Hans Brouwer: Architecture: Pune

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When did you start working on projects in India and what has been your experience so far?

profile HANSBROUWER1We were first approached by Marvel Realtors, a Pune based developer, in 2008. From one client and one project we now have 4 clients and 20 projects involving over 13 million square feet of real estate. We have been very fortunate to have grown together with Marvel over the past 4 years. Our projects range from individual houses (Selva Ridge), a 22-storey multi-tower residential development (Verano), to a 240m long ground scraper office complex (Edge).

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I was quite surprised to find the Indian market in general, and our clients in specific, to be very open to challenging designs and our specific approach to design, which is very process oriented. At the outset of a project we tend to explore a wide range of design strategies and assess them on various criteria, ranging from the client brief, the site and context, orientation and climate, view optimisation and open space maximisation. We have found our clients in India to be very interested in this “journey” and are therefore much more involved in the outcome, supporting our design ideas with more conviction than if they were simply presented with a given design.

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What has been the most rewarding aspect of working on these projects in India?

I think the awareness that we are part of a massive change. The buildings we design, the environments we create, are changing the face of the country. I often try to imagine what it might be like in 10 or 20 years’ time. The truth is, we don’t know. This is both terrifying and exciting.

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What are your future plans in the context of projects in India?

I would like to see the more civic projects championing good design. The country is exploding in terms of infrastructure – bridges, train stations, airports, cultural and educational buildings. These projects should be seen as opportunities for building our environment and leaving an architectural legacy behind. Leaving monuments behind has always been the hallmark of great cultures. It would be a shame if India went through this massive development phase and didn’t have wonderful architecture, environments and cities to show for it.

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Could you tell us about the aspects which are unique to large scale residential design projects in India? What are some of the challenges?

Certainly one aspect unique to our Indian portfolio is the sheer size of the projects. Some of these exceed 2 million square feet of built up area (BUA) and go beyond architectural design into master planning. This challenge in ways a single building cannot – asking of us to generate a more holistic environment, incorporating multiple buildings, traffic engineering and extensive landscaping. It is exciting to be dealing with the creating of communities and larger parcels of the city – something we have not had to do outside of India.

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Another very challenging aspect of designing in India is the context. Most of our projects to date have been designed in what we would refer to as “mature” environments – i.e. with existing communities, buildings, infrastructure and landscaping. Many of our projects in India are in “greenfield” sites, with little or no context. This has several implications. On the more pragmatic front is the fact that we have to envisage a future context full of roads and buildings – in a worst case scenario, a “hostile” environment; one that we want to be protected from.

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This means trying to ensure that our primary views and outlooks are focused on our own site and internal landscaping. On a more esoteric front it means that we are essentially designing an oasis, without the ability to respond to and reflect something local and/or vernacular – a sort of design vacuum. This pushes the architecture to develop its own set of values and guidelines, whether driven by a more global aspect of cultural relevance or by environmental sustainability.

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What is your assessment of the real estate industry in India, with specific reference to interior design and architecture?

At present I would have to say that architecture in India does not occupy as prestigious a position as, say, engineering, finance or IT. Architecture is a complex business – equal parts art and engineering. Design and construction in India are predominantly driven by speculation and business – not always the most fertile ground for design and innovation. As a result, most of the work being done here tends to be formulaic and repetitive.

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Some years ago I met Charles Correa and he described different cultures going through various stages of development. He used the analogy of a glass of water, being slowly filled until it reaches the brim – when it starts to overflow. I think India has reached that stage. We are seeing a sea change of scope, attitude and enthusiasm across the board. India is gaining confidence and it is only a matter of time before this manifests in the architectural arena.

VERANO IN PUNE

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Verano Residential is being designed by Hans for Marvel Realtors with a floor area of 348,000 square metres. This large project is arranged into two gently sweeping arcs.

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The placement and shape of the buildings enables sweeping views as well as imparts openness to the central gardens.

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A stunning wrap around screen facade connects the inside and outside areas of the apartments, enhancing the exteriors. Double height living rooms with mezzanine linking the space to the double height terrace is an important feature of the design.

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The double storey penthouse units also have double height volumes with mezzanine and luxuries such as private swimming pool and spectacular cascade walls. Beautiful landscaping and water features have been incorporated to create appealing outdoor spaces.

KYRA IN PUNE

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Kyra is Pune’s first high-rise luxury residential project, with a saleable area of 595,000 square feet and 100 meter overall height. Marvel Realtors are the developers of this project. The stunning facade has delicate sun-shading fins, giving protection to the bedrooms from the rays of the low western sun.

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The bridging between the three towers enhances the architecture and houses the main common facilities, thereby enabling all the residents to experience the ‘high-rise’ feel irrespective of the location of their respective apartments.

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Large units complemented by generous balconies with private swimming pools are indeed a luxury!

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Beautiful landscaping and provision for all amenities adds to the luxury quotient.

SANGRIA IN PUNE

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Sangria, in Pune is a mid-rise residential project by the same promoters— Marvel Realtors.

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Lots of greenery in the form of beautifully landscaped gardens with pools as well as water bodies surrounding the twelve residential stories on stilts – 4 storey podium structure below and slab blocks above.

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A unique terraced pattern with new sights and effects at every point and the formal courtyards at the lower levels – each different from the other, creates an aesthetically pleasing design. Above the podium, the lower blocks have a north-south orientation accommodating the high unit counts without obstructing the view from any of the units. Beautiful roof gardens and private outdoor spaces on the ground have been made possible by pushing out the volume of the podium.