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Volume 01 • Issue 11 • October 2012 / Studio Amita Vikrant, Suprio Bhattacharjee architecture fields / DCOOP Architects studio cartographies / where books meet readers: two new libraries in Washington by David Adjaye / Nemish Shah within the act of building / Annapurna Garimella digesting the past / Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rahaab Allana dawn upon Delhi / Paola Nicolin dOCUMENTA (13)

October 2012




Volume 01 • Issue 11 • October 2012 / Studio Amita Vikrant, Suprio Bhattacharjee architecture fields / DCOOP Architects studio cartographies / where books meet readers: two new libraries in Washington by David Adjaye / Nemish Shah within the act of building / Annapurna Garimella digesting the past / Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rahaab Allana dawn upon Delhi / Paola Nicolin dOCUMENTA (13)



Op-ed Romi Khosla

Thinking about future in India Op-ed David Neustein

11 • October 2012


SAV, Bhattacharjee / DCOOP / Adjaye / Shah / Garimella / AFA, NGMA, Allana / Zancan, Moroso / Nicolin





PROCESS-DESIGN DCOOP Architects, Kaiwan Mehta

Studio cartographies

Adjaye Associates, Gideon Frank Shapiro

Books for all


Within the act of building PROCESS-DESIGN Kaiwan Mehta

Mind maps – the studio

Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rahaab Allana

Dawn upon Delhi


Roberto Zancan


Paola Nicolin

PROCESS-DESIGN Studio Amita Vikrant, Suprio Bhattacharjee, Kaiwan Mehta

Architecture fields

Annapurna Garimella

Digesting the past



Contemporary Museum for architecture in India curated by Kaiwan Mehta, text by Ranjit Hoskote


Exquisite Corpse

Photoessay Gauri Gill Cover A patterning technique is explored such that the original rhythmic and repetitive module evolves into a building whose façades shall throb in seemingly syncopated beats of light. Developed for Calangute Boutique Hotel in Goa by Studio Amita Vikrant


50 60 70 72

Moroso, 60 years of prototypes dOCUMENTA (13) Good morning, princess! Rassegna

74 76 82 92 98





Cold Case

Heinz Galinski Jewish Elementary School


On the future of mobility



Architecture fields

London, GB / Mumbai, IN

domus 11

October 2012


Architecture fields We look at the work of Studio Amita Vikrant (SAV) where architecture is not the object to be achieved at the end of a process but the substance of process itself, combining observation and geometry, materiality and deep surfaces as the tools of architecture. The studio working across London and Mumbai share their works and thoughts with us as we discuss issues of form and façade and the programme of a process


Studio Amita Vikrant



Suprio Bhattacharjee Kaiwan Mehta


Studio Amita Vikrant

Mumbai Pune Goa

FaÇade and form  these have remained the two primary means by which a larger audience can appreciate and connect to a building. Proportionately, fewer would ever access a building’s innards to understand and experience it from within. The building’s exterior appearance becomes the means by which a public builds a commentary on a work. Each city would historically have its own set of buildings, old and new, that are steeped in the public conscious. Domus India recently featured buildings designed by I M Kadri – an architect whose work still dominates the lower mid-city skyline of Mumbai. The public is drawn to the sloping base and simple yet patterned tower of the Discovery of India Building, while the low-slung ShivSagar estate with its set of five blocks and an elongated podium (that has always housed a vibrant Tata showroom) 40


Architecture fields

London, GB / Mumbai, IN

domus 11

public 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Exhibition/ Living Space Entrance Lounge Show Kitchen Show Bedroom Show Toilet

semi public/ private 6. Main Entrance Courtyard 7. Living/ Salon 8. Formal Dining 9. Bar / Lounge 10. Decks 11. TV Room 12. Guest Toilet 13. Family Dining 14. Breakfast Counter 15. Kitchen 16. Pantry/ Store/ Washing 17. Driver/ Security 18. Caretaker room 19. Servant Toilet 20. Rear Entrance 21. Service Yard 22. Garden/ Courtyard 23. Sunk Seating 24. Viewing Glass 25. Swimming Pool 26. Cinema 27. Playspace/ Guest Lounge 28. Guest Bedroom 1 29. Guest Bedroom 2 30. Guest Bedroom 3 31. Garage 32. Temple

has become an urban marker for the passage into the lower city. Both these buildings feature strong patterned faÇades that respond to the nature of their form and setting, marred now by one of the ShivSagar blocks being given a ‘facelift’ in mirrored glass and aluminium panels. The same fate was bestowed on the Sasmira Building – another former landmark located close-by. This perhaps highlights the nature of the faÇade. The public is perhaps less liable to discriminate. They may ‘go with the latest trend’ – and thus faÇade is seen as mere fashion – as representative of a time and a context – whether economic, social – or perhaps a representation of a psyche. Like the faux-PoMo faÇades that have blighted the city of Mumbai for two decades. But yet, for an audience that is less sensitised to the complex aspects of an architect’s task, as well as for clients who promote this – a building’s ‘appearance’ is all that counts. In many ways, this aspect would then overwhelm others in deciding a project’s fate. What a building looks like – or its ‘form’ – can have associative aspects that connect to a larger audience. Two stark examples in recent times (to mention international ones) can be found in London – the’ Gherkin’ and the ‘Shard’. What is also interesting is how this public moniker has (at least in one case) become the ‘official’ title for one of the buildings. In other cases, this ‘representation’ 42

is made intentionally for wider appreciation and acceptance  or to express a singular formal idea. Take a recent urban renewal project in Budapest by ONL  where this new ‘whale’ along the banks of the Danube will supposedly ‘put Budapest back on the world map’  as the architects contend. What a deep ocean mammal is doing by the Danube River in Budapest is another matter altogether (an academic one?). But for the moment citydwellers are revelling in their new-found architectural importance. Maybe it is a dilemma that the contemporary architecture scene is currently engaging with. Or maybe it is the time-worn battle between the ebullient and the reserved. Between the why and the why-not. The works of the Mumbai-London office SAV engage with a stream of contemporary architecture that is informed by digitally-driven or ‘parametric’ design. This emerging faction has lately been giving the world of architecture its ‘supermodels’  both at the large scale of completed buildings as well as at the more intimate scale of gallery and public space installations. At many levels (in a western context at least), it has offered a renewed impetus to craft and ornamentation. While this methodology has its detractors, it also holds possibilities and a hope that when used in the right way, it can actually make mass customisation (the anti-thesis of the modernist mass standardisation) economical –

October 2012


First Floor

Upper Ground Level

private 33. Master Bedroom 1 34. Den 35. Family Lounge 36. Family Balcony 37. Master Bedroom 2 38. Master Bedroom 3

Lower Ground Level Previous page: The diagram indicates the conceptual sketch, which developed out of an observation of the formations of migratory birds in flight, for the Here and Now 365 Media Agency office. Previous and this spread: Sugee Niwas inspired by the location of the Sahyadri Hills and the mountain site, develops a formal programme and spatial flow to build a relationship with the surrounding; although distinctly segregating private and public spaces there is a seamless flow though the central interior space; a variety of roof formations allow for the light, and view of the blue skies become a part of the architectural experience

thus renewing the technology-driven manifesto of the erstwhile Modernists to include more current concerns of heterogeneity and diversity (besides the over-riding factor of economy). Here technology comes in aid of the design process too – and the office joins a litany of young practitioners across the globe who are engaged with this methodology. The fact that the principal architects have been trained at London’s hallowed AA School (and now teach there too) is all too evident in their work. This brings to the fore a third aspect – that of technology. The AA School (along with the Bartlett which should be mentioned in the same breath) has remained a breeding ground for the Techno Avant-Garde – ever since the Archigram days of the 1960s. Making technology relevant (and useful) for a socially-transforming and modernising society has been a central concern in their (often dystopian) visions for the future. This aspect is of great interest to a country such as India – where hi-tech and (supposedly) ‘low-tech’ exist together. The majority of the country has (still) a flourishing craft tradition, and the concern now is whether a ‘mechanisation’ or ‘industrialisation’ of the economy will bring an end to these. A balance needs to be struck  a balance between technology and ‘craft’. These issues are highlighted in the works of SAV. Their design process is seen as being informed by traditional cultural techniques as well as natural processes. The method of work begins

— A patterning technique is explored such that the original rhythmic and repetitive module evolves into a building whose faÇades shall throb in seemingly syncopated beats of light — from a singular driving idea  that can at times be simplistic (such as that of a ribbon wrapping around a faÇade) or at times refer to more complex set of forces (such as water-carved sandstone caves). Using a set of tools such as physical models, digital models, as well as advanced machining techniques such as 3D printing, these explorations assist in furthering the initial idea and to increase their degree of complexity as each iteration progresses. This can be seen in the evolution of a faÇade design for a boutique hotel in Goa, where a traditional tile pattern becomes a starting point for a rather complex (and one dares say beautiful) mashrabiya or jaali or screen that is folded over a faceted building volume. A patterning technique is explored such that the original rhythmic and repetitive module evolves into a building whose faÇades shall throb in seemingly syncopated beats of light. Models of this pattern exhibit the play of 43

Architecture fields

London, GB / Mumbai, IN

domus 11

October 2012 This spread: The site for this residential project is in Porvorim, a new upcoming suburban area in Goa, which is located within a strict grid of the master plan; the ribbon responding to the rigidity of the grid develops a fluid surfacewrap generating a formal response of the building to the neighbourhood through a series of fluid balconies, planter beds as well as shading device; various study models indicate a repeated measuring of the central idea that is developing out of an observation of the grid-geometry

light and shade that this faÇade shall engender. In another project – a more complex master planning proposal for a new township in Maharashtra, an understanding of the site’s physical geography and the ecology it sustains informs the layout of a new enclave of townhouses that are placed in response to the lay of the land and seasonal water streams. The images show a complex urban future that is driven out of this need to respond to the site’s ‘water networks’ – and the design methodology makes use of the diagram to map these diverse aspects. A simple overlay of the multiple co-existent forces on the site, and a mapping of suggested site conditions leads to a section that shall reinstate the centrality of this ecology in the daily life of the township’s inhabitants. A charming yet diminutive project is an office space in London, where the flight of migratory birds is interpreted as a set of ‘vectors’ of fluorescent lighting and ‘swarms’ of suspended lamps that define the functional areas within. While there would be questions in terms of the relationship between the idea of migratory birds and its use in a media agency (a comment on the nature of employees? – that would be amusing) there is no denying the ‘cute-ness’ of the space and its rather raw innocence. The energy and zest that the authors bring into their teaching is evident in their work. Having shared academic space with one of the principal architects, I feel a strong connect with the 44

brimming excitement and discovery that is brought to their process-driven work. Some of these works have still a long way to go before they can be realised. One hopes that the latent energy of the ‘making’ finds expression in what will eventually be ‘made’. Here lies their biggest challenge. Whether a studio working from the technology-conducive environs of London can bridge the more grounded and tricky nature of the construction industry here. One would be eager to see, for instance, how these projects can be detailed and working drawings issued such that they can be built by local contractors (especially those of a smaller scale). What is also important, from a more academic point-of-view, is the connection these works need to make to the contexts they are implanted into. The processes make references to an ‘everywhere’ condition, in that they seem to tackle those concerns or drivers seen at the core process of a design idea. Thus they may come across as generic (and therein lies a problem)  the same kind of universalisation that sounded the death knell of Modernism  another technology-driven idea of the past century. Some process ideas do come across as untenable not rooted  for instance where the action of water to shape the striking sandstone caves in Arizona, USA, becomes the basis for ‘carving’ spaces for a house in the basaltic geography of Indapur in Pune; or the crystallisation processes that determine the faceted volumes of the Goa hotel. There are other concerns too – like whether this genre of work heralds a new urban

future where the same drab boxes shall be clad in a more fancy attire – something that in any case is becoming a new corporate vernacular as is evidenced in new office buildings and hotels sprouting across our cities. These oddities need to be addressed and resolved. As a student of architecture, I was influenced significantly by Bahram Shirdel’s celebrated second-place winning scheme in the Nara Convention Centre Competition. Folding influenced my formative work. At the same time, the idea of ornamentation within contemporary architecture has grown increasingly into a major pre-occupation amongst architects and with me as well. SAV place themselves within the same milieu. And there is much to be done. One hopes that as the office matures and the projects evolve in scale and complexity, their work shall achieve greater conceptual integrity. Such that the connect is deeper and emphatic, and does not come across as forced – like the whale in Budapest. — Suprio Bhattacharjee Architect

The process and work of Studio Amita Vikrant (SAV) in many ways conceptualises the scope as well as the nature of what architecture means and reaches out to in the contemporary world. Architecture has today assumed its most discussed avatar in very strong ways  the visual aspect of form and tectonics. However, this aspect which can be the ritual of architecture is today the operative principle and platform for architectural manifestations, architectural proclamations as well as architectural conversations. The fabric of architecture is not the skin, the faÇade or the wrap, but this skin is spaces deep  it is not the surface enclosing spaces, but the surface that is spacesdeep. The surface becomes form as it develops a substratum of spaces within it. The faÇade is craft and technique, it is building and the value of spatial interactions. SAV in their working translate observations from nature and systems into stages and processes of crafting  where the silhouette of a tree canopy or the formations of migratory birds in flight become indicators and process structures for designing form and programme within spatial ideas. Observations then has extended into an exercise of operating upon materiality in the scope of carving architecture into the environmental and urban volumes of space. In working with visuality, and translating observations into geometry (which is also a way of scripting visuality) a motif of architecture and design emerges, developing into a discursive idea 45

Architecture fields

London, GB / Mumbai, IN

domus 11

October 2012 This spread: The unit and pattern of the tile work, characteristic of Portuguese and Indian building traditions, is stretched into a material geometry that forms the central architectural logic of the Boutique Hotel in Calangute, Goa; depending on the programme of spaces, and their uses during different times of the day, the openings and scale of the pattern is altered which also generates a visual logic in the sculpting of the form creating a crafted gem-like object where the patterns of the faรงade become tessellated screens as well as shards of a chiselled object



Architecture fields

London, GB / Mumbai, IN

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October 2012

a daily basis, learning from experiences of all sorts and collaborating with people with different kinds of knowledge. di Having your studio in two cities across continents  is there anything about architectural practice and construction that you realise very sharply because of this situation? Does the different experience of two contexts reveal nuances of architectural practice, that one may not realise otherwise? sav Being from Mumbai but based in London we know that India needs a lot of interesting and innovative design inputs as it grows in an unprecedented manner and we are happy to be working on several projects in India. But at the same time we thought having a Mumbai-based studio would be an interesting learning experience for our London team as India is such a fantastic place with such a richness in crafts and culture. So for us having the studios in different places is a great opportunity to explore and integrate their wealth of knowledge and their expertise in different aspects within all our designs. di Skin, Form, Programme  these aspects of architecture are not so easily differentiated today, at all times. Your work also struggles, or maybe enjoys stretching one aspect into the other  would you comment on this? sav In fact we would say that they constantly get differentiated in today's world. This argument between the three is widely published lately and somehow architects are getting bracketed down due to what a part of the project may represent. We think today's technologies allow all architects to combine faÇades, forms and programme in the most innovative ways. For us it really depends on the projects, and we see it as a constant negotiation between the three; and so if any one part of the building may seem to get all attention when seen in one way, but if one looks at the entire project one can see that the process and evolution of design has been thought in all aspects and neither is treated separately from the other. At the end of the day one has to play and explore all aspects of a building at all stages of the project. — KAIWAN MEHTA Architect and critic and structure of thought. Their working method which moves across designing and constructing buildings as well as sculptural installations, working on study of cities to teaching in design schools achieves a flexibility of scales  scales across which they can think, yet keep a grip on a central bunch of attitudes and approaches. This gets further facilitated with the experience sharing between two cities  London and Mumbai. Design is their primary concern and attitude  architecture is the process and not the objective of a process, or the object of design alone. While observing and making preliminary notes on the work and habits of SAV, we forwarded a few questions to them, and we close here with the interview that follows. domus india What would you, as a design studio, see as your 'tool kit' for design and architectural practice? sav Nature, cultures and context form key inspirations for the studio. At every stage of the project, we observe and learn from the surrounding and this is reflected in all scales of our design, from 48

masterplans to smaller scale pieces of sculpture and jewellery. These shape the initial concepts for the project. At the same time we also find that the design evolution or design process is equally interesting and inspiring. The way an idea evolves as one progresses with the design is tremendously exciting to work towards bringing with it a certain growth within the design and making of any projects. Lastly, technology fascinates us and we feel that it's an important aspect of today's world and as designers we like to embrace it to create aesthetically rich, spatially playful and imaginative designs while being environmentally efficient which we feel is so important on our planet with finite resources. di There seems to be a way in which architectural material is moulded into the idea of the building  as a physical entity, as a visual assemblage; what role does this translation of material into form and architectural value play in your larger approach to architecture and design? sav Materiality for us is about inspiration and fabrication rather than application. As designers

Extreme left: Text Fields was a collaborative research and design project that explored the boundaries between form, space and words; it works with an attempt to primarily understand the coordinates of the existing space and its field within which hybrid qualities are introduced to develop a field

of textual geometry. (Photo: Amandine Alessandra) Left: View of office interior for Here and Now 365 Media Agency. (Photo: Takako Hasegawa) This page: Developing a masterplan for the Indapur site, which is located in the northern part of the Konkan Ghats, on the Mumbai Goa National

Highway; the masterplan is developed keeping in mind the rich biodiversity of the region as well as the scenic nature of the location; a variety of network systems and circuits such as terrain, rain flow, water tributaries, urban structures, natural vegetation, etc. are woven into the central thesis for the planning

we see materials as an integral part of the design process. The studio is always inspired by the inherent character of materials; their textures, colours, engineering abilities and transformative qualities . We love to explore materiality and combining them with technology which has become more like a craft, and existing materials, traditional craftsmanship and new software , investigate rather than pre-determine; bringing out new qualities of aesthetic, tactility and richness of materiality in design. di Between practice, research and teaching  what is the transference of experience, and what is the nature of exchange between your core ideas and the multiple roles/projects? sav Practice, research and teaching! Isn't it the same thing? We learn, explore and collaborate every day, and they are not isolated events for us. The place and people can vary, sometimes in the studio with our team, sometimes in schools with students, sometimes in offices engaging with clients or sometimes in a park over a coffee with a friend; we are exchanging thoughts and ideas on 49

Di 11 | Suprio B - Architecture Fields | Domus India 10/2012  
Di 11 | Suprio B - Architecture Fields | Domus India 10/2012  

Architecture and Information Technology - A review of the works of SAV/Studio Amita Vikrant - a young practice straddling across two contine...