by Ronitaa ItaliaOct 14, 2019
Established in the year 2003 in the city of Pune in western India, Studio VDGA was set up by architect Deepak Guggari. The firm today has won over 60 national and international awards and has not only been building in India but also internationally, especially in Vietnam, where his work has received much attention and acclaim. “Studio VDGA’s goal lies in creating 'timeless meaningful spaces’, which induce harmony, happiness and peace in the lives of the users. We endeavour to create more than just architecture, a lifestyle for the occupants,” says Guggari. “Simple intelligent ideas such as optimum use of natural light, ventilation and locally available natural building materials and techniques lie at the core of our practice,” he adds.
A recently completed project, restaurant RASM in Hanoi, Vietnam, which also won the Dezeen Awards 2020 in the category of ‘Public vote winner for interior designer of the year’, is an example of the kind of work the firm is practicing while keeping itself embedded in Indian roots. The RASM restaurant, where the name translates to ‘tradition’, overlooks the West Lake in the city of Hanoi, and is located within twin bungalows in a mixed-use development area. The design makes a discernible statement while capturing the vision of the passers-by on the busy and fast-paced lakefront road.
Guggari says, “We felt the need to convert the discreet façade of the twin houses to something that not only imparts an identity to the mundane skyline but also attracts attention away from the West Lake. Hence, the golden metal wire, moulded into patterns, reminiscent of Indian motifs, forms the 30 feet high façade”. The façade also further attempts to resemble the embellishments on the traditional Indian sari. The patterns create a screen for the outdoor area of the restaurant, while also offering the views of the West Lake across, and further providing privacy in the complex.
Woven by local craftsmen in the villages of north India, this filigree façade not only imparts an Indian character to the space but also brings a pleasing charm in the otherwise subdued surroundings. The landscape elements along the golden screens balance the overall ambience, while during the day the sunbeams filtering through the screens form interesting patterns on the grey natural stone flooring.
The interiors have been designed using Indian Patent Stone (IPS) on walls and terrazzo flooring in black and white patterns, and the outdoor is a mix of the IPS and grey stone flooring, broken by aggregate beds. The outdoor seating comprises rustic cast in-situ benches and woven rope chord chairs, completing the theme. Following the décor of the Indian restaurant, velvet sofas, colourful leather upholstered chairs and woven wooden benches form the indoor seating. The walls are adorned with the paintings of Indian maharajas and worn-out wooden mirror frames in assorted shapes. The bar counter face has wooden cast-dye blocks and brass shelves backdrop. The furniture, artefacts and artwork have been exclusively sourced from India. “With the name RASM embodying the Indian culture and traditions, with gastronomy being the most important factor, it was our effort to match the ambience and interiors to the Indian ethos,” informs Guggari.
Another project by Studio VDGA is the 40,000 sqft Star Engineer’s factory and office space in the Vietnamese capital. The project has been designed keeping in mind the climate of the region, the multi-functionality of the space and through the use of multiple courtyards that bring in daylight and effective ventilation.
Currently, two more projects by Studio VDGA are under construction in Vietnam. The first one is a camp site project situated in Soc Son, Hanoi, along the banks of Dong Do Lake surrounded by natural beauty. “Here the effort has been to minimise the usage of concrete and built forms and hence we have used Hume pipes and shipping containers that were converted to create usable spaces,” mentions Guggari. Each of the pipes have been strategically aligned on site to capture the views of the lake.
The existing compound of the camp site was a long gabion wall, which has been retained and the pipes and the containers cut through this wall to accommodate pedestrian entry, watchman’s cabin and the camp manager’s accommodation. These hume pipes have been vertically aligned and converted into the toilet areas. The other necessities of camping sites such as the tents, bonfire, rappelling, jetty etc. were included in the infrastructural facilities. Limited budget and minimising the carbon footprint were the parameters that have been adhered to while designing.
The second project under construction in Vietnam is a nine-storey residential building, which is also being created using shipping containers. Each floor has a unique plan to create a multitude of small and large spaces with open, semi-open and closed areas modulating as per privacy required. The plan has been strategically designed to provide single height, double height and garden spaces throughout the building with a recreational pool on the last floor.
Studio VDGA (Varsha and Deepak Guggari Associates) is the only Indian firm to be shortlisted in the Dezeen Awards 2020 in the last two years, thanks to their projects in Vietnam. The work addresses the local social dynamics, re-uses waste building material, brings in Indian climatic references and attempts to create a mark on the global map with its sensitive design and meaningful spaces.