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Design without Dressing: S3D, Baroda

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on November 20, 2015 at 01:55 PM

S3D – an architectural collaborative based in Baroda, emerges as the year’s most impressive discovery. However, unlike typical talent discoveries when some new kid-on-the-block splashes his freshly brewed talent across all glossies, this is a design practice whose ideology has evolved over the past two decades or more! Formalized as S3D in 2006, the three founding partners Nimesh Shah, Ashish Amin and Anirudha Dehade strive to strike a balance between innovation and practicality, through rigorous architectural explorations.

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S3D – a design studio shaped around the overlapping design ideologies of three astute architects, strives to attain innovative solutions, addressing the fundamentals of any project. Not forgetting what they learnt at school – the M. S. University graduates retain the innocence and integrity of fundamental design principles, even in the very refined and matured output seen in their portfolio today. The site being their paramour, every S3D creation reveals a passionate resolving of site specific issues, and a methodical approach to circumvent its constraints. 

The three design heads cumulatively bring to the practice a rich compendium of experience and expertise, that informs their creative cognizance.  Their core philosophy of design shapes up as ‘sensibly sustainable’ – exploring a practical approach to sustainability; without blindly jumping on to the ‘green’ wagon. Naturally drawn towards a design aesthetic rooted in western traditions while respecting the Indian context, S3D’s designs are contemporary - alluding to the programmatic syntax of the project and responding to the climate and other site-specifics. 

Interestingly, the triad at the helm, have internally established clearly defined ‘roles’ for each of them; functioning almost as independent practices with dedicated projects and design-teams! Thus streamlining the firm’s operations, S3D has evolved into a well-managed design studio with a robust ethos. Dotting their portfolio are some remarkable architectural projects in community housing, private residences, institutional buildings, malls and offices; as well as some very fine interior projects! A concentrated and coherent attempt to stick to the minimalist genre results in a seamless exploration of its many facets and nuances – across the entire spectrum of their practice.  

And therefore with a little attentiveness, the intangible string of continuity can be perceived across the S3D oeuvre. Contexts may differ, constraints may shift, material boards may get modified to address the brief or program, and indeed, the project may be headed by any of the partners, but the underlying response to a design challenge emerges from the same sensibilities. The didactic response stems from a powerful design diktat at work within the studio – where the fundamental dynamics of form, space, functionality and environmental responsibilities – fall in place to sync with the studio’s minimalist ideology.   

The potpourri of S3D projects thus reflect the evolved ethos – whether it is a high-end villa scheme in Anand, a plush jewelry showroom in Baroda, a lavish home in Surat, a corporate office or an educational institute!

Pics: 2-3. Community Housing for Square One Developers

A 332,000 sq ft two-phase housing community consisting about 250 dwelling units, for Square One Builders Pvt. Ltd has row houses and semi-detached duplex bungalows. Planned to fit in the irregular site, this project displays efficient land-use. The housing stands out as a unique project owing to uncommon blend of traditional and contemporary elements and materials.  The layout, amenities as well as the material board evokes a sense of luxury and style.

Pics: 4-5. Jewelry Showroom, Baroda

The 2500 sq ft jewelry showroom makes its mark in the retail sector – as a beautiful and well-resolved space.  Housed in a commercial structure, the showroom has a central display expanse, office cabins and utility areas. Balance of natural and artificial light keeps the expression of the space humble.


Cover Pic & Pics: 6-9. Twin bungalows in Surat

From the plethora of residential projects, a comprehensive architecture and interior project done by S3D for two Surat-based brothers, is the most notable. The 6000 sq ft twin bungalow project comprises two identical houses. Derivation of the design was a result of site conditions, client’s requirements, vastu principles and practical constraints. Located in a densely populated area, this residence is designed as inward looking structure opening onto private garden spaces. 

Pics: 10-12. Corporate Office

The office for Narayan Realty is one of the most stunning works in the S3D profile! Sitting on a narrow site abutting the road with dead walls on either side, the design response to optimize the space created an interesting solution. With the services stacked on one side of the dead wall, allows open front and rear facades, while the fourth side is designed as perforated façade.

Pics: 13-15. Educational Institute

The 60000 sq ft Navrachna University Architecture Building in Vadodara is one of the most prestigious projects from the portals of S3D. Located in the same campus and largely built on the same concepts as the old Navrachna University building (also done by them few years back), a raised platform was added to create a common entrance to both. The north and south facades have louvers designed to allow in optimal light and air, while cutting off the harsh sun, while the west side is completely closed out, and used for all services.

The polemic about losing our roots to the new global aesthetic will, and must, continue. Many designers today are seen seeking “Indianness” through their work, and infusing the cultural tone into the contemporary language. However, the S3D team while respecting the Indian context and climate; extrapolates a starkly global aesthetic, with an international appeal. All throughout the projects, across diverse typologies and despite varied constraints, the S3D preference for understated design, with minimal dressings, exerts itself boldly.



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