“A greater awareness in architects and planners of their real value to society could, at the present, result in that rare occurrence, namely, the improvement of the quality of life as a result of architectural endeavour.”
– Cedric Price
There is a shift in the way designers and architects are approaching space and form and we attribute this shift solely to the modern individual’s newfound respect for minimal, individualistic, and sustainable living. As we have decided to live consciously and intentionally, the studios that cater to our needs have also responded by sensitively contributing to the existing thread of consumerism. Increasingly, our designers are integrating the necessity of sustainability within our cultural paradigm and groundbreaking, individualistic and collaborative work is happening in the Indian architecture space. Explorations with material and construction methodology have had studios relying heavily on combining traditional and modern ways of building spaces so as to have a by-product that is engaging and truly urban in character. An emphasis on retaining our culture can be seen in the myriad textures and volumes of these spaces.
We bring to you a selection of some of the more conscious studios and architects whose work in the sustainability spextrum has added a newfound freshness to urban Indian’s lifestyle.
“Forests were the first temples of God and in forests, men grasped their first idea of architecture.”
– James C. Snyder
A collective of architects, designers and artists come together in this quaint studio in Mumbai to create a body of work that redefines form and space. The concept of ‘non-space’ space where less is more is deeply ingrained in their work. This studio differs from the others of its kind in how it focuses on the optimum utilization of material whilst emphasizing the landscape as the central body of a space.
The Riparian House by them was featured in Netflix’s, ‘ World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’ for its absolute integration with the landscape. In The Riparian House, a box-like volume is inserted under the roof to merge with the terrain and the roof allows wild grass and vegetation to grow over it. From above, the strong geometry of the house seems to merge with the contours of the hill, thus forming a hybrid of a man-made and terrain typology.
Architecture BRIO believes in co-creating relevant solutions within an increasingly changing world. The studio focuses on recognizing the relations between the various aspects of urbanity. With the high volume of built mass, there is a certain amount of disconnect between space and landscape and hence, there is an urgency to address this excess of growth and dissonance. Within this context, the work searches for a delicate balance within the various parameters that architecture form comprises of.
The founders of Architecture BRIO set up the studio in Mumbai in 2006. Over the years the studio has thrived with a team of architects led by Shefali Balwani, and Robert Verrijt. The founders met in Sri Lanka where they found themselves inspired by architect Geoffrey Bawa’s tremendous body of work which is often situated in the most breathtaking but sensitive environmental settings.
Architecture BRIO has also prepared a prototype for a green school design for 350 children aged 5-13 in Sabah, Malaysia as part of a Harvard Business School-Etania project. Brio’s focus has been on creating learning centres for children of immigrants in collaboration with local materials and workers. In these learning centres, children enjoy safety, security, and happiness and most importantly, exercise their right to learn.
“The fundamental failure of most graphic, product, architectural and even urban design is its insistence on serving the God of Looking-Good rather than the God of Being-Good.”
– Richard Saul Wurman
Where : Mumbai
Architectural Digest’s featured architect Bijoy Jain has re-defined the idea of a ‘home’ via his own
residence. His conversation of a dilapidated tobacco factory into a beautiful inclusive space and
the studio is not only brilliant but also sustainable. Gone are the days when exposed brick walls were
plastered blindly in order to cover cracks. The creators at today believe in embracing
those cracks that serve as measures of the value and individuality of the space. His
workspace culture includes breaking of hierarchy. Local resources and Indian craftsmanship form the basis for highly contemporary architectural designs. Thoughtful and uncompromising to the last detail, the architecture of Studio Mumbai shows a deep concern for the relationship between human and nature. This sort of sensitivity and priority on sustainability is exactly what is required of a creative body of individuals. Bijoy Jain, like many modern Indians, has taken his knowledge
of adaptive materials and reuse from across school of thoughts and has managed to fit it into
the paradigm of urban Mumbai.
Studio Mumbai is rooted in an intricate understanding of materiality and line. Take the Tara House for instance. Surrounded by mountains, forests, and the waters of the Arabian Sea, the house is configured around a tropical garden filled with a plethora of natural vegetation. Under the wood-framed roof, rooms are loosely arranged around the garden, weaving routes between them through louvred hallways and verandahs. Vertical Wooden slats blanket the space and induce privacy. Sunlight filters through these slats, creating patterns of light and shadow on the inner surfaces of the building, made up of stone, wood, and burnished plaster.
“As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital “S” – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright
The core of Case Design will always constitute of innovation and collaboration. Based in Mumbai with projects in India, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Case Design is an architecture and design practice committed to exploring the design process through acts of making from examining the everyday.
Their central ideology lies in the belief that objects and spaces deeply impact our relationship with the world around us. They hope to create moments of quality inspired by observations from our daily lives. These experiences, both spatial and formal, are sensitive to human interaction and hence, each architectural gesture must be infused with intent and meaning. As a collection of people from diverse backgrounds, both cultural and academic, they believe that collaboration lies at the core of all good work. Their aspiration is to create something of lasting value which finds itself relevant in the larger bandwidth of time. The Studio in Mumbai is an ensemble of local and foreign architects who work cohesively to create a body of work that is unique and deliberate. Their hand-crafted line of products is crisp and every aspect of their design is intentional, sustainable and rooted to a narrative.
“An interesting plainness is the most difficult and precious thing to achieve.”
– Mies Van Der Rohe
Where - Bangalore
VSLA, a studio set up by Varna Shashidhar, finds itself nestled in south Bangalore’s Jayanagar, where a former garage has been transformed into a space that houses their talented team. With a surge in population and urban density, there is a strain on existing resources and the studio’s problem-solving revolves around creating spaces that are embedded in ideas of sustainability and individual expression. VSLA has worked on cleansing water and soil and adding a volume of open spaces to the urban fabric. This holistic approach towards building is also representative of a sense of ownership and responsibility in the young designer. Their rainwater harvesting research is extensive and serves as an advocate for India’s advancement in technology and methodology.
“The structures were austere and simple until one looked at them and realized what work, what complexity of method, what tension of thought had achieved the simplicity.”
– Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
Where - Bangalore
Biome Environmental Solutions is a Bangalore-based design firm that is focused on ecology and architecture. The office’s diverse team includes designers, architects, civil and mechanical engineers, and urban planners from various parts of India and abroad. It takes a village to sustain a healthy ecosystem and the designers at Biome keep that ideology in mind while contributing and prototyping. The designs are undertaken by various members of this team in constant collaboration with each other via group discussions, exchanges and periodic meetings. It is in this constant discourse that spaces of quality and sensitivity emerge.
“In the face of the economic plight, it is our task to become pioneers of simplicity, that is, to find a simple form for all of life’s necessities, which is at the same time respectable and genuine.”
– Oskar Schlemmer
Where - Kerela
Wallmakers, a studio by Architect Vinu Daniel, combines the beauty of indigenous and local materials with deliberate design in order to create simple but impactful spaces that are true to their context and scape. All our earlier settlements have always been made of natural materials and they have been highly impactful and successful in their program. Hence, the studio’s focus is on reconfiguring and retaining the quality of such materials. Sadly, today, less than thirty per cent of the world’s population live in buildings made of earth, even though it is a more sustainable and durable material. This effect can be attributed to the growing number of cement blocks that have been permuted all over our urban landscape. To counteract this dismal statistic, the designers at Wallmakers have devoted themselves to the cause of using mud and waste as the chief components, to make structures that are both utilitarian and alluring.
A clear intent and commitment to a commercially extinct way of building separates this studio from others of its kind. Their contribution to the cultural fabric of Kerela via The Biennale Pavillion in 2014, an auditorium for the talks and workshops to be held, was a unique take on Origami methods of folding.
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