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Sanjay Puri Architects: On the World Stage with Ishatvam 9

Posted by
on November 18, 2017 at 02:26 PM

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Blazing on uninterrupted is our favourite TFOD advisor, patron and Glo-cal hero of over 100 international awards, Architect Sanjay Puri! Having won the 2A Award in Berlin in the ‘Future Projects and Innovation’ category for the design of Rajasthan Club, Sanjay Puri Architects went on to win the American Architecture Prize for two of their projects Ishatvam 9 and Akshaya 36 in October this year, The Bridge at Rajasthan Club in Ras in the infrastructure future projects category and Ishatvam 9, a spectacularly innovative residential high rise in urban north India, are contending on the global stage again, at the World Architecture Festival Awards currently in progress at Arena Berlin. 

Ishatvam 9 rises fifteen floors above the ground, overlooking a surrounding Ranchi cityscape of mostly low rise structures. But, a look at the main elevation reveals a segregation of only 8 distinct levels thanks to double height terraces resulting from alternating floor plans. This in itself creates a visual shortening of the building such that it becomes less intimidating, a step towards making a tall building acceptable, and the homes there-in marketable to the traditionally low-rise mind-set prevalent in this mid-sized city.

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Adding, of course, to this visual trickery is the treatment the elevation receives from the asymmetrical lop-sided slopes of the double height boxes framing each balcony. This does away completely with the mundane plain-ness of the elevational surface to make way for an exciting faceted façade! What’s more, it creates terraces that are partly sheltered and the rest open to sky, with each balcony enjoying a sloping ceiling to mimic something that could be enjoyed in independent houses.

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Prone to innovative responses that resolve site and situation specific challenges with oodles of aesthetic grace, Sanjay Puri Architects takes to weaving the same magic at Ishatvam 9 which is better appreciated through a perusal of the floor plans. Ranchi, capital city of Jharkhand, has a fairly traditional populace just beginning to embrace modernity. They mostly have large families of three generations living in a single dwelling, where the common living room forms the heart of the house with all other areas surrounding and leading into it. 

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Taking off from here, the Ishatvam floor plan with a single 4 bedroom house at every level opens through an entrance lobby into a large central living room, divisible into formal and informal seating areas and extending to one side as the dining area. All the bedrooms and the kitchen open into this central common living area, pooling into it. The outermost layer is formed of balconies and terraces attached to each of the rooms and living room. As the heights of these terraces are flipped at consequent floors to alternate on opposite elevational faces, the magic unfolds on the façade.

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The success of Ishatvam also comes from getting its numbers right, having taken full advantage of the recently raised building height allowance of 50 meters and buildable area of three times the plot area. Not only are the apartments extremely spacious with and have an entire floor to themselves, they have a servants’ quarter tucked in to each floor as well. 

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With 20% area available as open terraces, each room opens out to double height decks which allow the home owners to enjoy the openness of a low rise independent dwelling in a high rise structure. The open terrace area achieved in the design comes to a grand 50% of the site area – a feat often not achieved even in single tenements. This fact gains more credence when examined in the background of the very small plot Ishatvam stands on with just a small open stretch of the front separating the building from a petrol pump occupying the road front.

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In Sanjay Puri’s successful innovation at Ishatvam 9, one can hear the echo of the excitement generated at Charles Correa’s genius with Kanchenjunga a few decades ago. As we know, it is easy to make an apartment building look good, but making it feel good inside out is a different ball game altogether. And, both these intuitive designers have played that game superbly to give traditional Indian mind-sets some closure with apartment dwelling!

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In a long continuing season of faceted fantasies in design, this one is on an unstoppable winning spree. Kudos, Sanjay Puri Architects, we’ll never stop waiting for more!  

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