.

As one walks towards the entrance plaza, lush and serene ‘gulmohar’ trees welcome and serenade. The design showcases Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



As one walks towards the entrance plaza, lush and serene ‘gulmohar’ trees welcome and serenade.

The house is adorned by lush ‘gulmohar’ trees Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The main house is divided into a living room, kitchen and dining area, two bedrooms and one guest bedroom. Being lightweight and dismantlable, Sandwich panels are used as the roofing material for the mock-up structure. Much of the fixed glazing, through which daylight floods the space, and handrail fabrication in mild steel allows for dismantling and reuse. The gap between the roof and the false ceiling is packed with an insulating material for thermal insulation. Without altering the original structure that the developer has provided, the architects have made the space attractive and chic. A right balance of contemporariness and luxury is maintained despite simple civil work. An earthy colour palette is used in the interiors of the house which blends with the outer surroundings, thus vitalising the harmony for the spectator. The minimal design of the furniture gives a feeling of openness and yet has a modern appeal. The rooms are of varying sizes and have natural light seeping in through doors and windows. The doors in the living and dining spaces are sized for the natural light and air to enter at ease. The louvred blinds in the huge window of the master bedroom let the user control the amount of light desired.

sliding wall 4

wall 3


wall 2

sliding wall 7


marketing cabin 2

marketing cabin 1

waiting area

marketing cabin 3

toilet1 toilet2 pantry




Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


wall 6

entry plaza wall 1

wall 5

existing tree


The surrounding area of the model home.

Light seeps in through the pergolas.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The water body at the entrance plaza.

The entrance to the lobby.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The model house at night.

Large windows afford exceptional views of the courtyard.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Spacious and elegant interiors.

The sliding doors of the guest bedroom play on the dynamics of space.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


View of the master bedroom.

Ample space is created with the boundaries of the common areas being blurred. The sliding door for the guest bedroom allows for flexible use of the space. When fully open, the living space and the guest room merge into a larger area. The open kitchen and the dining space is blocked by a low-height wall again tactfully separating space. Textured walls, wallpaper in the master bedroom, warm-toned cushions and upholstery, linen curtains, lighting fixtures, and lamps add to the contemporary feel of the place. The detailed planning and design that has gone into the making of this model home is evident in every aspect. Keeping the look and the feel of the place simple and elegant, the architects have succeeded in catching the eye of potential buyers. The home is built ‘brick by brick’, with a touch of colour and grandeur in the exterior and interior space. Yet, it has the scope of change as per individual sensibilities, which make this an ‘ideal home’, a dream that can be woven into reality.


The foyer.

Project Location Architect Design Team Client Project Area Initiation of Project

: : : : : : :

Rohan Avriti, Model Home Bengaluru Adwitha, Swapnil Nitin, Priyanka Rohan Builders Pvt. Ltd 1500sqft Sept 2011

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Raiji Architects is an integrated architecture, interior and landscape design consultancy based out of Ahmedabad, India. The studio is involved in projects of varied nature and scale; situated in diverse locations. The core design explorations focus on renewed spatial linkages and relevant morphological expressions that ruminate the past, echo the present and pave the way for a relevant future by taking cues from the distinct nature and varied culture of the place, program and people of its context. Text: Sharmila Chakravorty | Images & Drawings: courtesy Raiji Architects

Giving the aspirations of different generations a collective, tangible form, Raiji Architects design the 32 Royal Enclave to mirror a traditional yet futuristic expression.


ited on the outskirts of Bengaluru city, the 665sqm plot for the project lies within quiet greens alongside a lake, with Cormorants and Purple Moorhens as ‘frequent visitors’. The site is also surrounded by coconut groves, with other trees planted along the street and within.

the house. This way, the architect brings in a sense of belonging to the ‘whole’, while carving out specific niches for all individuals. These movement paths are sandwiched between aesthetic terracotta block screens, forming a threshold between the house and the street beyond.

The design brief was to build a fairly large family house on the 370sqm piece of land, with a ‘house for families with a family’ concept that would cater to everyone who would eventually inhabit it, and call it ‘home’. The design was expected to incorporate warmth that the elderly could identify with; reminiscing about their childhoods spent in rural Tamil Nadu house; as well as satisfy the modern hopes and aspirations of the younger generations – uncompromising in their requirement of an urbane home that is contemporary yet timeless.

In essence, the design marks out two distinct, unequal bays that make up the house. As the architect puts it, “The eastern bay forms a tubular space housing spaces for collective use such as living, dining, kitchen, puja, courtyards and stairs which are linked to each other and in turn allow the people in the house to connect while moving between the private spaces or while indulged in different activities.” These spaces are designed as wide openings running from floor to ceiling, thereby receiving abundant natural light and breeze. It further opens out into a wider green space; a garden and a sit-out.

The architect decoded the requirements to translate the design into separate, private blocks within the entirety of the house, connected by four movement patterns that are interlinked, externally and internally, through multiple stairs and ramps to allow movements of different groups of people residing or visiting Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Additionally, the other side of the bay is a narrow margin with soft and hard landscape for each of the private spaces lined along the west. These private spaces – bedrooms, bathrooms, formal living rooms, and guest rooms – are protected by the hot afternoon



The site is lined with coconut groves along the periphery. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


6 8



7 5

9 6

7 4


3 5







2 3








LEGEND: 1. Garden 2. Entry 3. Living room 4. Courtyard

5. Stairs / Store 6. Dining room 7. Kitchen 8. Bed room 9. Wardrobe / Bath

sun by the design. The whole of the western bay forms a kind of protective buffer to the eastern bay that is occupied for most part of the day. The openings towards the west are narrow allowing moderate light while curbing the access glare. This allows enough view of the greens outside and restricts the views from the neighbours’ houses, essentially maintaining the privacy of the functions those spaces house. To this effect, the large openings on the east are affixed with glass shutters in wooden frames allowing the intake of light and views, whereas the wooden louvres on the western openings negotiate issues of light and views, and thereby, of openness and privacy. These two distinct bays are linked with alternating vertical and horizontal connections in the form of small corridors and shafts. The arrival, elevator, puja room, study and powder room are all housed within these alternating spaces. The courtyard in the centre of the eastern bay along the stairs illuminates the core of the house. The architect feels, “The articulation of a sunken floor and wooden steps around it links it to the past.” The upper floor of the house is linked to the lower through the same courtyard, symbolic of the connection of the various generations that live within as a family. The upper floor, as a Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


LEGEND: 1.Terrace 2.Courtyard 3.Stairs / Library 4.Pantry

5.Living room 6.Bed room 7.Wardrobe / Bath

penthouse, is occupied by a young couple in the family, designed with a terrace garden and pantry for entertaining friends and hosting parties. To avoid disturbing the rest of the house, the terrace garden has a separate stairway leading to it. This is further enhanced by detailing collapsible railings that fold down to cover the court and transform into a seamless wooden floor. The staircase also disappears as the wooden flap doors are used to segregate spaces to facilitate large gatherings or solitary indulgences, giving each activity and person its own place, and space, under one roof. The house has incorporated a variety of green measures, too. As a response to concerns over maintenance and weathering of the exterior façades of the building, coats of plaster and paint are conspicuously avoided. Instead, creepers and other plants will cover the rustic concrete frames and terracotta block masonry in future as a soft layer. Hollow blocks used on the façade increase the time lag of heat transmission from the outside to the interiors, keeping the insides much cooler. Moreover, solar energy is harvested in order to heat water as well as partial electrical needs of landscape and general lighting. Similarly, the house also harvests rain water for drinking and cooking needs, as well as for recharging the groundwater table for utilitarian purposes. The


Movement paths, with terracotta block screens, form an ideal threshold between the house and the street beyond. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Details of the terracotta block screen.

The terracotta block screes maintain design continuity throughout the house. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Details of the exposed-concrete staircase.

View of the terracotta block screens against the light-coloured flooring.


The interior dĂŠcor embodies raw, unadorned elegance.

The use of wood and exposed-concrete add to the rusticity of the design. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The effortless blend of the traditional with the contemporary is what gives the house a certain touch of sophistication; a feeling of looking to the future, without losing track of the past. Windows allow ample nature light to flood the rooms.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The design imparts a certain warmth to the house.

architect mentions, “The solar energy and rain water are guided to the centre of the house through multiple courts and shafts to get stored, used and replenished every day; and every season for years to come.� Externally, the use of exposed cement surfaces, Balliapattam hollow terracotta blocks, Athangudi cement tiles and Sheesham wood adds to the rustic and austere charm of the house while the polished, open spaces of the interiors contrast to impart warmth. The large windows, floor-to-ceiling openings that connect to the courtyard, blur the boundaries between the interiors and exteriors; effectively bringing the landscape within the house; while the terrace garden and courtyard ensure that the house is always attune with nature. The use of energy-efficient green techniques ensures the house is partially self-sufficient for its water and energy requirements. Overall, the effortless blend of the traditional with the contemporary is what gives the house a certain touch of sophistication; a feeling of looking to the future, without losing track of the past.


The blend of traditional and contemporary materials.

Project Location Architect Client Project Area Contractor Initiation of Project Completion of Project

: 32 Royal Enclave : Bengaluru : Raiji Architects : Mr. Shekar : 665sqm : Ravindra Rao : 2008 : 2010

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


RECONNECTING WITH NATURE SENSCAPE ARCHITECTS PVT LTD, BENGALURU Bengaluru-based Senscape derives its name from the idea of an articulated architectural language that caters to all human senses, a concept deep-rooted in its philosophy. Having a thorough understanding of vernacular architecture, they aim to tread into the future, with knowledge and respect for the style, and an undying urge to generate state-of-the-art design. Text: Shalmali Wagle | Images & Drawings: courtesy Senscape Architects Pvt Ltd

A gated habitat spread across lush green tea plantations, the Riverside Retreat in Kotagiri by Senscape Architects Pvt Ltd, studies the various architectural styles across the district over the years, in an attempt to derive lessons from conventional technical details and methods of construction to reconnect with the earth.


ife in the hills, as a rule, has always been considered to be somewhat of a challenge. It might appear that if given a choice, humans would perhaps tap the wealth of the hills, such as their minerals, forests, and their possibilities for tourism, but not live there permanently. The terms of life at higher altitudes are in general known to be much harder and are controlled significantly by three important factors: the terrain, the climate and the fluctuating connectivity to urban conveniences. Yet despite this, higher elevations are free from the commotion, the chaos and the mundane rush that are the cities. It is hence that the misty, formidable hills looming at a distance still fill humans with a sense of awe, serenity, and the promise of adventure. The Riverside Retreat in Kotagiri by Senscape Architects Pvt Ltd explores this desire to reconnect with the earth, through the built environment. It establishes a new, more harmonious relationship Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

between man and nature by discovering an approach that respects it, blends with it and celebrates it. High above the sea level, situated at the junction of two ‘Ghat’ ranges, the Nilgiri District provides fascinating views of the natural setting. The steep hills, narrow valleys, numerous rivulets, fine waterfalls and equable climate make the landscape a sight to behold. Kotagiri is a quiet, humble village at an altitude of about 1793m above sea level. The village itself is rather dusty and uninspiring, but the surrounding scenery of tea-estates, tribal Kota settlements and rolling hills is a world away from over-development and disarray, making it an ideal retreat for people from the surrounding cities. Cordially blending with the lofty hills, dense forests and miles of tea gardens, the Riverside Retreat makes a rather subdued statement. It does not enforce



The gated habitat spread across lush green tea plantations.

A harmonious relationship between man and nature.

The valley, the meadows and the plantations. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013









SITE SECTION Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


“The co-relation of a wide variety of aspects such as climate, topography, and local landscape has brought us to derive our design concept; simplicity, practicality and functionality. This conceptualisation is in response to the climatic constraints and the availability of local labourers.� - Senscape Architects Pvt Ltd

that architecture must conform to its vision of co-existence with nature, but provides the hope that its underlying thought will inspire the aspirations for such a relationship. Spread across a sumptuous green tea-plantation of 70 acres, the site covers almost an entire face of a hill gently brushing against the neighbouring reserve forests. Owing to its proximity to the reserve forests, wildlife is rather vibrant and customary. The site is divided into plots of various sizes, and accommodates 52 individual villas, a clubhouse and a restaurant that functions as a community kitchen. Articulating living spaces sensibly into the steep slopes, the architecture becomes a demanding attempt to blend with the surrounding landscape without revoking its inherent serenity. Nevertheless, it does not fail to enhance the charm of co-existence. Meandering away from the state highway, the approach road leads into the site, past the restaurant and the clubhouse, ultimately diverging into five separate roads that lead further up the slope to the individual housing plots. The roads form hair-pin bends to accommodate the slope of the site, which combines with the strategic location of the individual units to allow immense views of the foggy valley, rolling meadows and plantation-bordered reserve forests. The overall language finds its stimulus from the study of various architectural styles across the district; right from the tribal huts, to the relatively recent British bungalows, humbly borrowing from the established technical details and methods of construction pertaining to the climate and topography. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Module type 1.

Module type 2.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Module type 3.

Module type 4.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The construction uses natural material as far as possible.

Connections between the interior and exterior are maintained.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Casual transition spaces between the interior and exterior..

Though architecture is a multi-sensory experience, all too often, architectural compositions rely heavily on just one primary sense, the visual one, the other senses being regrettably neglected. This is unfortunate since it is through these senses that architecture can have profound effect, an experience being entirely expressed in all its dimensions. The preliminary brief from the client was to conceptualise the project as a “landscape that moves an individual to dream�. The design creates an environment where the pursuit of beauty extends from the utilitarian to the purely aesthetic catering to all the senses naturally in the process. The idea is simple; architecture re-connects with nature and nature enriches the sensory perception of architecture.

Predominant large window openings.

The houses share a conception similar to that of Victorian bungalows. The site slopes from north to south, and the individual buildings are planned to be oriented linearly along the contour in east-west direction. This enables a part of the house to evolve in two levels, thereby reducing the building footprint, the quantity of material used for the foundation and increasing the possibility for views. Predominant large window openings face the southern direction allowing picturesque views towards the valley and receiving maximum radiation throughout the day. The buildings have typical high plinths that drain away surface run-off. Exterior walls are maintained low to ensure minimum external surface exposure to the cold weather. The roofs are pitched shallow to allow easy run-off of rainwater and increased surface area for solar radiation. Northern walls remain protected from the uphill blowing winds owing to the barricade of thick evergreen vegetation and the land form. The layouts flaunt Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


A corridor with reused stone pillars.

View from the corridor.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Balcony deck accommodates existing trees.


A cement bowl used as a basin.

dominating symmetrical planning systems with prominent entrance ‘verandahs’ that perform as transition spaces. The construction uses less concrete, more natural material and, as far as possible, employs local labour and technique. The richness and variations in texture, employed with the use of natural stone, capture the material in all its glory. The robust appearance of stone strikes a balance with the equally rich grain exhibited by wood. Besides foundation and walls, the usage extends to roadside retaining walls, internal roads within individual properties as well as exterior cladding of the houses. The stone blends the construction with the natural surroundings on the exterior and creates a timeless appearance in the interior. Pebbles from the filtered river-sand are used as an infiltrating material in rainwater gutters around the house and still-smaller stone chips are used for staircase risers. Exposed supporting columns are assembled using locally available wood, steel and reclaimed stone pillars. Thick brick walls and arched window lintels further minimise the use of concrete. An effort has also been made in restoring and channeling the storm water to the lower most portion of the site dedicated for the creation of an artificial lake; it collects and harvests rainwater along the restaurant, the large water body introducing aquatic life-form. This, in turn, alters the micro-climate and improves the ecological system. An understanding of systems, of how various involved components can function together and make the system what it is, can

The paving composed with brick.

significantly contribute to sensitivity towards design. This understanding, in terms of both the environment and psychology, both influences and consequences, moves architecture away from a perceived obsession with the static object, and into a more dynamic system which not only respects the environment but contributes to it. The retreat does just that. It studies the influences, negotiates the situation and anticipates consequences to discover the inherent psychological benefits of the natural world to mankind.

FACT FILE: Project : Riverside Retreat Location : Kotagiri, the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu Architect : Senscape Architects Pvt Ltd Principal Architects : Shiva Kumar, Dinesh Kumar.S Design Team : Sampath.S, Magesh, Roshini Roy Festus, Sujit Thomas Jacob, Shrey Tiwari, Faheem Moosa, Chetan B.V, Pooja B.I, Nayana G.S, Nahida Afshana, Samantha King, Paul Francois, Shilpa, Akshata, Vijayendra, Chetan Kumar, Venkatesh Client : Riverside Dreamscapes Pvt Ltd. Contractor : MGS Builders Co. Project Initiation : 2008

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Ar. Rohit Fegde is a Nashik-based practice with the core aspiration of being experimental by increasing the complexity of thinking patterns. Living through a synthesis of sciences, art, information, economics, metaphysics, culture, religion and technology, the belief is that a symbiosis of these is the new definition of design. Text: Shalmali Wagle | Images & Drawings: courtesy Rohit Fegde

With a harmonious interaction of planes and a strategic orientation of spaces, the Office for Huphen Fabricators Pvt Ltd in Nashik by Ar. Rohit Fegde tackles a simple program and a rather unexciting site with an intentional increase in design complexity through experimentation. “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture. I do not like the incoherence or arbitrariness of incompetent architecture nor the precious intricacies of picturesqueness. Instead, I speak of a complex and contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience, including that experience which is inherent in art.” - Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, 1966


here are times when one cannot help but wonder if architecture as an art has fallen behind the others due to its inherent need to comply with pragmatism. Why does architecture, though assumed to be an art too, seldom share the freedom of expression and experimentation that other forms of art, like music or painting, enjoy? Granted that, the reality of architecture lies in the fact that in the end - whether a building system, a space, or an ambience - it is required to be meaningful to users in real-time, one cannot deny that there is always scope for experimentation

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

even within prevalent ideas and accepted thought to push this rational art to new boundaries. While Robert Venturi argued for this experimentation through complexity and contradiction in architecture, the Office for Huphen Fabricators Pvt Ltd in Nashik by Ar. Rohit Fegde realises the thought with a complex jigsaw of triangular modulations for a routine requirement on a mundane site. Located on a densely crowded industrial site of 4050sqm in Nashik, the Office for Huphen Fabricators Pvt Ltd shares its surroundings with industrial buildings, varying in age, scale and occupation. Even amidst this extremely harsh industrialised context, the design attempts to capitalise on the meagre assets available for assimilation, the exuberance of dense foliage, the variations in climate and the corner-location in the complex. Designed to accommodate a relatively simple program comprising of an administration block to the industry, the terse 382sqm office building upgrades the surrounding ambience and defines a bold and impressive introduction to the entire facility.



The entrance is defined by a floating staircase and the diversity of material. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Motivated by the predominance of unrest in the surrounding industries and the heavy vehicular traffic of the adjacent road, the office building develops through a delimiting of spaces. The spaces evolve as introverted compositions of planes, strategically orientated with respect to its external influences and the built form as an inspiration, crafted by these force-dependent functionalities. The form unfolds like a jigsaw of triangles, with overlapping planes and cubes that result in an informal spatial system, interestingly composed of these incidental triangular modules of the prosody. The consequent triangular frames are

NORTH ELEVATION Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

not only dynamic but extremely captive. The frames convey a sense of direction and the visual movement imparts life to the static planes. The form and the anti-form result in spaces and natural systems, which exploit the interactions between external forces to benefit the interior characteristics. A floating staircase connects the building opening into the northern foliage, and the building itself evolves out of the intermingling of these natural and designed elements. The interior spatial language is rather dynamic with ambient mood variations occurring due to changes in the external conditions.


“The office is an attempt to increase the complexity of thinking patterns, and fortunately, as envisioned, resembles an intelligent design. As William Blake put it, ‘When the doors of perception are cleansed, everything shall appear as it is… infinite’.” - Rohit Fegde





3 14



13 12

1. Entry 3. Existing Workshop 4. Toilet 5. Director’s Cabin 8. Office 10. Accounts 11. Training Room 12. Server Room 13. Skylight Above 14. Bridge 15. Terrace


8 5


3. Existing Workshop 4. Toilet 15. Terrace 16. Guest Room







LEGEND: 1. Entrance 2. Parking 3. Existing Workshop 4. Toilet











8 4

LEGEND: 1. Entrance 2. Parking 3. Existing Workshop 4. Toilet 5. Director’s Cabin 6. Conference 7. Reception 8. Office 9. Pantry




FIRST FLOOR PLAN Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Service core

Base Plate


Cabin Area

Open Office


Open Office


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The form unfolds, like a jigsaw of triangles.

The composition of apertures accentuates the passivity of the elevation.

The prosody of tilted planes, demarcate the entrance.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The building breathes through the central open space.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

The triangular skylight.


Visually the entire assemblage appears to be unfolding into the surrounding. The minimalistic language of the calm secure built mass provides a stark contrast to the surrounding chaos. The triangular modulation of the planes is incidental to the orientation of the building. The tilts in spatial segregation provide a certain sense of control defining movement, circulation and restriction. The tilts in plane cut through the central open void, through which the building appears to insulate itself as well as breathe, and results in a triangular skylight opening in the roof. While the tilts in plane align to the north, carving triangular spaces and acting as a shading device for the glass on the north, the tilts in mass shade the western façade. The tilting of the planes shade the building and the canvas of the walls captures the changing shadows of the trees. The main entrance of the office is defined by the contrasting elements of the exterior and diversity in terms of material usage. The ground floor functions as a service zone for parking. The fenestrations play an important role in the planning; while the noisy streets and shop areas are screened with dead walls, the west façade with the composition of strip and pigeon windows accentuates curiosity in the otherwise passive elevation. Every element within is emphasised by varying apertures and textures. The formal regimentation disappears as all the spaces open out into the central court and then gradually fade out to the northern

foliage. The activities of administration, such as executive cabins, conference rooms, training units and open offices are strategically placed on the first and second floor, and merge into terraces and natural green. Internally, the traffic within the building is segregated on the various floors with a single communication staircase at the rear end. Light filters in through the central court and the northern openings. The design instinctively appears to advance in the direction of ‘ephemeralisation’, a term coined by Buckminster Fuller in 1938, for the ability to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing”. The vision was that ‘ephemeralisation’ would result in an increasing standard of living despite the finite nature of the available resources. The humble office building relies on this logic, adapts it to its own situation and intervenes unswervingly at its scale and capacity, to illustrate the power of architecture to innovate. The deliberate insertion of architectural complexity substitutes what would have otherwise been a mundane building of no consequence into an interesting scheme that brings architecture closer to art through improved experimentation and expression. The building emerges from simplicity and frugality to evolve as a complex pattern of integrity that obliterates the distinction between architecture and other forms of art to a considerable extent.

Dynamic nature of the spaces within.


The space fades out into the foliage outside.

Project : Location : Architect : Design Team : Client : Contractor : Project Initiation :

Office for Huphen Fabricators Pvt Ltd Nashik, Maharashtra Rohit Fegde Rohit Fegde, Minal Fegde, Hemant Pawar, Sneha Zambre Huphen Fabricators Pvt Ltd M/s Shrinath Construction June 2011

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


RECYCLE, REPURPOSE …TRANSFORM MUNJAL BHATT ARCHITECTS, AHMEDABAD Munjal Bhatt Architects is a design consultancy firm facilitating responsive architectural design for various building typologies. Established in 2001, it encompasses three scales of the built environment - site planning, bio-climatic architecture and workspace design. Text: Sharmila Chakravorty | Images & Drawings: courtesy Munjal Bhatt Architects

Using a climate-responsive, restorative design strategy, Munjal Bhatt Architects alter an abandoned warehouse in Bharuch, Gujarat, into a corporate guest house that retains an ‘industrial’ essence.


ocated on the banks of the river Narmada, the 28500sqm site was once an industrial storage facility, with a 172m-long warehouse. However, for the past few years, the warehouse remained unused and was eventually abandoned. The architectural program was rather simple; the client intended to set up a mega power plant in the vicinity of the site and wanted the architects to build a corporate guest house to accommodate those visiting the plant. The design intent was therefore to translate the dilapidated, neglected space into a habitable, hospitable environment. However, instead of the usual ‘raze it to the ground’ approach, the architects realised that the existing warehouse building could potentially satisfy their functional requirements for the guest house, while also offering a unique opportunity to convert an existing liability into a promising asset. The existing warehouse was a shell, consisting of an exposed-brick structure, RCC columns and steel trusses. The Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

single, large space within had plastered walls with an exposed-asbestos roofing system. The design strategy intended to retain as much as possible, with reinforcements wherever required, and to carefully replace whatever could not be salvaged. Thus, the original form of the shell, inclusive of the external façade, was retained. The use of existing walls and steel also extensively helped in conservation of resources. However, the RCC columns were reinforced to ensure safety of the structure, and the asbestos roof was replaced with an insulated metal roof owing to carcinogenic properties of asbestos. While the architects have endeavoured to maintain the essence of the warehouse by retaining and emphasising the external façade, the internal environment has been designed to be pleasant and inviting. The large, singular space of the interior is divided into nine separate suites. The suite can be approached a landscaped courtyard, complete with a water fountain, in sharp contrast to an industrial building. These open-to-sky courtyard spaces can also

adaptive re-use


View of the warehouse that has been converted into the guest house.

View of the courtyard. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Phase 2

Phase 1

Phase 3

River Narmad



Courtyard 1


Living Porch

Courtyard 2




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While the architects have endeavoured to maintain the essence of the warehouse by retaining and emphasising the external façade, the internal environment has been designed to be pleasant and inviting.

Entrance to the suites through the courtyard.

Semi-open spaces of the suites.

The interiors sharply contrast with the ‘industrial’ exteriors.

The décor is simple, yet comforting and sleek.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Large windows wash the interior spaces with diffused light.

be viewed from the verandah, bedroom and formal seating spaces. The use of glass for internal partitions further ensures seamless visual connectivity and continuity between the various areas. The furniture within, too, is customised from metal and recycled wood. In a bid to further increase the capacity of the guest house by at least 6 more suites, the architects devised a design to utilise around 40 unused shipping containers, lying abandoned at site. Since there was no scope of expansion in the existing warehouse, neither would any new addition to it be in congruence to the

View of a ‘shipping container’ suite.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

The shipping containers that were repurposed into additional suites.

context, repurposing the shipping containers proved to be the most effective design solution. Manipulating the modularity of these shipping containers to impart flexibility and uniqueness to the design, three containers were configured to create one suite. As the architects put it, “The inherent corrugation helped to accommodate glass wool for thermal insulation. Since the corner frame structure takes care of the entire load, the corrugated sheets were easily altered






Down Bath



Bedroom Balcony






Living room


Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The shipping container suites.

Verandahs afford pleasant views for the suites.

to create openings, doorways or even remove one plane and combine the two containers. Each of the suites has a different configuration, and thus, different design.” In keeping with the overall design theme, the external shell of the container has been left untouched to reinforce the ‘industrial’ feel to the guest house. However, panoramic windows, verandahs and finished interiors cater to the visitor’s comfort and aesthetics. On the use of climate-appropriate design strategies, the architects mention that, “Located in a coastal belt, Bharuch has hot and humid climate. Hence internal courtyard, thick external walls and high ceilings acts as important climate-responsive features of the building. These strategies ensure thermal and visual comfort to the users of the building.” The choice of interventional design strategy and the consequent transformation of the site represent a sense of synergy between Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

View of the interiors of the shipping container suites.


View of the bedroom on the first floor of the suite.

A former well that has now been converted into a water body.

the architecture and the intention, an understanding and analysis of the overall context, the integration of climate-responsive strategies as well as an idea of retaining an imagine of the site’s past. Instead of demolishing the existing building and building afresh, devoid of any historical fabric to the place, the architects chose to aptly recycle the precinct and transform it altogether, while retaining the warehouse-like essence of the site. The transformation of the site gives the concept of recycling a whole new dimension.

FACT FILE: Project Location Architect Design Team Site Area Built Area Initiation of Project Completion of Project

: : : : : : : :

Shubham - Corporate Guest House Bharuch, Gujarat Munjal Bhatt Architects Munjal Bhatt, Nidhi, Sameepa Approx. 28,500sqm Approx. 4,000sqm 2010 2012

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


PICTURESQUE GETAWAY PRASHANT PRADHAN ARCHITECTS, GANGTOK PPA, a young, energetic, architectural practice based in Gangtok, Sikkim is comprised of a team of young architects and engineers from across India, working together on diverse projects. The design aspect is given emphasis and the team applies its abilities and transgress seamlessly from the design of furniture elements to larger urban structures and master planning. Text: Sharmila Chakravorty | Images & Drawings: courtesy Prashant Pradhan Architects

Repurposing an existing building into a contextually appropriate cosy hotel, Prashant Pradhan Architects designs The Retreat in Baigunay, Sikkim as a relaxation haven amidst striking natural setting.


ow does one design in a locale that is so beautiful that words fall short of an apt expression? How does one employ architecture to create a environment and ambience of equal beauty, especially if the foundations have already been laid? What the architects had in hand at the scenic Sikkim site was a basic RCC skeleton of the main building that was halfway into construction, and a picture-perfect site alongside a river. The idea was to organically expand from the single-family retirement residence to a much grander plan of creating a hotel by the riverside - a scenic retreat. The architects admit, “The project seemed quite daunting initially, considering such a large partially constructed structure - in that pristine landscape. We took up the challenge nevertheless after which began a year and a half of working very closely with the clients in order to create the desired environment of a retreat by the river.”

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

The retreat that was envisioned was quite generic in terms of what was required of the architects; a contemporary ambience that was interwoven within the immediate context. Rooms and suites for guests, restaurant, lobby and bar were to be located in the main building while an ancillary building was to be designed in order to accommodate the swimming pool, changing rooms and spa. The design concept revolves around the existing main building, which has an interesting mix of architectural features. The design peruses artistic austerity, bringing together different elements that starkly contrast to the grandness of the built form. To that effect, the architects have used a simple monochromatic palette in terms of flooring, wall colours and the general décor. Polish on natural wood surfaces and complementary veneers were selected. To break away from the monotony of austerity, and to introduce a

adaptive re-use


The Retreat, within its spectacular mileu.

The structure manages to draw one’s attention, yet does not completely overshadow the landscape it treads on; it dwarfs in comparison to the majestic mountains that form its backdrop.

The existing structure that has now been converted into The Retreat. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




The staircase with the elegant railing system.

The interiors are warm, luxurious and chic. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The rooms have abundant views of the landscape.

Most of the furniture has been designed by the architects. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Large windows with views of the misty mountains outside.

The swimming pool in the lap of the mountains. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Subtle lighting during the evenings enhances and emphasises the scenic beauty around.

The Retreat, with its landscape, illuminated at night. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


decorative yet sleek element, a quaint railing on curved stairs in the atrium provides an appropriate level of glamour to the retreat. Most of the furniture pieces used in the décor have been designed by the architects. They further mention, “Keeping with the basic concept of simple clean lines providing a contemporary minimal look, divans with cushions were preferred to large chairs and sofas. The décor also attempted to respond to the context of the river by taking riverside elements such as pebbles, boulders and sand found on the banks and including those as decorative elements.” Housed alongside the ancillary building, the swimming pool and spa are located closer to the river so as to symbolically lead the guests towards views from the river and maintain appropriate visual and physical access to the same. The pool, too, was meticulously designed to suit the criterion of the clients. As the architects put it, “The clients’ requirement of the pool was mixed; requesting a pool where one could swim laps as well as functioning as a leisure pool.” The design addressed both requirements by creating one side of the pool that was long and permitted the length for laps, while the junction of the children’s pool and the main pool was designed to be more social in nature providing for leisure and relaxation. The genius use of the existing building shows a sense of proficiency in frugal design; making the best use of what one has on their platter. The use of customised furniture and other

design elements provides an elegant charm as well as a sense of individuality and uniqueness to the design. Dressed in local stone cladding, the built form is grand and imposing, and effectively complements the scenic setting it belongs to. The structure manages to draw one’s attention, yet does not completely overshadow the landscape it treads on; it dwarfs in comparison to the majestic mountains that form its backdrop. The stark, heavy exterior is offset by the elegant, cosy interior spaces that provide ample views to the outside – constantly changing views of a never-ending picture frame.

FACT FILE: Project : Location : Architect : Design Team Architects : Trainees : Client : Project Area : Contractors: Project Estimate :

The Retreat at Baigunay Baigunay, Jorthang, South West Sikkim Prashant Pradhan Architects Prashant Pradhan, Zamyang Bhutia, Sulekha Bhowmick Darshan Jogi, Tarang Sagara, (SID, CEPT Ahmadabad) Skipping Stones Pvt Ltd 3.5 acres Skipping Stones Pvt Ltd `20 Crore

The site is perfectly located between picturesque mountains and greens. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


INDIA SHINING STUDIO VANRO, NEW DELHI Studio VanRO is an independent multidisciplinary design and research organisation based in New Delhi that works in the domain of architecture, urbanism and art. Text: Sharmila Chakravorty | Images & Drawings: courtesy Studio VanRo

Combining sustainability in its design on various levels, the Solar Pavilion by Studio VanRO in Yarra Village is an exemplary project that ensures electricity in far-flung villages while being deeply rooted in its context. “India lives in its villages” - Mahatma Gandhi


ven with such iconic statements in their glory and favour, most Indian villages, even in contemporary times, remain largely obscure – plagued with poverty, lack of facilities and little or no opportunities for development. Unlike other nations, where the ‘countryside’ is often considered as the ‘real’ reflection of its people – and revered – rural areas in India are mostly subjected to appalling neglect and apathy. Though an increasing number of villages can now boast of basic amenities, there are still villages where ‘infrastructure’ may seem like an alien term. In sharp contrast to urban India, some villages do not even have access to electricity. In an attempt to not only provide electricity to such areas, but also make them self-sufficient in generating the same, Scatec Solar, in collaboration with the Norwegian and Indian Governments, has initiated a rural electrification programme for remote Indian villages without access to electricity. The idea is to use a ‘decentralised’ approach to enable villages to produce their own electricity, thereby empowering them. Yarra Village, the site for one of the solar plants, lies 60km from Jhansi towards Khajuraho and is accessible only by a dirt track for the last 10-15km. The idea behind the programme was to set up sustainable solar plants with a capacity that could provide every house within the village with at least two light points, one power point, and one fan point. However, to do so, they wanted the

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

architects to figure out an alternative structure for the solar plant; something that would not be as out of context and intimidating in a village as the traditional aluminium trussed system that spreads out on the ground and supports the panels above. Being a closely knit community, the architects realised that the success of the project would completely depend on close collaboration with, and prejudice-free acceptance by, the villagers. Thus, after communication and consultation with the villagers, the architects zeroed in on a ‘Samugayak Bhavan’, a communal space which could be used for social functions and gatherings, etc. Decisions relating to the site, program and material were also identified to be imperative to the success of the development, as well as rooting the project to the contextual boundaries of the village. Though located at one end of the village, the site gave the structure a vantage point. The architects used a liner form, much like the Greek Acropolis, to further use the design to complement the site. As the architects state, “The linearity gave the building a visual presence and foothold as the land below cascaded down to the village beyond.” Similarly, the programming of the structure was designed such that the built form would go beyond its primary function of being a solar plant; thus ensuring that the village maintains a strong affective relationship with the project. The basic design concept formed for the envisaged structure was to be similar to that of a pavilion – a flexible space accessible to all, from all directions.



View of the solar pavilion from the village: the rural ‘agora’.

The solar pavilion is a spatial conception of openness and flexibility. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The basic design concept formed for the envisaged structure was to be similar to that of a pavilion – a flexible space accessible to all, from all directions.



ROOF PLAN Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




SECTIONS Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Circular opening dematerialise the building, allowing the sky to come in.

The pavilion, built with local building systems.

The southern face merging with the main central arches to support the solar roof above.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

The southern face of the built form.

The pavilion in the rural context.


The vernacular construction system inherent to the Yarra Village provided clues to the materiality of structure. As the main building block in the Yarra construction system is brick, the envisaged structure uses brick blocks to its advantage, responding well to the strong contextual aesthetic and the cost parameters. With the idea of linearity intact, the design incorporated arches to form the pavilion with the structural qualities of brick. The realised pavilion is a 33m X 4.4m-long rectangular building that opens on both its lengths through a continuous set of steps. A system of arched modules repeats itself throughout the pavilion. These modules form the base for the solar panels to rest, and are of the same size as an individual panel. The architects elaborate, “The north and south wall heights triangulate the ideal slope required for such structures, in terms of maximising the solar energy gained.” Set on aluminium purlins, the solar panels are fixed onto the arched brick modules. A battery room is placed on one side of the pavilion in two vaulted bays.

The pavilion and the play of light: an elderly villager places his ‘charpae’ (bed) to sleep in the pavilion.

The western face: the battery room painted white by the villagers to attract good fortune.

The southern wall has the minimum height and is articulated buy a set of semi-circular arches and buttresses that extend out of the wall, while the northern wall extends up higher to the pitch of the solar roof and is further articulated by circular openings above, connecting the space within with the outside. Emerging from a catenary shape to maximise the structural stability of the pavilion, the centre arch mediates the two walls and the roof slope. The solar roof itself becomes a pergola that lets narrow shafts of light in dematerialising the space into a play of light and shadows. The project is one of the most sustainable ones, creating vision of sustainable design at many levels. At the level of social sustainability, the architecture creates a communal space that strengthens the social fabric of the village by providing opportunities to intermingle, communicate and house small-scale enterprises. Further, the solar pavilion serves as a landmark building that reinforces the community’s collective pride and confidence, encouraging a sense of attachment and ownership towards the built form. At the level of ecology, the natural program of the building exploits and harnesses solar energy to the maximum extent, thus making it an alternative energy generation centre that generates clean, green energy efficiently. Similarly, at the level of material sustainability, the solar pavilion utilises local contextual material and building practices that are energy efficient, flexible and lower in overall costs due to decreased transportation and procurement costs. Also, the local building technology made it possible to employ local labour, making the design sustainable even from an economic point of view. The resultant modern structure is truly sustainable, traditional and exudes a quality that engages the sensibilities of the local populace. FACT FILE:

Within months of its completion, the pavilion had been used for a marriage ceremony.

Project : Location : Architect : Design Team : Client : Contractor : Project Timeline :

Solar Pavilion Yarra Village Studio VanRO Rohit Raj, Vandini Mehta,Dharmendar Panchal, Prateek Satani Scatec Solar Bergen Solar Power and Energy Ltd, Avani Contractors Aug 2009 - July 2011

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



A collaboration of five fresh graduates, Team Architects is a New Delhi-based design practice that realises the importance of eco-friendly architecture in the world, and stresses on the need of using natural materials for building. Text: Shalmali Wagle | Images & Drawings: courtesy Digvijay Singh, Abhishek Behera

A perceptive realisation of a sustainable thought process, an intelligent interaction between two continents and a homogeneous outcome of cross-cultural ideas, the ‘Villa Ecologique’ in Nkok, Gabon by Team Architects propagates the inherent way of life in the equatorial context with a wave of modern, comfortable yet seemingly natural maturity.


hy is it that the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of mud construction is prejudice? Why is mud, as a construction material, not considered modern? Is it really true that mud is not as strong as concrete and steel? Are concrete and steel perceived to be superior simply because they are results of modern scientific and technological processes? Is this a problem with the material itself or is this merely a problem of the modern mind? The ‘Villa Ecologique’ in Nkok, Gabon by Team Architects restores the traditionally used material, to its rightful status as a worthy construction material that can be used to fashion durable dwellings in the modern context. It is designed as a proposal to construct residential projects for the Palm plantations and the SEZ of Olam International in Gabon. The teachers of technique are the traditional craftsmen and masons and the science is an unbroken tradition in architecture, one that stretches over 4,000 years.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Gabon, a small country on the west coast of Africa, is an experience that transports one back to a time when Mother Earth, and not humans, ruled the land. With an airstrip of lethargic goats and dodging forest elephants, endless white-sand beaches, primate-filled tropical rainforests, rolling savannahs and meandering estuaries, its unpretentiousness resonates the impression of an alternate world. Proud of their country’s vast natural resources, the natives, have traditionally, carved their lives from the forests; fishing, hunting, and farming to live in harmony with its constituents. Today, Gabon stands as an adolescent in its path towards development. Though cities are somewhat rife and government buildings constructed with cement, the architecture of its villages expresses an ingenuous story. The lifestyle, here, is rather impermanent and so are the structures.



“We believe that mud construction could be the winning solution for the success of this nation. It would be a revolutionary developmental plan that would attract immense tourism besides setting benchmarks. We think this is an opportunity of development which can impact the city and thus the world.” - Team Architects

The ‘Villa Ecologique’ propagates the inherent way of life in the equatorial context.

The beauty and simplicity of an evolved and sophisticated building technology.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


Jali wall for kitchen Shaft TOILET 5.5sqm

KITCHEN 8.9sqm.

DINING 15.2sqm

LIVING 12.5sqm

TOI. 4.1sqm BEDROOM 18.1sqm

BEDROOM 16.2sqm



A humble and unpretentious realisation of a sustainable thought.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

PLINTH AREA = 152.1sqm FLOOR AREA = 87.2sqm (excluding entrance porch)


The internal bamboo partition wall between the dining area and the kitchen.

It restores mud to its rightful status as a worthy construction material.

The Module Mud - as in clay, gravel, sand, silt, soil, loam, dirt - is ubiquitous. Civilisations, through time, have used it to create stable, warm and comfortable structures. Observations made during the initial site visits discovered the mud available on site, as an excellent material in earth construction. The design employs the technique of cob-construction to a 140sqm two-bedroom residence that symbolises the nation’s pride in its abundant natural assets. Duly respecting the surrounding setting, a humble entrance porch looking towards the surrounding highlands, creates a transitory zone between the inside and the outside, connecting the individual module with the street. Owing to the local community-centred culture, the dining area, where interactions occur over meals, is planned as the nucleus of the house with the other spaces surrounding it. Since circular cob walls are self-stabilised and earthquake resistant, the individual spaces of the residence take circular forms within the envelope. Bedrooms are located with views towards the neighbouring pool which was initially created as the mixing area for the cob-mixture. The earth walls act as thermal mass and maintain a comfortable internal environment

The use of coloured glass bottles as ventilators.

regardless of the harsh direct equatorial sun. While an internal bamboo partition wall between the dining area and the kitchen crafts an interesting play of visibility and shadows, the use of coloured glass bottles as ventilators allow stunning light effects inside the house. If there are two things precious to a Gabonese native, they are ecology and community. Though Africa is considered as a repository of natural resources in the present day, owing to the current scenario of global energy crisis, it shoulders a significant responsibility of protecting and conserving its resources judiciously. The ‘Villa Ecologique’ combines the ideas of ecology and community, inherent in the culture, developing a strategy that is not only environment-friendly and cost-effective, but also utilises local materials, techniques and skill of the community. Developed as a prototype applicable to different situations, more than a self-standing project itself, the mud-residence module is envisioned to cater to the growing housing needs of Gabon, initiating improvements in the standard of living and enhancing the prospects of tourism. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The layout.

The walls.

The openings.

The roof structure.

The roof.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The construction embraces the involvement of the community encouraging their expertise about the material and techniques.

The Construction The cob-construction technique employed uses sand, clay and straw. Mixed well, mud is applied to the foundation in continuing layers; each layer adequately dry to support the next and the wall tapered as it is built. The roof is built directly on to the walls, as the walls themselves act as load bearing support structures. This technique requires minimal investment or labour, and very little environmental destruction while allowing for creative and organic designs which blend into the surroundings. The resultant structure is incredibly durable and unaffected by heavy rain. The Gabonese culture is very community-centric and the construction embraces the tactile involvement of the community members encouraging the local people and their expertise about the material and techniques; starting with intricate details of the mix, to laying and finally, to building up the walls and the roof. While the vast legacy of traditional and vernacular mud construction has been commonly discussed, little attention has been paid to the contemporary tradition of earth architecture. Building with earth in the modern era, focusing particularly on its advantages with respect to context, the project addresses the misconceptions associated with mud construction. It rejects the often assumed notions of its status as a component used in poor rural construction or a fragile and ephemeral material, and pervades both architecture and popular thought by embracing its ecological and physical benefits. It questions the unnecessary politics of building with earth, particularly in developing nations where mud buildings are often thought of as pre-modern or backward. The intervention in thought is humble and unpretentious, showcasing the beauty and simplicity of need, of solution and of one of mankind’s most evolved and sophisticated building technologies.

FACT FILE: Project : Location : Architect : Design Team : Client : Contractor : Project Initiation :

Villa Ecologique Nkok, Gabon Team Architects Akshya Singhvi, Digvijay Singh, Abhishek Behera, Shinjita Roy, Swati Sharma Olam International Gabon Locals (B.W.COM.BTP, SISSE) August 2012

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


BLURRING BOUNDARIES IT’S ALL ABOUT DESIGN (IAAD), GURGAON It’s All About Design (IAAD), founded by architects Jyoti Malik and Rachna Agarwal, believes in an ‘ultimate design platform’ shared by a strong staff of designers and consultants who envisage unique design approaches towards each project. The created architecture is devoid of constraints and complies with appropriate sensibilities. Text: Ayishwariya Balagopal | Images & Drawings: courtesy It’s All About Design (IAAD) | Andre Fanthome

The Crayons Advertising Office in Delhi by It’s All About Design converts a redundant opaque factory into an evanescent workplace, through a clever elimination of boundaries and the mindful use of materials.


he Crayons Office in Delhi is conceived by IAAD as a space where boundaries between the inside and outside environment blur to assume an abstract form as an essential remnant of a redundant industrial unit. The workspace, being a converted factory, is re-configured to meet the needs of the advertising firm within an area of 11,000sqft. The closed plan of the factory is opened up by demolishing the monotonous eastern wall of the existing structure and replacing it with a clear-glass façade that connects the onlooker to a milieu of activity within; and the user to the pleasant landscape outside. The eastern façade is unbroken except for the columns supporting the barrel vault roof retained from the original structure. The west elevation is blocked except for the strip-windows in order to reduce heat gain. The office is mostly an open plan, bathed in sunlight. The interior spaces interact freely, but at the same time, do not interfere with one another. There are no set boundaries, but the spaces with their functions are deceptively well defined. The partition walls along with the protruding slopes of the barrel

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

vault roofing create a busy composition of various planes in main foyer area of the office. The vertical white planes recede into the backdrop, leaving the barrel vault roof as the main distracting feature. The roof system serves as natural portals for daylight from the north and their quarter-round shape creates a sense of spaciousness within the office. Its uniform sequence is highlighted by the floral wallpaper that, at first, appears streaming into the space only to disappear abruptly from the scene. The reception is subtly segregated by a solitary, patterned partition wall that exists by itself, but does not overtly dominate the layout. Furnishings are to the bare minimum, assembled obediently one after the other. The energy-efficient ‘level pole’ lighting systems aid in segregating the seating at the workstations without the assistance of solid partitions. The unconventional pop of colour adds a hint of eccentricity to the subdued work environment. The creative zone is made interesting by the use of partition walls with circular punctures attempting to create an informal environment, while at the same time maintaining a visual link.



The closed plan of the factory is opened up by demolishing the monotonous eastern wall of the existing structure and replacing it with a clear-glass façade that connects the onlooker to a milieu of activity within.

View of the office during the day.

The surreal setting at night of the Crayon’s office. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The factory before conversion.












12 14


6 6






1 11





1 Entrance Foyer 2 Huddle space

4 Executive 5 Pantry

7 President’s Room 8 Cabin

10 MD’S Room 11 Conference

13 Workstations 14 Reception

16 Server Room 17 Recreation




3D VISUALISATION OF THE CONCEPT. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



The floral wallpaper of the barrel vault slab dominates the interiors.

View within the huddle space.

Reception area of the office.

The private ancillary facilities aligned along the west wall are screened from the remaining office space to accommodate the more intimate spaces; the huddle space along with rooms for the core management and for conference. These spaces stand in contrast to the rest of the office with the use of deeper colours on the walls and floor. There is also an enclosed space for recreation towards the east so as to provide a view of the calm landscape away from the sun’s glare.

Creative zone of the office with informal partition walls.

The building has succeeded in shedding its former industrial constitution to evolve into a refined contemporary office. By moulding the existing form with its new function, the design strikes a perfect chord between the two. It appeals to contemporary sensibilities as it mildly translates two contrasting languages of raw industry and sleek corporate. Reinventing of a decrepit opaque factory into a glowing box of transparence is a fine transformation, although the real magic transpires at night, when it is illuminated from within, flooding light in its surrounding.


Punctures in the partition walls maintain the visual link.

Project Location Architect Design Team Client Initiation Of Project

: : : : : :

Office For Crayons Okhla, Delhi It’s All About Design (IAAD) Jyoti, Sumit, Rachna Crayons Advertising 2007

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


EXPRESSING ETHOS COLLAGE ARCHITECTURE STUDIO, BENGALURU Collage Architecture Studio is dedicated to the design of high-performance, energy-efficient and sustainable architecture on an international scale. The firm approaches each project, regardless of size or scale, with an understanding that architecture has a unique power to influence civic life and strives to create designs that aid society, advance modern technology, and inspire people to improve our world. Text: Sharmila Chakravorty | Images & Drawings: courtesy Collage Architecture Studio

Weaving the firm’s philosophical ideals into a design that highlights simplicity and the importance of team spirit, the College Architecture Studio Office in Bengaluru is stark, yet sophisticated.


or most architects, designing for a highly ‘demanding’ client is difficult. However, being the client themselves and designing is undoubtedly an even bigger task; the demand factor escalates itself in combination with the desire to effectively express and translate the firm’s collective understanding and idea of architecture into a space that represents the same. In accordance to the brief, the office For Collage Architecture Studio in Bengaluru is a reflection of Collage’s work, style, philosophy and ethics. ‘Influencing change, creating designs to inspire others and improving the world’ are the basic philosophies which the architects have tried to translate into the tangibility of their office design. The resultant design represents an intelligent, performance-inducing and inspiring space that exhibits sophisticated timelessness with simplicity. The office space is a 3BHK house that has been effortlessly customised and transitioned into a multifunctional office space that delves on the concept of transparency. The design reflects the transparency that the architects revere, with no barriers or hierarchical boundaries between work stations – spaces flow into one another to create absolute visual connectivity throughout the interiors. The entrance lobby acts as a transitional space between the reception and the studio, as well as the informal space for office

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

events and gatherings. Skylights above the space add a sense of vibrancy, while creating an interesting play of light and shade. Light fixtures that have been designed as cubes depicting the works of master architects, constantly supplying food for thought and inspiration. The architects further elaborate that, “The entrance gate made of bison board has been interestingly designed carrying the firm logo on a translucent material which becomes transparent during daytime and glows at the night time due to the light backdrop.” On the lines of the ‘open office’ concept, using minimalistic materials, the colour palette is kept simple with only shades of white and grey. The idea behind such stark, basic adornment is that the ‘colour’ within the office should be brought in by its employees, the Collage team. Pelmets have been incorporated throughout the office so as to obtain clear soffits and diffused lighting in the work space. To add a textural contrast, Bison board has been used extensively for false ceilings and partitions. A landscaped court, which also acts as an extension space to the adjoining conference room during large gatherings, provides for some lung space within the office. Also, to foster a strong sense of team spirit, a recreational office activity wherein murals were creating using waste model material was conducted. Another interesting, customised touch added to the otherwise demure interior décor is the graphic design



Muted, diffused lighting during the evenings.

The office space has a simple, functional interior design. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


The idea behind such stark, basic adornment is that the ‘colour’ within the office should be brought in by its employees, the Collage team. PANTRY











The entrance lobby space.




depicting the principles of architecture. While adding a bit of drama, these principles are a sublime reminder of the ethics the office follows, inspiring newcomers and old employees alike. The architects have kept the design muted and understated so that the office space takes on the colour and mood of those working within. The sense of team, and that the employees are the most important element within the office, instils a sense of belonging, thereby creating a work environment that induces better productivity. Simple, yet sophisticated and full of subliminal inspiration, the design effectively translates the small space into one which can be modified and customised as per requirement of the inhabitants; a truly positive work space that upholds the team and drives them to improve with every passing day.


Graphics contrast with, and decorate, the grey and white interiors. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Project : Collage Architecture Studio – Office Location : Bengaluru Architect : Arunkumar TD, Swapnil Valvatkar, Adwitha Suvarna Design Team : Manali Bhamre, Vibhuti C Contractor : Alps Interiors, Bengaluru Area : 2000sqft Initiation of Project : April 2012 Completion of Project : May 2012


The central space of the office which acts as the green lung.

Graphic of principle concepts of architecture on the door.

Artwork on an otherwise stark wall. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



A practice with young aspiring architects, Traction Studio strives to create ideas and content which stimulate various human sensibilities. As a design venture, it is always referencing culture, civilisation and global understanding. Text: Alifiya Mehamdabadwala | Images & Drawings: courtesy Traction Studio

With the purpose of creating design elements that are unique to the place, the Alliance Francaise Education Centre in Mumbai designed by Traction Studio speaks more than one language.


he idea of an institute, a classroom, a formal setting at that, would typically evoke a sense of somberness and dullness. However, changing ways of learning and impetus on bold, free expressions have opened up a different world of how norms are broken. A temple of learning…a centre of cultural integration… the Education Centre of Alliance Francaise at Santacruz, Mumbai is all that and more. Traction Studio was contracted by Alliance Francaise to design the interiors of a space that spoke the language of simplicity and yet had a strong identity. The biggest challenge for the architects then was creating a unique identity for the centre, while preserving the existing identity of a culture in an unconventional setting of a mall-turned-commercial complex. The studio incorporated design elements of the institute, while emphasising a new language of design to define an environment for learning in a space meant for showrooms and offices. The interiors of the space are done keeping in mind that the centre is situated in a mall. At first sight, one gets an impression of a space that is bright and vivid, and resonates with a quiet poetic rhythm that is expected of a place of learning. A long corridor leading up to the education centre creates an unhurried movement of people and a large surface for exploring ideas. The education centre provides courses in French language and culture and students learn the same over various levels spread out at timely intervals. The elevation designed takes inspiration

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

from this process and a surface is created which reveals the learning curve. The surface is divided into a translucent grid with strategic modules developing into ‘jali’ work. These ‘jalis’ made up of words and names of French artists, brands, musicians, etc. are completely unknown unless one is introduced to them through the literature. This creates a sense of revelation for students who frequent the space, eventually creating a façade that doesn’t change, but changes the way it is perceived. The long walk outside the space leads into the reception area. The area not only acts as a prelude for the first-time visitor, but also functions as the managing area for the centre. The fusion of these two activities demanded flexibility; which is represented in the form of a flap signage and the pivoting display board. The reception storage system too achieves duality of functions by greeting the visitor. The sprouting storage system is envisaged in cement-based boards, using the material to the truest of its forms. The mall units are converted and merged into three classrooms. The flow of external façade is maintained in the classrooms by converting the partition screen into a storage unit. This again is divided into sections and categorised by using words to describe the archived material; films by artists, books by authors, etc. However, the clutter of chairs in the classroom does confine one into the space. Various elements are introduced in the space, keeping in mind the purest of forms and materials. Most of them juxtapose against a



The elevation that runs at the outer end of the corridor creates an almost mosaic-like motif.

The ‘jali’ work adds a touch of uniqueness to the space. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


black ceiling; fibre boards are used for acoustic functions, while light fittings are designed considering their function and cost. The architects have consciously made an effort to steer away from architectural forms which reference French culture, but to derive a design language by the use of finishes, materials and colours. Use of exposed-GI ducts, concrete board furniture alongside cantilever metal chair, timber grid with ‘jali’ work/screens, and the meshing of deep and bold colours like black, red and brown are evident of a confluence of culture in the space. While a semblance in design is maintained throughout the space, it also hangs at the edge of monotony with no element of surprise to the place. Yet, the deep insight that has gone in taking intricate elements and assimilating them to derive a language of design immerses one into the abyss of cultural waters.

The walls of the classroom have sections with archived material.


The reception area.


CLASS ROOM 3 13’-5” X 27’-9”






CLASS ROOM 2 13’-1” X 18’-7”







CLASS ROOM 1 20’-11” X 11’-4”




RECEPTION AREA 20’-11” X 9’-1”



The studio incorporated design elements of the institute while emphasising a new language of design to define an environment for learning in a space meant for showrooms and offices. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013





The pin-up board at the reception.

The storage area created at the reception.

The ceiling feature.


Detail of the pin-up board.

Project Location Architect Design Team Graphic Designer Client Project Area Contractor Initiation of Project

: : : : : : : : :

Education Centre Mumbai, India Soumya Raja, Traction Studio Timsy Thakkar, Traction Studio Avani Mehta, Superstudio Alliance Francaise de Bombay 100sqm Axs Interiors October 2012

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


AN URBAN SANCTUARY VECTOR DESIGNS, PUNE Vector Designs is an architectural consultancy and landscape design firm that has partaken in several landscape projects by carefully studying the site conditions and context to generate sustainable solutions for specific situations. Text: Ayishwariya Balagopal | Images & Drawings: courtesy Vector Designs

Vector Designs has developed a vacant land along the storm water channels of Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune into a thriving ecological lung for the urban neighbourhood, benefitting both man and his macrocosm.


rom once being a wasteland, a two-hectare strip along storm water channels in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune is transformed by Vector Designs into a micro-ecosystem with flora and fauna. It is a conscious attempt at ecological development keeping in mind its social impact to stimulate change beginning from its immediate vicinity. It captures the interest of the people with the help of promenades, fountains and healing gardens. The site consists of two lakes that serve as natural catchment basins; one of which is connected to a stream. For the purpose of recreation various amenities are provided within a built-up area of 197sqm. A project of this scale aids in improving the micro-climate of the place and is a refreshing change from the monotonous concrete blocks of a city. The site, initially found to be non-arable perhaps due to intensive cultivation in the past and boulder excavations for construction purpose, is restored back to fertility. The project involves a socially conscious effort to resolve all of these issues through methodical ecological planning. Since the re-development is along the storm water channels, water as surface run-off from the adjoining roads and footpaths could be directed into the site, thus preventing floods, especially during a heavy downpour. The lakes and the stream are re-developed entirely so that they not only contain the flow of water and surface run-off but are also visually appealing. The stream bed and its embankment built along the periphery are restored like that of a natural stream using boulders extracted from the site, specifically for the purpose. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

The landscape delivers a vast contrast of surfaces from paver-block walkways, to soft green lawns, the rugged boulders of various shapes and sizes, the glistening lakes, the stream; all moulding into the sinews of the site. Promenades that swell into cross-over bridges transport the visitor across undulating surfaces, over streams and uneven landscapes. They follow the organic path of the water bodies meandering their way through the site. An interesting assemblage of boulders at the mouth of a storm water channel that opens into one of the lakes creates a remarkable cascading waterfall feature. The flow of the stream is restricted by the vegetation planted along its path. It is also directed into a well downstream that is used to irrigate the gardens and re-circulate the water to avoid stagnation. The complex is also supplemented by car-parks, public toilets, food plazas and water fountains to make it more user-friendly. Metal perforated sheet benches have been provided at certain junctions of the site for resting after a long walk. Night lights for safety fringe the periphery of the promenade and lakes. To prevent polluting of the stream during festivals involving immersion of idols, a separate immersion tank for the purpose is provided so as not to hinder any of the local cultural activities. Besides recreation, the centre also possesses a healing garden for the purpose of educating and spreading the ancient knowledge



View of the lake connected to a perennial stream.

The landscape delivers a vast contrast of surfaces from paver-block walkways, to soft green lawns, the rugged boulders of various shapes and sizes and the glistening lakes and stream; all moulding into the sinews of the site.

Overall view of the site. Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013







IALAND Metal Perforated sheet Bench type B




Metal Perforated sheet Bench type B Metal Perforated sheet Bench type B

Bench type A

Metal Perforated sheet Bench type B

Lawn Ground cover Mound

Bench type A


Bherali Mad Bench type A
















Site before re-development.

Spaces for informal gathering.

Embankment and vegetation along the lake.

of medicinal herbs in the region. It helps to inform the visitor better of their significance by seeing and learning about them. The garden comprises of plants arranged according to their properties. Some of the flowering varieties are arranged in rows to render the effect of ‘Sequential Flowering Avenue’. Some are arranged in clusters or single stands in order of their species, thus making textures from plantation. Although the landscaping mostly involves a variety of plants, trees and shrubs that are native to the place, some exotic species were also introduced depending upon their characteristics and how well-suited they are to the place. The re-development adds a certain character to the site that is alluring to the eye. This thoughtful project takes a retreat from the impulsive development and considers the slow process of rejuvenation through intervention.

Fauna in the site after re-development.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

Large open spaces such as this are an oasis in today’s concrete jungle, a sanctuary not only for residents but also to the diminishing local fauna. Today, by the prudent use of vegetation and other resources, the site is not only restored but shall sustain by itself.







Chinch Metal Perforated sheet Bench type B




Creative patterns included in the landscape.

A pavilion in the garden.

Cascading feature of a waterfall.

Well defined transition spaces in the form of promenades.

The lake, brightly illuminated at night.


Immersion tank for festivals.

Project Location Architect Design Team Site Area Built Area Building/Project Category Initiation of Project Completion of Project

: : : : : : : : :

Landscape Development of PCNTDA Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune Anita Dake Vector Designs 2 Hectare 197sqm Landscape Development July 2008 October 2010

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


ECO BENCH HENRI FANTHOME OFFICE FOR ARCHITECTURE (HFOA), NEW DELHI Delhi-based design firm HFOA pursues sustainable innovations in design as a consequence of rigorous enquiry into each project, treated as a brand new challenge. Text: Ayishwariya Balagopal | Images & Drawings: courtesy Henri Fanthome

HFOA has conceived an Eco Bench for the Aravalli Bio-Diversity Park, using recyclable eco-friendly materials, to shape a flexible, organic form for the bench.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




he Eco Bench is designed by Henri Fanthome and his team of designers as an entry to an Eco Bench design competition for the Aravalli Bio-Diversity Park. It is conceived as an organism rather than an inanimate seating arrangement. Without dictating terms of use, it allows free will to prevail as its flexible assembly can be composed in any way as per choice. The flexible shape of the bench, unlike its rigid counterparts, embraces every whim of the user.The bench is designed after carefully studying various positions one adopts while sitting. The seats can be informally arranged in a garden or a park in any composition one chooses. It can be assembled in various combinations that offer viewing on all sides. It keeps the site free of chemical activity with the use of recyclable, environmentally friendly materials that influence the form to complement the rugged landscape of a garden. The bench rests on a pre-cast RCC base that develops into a body of recycled materials of various options. It could be built in dry stone, scrap casters, scrap wood or metal scrap. Plastic lumber is used for the seat and its recline. The desired composition is pre-cast and transported to the site. Its presence does not interfere with the site as its construction costs with regards to excavation are minimal. When not occupied it lingers on like an animal, lurking in the vicinity.

FACT FILE: Product Location Firm Design Team

: : : :

Eco Bench Aravalli Bio Diversity Park, Gurgaon Henri Fanthome Office for Architecture (HFOA) Henri Fanthome, Priya Sharma, Nagender Chauhan

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013



Arjun Rathi, an independent designer based in Mumbai, innovates in the field of architecture, interior and product design through concepts of ‘Psyche-tectural’ theory. Text: Ayishwariya Balagopal | Images & Drawings: courtesy Arjun Rathi

Arjun Rathi’s Refrigerator Coffee Table is an attempt to recreate identity by provoking thought through an unusual yet functional design.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




he unique design of the refrigerator table serving an ordinary function makes it a highly functional product designed by Arjun Rathi. His design is influenced by architecture, interiors, product design and concepts based on ‘psyche-tectural’ theory, involving psychology with architecture. His designs are thought provoking by challenging the identity of any object. The coffee table is one such attempt at recreating a table using refrigerator scraps. It is first of its series of refrigerator tables. The table dimensions are 1360 x 600 x 445 mm, sufficient for a small gathering. The idea struck while the designer was visiting friends in Finland where he found them using refrigerator doors as substitute for draughting tables. The concept then developed into the coffee table and several other designs in the refrigerator table series that includes a study table, dining table and a side table. The materials are sourced from various scrap markets in Mumbai. A vintage refrigerator door functions as the table top held up by recycled condenser coils that are acid cleaned and powder coated black. The original colour of the refrigerator is restored using a paint finish and a coat of lacquer. The textures and layers add their own charm to the peculiar design of the coffee table that ultimately proves to be a real eye-catcher!

FACT FILE: Product Designer

: :

Refrigerator Coffee Table Arjun Rathi

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013


THE PLANE AMIT KHANNA DESIGN ASSOCIATES, NEW DELHI Amit Khanna is a graduate from the School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), New Delhi. He heads the design studio AKDA (Amit Khanna Design Associates) and teaches at SPA as a visiting faculty with diverse responsibilities related to design, research and theoretical exploration. Text: Parikshit Vivekanand | Images: courtesy Amit Khanna Design Associates

Delhi-based design studio Amit Khanna Design Associates has designed a dramatic piece of lighting fixture and lamp, The Plane.

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013




mit Khanna Design Associates, a multidisciplinary design studio, has created an illusive pattern of floating planes of wood and glass that generates a dramatic play of light with The Plane. Founded by Amit Khanna in 2004, the studio’s philosophy has been to make regional specificity and sustainability intrinsic to the design process and product, which is clearly visible in The Plane owing to its simplicity and the use of highly sustainable materials. The core design team works closely with artists, technical experts and design professionals from allied disciplines, which has influenced the core creation of the product and hence the influence of multiple genres of style is manifested in its design. In The Plane, the floating planes of wood and glass are alternating and revolving around a central axis. Such an arrangement helps it to throw light on its surrounding in the most peculiar manner. As an object, the alternating voids aid in generating a highly surreal pattern of light, augmenting the light quality of the space it is contained in. Envisaged as a composition of overlapping surfaces, The Plane shapes light form through its planar surfaces. Light is produced in multiple directions and reflected through the multiple layers of horizontal glass. The product has the capacity to setup a perfect lighting ambience for a cozy environment as a lamp as well as a fixture.

FACT FILE: Product Firm

: :

The Plane Amit Khanna Design Associates (AKDA)

Indian Architect & Builder - Feb 2013

IA&B February 2013  

IA&B's february issue featuring works by architects, who have never been published before. A platform for young architects

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