by Jerry ElengicalJul 04, 2022
Climatologically sensitive architecture is often associated with a hefty price tag and complex technological interventions to achieve a semblance of sustainable design. Indian architect Himanshu Patel, of d6thD Design Studio, takes on this assumption and explores the potential of economic and culturally sustainable architecture. Using techniques and details of vernacular architecture, Patel uses the Indian context as an inspiration for the Gir Vihar - Eco Resort, Gujarat, India. By incorporating rubble stone packed foundation, load-bearing walls, arches, dome and pitched roofs, the project uses tried and tested climate control elements. All the material such as sandstone, bricks and terracotta tiles, was locally sourced.
Carefully incorporated into what is a functioning mango farm, Gir Vihar - Eco Resort takes cues on its master plan and unit plans from its immediate surroundings. The existing form guides not only the functional distributions across the plot but also the cottages plans. The plan currently consists of 10 independent two-storey cottages, making a total of 20 rooms. In what can be best described as an arrowhead, each unit is designed to fit between the rows of mango trees without disturbing them. Utilising the existing planning of the mango farm, the cottages are interspersed within a 30x30 feet grid. Considering the expansive foliage that is often associated with mango trees, the form of each individual unit required a careful intervention that negated the need to cut trees.
The triangular plan has the added advantage of earthquake associated stability. This particular section of Gujarat, a western state in India, is prone to earthquakes. Since the region's devastating earthquake in 2001, architectural projects in the area have been more mindful of their structural stability and safety. The structures use a minimal amount of concrete for the same reason.
The hotel complex can be accessed on the western edge of the plot. While the cottages are set on a grid, the pathways between them have an organic flow. The current pathway splits the site into two sections, the upper section at the northern end is where the 10 independent cottages are located. The entrance road opens up into a large square after the reception. Within this square is the hexagonal restaurant. From this square, there are two parallel pathways that lead towards the south end of the site. One takes you to the swimming pool, while the other leads towards the staff quarters and dormitories. On the west of the swimming pool is another mango grove that currently has no structures built on it, but the possibility remains for future expansion.
Each unit has two independent bedrooms, one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor. While both of these rooms are identical, their access points are on opposite ends of the arrowhead plan. This gives both the rooms a sense of independence and allow their occupants a sense of privacy as well. For the most part, the overall form of these independent units is an extrusion of the plan, it is the roof of this structure that sets it apart and adds an interesting dimension.
Since all the cottages have a north-south orientation, this allows the diffused north light to illuminate the balconies and patios. The two plans are systematically stacked, so what is a patio on the ground floor, acts as a foyer and entrance space, and is a balcony on the upper floor. The triangular balcony offers a panoramic view of the surrounding forest. The balcony faces towards the north while the south end of the cottage consists of a large bathroom. The two ends of this arrowhead plan also have contrasting porosities. The northern end has a more translucent wall, while the southern walls are a solid brick mass.
Centrally located, the restaurant has been designed to be flexible. A central spiral stone pillar supports the hexagonal roof and acts as an aesthetical pivot. The large brick arches of this space frame vistas of the surrounding grove. The stone walls created using locally available sandstone are left exposed and enhance the resort's earthy and natural ambience. The idea is to allow the clay roofing tile and exposed stone surfaces to gather radiant moss as a way of acknowledging the coexistence of nature’s perseverance and human craftsmanship.
Name: Gir Vihar Eco Resort
Location: Gujarat, India
Year of completion: 2020
Architect: d6thD Design Studio