Architecture

Setting the tone for VICTORIAN HOMES

Victorian Homes came into being in Britain and British Colonies during the reign of Queen Victoria as a way to commemorate her rule, and are still found in abundance in the UK, North America and New Zealand. Originally built by architects who travelled from the UK to colonies to set a common pattern to the buildings, they gained some variation in style as per the topography of the land but stayed true to its original reference…

WORDS: RINKU B

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THE Victorian style of homes reflect the design and architecture of homes that were popular during the reign of the British Monarch, Queen Victoria (1837-1901).

Interestingly, many of the details that we now associate with this style are actually eclectic interpretations of older architectural movements such as Medieval Gothic and Romanesque.

These were mostly prevalent in Great Britain and in British colonies, still remaining a defining feature of most British towns and cities.

DEFINING FEATURES OF A VICTORIAN HOME:
While there would be a variance in the types of Victorian homes, there are still some defining features that are common to all.
EXTERIOR: (1.) Steep, gabled roofs, (2.) round angles, (3.) towers, turrets and dormers, (4.) Shapely windows – bay windows, (5.) Stained glass and (6.) Decorative woodwork in bright colours.

INTERIOR: (1.) Two or three stories, (2.) Floorplans featuring added nooks, (3.) High ceilings, (4.) Intricate wooden trim and (5.) Ornate staircases.

TYPES OF VICTORIAN HOMES:
GOTHIC REVIVAL (1830-1860)
Gothic Revival homes were inspired by medieval churches in Europe; as such, they’re often compared to castles. They’re distinct, thanks to steeply-pitched roofs, pointed arches and front-facing gables, which are laden with a delicate wooden trim called ‘vergeboards’.

ITALIANTE (1840-1870)
Modeled after Italian Renaissance villas, these homes are typically just two stories. In contrast to other Victorian styles, they have low roofs and wide eaves. However, true to this style of architecture, they also host highly ornamental brackets.

SECOND EMPIRE (1852-1870)
Influences for this style can be traced back to France during the reign of Napoleon III. These houses tend to start out with a simple rectangular or square base. However, there’s no shortage of character. They feature mansard roofs, which have a heavy pitch on all four sides, and plenty of ornate millwork on the home’s exterior.

QUEEN ANNE (1875-1905)
Perhaps the most famous of all Victorian styles is the Queen Anne. Coming late in Victoria’s reign, these properties feature especially heavy ornamentation, gabled roofs, rounded towers and large windows that are equally functional and decorative.

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I do not imagine a scenario of fired mud houses sprouting across the country.

Dr. Anupama Kundoo, noted architect and sustainable housing propagator is a name to reckon with. She journey spanning 25 years has been an eventful one – ranging from her love for Auroville from where she started her career to her architectural journey so far, sustainability to affordable housing, current state of architectural education in India and suggestions for improvement and lot more…

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Noted Indian architect Dr. Anupama Kundoo was born in Pune in 1967. She graduated from Sir JJ College of Architecture, University of Mumbai in 1989 and holds a PhD degree from the TU Berlin. She was awarded the Vastu Shilpa Foundation Fellowship in 1996 for her thesis on “Urban Eco-Community: Design and Analysis for Sustainability”. Her architecture practice began in 1990 with a strong focus on material research with the view of reducing the environmental impact of building technologies. She set up her own firm in Auroville, Pondicherry in 1993. There, she designed and built many economically innovative buildings with “energy and water efficient infrastructure” adaptations. Since then, Anupama has spent over 25 years in 100+ projects ranging from baked mud houses to high rise buildings. Today, her firm works in all directions of building including projects in private residences, housing, public buildings, planning, installations and interiors.

Her journey has been exciting and of course, full of struggles and success or failures. She adds, “the journey has certainly been a very adventurous and exciting one, but not without its share of struggles and challenges. It has been about ‘Building Knowledge’ in both its meanings, one being the focus on knowledge about buildings and context-appropriateness; and the other, where ‘building’ is meant as a verb, and each architectural project was seen as the opportunity to advance knowledge among those of us involved, but also among the other experts from related fields, craftsmen who produce buildings as well as the others who are affected by them directly or indirectly. I have had one foot in practice and another in academia, and each area of my engagement has enriched the other. I have had a research-oriented practice, and a practice-oriented teaching approach. I have taught architecture at a number of reputed institutions across various continents: TU Berlin, AA School of Architecture London, TU Darmstadt, Parsons New School in New York, UQ Brisbane, Cornell University, and am currently Professor at UCJC Madrid. So, I have had a very exciting 25 years, involving extensive research and experimentation, in various cultural contexts, and yet it has been quite rewarding since I have been contributing to mainstream projects rather than remaining under the ‘alternative practice’ label that I was initially given. I have crossed paths with many architects and ingenious practitioners and architecture theorists and critics whom I have admired, and these personal exchanges on the way, have been probably the highlight of my architectural journey. You are known to work with unskilled labour and waste materials.

She demonstrates a strong focus on material research and experimentation towards an architecture that has low environmental impact and is appropriate to the socio-economic context. Anupama is an internationally recognised and award-winning architect with her own architecture practice that started in 1990. Kundoo has built extensively in India and has had the experience of working, researching and teaching in a variety of cultural contexts across the world.

SUSTAINABILITY IN DESIGN THINKING IN A GLOBAL WORLD:
She adds that “there is no reason why deeper values of healthy building practice would result in anything less good looking. Flashy designs could be seductive and surprising when they just appear, but fashions and styles are always a temporary phase that pass by quickly and have a very momentarily gratifying wow factor. Then there is the timeless beauty that is eternal. I see no contradiction between benign materials and technologies being used for achieving good and contemporary architecture. It is a myth to think that architecture that is informed by the unsustainable trends is necessarily a nostalgic return to the past. It is rather one, which continues to be envisioning a better future that is aware of follies of the past and present, with long-term gains in mind rather than short-term impulsive reactions.”
“Through my research, I have emphasised the new ways of using natural building materials, rather than researching new manufactured materials. Natural materials are available everywhere and these differ depending on the local context.

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Usually these are not standardised and not marketed in the same way as manufactured materials. For example earth, lime, wood or stone as building materials have a great variation in their characteristics and properties unlike say Portland cement, which is a standardised material that is manufactured and processed to be uniform regardless of where it is used in the world. This means that a lot more local knowledge, as well as study and analysis is involved in the use of natural materials in each new setting. Natural materials such as stone, wood, earth etc., do not require huge quantities of energy consumption in order to transform them into standardised, manufactured materials that can be ordered from factories. Further, locally sourced natural materials significantly reduce transportation energy and may keep the material depletion in some kind of balance compared to the environmental impact that industrial quarries have on the territory, where materials are produced in bulk and transported to far away destinations. There are also growing health concerns in the case of several manufactured materials that exude harmful compounds and impact health. Then there is the pollution aspect. The choice when opting for manufactured materials must be made judiciously knowing these facts, and in cases where natural materials cannot be achieve the spatial needs, but unfortunately the trend of selecting materials for contemporary buildings is usually an unconscious act. It is a result out of habitual practice, ignorance and personal convenience for those who decide rather than for the actual betterment of those who inhabit the buildings and spend all their life in them. As there will be a renewed demand for natural materials these will also become commercially available. In Spain, it is possible to buy natural clay plasters and surface finishes as ready mixes, for instance.

FINDING INSPIRATION IN THE SOUL OF AUROVILLE:

According to her, there are many aspects of Auroville that can be seen as replicable such as its successful reafforestation program, and its efforts towards integral management of water and wastewater or its renewable energy applications.

However as far as the project of Auroville as a whole is concerned, she thinks that we are far from being a replicable model in terms of urbanism. Auroville was conceived as a model new city in the Indian context for 50,000 people, she says.

Forty-seven years later there are still only a little over 2000 people occupying proportionately large areas of land, which in the case of India particularly, seems to be a very wrong model of land use or urbanisation.

There are many reasons for this, and a lot has to do with working towards a common vision of the city. Auroville was conceived with the aim of achieving human unity, and it’s no wonder that people are struggling there with finding consensus. However, there is a general agreement that what was envisaged, has yet to be achieved.

EDUCATION IN ARCHITECTURE TODAY:

She adds that she would hesitate to make any hasty generalisations about the state of education in architecture today as there is a big difference in the standards that range from very good schools, to weaker schools of architecture in India. Of course, she knows that there is a need for many schools for architecture and that they are sprouting at a fast pace however it is probably a challenge to draw the proportionate number of good teachers at an equally fast pace to cater to these schools and the general demand.

According to her, “In general, I have seen that in the teaching of design studio there is sometimes insufficient structure or focus on developing design methodology, and student designs often result mostly from critiques of what the student spontaneously produced. In the theory classes too, there may be the need to review and update course literature and reference books, given the rapidly changing scenario of urbanisation in the country. Also subjects like structural design, construction and history could be taught in more creative ways so that architecture students learn how to apply this knowledge in their design thinking rather than know these for their own sake.

Flashy designs could be seductive and surprising when they just appear, but fashions and styles are always a temporary phase that pass by quickly and have a very momentarily gratifying wow factor. Then there is the timeless beauty that is eternal.

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Ideally architecture schools could generate new research and proposals that could help improve the urban development challenges in the country. These new visions developed here together with the faculty and experts could be presented to the local authorities and perhaps facilitate the much needed discussion on urbanisation bringing various concerned people together and enrich the students understanding of the current context of rapid urbanisation and rapid resource depletion, which is surely quite overwhelming.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING & MUD HOMES:
The fired mud houses were the result of Anupama’s fascination with Californian ceramist Ray Meeker and his relentless engagement with a radical experimentation such as this. She believes that given the growing concerns of affordability issues around housing for all, any technology that has any chance of contributing to the cause is worth pursuing. She says, “I do not imagine a scenario of fired mud houses sprouting across the country, no. In any case, all technologies are appropriate to certain contexts and apart from other challenges in this technology, the minimum condition to consider it would be the onsite (or very nearby) earth would be clayey and conducive for brick making.

I continue to work with various affordable technologies for different contexts depending on the climatic, urban, geographic and other local conditions. I am now developing a prefab ferrocement housing system called Full Fill homes that can be assembled on site in less than a week.

TIPS FOR BUDDING ARCHITECTS:
For youngsters wanting to follow a serious path in architecture and design, the scope is limitless. Anupama adds, “Architecture is never an easy matter, and if one cannot counter challenges (whatever they may be) then one is not likely to ever create something new and relevant to the current context. Architecture is about achieving a synthesis of all kinds of complex concerns ranging from structural, to climatic, to environmental and social, financial etc. It is important to be able to work with what is there. If unskilled labour is need to be engaged or waste materials need to be spent then these challenges should be seen as genuine constraints that could rather inspire more creativity. It’s more exciting to shape everything including the building technologies, rather than passively ordering standardised materials and products from manufacturers catalogues. After all we are interested in the negative spaces and voids that are created with these materials, as it is only the voids that are useful for human habitation.

As the old saying goes, ‘the function of the pot lies in its nothingness’, the focus of good architecture lies in achieving quality spaces with whatever materials and skills/technologies make sense in the given context. The success of the architecture thereafter is about the way harmony is achieved among all these elements, in accordance with the human scale and material proportions, so that the spatial experience and sense of wellbeing will make the perception of architecture transcend its materiality.”

AWARDS & ACCOLADES:
In 2013, Kundoo received an honourable mention in the ArcVision International Prize for Women in Architecture for ‘her dedication when approaching the problem of affordability of construction and sustainability in all aspects.

Anupama is a recipient of prestigious awards such as NDTV Commercial Interior of the Year For Samskara, Made in India ( 2015 ), Dr. V. D. Joshi award for the best Ferrocement Structure (FSI) For Light Matters ( 2013 ), Arc Vision Women Architect of the Year, Honourable Mention ( 2013 ), Architect of the Year, Category Group Housing, JK, India ( 2003 ), Young Enthused Architect Category, A + D Awards, Honourable Mention ( 2001 ). Architect of the Future, Indian Architect & Builder Award (2000 ) and Architect of the Year, Category Young Architect, Focus State Tamil Nadu, JK, India ( 1999 ). She has also written a book and published a number of technical papers in Magazines and Newspapers on architecture. Her published book is Roger Anger: Research on Beauty/Recherche sur la beauté Architecture 1958–2008, jovis Verlag GmbH, Berlin, 2009.

KEY PROJECTS:

WALL HOUSE – One of the notable buildings built for her own residence is titled the “Wall House”, built in a community area of 15 acres (6.1 ha) with a built in space of 100 square metres (1,100 sq ft) constructed at a cost of one million rupees in 2000 in Auroville. This house is L-Shaped in plan, has a courtyard in the middle; while it is modern in concept it adopts traditional “vernacular” use of materials such as compressed earth, concrete and steel. The bathroom is set in open-to-sky design, with smooth merging with the interior and external spaces and landscaped in manner which gives it both a modern and a regional appearance.

LIBERTY – An interesting theme brought out in her architectural creation is titled “Liberty” which presents a reading place as a free book free library where individuals can “sit and read whatever they wish to”. This creation is built with three types of trees fixed in the centre of a square space. The trees’ “trunks and branches” are made from steel and the leaves made of salvaged books, with the floor made of concrete. Sitting under the shade of this tree people could indulge in conversation or read a book with the gentle wind blowing through the leaves.

The Style and Fun in Living in Farmhouses

The word farmhouse conjures up many memories for a lot of us. From glimpses of our childhood fun to extended family vacations to spending time with our favourite farm animals or weekend parties with friends. Farmhouses are practical, functional and relatively larger homes built typically by the owners, keeping in mind the use of the house, its location and the lifestyle of the owners…

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IVING in a well-designed farmhouse is a reality that most Indians cannot afford to dream of. For those who can and can afford to build one, the choices are many. Living in a farmhouse has many advantages too like simple living, surrounded by the outdoors.

One typically also has the time to appreciate nature and spend time with friends and family or just relax in the mere silence it offers. For many city dwellers, living in a farmhouse is an absolute luxury where one can run away from the hectic, mechanical lives we live in and escape into a the ultimate destination we want to live in.

A few things to remember before selecting the layout and design of a farmhouse:
1. The rooms must be spacious and allow for natural elements to seamlessly blend with it
2. The floor plan must be sustainable, energy efficient with proper cross ventilation
3. Broad open porches, a nice garden and a great outdoor view are a must
4. The roof should be weather friendly like a slopping pitched roof running along the length of the home
5. Broad, open front porches make it welcoming and accommodate large items or people

TYPES OF FARMHOUSE DESIGNS:
RUSTIC FARMHOUSES – Rustic meaning older, basic mimics the look and feel of the days past. It incorporates simplified, minimalistic décor moulded by the surroundings of the farmhouse along with the need of sturdy, practical furnishings.

Use of vintage furniture and accessories is an easy way to decorate in this classic style. Its best if they’re not in perfect condition and they could even have weathered finishes. Vintage-inspired lighting looks ideal in a classic farmhouse.

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MODERN FARMHOUSES – Minimalist, bright white or in pastels with clean lines, and light wood flooring. These are terms that come to mind when we think about Modern farmhouses. The lighting is natural and sometimes, there is ample use of glass to usher in the outdoors. Smooth lines, glossy accents, simplicity, and neutral or monochromatic colour schemes achieve a contemporary look warmed with farmhouse style.

COLONIAL FARMHOUSES – Displaying endless charm and old-world accents, colonial farmhouses often feature colonial grid windows, brick fireplaces and flooring, primitive exposed wood beams, and a muted natural colour scheme.

TRADITIONAL FARMHOUSES – Simple designs meet schoolhouse inspired lighting, mixed metals, soapstone countertops, an apron front “farmhouse” sink, and a repurposed wood island are common elements in traditional farmhouse kitchens. We love how the mint cabinets keep this space updated.

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Making a Mark: Archilogics

Saket Sethi wears many hats – from being a master architect to a model, artist, teacher and a TV presenter. As Founder of Archilogics, a design and architecture firm based in Mumbai, he has made mark in the right circles. The firm has gathered a clientele ranging from the common man, celebrities and industrialists and, their projects include commercial, residential and conceptual works. Their style is oft described as modern India and today, Archilogics is one of the leading architectural firms.

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Architect Saket Sethi is the Founder and Principal of Archilogics in Mumbai and Barcelona – a collective of avant-garde designers redefining contextual future living from a historical perspective for an international audience. He has the rare distinction of being the only Indian Architect hosting two TV shows simultaneously; disseminating the latest on Indian design with NDTV GoodTimes “Luxe Interiors” and a celebrity design chat show with a makeover for Fox Life’s “Design HQ” Season 2.

A Bachelor of Architecture from Woodbury University, LA, Saket studied Digital Design at UC Berkeley and Interior Design at NYU. After that, he interned with Eric Owen Moss, Los Angeles, and Frederick Gibson in San Francisco. Later, he began his architectural work in India in late 2001 with Talati & Panthaky Ltd., on Birla Institute of Technical Sciences, Lloyds Steel, and Sahara India.

Later, he joined Nitin Parulekar as Senior Architect & then as Director of projects. He was responsible for instituting tie-ups with a San Francisco firm and bagged competitive projects for 3G, Birla and Siemens before founding Archilogics with other founders in 2005.With a name like “Archilogics” – it is no wonder that he gets asked the question on its meaning very often. He says, “I just wanted a less self-centric approach to practicing – rather than eponymous name. My goal was to create a platform for like-minded designers to embrace an easily identifiable and accessible architectural brand identity. If we speak about the choice of “logic” in the name – I felt there would always be some kind of ‘genius loci’ or logic to each project, irrespective of how visible or intangible its process.”

His firm’s strongest asset and its evolution over the period of time since its inception in 2005 has been something out of a story book. He adds, “The strongest asset, that we or

any other architecture firm will have for that matter, will always be the client, but in terms of approach, our strength is infusing a certain kind of soul into space and surprise into details – much like a design psychologist would do. Archilogics has a wide array of creative projects to its end.”

DESIGN & WORK PHILOSOPHY:

There are some set notions that every design or architectural firm imbibe and follow in order to create a niche for themselves. When it comes to Archilogics, Saket adds, “Mostly, it is to hold onto some idea of idealism, to dream freely but always to do it in the context of the problem you are trying to solve – in small ways to very large ones that inspire or change how you will “feel” in the spaces we create – whether that’s a table or a campus. Each and every project follows the process of design development, till you reach a ‘eureka moment’ with the design.”

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Of course, needless to say, the work culture, styles and textures to the demographics and lifestyles – there is a huge variation from Mumbai to Barcelona. And for any successful firm, it is important to notice the differences between the architectural vocabulary and craft culture at both the places while designing projects. To this Saket says, “there is a certain luxury of a lack of restraint and client dialogue in a design process – although there are the usual constraints and sometimes ideological and design discussions can span days – there is a crispness and order to the manner in which things get done. Contractors and labour are well versed in drawing standards and can extrapolate ‘filler’ details wherever possible, sometimes even being an invaluable part of the team. Quality and finish issues, like joinery and proper orthogonality of surfaces, is considered mostly standard. Rules and Regulations to work within are more stringent; material palettes larger and clients hold widespread knowledge of brands, and have stronger likes and dislikes to reflect their personal tastes and the idea of innovation wherever possible, is also simultaneously encouraged.

Today, Saket engages in various teaching activities and has been featured in leading design magazines like Architecture Design & Elle Decor and also writes for the largest Indian newspapers including the Times and the Hindustan Times Group. He was invited by the Spanish Government to be a guest at the opening of the Spanish Pavilion at La Biennale 2018 in Venezia and is writing an article for his pick of Top Pavilions at the Biennale for Elle Decor India.

He has also been involved in various teaching and judging capacities at Sir JJ, Academy of Architecture and recently with Rachna’s School of Interior Design. He has also provided consulting on design to DSP design associates in the past and continues to work on select projects that reflect the spirit and desires of Archilogics.

So what made Saket Sethi choose architecture as a career path? Saket responds, “When I graduated from the U.S. and came back to India in 2001, I just wanted to make sure I had a well-rounded exposure to life before I committed myself to a life of design.

Modeling happened by accident as I had a photographer friend who shot some pictures and sent it for a casting. I did my first ad for Nescafe and it took off from there. Art has just been part of my life for as long back as I can remember, so I guess it just continued. And now there is TV, which I consider to be another aspect of my career where I can to express myself – like on NDTV GoodTimes’ “Luxe Interiors”, Fox Life & Design HQ as well.

INSPIRATIONS

According to Saket, everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary – a sensation, a conversation, an image, a material, a drawing, sculpture and the client of course are inspirations for their work. He says, “My creative process is a mix between the experimentally whimsical and the highly structured. My process of design varies from project to project, becoming more conservative or explorative as required by the context.” He is deeply inspired by artists and entrepreneurs alike such as Gaudi, Art Nouveau, Pedro Almodovar, Shiamak Davar, Kumar Birla, Ratan Tata and Steve Jobs.

“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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Also graffiti artists, self-immersed trade workers, passionate people and talented performers. His inspiration comes from creators of the unthinkable, the novel and the inspired – those that say it can be done, selfless individuals, great friends and family – not necessarily in that order.

DESIGN PROJECTS & PORTFOLIO:

Saket has worked on several celebrity design projects namely residential spaces for actress Raveena Tandon or Shilpa Shetty’s Iosis Spa. He says, “There is no sure fire way for this to happen and such projects to come to you – especially when you have a balanced portfolio but it varies from how clients get to hear of your work – or how you meet a meet a client who is looking to hire a designer. In my case, working on Iosis bought the work to Raveena’s attention. I will say that working for a celebrity does bring a certain level of uniqueness to a design challenge and that can make it a lot more fun to work on.” Saket has also designed an office space for Salman Khan’s much talked about brand Being Human.

On this project he adds, “Salman’s project was one of the easiest to design – there is so much material on him and his life. Understanding brand Salman and brand Being Human was the key to generating the design. Over-the-Top materials, flourishes and design gimmicks of any kind became a no-no, the moment you consider him a man of the people. We used dots to symbolize the common man and created a giant “being human” billboard made of such dots and this sets the tone for the entry of the space.

We went for an accessible and earthy modern vibe, compensating for the lack of light, which was one challenge and another major one was developing practical and extensive storage that was not as visible to see, for all the ‘Being Human’ charity files.”

His other project, “Infinity Resorts” located in Corbett National Park perfectly merges architecture with nature. Here, he explains his design concept. “Using a client brief to build with local materials and a modified local look and feel; extended an imagined fantasy storyline of how an English expatriate came to and fell in love with Corbett, and then built to his needs much in the safari way.

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We put together African and Indian details onto western forms, juxtaposing new and old together – particularly in the case what looked like a destroyed fort turret (which was created to look like that) and then let nature back to grow all around the site,” he says.

His other project “Private residence” in Alibaug, where he has perfectly amalgamated Frank Lloyd Wright’s “exploded” box windows with a relaxed Tuscan villa feel have brought him several accolades and pats of recognition.

Explaining his thought, he adds, “Over the course of time, I like to put together sometimes unrelated and diametrically opposite design concepts.

This house has two completely different elevations – and they are contextual to the desire of the client, and what we envisioned the programmatic requirements to be.

The Tuscan feel is communicated via a more formal and closed entry facade whereas the exploded box windows bring light on the other elevation and open toward the pool part which is private to the enjoyment of the family.”

Quick Facts:

Favourite Project
Aditya Birla Science & Technology Center. A project like that comes once in a lifetime.

Favorite Book.
Fountainhead.

Important Lesson Learnt.
A C grade student can do much better in life, than an academically perfect A grade student.

Favourite architects.
Brunelleschi, Lutyens, Wright, Norman Foster, Herzog & DeMeuron and William van Allen.

Favourite Structures.
In India, Kanchenjunga by Charles Correa and the Aditya Birla Science & Technology center in Taloja, Navi Mumbai.

Words of wisdom to aspirants.
Never give up and learning is infinite.

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.

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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