Architecture

Ornate, Rustic and Earthy Spanish Style Homes

Forming an extremely eclectic style that takes inspiration from many Mediterranean touches, Spanish-style homes combine several influences such as Spanish Baroque, Moorish and Gothic. Inspite of leveraging so many influences, the style is calming with a harmonious appearance.

WORDS: RINKU B

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SPANISH style design for homes refers to the typical style used by Spanish colonial settlers in their colonies. This kind of architectural style originated in the 17th and 18th Century Spain and was seen in the ornate buildings of that era. The most visible characteristics include simple red rooks with stucco walls, a colourful mosaic of tile work and complicated wrought iron detailing that add splendour to the design.
When one speaks of Spanish-style homes, it typically refers to a series of design characteristics such as flat or gently sloped red-tiled roofs; eaves that don’t overhang; arches over doors, windows and/or porches; stucco walls; and asymmetrical external construction, such as an off-centre door.
Some exterior elements that best define its typical style include:

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1. White stucco exterior and walls – A distinct characteristic of Spanish-style homes is the roughly textured walls made by mixing cement, sand or lime and water, best suited for the temperate weather of Spain. These walls appear like an aged-looking old world surface are then painted with fresh white paint to ensure the heat is reflected.

2. Curves and arches – Spanish-style homes also boast of distinct curved stair cases, archways, arcades and entrances. Besides adding aesthetic relief, they also ensure the home looks distinct and outdoorsy as most Spaniards spent a lot of time sitting outdoors due to their mild Mediterranean climate.

3. Hand-painted tiles – Any lover of Spanish-designs will tell you that colourful, hand-painted tiles are an important part of any Spanish décor. The tiles depicting traditional designs in bright hues add colour and lift the mood of any home.

4. Use of terracotta roof tiles – Almost all Spanish-style homes use terracotta roof tiles made with red clay that give all home a warm, earthy and ethnic look. The tiles are often used in multi-levels to create a symmetrical, interesting look.

5. Ornamental wrought-iron work – The Spanish also used wrought-iron in ornamental designs for the sturdiness as well as the definitive design appeal it brought to the home. Finely crafted wrought iron work is used extensively in stair railings, gates, window grilles and lanterns. Wooden doors and gates use wrought iron very frequently to add the extra touch of detail and design in them while spiral staircases use wrought-iron for their railings.

6. Tall tower-like chimneys – Typical to Spanish-homes were tall, tower-like chimneys flanked by neat terracotta tiles. They also included wooden mouldings and small windows with decorative ledges.
DETAILS
• Low-pitched ceramic tile roof – usually red
• Little or no eave overhang
• One or more prominent arches over door or main window, or under porch roof
• Usually stucco siding
• Asymmetrical facade
• Wrought iron ornamentation or railing

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MATERIALS
Red tile roofs, white roughcast stucco, heavy robust wood accents around windows, doors and eaves make up the Spanish style. Ornamental wrought iron appears in grillwork over windows and door openings, and iron accents turn up in lanterns, sconces and railings. Patterned tile turns up as accents in the stucco in open-ended gables and on stair risers.

Climate is an integral part of our work as designers in a tropical context.

Mindspace Architects can be best described as a contemporary architecture design firm that specialises in imbibing the learnings of the past and seamlessly infusing it to today’s needs. Concentrating on designing and building spaces around the five elements of nature, the firm has successfully built several projects keeping in mind natural elements that best preserve the sanctity of the space, be it an educational institution, a home or an office building.

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MINDSPACE Architects, formed in Bengaluru in October 2004, is an architectural firm with extensive experience in handling residences, institutions, research labs and corporate offices. Founded by Sanjay Mohe, Vasuki Prakash and Suryanarayanan, the projects done by Mindspace have resulted in several national and international awards and consistent features in architectural journals.

Mindspace is presently led by partners, Sanjay Mohe, Medappa, Suryanarayanan, Amit Swain and Swetha along with 21 architects, engineers and support staff, all of whom work as a team. The design philosophy of Mindspace lies in attempting to use ‘light’ as a building material, respecting the five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, and working with the five elements of nature.

“Architecture is my religion,” says Sanjay Mohe, architect and founder. With over 30 years of experience in the field of architecture, it is little wonder that the prodigal alumnus of Sir JJ College of Architecture has created spectacular architectural works including research parks, factories, beach resorts, libraries and corporate offices. “As a child, when people asked me what my ambition was, I readily replied that I wanted to become an architect,” he says. “Right after college, I did a few small projects with my teachers. The turning point in my career arrived when I went to Saudi for the ‘Tower in Town’ project. I worked alongside eminent individuals who had immense architectural wisdom and experience. It was a great learning experience.” After over two decades of work with Chandravarkar and Thacker Associates, Sanjay founded Mindspace, where he is currently principal architect.

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The Design Philosophy Explained:
According to him, “a house or a building is not just an engineering feat; it is a space that evokes an emotional response from those inhabiting the space. And that a building has to be placed within the context of a location and culture. The living space becomes a living entity with a soul and “it is not about external appearances as with a sculpture. The space within is important. You have to start from inside and move to the exterior.”
He further added, “Our underlying attempt in all projects is to participate, understand and work with nature, while also trying to imbibe culture and people’s aspirations. We try to create buildings that are simple, but not simplistic; that are modest and not monumental. Climate is an integral part of our work as designers in a tropical context. We work towards creating naturally cooler internal conditions by creating buffers to avoid the harsh sun, minimising glazing on western facades with high radiation and bringing in a strong air flow into the building.”
We believe in ideas without limits, and strive to create spaces without boundaries, as architecture for us is beyond the cosmetic and about the soul: it is about falling in love with an idea and fighting relentlessly for its realisation.
Sanjay delves into the wisdom of the past where constructions revolved around nature and climate. “In Kerala, there are single houses in the midst of huge plots as opposed to in Rajasthan where houses are built in clusters. These styles keep in mind the climatic requirements of these areas.

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In humid Kerala you need more air circulation and in extreme climates such as in Rajasthan houses need to insulate each other.
Building was common sense driven and we need to stick to common sense while constructing spaces. And the common sense involves keeping nature a part of the plan as “architectural forms resultant to climate,” he says.
Inspired by The Five Elements
And aping the west in the name of modernity is not common sense, he says. “You cannot have a glass box in tropical climates such as ours. What we in India need is porosity in form, for more air circulation,” he adds. This stand, he clarifies, is not a critique of modern technology.

Whether it is research facility or an educational institution or a home, a building has to be constructed keeping the panchabhutas (five elements) in mind. It translates into letting the five elements circulate within the space. As part of letting the elements in, his buildings have plenty of space for air to circulate and he makes good use of natural light.
As far as sustainability goes, it cannot be over-emphasised, Mohe goes on. “A building in its lifetime is, probably, the largest pollutant. The process starts with piling right up to the construction and the subsequent requirements of the building. It is the largest consumer of natural resources,” he says. He adds, “We have been talking ‘green’ and about energy conservation for a long time, much before it became fashionable.” Energy conservation and sustainability are two aspects of common sense when it comes to construction.

Some of this common sense guides the architect in the construction of laboratories and educational spaces. While building a lab, for instance, the process is regimentality-driven, in parts. Laboratories have to meet strict international standards, cleanliness, complete with effluent treatment plants, has to be maintained. Along with that there is provision for interactive spaces.
“G.V. Prasad of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories gave us the brief that both sides of the brain (the artistic right and the analytical left) need to be stimulated equally. And therefore we had the brief that along with the ‘lab’ spaces there had to be provision for interactive spaces and art.” Therefore, beyond labs there are seminar halls, lecture halls… “spaces that encourage Eureka moments” as Mohe puts it.

The future of architecture education?
Ask his take on architecture education in India and you get to know that he believes it must be issue based as opposed to form-based. He opines that future architects must lay greater emphasis on the purpose and significance of a structure rather than the structure itself.

Working with nature, understanding climate and bringing in light and the other elements of nature to create buildings that are simple but not simplistic, that are modest and not monumental.

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He advices strongly against blindly copying imageries from abroad, thereby encouraging each architect to find his/ her own individualistic style, “Globalisation has improved access to a wide range of technology and building materials. As a result, consumers today have become more demanding. However, this comes as a challenge as most architecture schools lay undue emphasis on the designing aspect alone.” But professional practice involves achieving the right balance between communication, coordination and management of demanding clients. “Institutions must aim to fill the widening gap between education and profession,” he says.
What does he think of the methods of teaching employed by professors of architecture? “Teachers must inculcate the value of patience and the art of appreciation in a student without compromising fundamental principles. It is important that the teacher be passionate enough inspire students and constantly challenge them to bring out their creativity.” He states that teaching must not be linear and focus only on theoretical aspects; but multi-dimensional enough to hone students’ professional competencies too. “Find your unique architecture philosophy, exploit your passion and be the architect of a bright future,” he signs off.

PROJECTS: DR K ANJI REDDY MEMORIAL, HYDERABAD
For a memorial in Hyderabad for scientist and entrepreneur Dr K Anji Reddy, we were given the site that was part of his farmhouse. The 1.2-acre location was the path Dr Reddy would take from his residence in the farmhouse to his adjacent laboratory. The existing trees which lined this path — silver oak, gulmohar, ashoka, casuarina, palm — became the answers to questions about his life. The design of the premises incorporated the trees well to reflect Dr Reddy’s life. His humble beginnings, from being a farmer’s son to a successful businessman, can be seen in the silver oaks avenue, and along the line of ashoka trees — where the textured flooring, from rough to semi-polished, culminates in a lawn with Bodhi trees, the symbol of enlightenment. The grid of gulmohar trees leads to a linear waterbody, which has a void in the centre, evocative of his absence. The memorial is informal in its language and set to human scale, allowing people to feel connected to nature and the man himself. One sees the gulmohar arching over the waterbody and the reflection of the changing sky, lending the whole space a transformative ambience.

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, BANGALORE
Built around the philosophy that a management college isn’t just a built structure of Steel and RCC but invokes life within its walls. A space which evokes positive emotions from students, teachers and visitors’ alike, IIM-B focuses on the internal potentials of a space rather than just the external ornamentation. Intertwined with greenery, the corridors and the student blocks are a true amalgamation of mass and nature. A major section of the college is designed by Master Architect B. V. Doshi, and Mohe has done an excellent job of lending his touch to the form and structure. The wide angles and symmetry in the arrangement makes for a beautiful experience. The library and student block are designed in context with climate and surroundings and keeping in mind the needs and personality of the management students

A Guide to Townhouse Style of Architecture

The Townhouse style introduced in Manhattan in the mid-1800s was modest but ornate, built for the elite entering and settling into a new life in America. Influenced by various styles, this Style ruled the roost in the 1800s.

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THE simple but ornate architectural style of Townhouses first came into being in Manhattan, New York City in the 1800s when a lot of new buildings were being constructed in America for the urban elite. This style was typical in its character, in modest scale with simple architectural ornament inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Typically, townhouses are either two or three stories with a basement and attic half story with dormer windows. The roof is slated which is characteristic with a brownstone base with a red-brick upper façade.

GREEK REVIVAL & GOTHIC REVIVAL STYLE
The Greek Style was popular from 1830 till 1850, wherein it was characterised by simple and bold architectural elements that imitated Greek motifs. The second style, the Gothic Revival was very popular in its time, from 1840-1860 and had elements inspired by organic and natural forms, medievalism and the picturesque.

ITALIANATE & ANGLO-ITALIANATE STYLE

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This style was most popular on the Upper East Side in the 1860s with its characteristic chocolate brownstone facing. This style was also constructed from 1840-1870 elsewhere in the city but came into prominence in the 1860s. The massing and details of this style are loosely based on Renaissance forms, and this style is not based on Renaissance forms. Also popular was the Anglo-Italianate Style during this period (1840-1860).

THE SECOND EMPIRE AND NEO GREC STYLE
This Second Empire Style is similar to the Italianate style, which was popular from 1860-1875, followed by the Neo Grec. This kind of design style was characterised by extremely stylized classical details. The lush curving ornaments of the Italianate style were supplanted by angular, stylized forms and incised details.

THE SECOND EMPIRE AND NEW GREC STYLE

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The Second Empire Style was similar to the Italianate style which was popular from 1860-1875, followed by the Neo Grec style that came with extremely stylized classical details. The lush curving ornaments of the Italianate style were supplanted by angular, stylized forms and incised detail.

THE QUEEN ANNE AND ROMANESQUE REVIVAL STYLES
The Queen Anne Style came into existence from 1870-1890 and brought with it a new freedom in residential design. This Style came into being in England where it gained much popularity and combines the features from a variety of historical styles and materials. Most buildings are designed in red brick, and are trimmed with rough and smooth stone, terra cotta, wood and slate shingles and iron. This style was particularly common in the West Side of Manhattan. Also popular during the 1870s through 1890s was the Romanesque Revival Style identified by the prevalence of heavy round arched openings and asymmetry.

RENAISSANCE REVIVAL, COLONIAL REVIVAL, BEAUX-ARTS, AND ENGLISH NEO-CLASSICAL STYLES
Popular styles for Townhouse style of architecture included Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Beaux-Arts and English Neo-Classical, that came into being from the 1880s through the early 1900s. The Beaux-Arts Style came into prominence for resembling buildings that were erected in French cities during the final decades of the 19th century.
The Townhouse Style of Architecture changed the course of American architecture in the 1890s, with renewed interest in the symmetry and balance of classical and renaissance architecture. The World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois in 1893 helped renewed this interest.

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Architecture BRIO Create beautiful environments that are current and locally sensitive

Inspired by the words of noted architect Geoffrey Bawa who once said, “Architecture should play to all the senses – the smell of vegetation after rain, the sound of birds and the wind in the trees, the texture of clay floor tiles and rough plaster,” Architecture BRIO, a design agency in Mumbai has many-a-feather on its cap for the work they have done towards sustainable designing. From running a successful firm to bagging numerous awards to working with communities on designing eco-friendly abodes, the team has come a long way…

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ARCHITECTURE BRIO was set up in Mumbai in 2006. Led by an energetic team of architects led by Shefali Balwani (C.E.P.T, India) and Robert Verrijt (TUDelft, the Netherlands).
Over the years the studio has thrived by being actively engaged in the creation of contextually appropriate, sustainable design solutions within an increasingly changing world. The work of the studio addresses new ways of understanding the often contradictory interrelations between the city, architecture, landscape, and the world of interiors. There is a growing need for our built environment to re-establish healthy relationships with the natural world. Similarly there is an urgency to address the never before seen growth in urban and rural areas in India and globally. Within this context the work searches for a delicate balance between architecture as the act of disappearance, and creating characterful, responsive and experiential environments.
The seed of Architecture BRIO was planted in Sri Lanka, where the founders met in the early start of their life as architects. They immersed themselves in the tremendous body of work by the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. His work is often situated in the most breath-taking, but sensitive environmental settings. His interventions are nonetheless bold and often extreme.
Contradictorily, this does not lead to a domination and submission of its surroundings. This duality, explored within the context of a drastically changing world, has become one of the main themes in the work of the practice. The studio strongly believes that architecture should remain a backdrop to life rather than taking centre stage.

THE FOUNDERS:
Born in Mumbai, she studied at the renowned School of Architecture C.E.P.T. in Ahmedabad. After graduating she worked with Rahul Mehrotra Architects in Mumbai. At his studio she worked on a variety of projects such as the first phase of the Magic Bus campus in Karjat. Hereafter she joined the office of Channa Daswatte in Sri Lanka, where she worked on some of the office’s prestigious hospitality projects. In 2006, she established Architecture BRIO together with Robert Verrijt in her hometown Mumbai.
Born in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Robert Verrijt received a Master of Science in Architecture at the TUDelft in 2003. His Master’s thesis was accoladed with the Dutch Archiprix award. Being fascinated by Geoffrey Bawa’s architecture, he moved to Sri Lanka shortly after graduating. He joined the office of Channa Daswatte where he assisted on a retrospective exhibition of Geoffrey Bawa’s work. The office gave him the opportunity to work on various residential and hospitality projects, located in a wide variety of landscapes and contexts, such as the Kurulu Bedda Boutique Resort.

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Struck by the increasing disparities in the Indian subcontinent and the opportunities it offered to achieve impact, he decided to move to Mumbai in 2006. Shortly thereafter, he set up the practice Architecture BRIO together with Shefali.

Shefali has a keen interest in practising in a wide variety and scales of projects. She is committed to exemplary planning, design and execution of the projects at Architecture BRIO. Shefali has participated in lectures and forums both in India and abroad.

She lectured at the KVD forum at CEPT in Ahmedabad, the Landscape Architecture conference in Sydney, Australia and the MASA conference in Bangalore.
Robert is fascinated with the diversity of the Indian landscape. The diverse climates and geographies of India encourage truly specific architecture with unique experiential qualities.

Their design philosophy is that “we create beautiful environments that are current and locally sensitive,” says Robert.

“Each project is an unwinding story in which a series of spaces unfold, evoking different responses through light and darkness, textures and rhythm,” adds Shefali.

An interesting aspect of BRIO’s designs is the integration of water which is a common feature, however the manner in which these bodies seamlessly amalgamate themselves to the structure allows the water bodies to breathe life into their work.

DIVERSITY IN DESIGN:
Over ten years later, Architecture BRIO’s work field spans a vast variety of cultures, climates and landscapes across the Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia. Each project is seen as a challenge. But it also is an opportunity to uncover the unique characteristics of these specific conditions. It becomes an opportunity to investigate which intervention has a potential for positive change.
We often ask ourselves which approach can have an impact on the way we deal with our natural and built. Appropriateness is not necessarily the most self-evident. Often an inherent conflict between the context and climate of a project and its chosen typological and functional approach generates solutions that unexpectedly turn out to be favourable solutions.
The practice works with a thorough understanding of Architecture and its related fields. It seeks to develop design as its core strength and primary focus. An energetic team of between 15 to 20 architects works intensively with engineers, consultants, designers and the client. In this multidisciplinary approach it welcomes new insights that can lead to specific innovative solutions. It believes strongly in design as a process with an intensive dialogue.
It uses models, both physical and virtual, as tools for communication between clients, engineers and architects. This encourages programmatic and engineering concepts to be fully integrated into the design right from the conception.
An interesting aspect of BRIO’s designs is the integration of water which is a common feature, however the manner in which these bodies seamlessly amalgamate themselves to the structure allows the water bodies to breathe life into their work. Robert explains that water bodies are beneficial to their vision, especially when building more rural homes, yet highlights the fact that the incorporation of a water body is not a ‘must’ in their work. He directs my attention to their Alibaug construction, House on a Stream. “The stream bifurcates the house, into two parts, (thus) the stream becomes the centre point of the house. Usually, a house will look into or over the landscape, but here that focal point of nature is instead a part of the house.”
Robert fleshes out that there are a lot of ‘obvious impulses’ when working with a certain type of landscape. For example, he points out a house atop a hill may seem like the best direction to go in. Yet he counters that capitalizing on far-reaching vistas, does not necessarily guarantee that this direction is the appropriate approach for the structure.

Robert scaffolds this argument by looking to The Riparian House in Karjat. “In this landscape of undulating hills, there was one slightly larger hill, which is where we decided to locate the house.” However, according to Robert, they decided to curb the obvious impulse of placing the home upon the hill, and instead “decided to place it at a point where the roof of the house was in line with the apex of the hill, so that the silhouette of the house merges with the hill and become one.” This process actually entailed excavating the mound of rock that made up the hill, ultimately embedding the structure into the rock.

SCALE & PRACTICE:
Architecture BRIO works on a broad range of projects both in the public and private realm. We enthral in jumping from the extreme of the tiny scale of an architectural dollhouse to designing masterplans or thinking on complex issues such as homelessness.
The studio thrives in this wide variety and scales of its projects. Regardless of a projects scale, a common basis of the practice is its commitment to exemplary planning, design and execution. We approach a design brief in an open and explorative manner. We start by asking the right questions, before arriving at a common standpoint. This common point of departure then acts as a clear concept, which guides the design process.
Architecture BRIO actively engages with research and seeks out collaborations with institutes and organisations. The principles lecture regularly in India and abroad and have thought at the KRVIA school of Architecture, and the Balwant Sheth School of Architecture in Mumbai.
With billionBricks, an NGO committed to eradicate homelessness, they set up a dedicated studio called Bb-Studio. The innovation design studio is dedicated to eradicate homelessness. The studio also consults with communities, NGOs and governments to provide scalable high-quality buildings and infrastructure solutions. As part of the Bandra Collective, the firm is involved with research and design of public space in the city. The group of architects, all living or working in Bandra share design resources and ideas that could benefit life in their neighbourhood.

SMART SOLUTIONS & SUSTAINABILITY:
Architecture BRIO works on a broad range of projects both in the public and private realm. We enthral in jumping from the extreme of the tiny scale of an architectural dollhouse to designing masterplans or thinking on complex issues such as homelessness.
The studio thrives in this wide variety and scales of its projects. Regardless of a projects scale, a common basis of the practice is its commitment to exemplary planning, design and execution. We approach a design brief in an open and explorative manner. We start by asking the right questions, before arriving at a common standpoint. This common point of departure then acts as a clear concept, which guides the design process.
Architecture BRIO actively engages with research and seeks out collaborations with institutes and organisations. The principles lecture regularly in India and abroad and have thought at the KRVIA school of Architecture, and the Balwant Sheth School of Architecture in Mumbai.
With billionBricks, an NGO committed to eradicate homelessness, they set up a dedicated studio called Bb-Studio. The innovation design studio is dedicated to eradicate homelessness. The studio also consults with communities, NGOs and governments to provide scalable high-quality buildings and infrastructure solutions. As part of the Bandra Collective, the firm is involved with research and design of public space in the city.

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The group of architects, all living or working in Bandra share design resources and ideas that could benefit life in their neighbourhood.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES:
Over the past decade Architecture BRIO has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards, such as Archiprix, Europan 2008, World Architecture Community Awards. In 2014, they were awarded the “Best Practice in India” at the Trends Excellence Awards 2014. The studio was selected amongst the “AD50“, the Architectural Digest India list of the most influential designers in India and South Asia in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Their project ‘House on a Stream’ won the award for the best residential design at the NDTV Home Design of the Year Awards 2013.
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The citation of the award read as: “The weekend residence project by Architecture BRIO is a unique example of how sophisticated architectural language that uses well-crafted and bold sculptural forms becomes instrumental in creating a genuine dialogue with the site and the natural setting in which it is located. For this private residence, the architecture of the project is informed by the site and the resultant work has considerable emphasis on the way it is situated.
This seamless integration with the landscape is combined with restrained use of space and material as the strength of the original idea in this case is not diminished by an often messy construction process. The architects present a deep understanding of the process of making. While there is great attention to elemental details, there is no compromise on the eloquence of the scheme.

Although the palette of materials is familiar and follows a safe, contemporary ‘template’, there is finesse in the efficacy, execution and integrity in the sculptural forms that represent boulders on the river-bed. The concrete shells create interesting spatial compositions from within and the openings frame parts of architecture and landscape that prompts the user to experience the site to its greatest potential.”
They also bagged ‘The Trends Excellence Awards 2014’ – and the ‘JKC Architecture of the Year Award 2015’. “The firm and its projects stand out for clarity of language. They have an unbearable lightness of being.” comments jury member Sen Kapadia on the work of Architecture BRIO at the Trends Excellence Awards. Another project, Casa Brio received the award for the Best Residential Interior at the NDTV Architecture & Design Awards of 2015, and the IIID Awards 2017. The Riparian House was awarded the JK Architecture of the Year Award 2017. The JK Architect of the Year Award is India’s longest running architecture award. It also featured on the Merit List 2016-2017 and received the Institute of Indian Interior Designers Awards in 2017.
Shefali appeared in the BBC documentary, “World’s Most Extraordinary Homes” together with Robert Verrijt. The program featured their project the “Riparian House” in Karjat.
Robert has taught at various colleges of Architecture in Mumbai and lectures extensively in India and abroad. Since 2006 he is a member of the Bandra Collective and leads the bB design Studio, dedicated to eradicating homelessness.brio-2

Contemporary Architecture IN THE 21st Century

Contemporary architecture is set in the designs created towards the late part of the 20th Century and the tweaking made since the new millennium. It tries to distinguish itself from conventional architecture through new architectural ideas and simplicity of design…

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AS the name suggests, contemporary architecture refers to the architecture of today, the 21st Century. There is no single style that best describes this style which is a mix of postmodernism and high-tech to highly conceptual and expressive styles, resembling a giant sculpture on an enormous scale. A key differentiator of contemporary architecture is the use of modern methods of construction, tools and

software resulting in simplicity of forms. Also since modern architecture reflects the needs of the people in the current society and environmental setting, it is mainly minimalistic including elements of visual weightlessness, clean geometric lines and lack of ornamentation making it functional, flexible and flowing.

MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS:

Form – One important characteristic to look out for is to see that the dominant line in this kind of architecture is the straight line. Contemporary architecture tends to distance itself from this habit by opting more often for curved lines, instead.

Windows – Larger and more plentiful windows are also a characteristic of contemporary architecture.

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Those who watched the 2008 Olympic Games will no doubt remember the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, which incorporates both straight and curved lines. An achievement of the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.

One of the most recent distinguishing features of contemporary building design is the use of repurposed materials, design elements that reduce energy use and waste, and sourcing from local businesses to reduce energy consumption during the building’s construction.

Multiple openings and their uncommon positioning, panoramic windows, window walls, and skylights have all entered the playing field. One of the consequences of this kind of fenestration, beyond creating spectacular views, is that it makes full use of the sunlight: first of all as natural lighting, and secondly, to take advantage of passive solar heating.

Composition of Volumes – The use of curved lines also makes it possible to create spaces that are not simply cubes, as is the case with straight lines. So, in contemporary architecture, one sees building with rounded shapes. Like rounded shapes do, this composition also allows for the creation of interior living spaces with unusual layouts.

KEY ELEMENTS OF CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE:
Natural, sustainable components. Contemporary architects recognize the human need for contact with nature, right down to what our homes are made of. Hence the popularity of bamboo floors, granite countertops and even “living” roofs made of green plants

The Sydney Opera House, whose form is reminiscent of a ship’s sails or a collection of giant stacked seashells. Although it was inaugurated in 1973, this structure remains a reference point of contemporary architecture. It is the work of the Danish architect Jorn Utzon, now deceased.

Recycled and nontoxic materials. Countertops, roofing and flooring made of composite materials are hot, as are lowemission paints and carpeting

Natural light. Today’s houses often feature ample skylights and large windows to let the sun shine in

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Building Contemporary Dreams with Oscar & Ponni Concessao

With a common dream that they shared for buildings, design and architecture, Oscar & Ponni Concessao have set-up India’s most admired architecture firm, OCI in Chennai in ’96. Today, after much recognition, they have immersed themselves into building beautiful buildings, giving back to Mother Earth and living their dream of design…

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Power couple, Oscar & Ponni Concessao, are founders of Oscar Concessao International (OCI) and Ponni Concessao Consultants, India’s leading urban design and interior design practice. Today, they are known for creating aesthetically pleasing and immaculately planned spaces with an eye for details. Their portfolio boasts of architectural projects shaped by the virtues of Indian traditions, purpose and oriented towards excellence in planning, design, aesthetics and quality finishing.

The Company has won more than 77 International and National Design awards since its inception in 1996, which started in a small room with just five people. Today, they have grown by leaps and bounds with a current team of over fifty employees, numerous awards and are focussing on designing more challenging building typologies, eco-friendly sustainable, smarter buildings and cities in the coming years.

The husband and wife team completed the B. Arch Degree from the Regional Engineering College, now NIT Tiruchirapalli in 1986, and 1987.

“As a child, I was always fascinated by structures, particularly of the architecture of his home town Mangalore which had a strong Portuguese influence. My school holidays were all about building miniature houses, built with the construction material lying around back home.

This inspired me to take up a course in architecture and the rest just followed suit,” Oscar shared. After their graduation in India Oscar went to the USA on a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma, Norman and did his Master’s degree in Architecture in Urban Design in 1987.

Ponni also followed to the USA, with a Tata scholarship and completed her Master’s in Architecture from Cornell University in 1989. They returned to India and settled in Chennai, Ponni’s hometown and started their Architectural and Interior design practice on 1996. Over the years they built their practice designing versatile projects such as Universities, Engineering and Medical Colleges stadiums at Doha, Qatar, several Information technology Parks, Bio tech Parks, Nano Technology parks, townships, hospitals, apartments, Hotels, Resorts, Malls, Corporate offices, luxury Bungalows, Factories, SEZ, several Government and State buildings.

The diversity of experience in the team and its multidisciplinary character is its strength. Their blue-chip client list is testimony to the design and quality standards offered by them.

While Oscar handles the architectural aspects of a project, Ponni looks after interior designing. They commitment towards design integrity and a constant search for design excellence is evident from their work which ranges from large scale urban planning projects to meticulously detailed interiors. Their portfolio comprises of projects such as three to five star luxury hotels, resorts, factories, stadiums and luxury villas. Adds Oscar, “My buildings speak a contemporary language. It is a language based on creativity and logic that appeals instantly to people who understand and love buildings.” Both Oscar and Ponni have been conferred with Honorary Doctorates from the University of Malaysia and Universita of Milano for Modern Architecture and Architectural Science. They both worked in New York City with leading architects specializing in Skyscrapers, Institutional buildings, Hotels, Hospitals and Stadiums.

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DESIGN PHILOSOPHY:
According to Oscar Concessao, “Our understanding of architecture and the environment compels us to appreciate and study contextual character, which then influences our design solutions for buildings and places. These are the foundations of our architectural practice. Our core belief is that architecture and place-making matter, as much today as ever before. We believe that great buildings and spaces can inspire, influence and enhance the lives of their users and the community. At its most basic, architecture is a response to fundamental human needs and a way of organizing space while meeting practical demands. At its most exalted, architecture can introduce new perspectives and new dynamics, reinvigorating both landscape and cityscape.

We strive to synthesize these two goals, to create buildings that perform as well as excite, buildings that uplift the spirit and are memorable.”Oscar & Ponni Architects approach is built not on a pre-determined aesthetic or a rigid “signature style.” It grows naturally from a quest for ideas and answers. Designs are never imposed. They evolve from a rigorous inquiry into the particulars of location and program. They represent a determined belief that they can transform problem-solving into art. At Oscar & Ponni Architects, the design process begins with a careful, in-depth study of each project’s requirements and constraints, its use and users. It is then analyzed, evaluated, and interpreted through the prism of their core principles-the formal propositions of spatial relationships and adjacencies, symmetry and asymmetry, use of exterior and interior materials and sense

of order that constitute the discipline and practice of modern architecture. With this inquiry and understanding as a starting point, they build a rationale of ideas and experiences, a program of needs and goals, and a carefully constructed collage of forms and spaces that is at once dynamic, aspiring, and meaningful.Oscar & Ponni Architects practices designing in a manner that best incorporates the context of the building into the design in a very substantial way. They add, “Our buildings are never decorated to fit into their settings. There is always an overall integrity in the relationship between functional, programmatic, environmental and contextual needs. Along with strong conceptual and historical awareness, nature’s forms and shapes appear as a recurrent source of inspiration for Oscar & Ponni Architecture and Interior Design. It includes attention to physical contexts and landscapes and fine detailing.”

TIPS FOR YOUNG ARCHITECTS:
Oscar adds that, “My best advice for someone starting a practice is to find a place that you like and stay. Everything else will work itself out. As we did, you can overcome the lack of connections and people you know. Those come naturally with time. Work hard, have the endurance to do the best design work, but service your clients with the same enthusiasm and dedication. The service you provide, in most cases outweighs the design you create. Focus on a particular type of work, be it housing, commercial interiors, educational facilities, etc. But most of all: be patient! The practice of architecture takes time and it is very difficult to be successful on a large scale without first being successful at smaller scales. Small victories eventually lead to bigger opportunities.”

USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN ARCHITECTURE:
Most stages of architectural practice utilize the computer for increased accuracy and speed. Architects create presentations, 2-D construction documents and 3-D models in addition to typical business documents on the computer. Computers aid design understanding and implementation of complex structures through computer-solved equations and information generation.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become the tool of choice for many architects. However, many firms continue to miss out on the technology’s capabilities by using it purely as a production tool and building 3D models solely to create 2D documents, much like they did with their CAD software.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become the tool of choice for many architects. However, many firms continue to miss out on the technology’s capabilities by using it purely as a production tool and building 3D models solely to create 2D documents, much like they did with their CAD software.

Whereas CAD is largely hand drafting on a computer, BIM is much more than the next generation of CAD. It is a tool for the digital age, both a framework and a methodology with a database at its core. As elements are created in a building model, their position and properties are stored in a structured data repository that becomes a treasure trove for the resourceful architect. Also there are plenty of 3d visualization software’s available in today’s market.

GOALS & OBJECTIVES:
Both Oscar and Ponni look forward to some fantastic, dramatic big new buildings and social projects in the work they do. Ambitious cities are good for architects they say, but what about how people actually live? They add, “We must shift architecture towards a humane socio-economic approach, and a human scale. The architectural profession continuously plays a pivotal role in the development of sustainable solutions to the built environment all over the world.

The architect’s multidisciplinary skills and ability to apply a holistic view is vital to tackling the extensive climate change challenges. In this decade, this will be even more evident. Secondly, architects know better that anyone how projects involve a process. Today, we experience a rising acknowledgement of the advantages in user involvement. By involving various user groups in the development and design process of for instance new public buildings, the local community and end-users will bring new ideas and insightful knowledge into the project, and innovative solutions come to life. This forms the important basis of the social dimension in architecture, it is our hope that this tendency will increase in the years to come. Thirdly, architects provide excellent and functional solutions every day all over the world. However, we should never neglect the artistic and qualitative virtues of architecture.

Think about it, architecture frames the life of human beings. We are today looking forward to the birth of new courageous architecture that will capture and reflect the human and social thoughts and values of our age.”

AWARDS & ACCOLADES:
Oscar & Ponni Architects have won more than 68 International, National and State Awards for Architecture & Interiors. To highlight a few, in 2004, Oscar & Ponni Architects won an award for ‘Excellence in Built Environment, awarded by the His Excellency, the former President of India, Dr. A.P. J Abdul Kalam for the Satyam Technology Information Technology Park at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. In 2005, Oscar won the ‘Architect of the year Award 2004’ from then Chief Minister of Pondicherry, Mr. Rangaswamy.

In the year 2008, they bagged the prestigious Indian Institute of Architects, IIA National Award 2008 for the Sastra BioTech Park for Sastra University at Tanjore, Tamil Nadu.They have won the Indian Buildings Congress Award seven times for their numerous designs and work on information technology parks, campuses and townships. In 2009, their project won the Archi Design ‘Best Institutional Building’ Award. In 2012, they won six national awards for their Township and Hotel projects, awarded by ‘Artists in Concrete awards’ at Pune. In the year 2013, Oscar & Ponni Architects won three Indian Buildings Congress Awards for Excellence in Architecture and two awards for Artists in Concrete Awards Asia, 2012. Some of Oscar and Ponni Architects ongoing projects are large affordable Housing Townships, Villas, Hotels, Shopping Malls, Hospitals and Skyscrapers.

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FUTURE TRENDS:
India’s construction industry will continue to expand with investments in residential, infrastructure and energy projects. Today, construction sector of most emerging economies, including India, is witnessing sharp growth.

In fact construction industry in India today is one of the major stimulants of the economic and social growth of the nation.

Architectural practices have changed irreparably in the past decade, but those who know how to adapt just might find themselves in a far better place in a few years. Technology has revolutionized the potential of architectural practice.
Design tools such as CAD, Revit, BIM, 3D Printing and new software are transforming its boundaries.

This does not imply that all architectural practices are now doing their work in a revolutionary way. Many architects need and must recognize this transformation and think differently.

Oscar says, “The construction industry is one of the most information-intensive industries, as major construction process requires extensive exchange of data and information between the project’s participants on a regular basis.

In the construction industry, employees must adopt new forms of technology to achieve the time, cost, and quality goals of a construction project. New technologies are constantly changing the construction landscape.

Drones now make it possible to survey and map a site with ease, and at a lower cost. Smartphone’s and tablets make on-the-go communication a breeze. Digital blueprint apps and other project management software’s make it possible to map out a project ahead of time like never before. Even the use of robots seems to be on the horizon. The construction industry globally is slow in adopting technology innovations despite a rise in project complexity and associated risks. For some, the cost and risk of adopting new technologies outweighs the perceived benefits, while others may be reluctant to move out of their comfort zone.”

On challenges front, as India is rapidly urbanizing it faces multiple challenges of finance, construction technologies, skilled manpower and clearances.

GREEN BUILDINGS:
The economics of green building has never been more topical. They say, “The 21st century presents us with one third of the earth already developed, much of it in sprawling waste. A fundamental change of attitude, a re-visioning of values must take place. To create sustainability in a community, architects need to integrate the concept of sustainable community development in their actions both as citizens and professionals. While the role of architects as professionals can be defined as a process to preserve, improve and create the required quality of built environment under the particular condition of each community, in an ideal and sustainable world their role as citizens should be to become sustainable members of their own community.” In the building industry, growing interest in affordability and sustainability is stimulating realignment of environmental and economic choices interests. This dynamic has obscured the reality that sustainable development can be profitable by definition, and there has never been a better time for the building industry to embrace rapidly evolving technological innovation.

The delay in adopting such measures is higher up-front costs, lack of knowledge, or potential risks are often cited as reasons developers might reject green development practices. To overcome these barriers, governments, primarily on the local or state levels should offer incentives as a way to minimize or eliminate costs or issues related to their adoption.