Vaibhav Dimri and Madhav Raman, who established Anagram Architects, represent a very modern approach to creative designing. Their designs are a synthesis of various factors and numerous interesting collaborations. We chat with them about the myriad activities their studio engages in.
Today, green building has become a prerequisite of sorts. I am thus very interested in knowing more about this young firm’s response to green architecture. “When we were in college, the conversation was more to do with buildings having a culturally relevant identity and being “green” was not the primary driver for most architectural projects. In the past decade, the conversation around ecological sustainability has become more urgent and the question of an Indian identity to our architecture has receded, perhaps due to the acceptance of globalisation.
The fact is the act of building (anything) has deep environmental, economic and socio-cultural ramifications. Our theory is that a project must be viewed through a combination of all these lenses in order for its architecture to be sustainable,” believe the duo.
This belief is inherent to their designs. At Vaansa Eco-Resort, for example, their design strategy has been reconfiguring the existing agricultural terraces on site to slow down the rainwater run-off, reduce the erosion of the top soil and regenerate the local vegetation. This has influenced an open design of the individual residential units as well.
The architects see the resort as an area where one is building a smaller volume in proportion to the size of the entire site, opening up a huge opportunity to create larger cycles of waste-consumption management as well as for exploring passive and holistic strategies for interacting with ecology. They feel that this can “create a more resilient and sustainable relationship between the building(s) and the site”.
Today, as eco-tourism is gaining in popularity, Vaansa eco-resort is all set to entice nature lovers!
The Rail Ring
I am intrigued by the fact that this duo does more than merely build. The Rail Ring Project is an example of how they have collaborated with various experts and given Delhi a plan of putting the 25 year old Ring Rail to optimum use.
The Ring Rail was originally planned to decongest existing train lines by moving goods trains to the ring rail track. The architects visualised a completely new use for this corridor that envelops the heart of the city and yet is under-utilised.
They saw potential in using the corridor as a pedestrian and cyclist path where street commerce could be conducted. This would provide services and employment to people. Some points on the stretch could become public entertainment avenues, especially useful during festivals. A mobile enabled information cloud could also be facilitated here.
Explaining the genesis of the project, they say, “It evolved out of many different conversations centered on our city of Delhi and its changing urbanism”. But, what I find special about the project is the magnitude of collaborations it opens up. “The project has thus far undertaken three urban design studies, an experiential film and a technological feasibility study. We have researched into its historical, economic and sociological context. We have even studied municipal statutes and criminal law in that context,” they reveal.
Not surprisingly, the plan has got attention from the Ministry of Urban Development and is progressing towards secondary research for developing a detailed economic model for it.
Participating in exhibitions is a way of stretching creativity in newer directions. Anagram Architects recently partnered with CellDSGN and Mia Morikawa to create the “Food Labyrinth” at the UnBox Festival 2012 with the aim to challenge usual notions of experiencing and tasting food.
The design of the stall had to support this activity not only practically, but also in essence. While the architects had to be sustainable, they also had to design something that would allow for a lot of experimentation.
They used wooden cargo pallets and plywood boards to create work counters and consoles. The natural slots formed in this arrangement became shelves. Garnishes and herbs were provided by kokedama hangings from a tree on site. “We also had a lot of fun designing and detailing each work console specifically for each activity using modular permutations of the pallet boxes for appropriate heights, depths and widths. We were able to make utensil trays and even detailed light fixtures out of softwood fruit boxes and dishes out of banana leaves” they share.
How was the response to the stall design?
“The design of the structures constructed out of used pallet boxes and packaging as an idiom for the cycle of consumption and waste was well received,” say the architects.
More than anything else, I would attribute the interesting mix of the studio’s activities to the desire of the architects to collaborate with different groups and learn from diverse fields. So what’s on the cards for the firm now? “The immediate plans for the firm are to work in projects that involve education and urban sanitation. Currently we are also working on healthcare and hospitality projects along with residences and a few commercial projects. Internally, we are keen to initiate a dedicated team to undertake design research projects as well as urban art projects. As always we look forward to some very interesting collaboration in the near future. One that is particularly exciting involves augmented reality and interactive spaces” disclose the duo.
Text By Dhanishta Shah
Vansaa Eco-Resort & Food Labyrinth: Aayush Prakash
Ring Rail: Trisham Dey