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Beyond the Form

Posted by
on December 16, 2013 at 05:30 PM

Architect Sanjay Puri is well-known for his sculptural approach to architecture; and has created some strikingly bold buildings in various cities of India. With his distinctively flagrant forms, this Howard Roark of India is making waves even on the international scene of architectural design. The winner of multiple Indian and international design awards, Sanjay’s intrinsically introverted nature conflicts with the largesse of his achievements.
© Courtesy of Courtyard House

Contemporary Indian architecture and design is in a state of flux. The onslaught of international styles and access to international products has revolutionized the way designers now think! At the same time, of course, there is also more awareness about the need to protect and preserve what we have; our architectural heritage. It is the parallel climaxing of these two movements that we are witnessing a spurt in restoration activities as also in the trend to create building forms that break out of norms.

Leading the brigade of path-breaking designers is Sanjay Puri. Today, his architectural projects dot the map of India and beyond – to U. A. E, Mauritius, Montenegro and Spain! “Architecture is the language of people… so every generation evolves its own dialect,” says Sanjay Puri, in his trademark quietly assertive style. “It is therefore integral to an architect’s responsibility that he creates a language that his generation can identify with, understand and appreciate.”

In this sense it can be said that the ideology of creating contextually relevant architecture is adapted to suit the changing pulse of the people. “Why harp on Indian-ness and traditional ideology?” he asks. “The country is getting urbanized; globalization has changed the face of India….why should architecture remain embedded in tradition? Why should it remain untouched by the change that the country is experiencing in other areas?”

And indeed, there is change all around. Indian architecture and design is searching for an identity. There are paradigm shifts in ethos; which are reflecting on all areas of design. “I believe that every building must have an identity; I do not support that facet of modern architecture that brings uniformity and boredom to the cityscape.”

The new idiom obliterates the cultural factor; even if it takes inspiration from it. The abstraction of the idea results in dynamic, often flagrant forms. “Heritage must be preserved and tradition respected,” asserts Sanjay, adding “but I believe new-age architecture should reflect new-age thinking and living.”

Courtyard House

The bungalow is a dynamic amalgamation of the nature contours of the site, the surrounding landscape with a strong and bold visuals form which imbibes the principles of traditional desert architecture and environmentally friendly design. The building is iconic and sculptural in appearance yet sensitive to the climate and adjoining surroundings. It appears to be sculpted out from the adjoining hills.

The design of the building facilitates cross ventilation and passive cooling with its interplay of courtyards and terraces are surrounded with large overhangs and ensure ample light to all the spaces without the direct glare of the harsh desert sun.

The internal courtyards and terraces are surrounded with large earth mounds which gives privacy to the users and constant shade to the inner spaces. The earth moulds appear to be embracing the entire building and act as thermal insulation for the adjoining rooms.

The central courtyard with a large water body and landscaped courts cools the adjoining areas and shades the walkways from the harsh sun rays. The spaces are woven together by the open courtyards and terraces giving individual identity to each space.

The building is unique in its identity and creates a series of spaces that would be a joy to experience by its users.

Bombay Art Gallery

This art gallery had a slightly unusual brief, and tight plot constraints; but a lot is seen happening within its profile. Within this small 1300 sq m plot two distinct spaces with vastly different uses and user-profiles are created - each having its own discernible identity and yet flowing effortlessly in a single, uniquely sculptural composition.

Fluid forms – at times enmeshed together, and at times emerging from each other – constitute this small building. Within an extremely small plot measuring only 1300 sq m, a mixed-use building programme based on the client’s needs had to be developed.

Art gallery spaces, an auditorium, a cafeteria and artists’ rooms had to be planned within 1000 sq m and another 1000 sq m of office spaces were to be provided for, each with separate entrances.

Fluid spaces across the three lower levels, house the art gallery spaces and their allied functions with walls flowing into roofs homogenously. The fluidity of form seen externally, with a concrete skin encapsulating spaces while undulating in both the horizontal and vertical planes, is carried through to the interior volumes making the entire experience as that of moving through a sculpture.

A separate entrance lobby at the rear corner leads one up vertically into a four level office space that is angled to allow the offices unrestricted views of the ocean in the distance. The office spaces are encapsulated in a concrete skin punctuated volume with floor to ceiling glass panels in the direction of the sea.

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