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SOULFUL SIMPLICITY: Anshul Chodha, Sanctuary Architects & Interior Designers, Bangalore

Posted by
on October 28, 2015 at 01:58 PM

Architecture is a profession based on philosophies with a blend of creativity. Rarely do we find in contemporary Indian architecture, architects following strong principles and beliefs. Much of the glamour is in interior design, and most of that happens as a blatant aping of the trends abroad – with scant respect to Indian climate and conditions.

Sanctuary, a design studio offering services in architecture and interior design set up by Anshul Chodha, in Bangalore in August 2003, is one of those few that are based on a strong ethos. With projects encompassing a variety of sectors including hospitality, wellness, entertainment, multinational corporate and residential, the Sanctuary portfolio is an exciting one. Rooted in a sensitive, contemporary minimalist aesthetic, each Sanctuary project reiterates their passion to create spaces that are meaningful, appealing, intelligent, and timeless – while enhancing productivity, and increasing efficiency.

Here are a few excerpts from a tete-a-tete with the debonair designer!

 

© Courtesy of Ar. Anshul Chodha, Sanctuary, Bangalore

Architecture is a profession based on philosophies with a blend of creativity. Rarely do we find in contemporary Indian architecture, architects following strong principles and beliefs. Much of the glamour is in interior design, and most of that happens as a blatant aping of the trends abroad – with scant respect to Indian climate and conditions.

Sanctuary, a design studio offering services in architecture and interior design set up by Anshul Chodha, in Bangalore in August 2003, is one of those few that are based on a strong ethos. With projects encompassing a variety of sectors including hospitality, wellness, entertainment, multinational corporate and residential, the Sanctuary portfolio is an exciting one. Rooted in a sensitive, contemporary minimalist aesthetic, each Sanctuary project reiterates their passion to create spaces that are meaningful, appealing, intelligent, and timeless – while enhancing productivity, and increasing efficiency.

Here are a few excerpts from a tete-a-tete with the debonair designer!

 

How relevant is the need to be sustainable or green today? Do you try and integrate the concept of sustainable ideas in your interior or architecture projects??

All my designs aim to drastically bring down the carbon footprint of the building and its impact on the environment. We have been trying to advocate this approach. We are excited about sustainable and green concepts being more accepted by clients today.

 

In the age of technology, has computer modified your design thought process and presentation or given impetus to your creativity? Do you think the role of computers today is of any significance in the field? If no, what has been your favorite tool to work your concepts on?

Fortunately I studied in a generation that transitioned from zero computer aid to using some aid. Have I hence seen the best of both worlds. There is a certain sensitivity that comes when a design is first conceptualized through a sketch created by pencil on paper and I prefer this approach. However, software tools are a great aid in drafting, presentations and creating three-dimensional representations of designs. 

 

Do traditional Arts and Crafts have a role in your work? If yes, please elaborate.

I do like using traditional Indian arts and crafts in my projects but I usually adapt them to suit the contemporary style. Unfortunately, more often than not these are restricted to homes with luxurious budgets. We have a wealth of crafts to explore from in metal, glass, paint as well as terracotta and woodwork. Each region and each state has a rich legacy of local arts and crafts – some already forgotten; and some preserved by efforts made by different people and agencies. It is important to preserve them and nurture them; but I prefer to reinterpret them to suit my design aesthetic.

Pics: 3-6. Aurora Residence; Pics: 7-11. Chodha Residence

What is your approach to interior designing; in cases where you are not the architect of the house or restaurant or spa or retail outlet?

In most cases I would look for clues and cues from the architecture and its surroundings. It could be a focal tree at the site from which one could take inspiration; it could be the expanse of green that one wants to inherit from the outside by allowing the design to open up into it and blend with it. It could be the clutter of the outside that one wants to cut away from that determines the kind of interior. For me Interiors is not separate from architecture and landscape. 

Pic:1. 15, 16: Tansen; Pics: 12-14. Puma

You have a lot of projects in the hospitality sector. How challenging is it to create restaurant decors, each with a signature style?

Restaurant projects are fairly challenging projects because the experience has to be sensorial, has to cater to the target audience, it needs to be exciting, interesting, fresh and involve a lot of technicalities and detailing and has very little margin for errors. It is a true challenge of marrying science and art. 

What are your views on the present state of architecture in India?

It’s sad to say this but I find it appalling. Less than 10% of the structures that are sanctioned and built are designed by architects. Civil Engineers design them. 

What do you feel about the new international aesthetic that is so rampant in the world of design? Does it compromise the local essence of design? Share your thoughts.

Good Architecture and design should addresses various issues and integrate them into the design successfully by using technology to their benefit. Issues such as reducing the carbon footprint of the building, use of local material, context of the building with respect to its surroundings etc.

The climatic conditions in our country are quite different from the west. One of the biggest challenges that we face for most buildings in our country is how to keep the heat out so that the cost of energy spent cooling the building can be reduced. Hence glass facades that absorb heat are definitely not the solution.

This challenge is an interesting one actually allows the architect to express himself very differently and create architecture that is unique to the tropical climate that we live in.

But the unfortunate thing in many cases is that the client likes to dominate his views without always knowing what goes into making a building successful. A replica of the empire states building that a lot of Indian clients dream of creating is not a sustainable solution for the Indian climate and the context.

What are your aspirations and dreams?

I want to be a part of a design revolution, that through using new sustainable technologies, can have a deep and positive influence on people and society and change their environments for the better -whatever the scale maybe.

Your Design Mantra:

My design mantra is rather simple. I work with very basic norms like modulating natural light, ventilation, and seamless integration of the architecture, interiors and landscape. I also like bringing into all my designs what comes from the super-consciousness or from the metaphysical. That aspect is the magic potion that comes from the love for the divine present within each one of us. The result, in most cases for me, is a building that is soulful, minimalistic, aims to be sustainable and suitable for its context, geography, climate and its time.

Designer : Anshul Chodha, Sanctuary, Bangalore
Photography :Courtesy the architect

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