by Sunena V MajuAug 06, 2022
While the presence of a new building on a vacant plot tends to change the whole identity of the place, Ramai Boys Hostel designed by Maharashtra-based adaa (Amruta Daulatabadkar Architects) blends into its urban setting, imparting a sense of belongingness to the land it stands on. Nestled in Aurangabad, a historic city in Maharashtra, India, famous for its heritage structures, the boy's hostel confers to be a physical entity extending much familiarity and congruence to its contexts. The architects chose to design the building as a local motif co-existing with the context without uprooting the existing trees. Incorporating the surrounding nature with a design that revolves around the materiality of raw finishes, the hostel aims to imbibe the colloquial architectural language connecting it to its context.
Creating a haven for the students in a bustling residential neighbourhood, the architecture is directed to form an inward-looking environment. Amid the common practice of modular replications of plans for residential units, the Ramai Boys Hostel seems like a bricolage of experimentations. With an aim to create significant niches for interaction, the hostel tends to create spaces that balance interconnection and privacy for its users. While perceiving every user as an individual and providing non-repetitive spaces, the layout of the rooms in the hostel differ from one another. However, the locus of the rooms and lobby remains to be the courtyard. Covered in a pivoted roof, the courtyard design is bedecked by a triple-storey brick jaali on the external south facade. Allowing ample natural light and ventilation to enter the interior spaces, the jaali acts as a source of airflow and thermal comfort.
Balancing the client's need to have a cost-effective building and the architects' approach to prioritise interaction, the 1020 sq.m. hostel boasts of a unique blend of raw materiality and modern expressions. By emulating the intimacy of residential spaces in the rooms, each room accommodates an informal study area, balconies and recreational corners such as window nooks. The study tables in the rooms are customised on-site with MS joints and a locally available Kadappa stone top.
The jharokha, a type of cantilevered balcony which draws influences from traditional Indian architecture, wraps the courtyard thereby looping the internal connectivity of the spaces. At the convergence of jharokhas, balconies and cut-out spaces, the landscape around the building supplements the interior design as well. Taking into account the existing trees, fenestrations of each room was planned as a picture window, framing the visuals of the outdoors. Furthermore, balconies of every room overlook the streets and indulge in extended means of visual and vocal communication. Abiding by the character of the fenestrations, carefully placed cutouts enrich the form of the hostel and guide the facade design to present itself in unique identities in each direction. In the portrayal of architecture and landscape that unwraps throughout the building, the unpolished rawness of the materials and the lively interference of the greenery collate as a catalyst to activate the internal spaces.
Special attention is given to facilitate social interactions; louvres adorn the pivoted slit windows and doors. To break the monotonous rustic effect created by the exposed materials, illustrative paintings frame the lobby spaces along with a play of colour in selected furniture. While talking about the mood board of the design and the brick architecture of the facade, the award-winning interdisciplinary architectural firm, led by founder and Indian architect Amruta Daulatabadkar, mentions, "The project captures the gazes with its adornment of locally available clay bricks, whose design in its essence is the fruition of the local material to give a rustic effect."
Though the building contrasts the context, it is presented as an architectural edifice in exposed concrete and brick. The tranquillity reflected through the encompassing of the landscape through its carefully crafted opening merges the built environment with nature. Amid the many glimpses of modernism in the Indian context, the minimal aesthetics of vernacular architecture seem nostalgic and familiar. While exploring and experimenting with materials and construction techniques, can contextual architecture find a balance between vernacularism and modernity?
Name: Ramai Boys Hostel
Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India
Area: 1020 sq.m.
Principal Architect: Amruta Daulatabadkar
Design team: Mitali Jain, Sangramm Ambhore, Gargi Jadhav, Shivani Mandhane, Smruti Mahatole
Structural Designer: Anil Datar
Civil contractor: Raj Vakil