by Sunena V MajuFeb 02, 2023
Sanjay Puri Architects, based out of Mumbai in India, has received recognition over the years through the efforts of the firm to bring climate responsive architecture and traditional Indian architecture to the forefront of contemporary discourses across the world. STIR delves into the ongoing works of the firm, which is led by architect Sanjay Puri, and lists down five of their upcoming projects, currently on the drawing board.
1. Learning Curves, Raipur
The Learning Curves in Raipur has been designed as a series of learning spaces interspersed with small open courtyards located along the site perimeter to create a large focal open garden and playground in this school. Each space within the school is indirectly lit, thereby reducing heat gain in response to the hot climate of Raipur, a city in Chhattisgarh in central India, which has temperatures in excess of 35 degrees Celsius for eight months annually.
Minimising openings to the peripheral road, the built volumes have been designed to appear monolithic from the external sides with large curvilinear scoops defining the intermittent courtyards between classrooms. Organically curving on the inner side facing the internal garden, each space opens into sheltered terraces and patios creating spaces for social interaction.
With a focus on creating spaces that engage children and promote social interaction, the Learning Curves is contextual to the site and the climate. The design of the school follows an organic flow of learning spaces amid landscaped areas of varying scales.
2. Learning Squares, Aurangabad
The Learning Squares, also a school, is located in the centre of a rapidly growing city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, India. This school has been designed for a plot of 3960 sqm with a permissible construction area of 8118 sqm. Imbibing the traditional forms of Indian architecture, the school creates a large open-to-sky courtyard oriented to open towards the playground.
Brick screens envelope the built spaces externally, mitigating sound from the roads as well as reducing heat gain in response to the climate of the region. Circulation spaces skirt the courtyard with open bridges across, allowing students to be visually connected to the landscaped court and the playground whilst moving within the school. All the common facilities including laboratories, library, arts room and cafeteria open into landscaped terraces that punctuate the building to facilitate natural cross ventilation throughout the building.
Designed for a charitable trust, the Learning Squares is a school that imbibes the elements and planning principles of traditional Indian architecture to create a contextual design solution alluding to the location and climate, to generate sheltered open spaces for social interaction within a restricted site.
3. Prestige University, Indore
Prestige University is to be situated within a 32-acre university campus, where the main administration offices along with an auditorium, seminar halls, library and cafeteria form the functions of the building. As opposed to creating an imposing edifice, the building gradually steps up from the approach direction belying its 20-metre height. Stepped up from the northern direction, the entire terrace of the five-level building is accessible to the students and faculty of the university, transforming it into an open auditorium. The multiple functional spaces within are interspersed with naturally lit landscaped courtyards that allow indirect light to infuse the internal volumes at each level.
The north lighting and courtyards are inspired from traditional Indian architecture, which in turn create an energy-efficient sustainable building with minimal dependence on artificial lighting and air conditioning. A continuous diagonal indoor street in addition to the numerous open courts facilitate natural ventilation in the internal areas.
The Prestige University in Indore, a city in central India, is a large open public space with accessible ground floor and landscaped roof. The building is designed as a series of interactive spaces of different scales to foster engagement at various levels amongst the users as well as integrating functional and open landscaped areas intrinsically.
4. Shree School, Raipur
The Shree School in Raipur is designed with curvilinear volumes to create a sheltered open street as the focal circulation space in this low-rise school that opens up towards a large playground. All the classrooms are north oriented to mitigate heat gain. The classrooms and corridors are cross-ventilated and naturally lit to reduce the dependency on artificial lighting and air conditioning, and make the building energy efficient.
The central focal open landscaped street facilitates the southwest winds to permeate the internal spaces of the school to enhance the wind movement by the tunnel effect. Designed in response to the region’s climate, the Shree School creates a series of open sheltered spaces to facilitate interaction among students and engage them in multiple ways.
5. Stone House, Nokha
The Stone House is a large villa of 36,000 sq ft in the Nokha village of Rajasthan on a plot area of 80,000 sq ft. Private and public spaces are planned around a large triple height central atrium with clear openings on all sides. Every room transitions from the large ventilated central space into a private verandah before opening onto a lawn. Large terraces on the floors above, both semi-covered or open to sky, establish the visual continuum between the dwelling and the vast expanse of the surrounding desert landscape.
The spatial planning seamlessly integrates enclosed, semi-covered and open spaces of varying volumes to help reduce dependence on energy consumption. At the very onset of the design conceptualisation, it was agreed to have a dwelling which is energy-efficient and built on the traditional principles of passive cooling. Taking the cue from the ancient forts of Rajasthan, thick cavity walls of 20 inches with insulation filling constitute the external walls.
Large vertical natural stone jaali screens reminiscent of old Rajasthani havelis prove to be an effective screen and a privacy buffer. The screens act as secondary skin to the main building and not only prove to be formidable during a sandstorm but also help transform the direct harsh external sunlight into a dialogue between light and shadows within the living spaces.
Locally sourced Jodhpur stone constitutes the walls and screens. Rain water harvesting tanks, recycling plant for water and solar panels contribute towards making the project self-sufficient and sustainable. The Stone House makes the best possible use of the locally available materials, and incorporates traditional Indian principles of passive cooling to render it contextual in multiple ways.
These five projects by Sanjay Puri Architects demonstrate the adaptation of context, climate, materials and culture to create structures that gel with nature, combine sustainability with modern designs, and gives much importance to the surrounding landscape.