Manoj, Vimal and Sandeep were classmates in BMSCE. During the course of their studies, they bonded over design and ended up working together as a group for various competitions and projects. After graduation, work came along (an interior project) and they got together to test market waters. In 1996, they decided to get together and formed the design firm—Architecture Paradigm. Architect Bangalore
The early years were difficult but the team was passionate about this discipline. It was all about establishing values and addressing the conditions they worked in. Their understanding of how a practice needs to be is self-developed, as none of them had any previous long-term associations with established firms. The endeavour has been to uphold their values and create spaces that people can enjoy and cherish.
The firm would rather not assess their work in terms of stylistic connotations. Rather, their aim is to address the conditions arising out of economic and social and cultural factors dictating the landscape which essentially translates into a contemporary expression.
Their work ideology is about progression and evolution, and at every level the team tries to understand, question, and build on precedents. The design process also involves experimenting with new material technologies, challenging structural solutions, and creating spaces which reflect the times we live in.
Architecture Paradigm designed the House of Pavilions in Bangalore. The primary aim was to build a luxurious home that would also be integrated with the natural environment and be a living space that is in sync with its surroundings.
In terms of being open to experimentation and welcoming ideas that would be in sync with sustainable design, Bangalore has always been ahead of the other metros. Given that the climate is more suited to an extended conversation with nature, most homeowners prefer to minimise urban influences and connect with the natural environment as much as possible. The House of Pavilions designed by the Architecture Paradigm Group is an excellent example of this.
Moving away from concrete jungles, the aim was to define a luxurious environment, while maintaining a strong connection with the outdoors. That is how the idea for a pavilion that would create a conversation with natural surroundings was conceived. Two basic principles of traditional Indian homes form an integral part of the design vocabulary—the essence of the courtyard concept that plays a pivotal role in the design of this home and the division of public and private spaces without diluting their connection with the natural environment.
With three generations living under one roof in a 1000 sqm plot, the idea was to create a series of pavilions exploring the overall space while retaining the silver oaks and other tress already existing on the plot. Two horizontal bars divide the public and the private zones in the house, along the north-south axis.
I asked the team what they perceived to be the major changes in the industry since they started and what trends they foresee. In their assessment, “with the onset of liberalisation in the nineties, the country witnessed unbridled consumption and India changed from a sociologically driven development economy to a consumer driven culture.”
The landscape was a fundamental part of design on both the X and Y axis. The idea of the landscape becoming a part of the structure is not only about the experience along the horizontal plane but also along the vertical. Sliding or hinged doors, which opened to the natural surroundings, represent the dynamic plane. Timber panels were used in combination with glass to control light entering the house and replaced the erstwhile grills and jaalis concept.
The two zones are connected by a movement spine, which flows to become the family pavilion in the private part of the house. One of the spaces is taken to the upper level to explore the surroundings and also bring in a sense of personal space. The team considered lifting it above the conventional height of 3 meter to a height of 5meter to explore the surroundings and in the process generating multidimensional space in-between the ground and the upper levels. This serves as a studio library and doubles up as a store over the spine, connecting the two zones. The experience of moving through the structure is heightened by the tactility of the spaces. One is greeted by the water body, which continues through the house flanking the central spine defined by an exposed concrete wall.
Water is introduced as a thermal regulator to cool the house naturally through evaporative cooling during the hot summers and also to accentuate the outside-inside experience, as the house sits on a plate of water, which weaves into the spaces. The resulting model presented an inversion of the courtyard house model where the central inward-looking open space becomes an open-ended courtyard on either sides of the spine. This allowed for privacy to be maintained at the lower levels while allowing the upper levels to visually connect with the outdoors.
Spaces such as the glass encased bridge connecting the drawing room and the spine, or the space between the upper and ground levels which acts as a studio/ library space, enable an engaging visual connect with the outdoors.
The studio opens out to a viewing terrace space flanked by water, which flows down to the lower level water body.
The drawing, dining, and two bedrooms at the lower level open out to the garden courts flanking their edges.
The steel columns supporting the son’s bedroom disappears, merging with the tall silver oaks allowing this volume above seem like a hovering entity.
The bedroom can integrate with family area to become a larger flexible space.
Vertical connect is brought in using a partially suspended steel and wooden staircase that weaves through the space to link various levels.
The roofs of the living, master bedroom at the lower level, and the son’s bedroom at the upper level, are modulated to form slopes, which enhances lighting and ventilation.
Design and orientation conceptualisation served to optimise the use of natural light and maximise ventilation while passive strategies were used to cool the building and create a system for heating water. Rainwater harvesting strategies like ground water recharging pits help in regulating the surface runoff.