Studio VDGA from Pune, India, builds timeless spaces to create a global mark

Deepak Guggari-led Indian studio receives international recognition for RASM restaurant in Hanoi, while the firm has two projects underway in Vietnam that re-use shipping containers.

by Meghna MehtaPublished on : Dec 05, 2020

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.

RASM, a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, adapts the elements of its Indian roots | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
RASM, a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, adapts the elements of its Indian roots Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

  • Rasm restaurant was created out of a façade of twin houses | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    Rasm restaurant was created out of a façade of twin houses Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • At night the screen becomes an interesting element for the street | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    At night the screen becomes an interesting element for the street Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • The mesh creates an interior and exterior connect | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The mesh creates an interior and exterior connect Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

  • The golden mesh is the highlight of the restaurant, which creates a modern feeling with Indian motifs | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The golden mesh is the highlight of the restaurant, which creates a modern feeling with Indian motifs Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • The process of putting together the mesh made by local craftsmen from India | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The process of putting together the mesh made by local craftsmen from India Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • The mesh creates a connect with the mixed-use neighbourhood | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The mesh creates a connect with the mixed-use neighbourhood Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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 to give the feel of an Indian restaurant | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The interiors have been designed to give the feel of an Indian restaurant Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • All products for the restaurant have been sourced from India | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    All products for the restaurant have been sourced from India Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • The interiors of the space reflect a modern Indian ambience | RASM restaurant | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The interiors of the space reflect a modern Indian ambience Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

  • STAR Engineer administrative building and Factory in Hanoi, Vietnam | STAR Engineer’s factory and office space | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    STAR Engineer administrative building and Factory in Hanoi, Vietnam Image: Hiroyuki Oki, Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • Office space in STAR Engineer administrative building in Hanoi, Vietnam | STAR Engineer’s factory and office space | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    Office space in STAR Engineer administrative building in Hanoi, Vietnam Image: Hiroyuki Oki, Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • Administrative space in Hanoi, Vietnam | STAR Engineer’s factory and office space | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    Administrative space in Hanoi, Vietnam Image: Hiroyuki Oki, Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

  • The accommodations at Camp Site with a view| Camp Site | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The accommodations at Camp Site with a view Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • The infrastructure and planning of the Camp Site | Camp Site | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The infrastructure and planning of the Camp Site Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

  • Vertically aligned hume pipes accommodate the toilet block | Camp Site | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    Vertically aligned hume pipes accommodate the toilet block Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA
  • The gabion wall which supports the allied functions at Camp Site | Camp Site | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
    The gabion wall which supports the allied functions at Camp Site Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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 Residential Tower in Hanoi that uses shipping containers to create varied spaces | Residential Tower in Hanoi | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
The Residential Tower in Hanoi that uses shipping containers to create varied spaces Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

Re-use of shipping containers is the sustainable approach to building adapted by Studio VDGA in Vietnam | Residential Tower in Hanoi | Studio VDGA | STIRworld
Re-use of shipping containers is the sustainable approach to building adapted by Studio VDGA in Vietnam Image: Courtesy of Studio VDGA

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.

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