Some like it with a splash of water, others with a spark of fizz. But, a leisurely stay at a hotel, much like the charm of a favourite tipple, is best experienced with minimal fuss and luxe appeal – perhaps, even straight on the rocks!
Though the guys at SPA (Sanjay Puri Architects) admit to a rocky start of their design career when they went pro in 1992, the firm today is at the top of their game creating radical solutions that defy current day norms for acceptable architecture. One only has to glimpse at their wide cross-section of built works across retail, hospitality, residential, corporate and interiors, to realise the core strength of the team: an exploratory spirit!
Even though critics didn’t always accept the futuristic designs created by SPA earlier, the principals acknowledge they “believe in continuously trying to evolve new spatial relationships by looking at things differently.”
Thus, they earned a gradual appreciation for their works and attribute some of this newfound acceptance to an ability for deviating into uncharted territory and a unique design approach that empowers them to render each project, notwithstanding type and scale, interesting and different.
Consider their project in focus here: D. Caves, located on the fringes of Hyderabad city was built to accommodate the vision of Suchir India Pvt. Ltd who were looking for a mid-scale resort hotel with a capping at two levels of structure.
Making provisions for a small boutique hotel structure to settle in aesthetically, without looking stark and barren amidst the overpowering triple linear blocks on one side of the plot rising 50 feet in height (from the road to the centre) was a tall order.
However, the SPA team faced the challenge of designing among the rocky lines by occupying the centre of this small site (1 acre) and positioning the hotel along the steep curves of the site.
They imparted a sense of openness by curtailing the hotel requirements to 27 rooms and arranging the dual levels of the hotel’s main structure around the large naturally formed boulders. This helped them split the functions of the hotel while ensuring there were several interesting and welcoming circulation spaces around the natural landscape of the site, which stepped along the natural slope of the land.
A thirty feet level difference existing from the edges to the centre of the hotel structure skirted by small roads on all sides allows only a privileged few (those on top of the building) a picture postcard view, which is among the chief raw design features rendering the hotel form an unrestricted and open feel from all directions.
The service areas, food and beverage spaces, like restaurant, bar and a sky deck, are grouped together in the north-west corner of the site while the health club and gymnasium occupy a smaller building on the east side of the plot. A compact block contains conferencing facility, too.
This 27,000 square feet built up area on the site, which claimed existing contours as its natural blueprint for the groundwork of the hotel structure, was completed in a budget of 2.7 Crore rupees.
The spaces within are naturally ventilated and the north orientation of balconies ensures that fresh breezes keep guests relaxed and fine-tuned to the natural beauty surrounding them.
So, even while conventional RCC construction with brick in-fills, walls and glass have been the construction language of this project, which is modern in form and style, the D. Caves hotel project, gives sustainability equal importance.
With natural circulation of air ensuring sufficient cooling and solar powered heating systems making sure hotel management as well as guests use Mother Nature’s depleting resources efficiently; it is no longer a daunting task for team SPA to preserve each of the majestic boulders that dominate the small site.
Instead, the rocky interruptions inspire SPA to create a series of ‘fragmented spaces’ around the boulders. So the built space can be seen as an assemblage of small blocks, inter-connected with boulders that help develop spaces enjoying uninterrupted views of the natural surroundings (elevated by sculptural boulders on the inside) and allow the design team to develop rectilinear built spaces with them, interspersing them to create interesting juxtapositions.
Smaller areas within the plot have varying compositional qualities that each serves a functional purpose in this small but modish hotel and also allow for the structural design to retain its contextual hold with minimal intervention of the built form contrasting with the linear and vertical existence of the boulders.
This linearity and verticality of the boulders on the site creates a movement pattern that makes onlookers feel at one with the natural surroundings within the site – and outside it!
With a design philosophy rooted in stylish, structurally sound realism and just the right dash of contextual and evolutionary data guiding holistic, site-specific solutions, Sanjay Puri Architects live up to their maxim of “design and build your dreams.” It’s a value statement that seems to work to their advantage, considering when they are not designing, they are dreaming of it! What else can we say, but “Rock On!”
Text By Deepanjolie Sonya Figg
Photographs Courtesy Sanjay Puri Architects