Expressing simplicity and co-existence in a world where the social nature of man typically overpowers the natural order of things, Salient Design Studio, Kolkata creates a charismatic clubhouse in Siliguri that celebrates the senses while meeting functional business demands.
The Club Montana Vista project located in the Luxmi Township, Siliguri, West Bengal is a fine example of modern, functional and earth-conscious architecture. It successfully explores the conflicts between design for the senses and design for function where the former plays out magnificently.
With principal architect, Vivek Rathore at the helm, the architecture and interiors team comprising S. Bannerjee, S. Paul, T. Hussain, S. Sarkar and S. Koiri conceptualised and collaborated with landscape architect Anuradha Rathore assisted by G. Das to evolve a club design in Uttarayan, Siliguri that was “Biophilic in approach.”
The team simplified the industry jargon into ‘earth-speak’, which is evident in form and impressive in spirit as accompanying visuals dignify. The client’s (the Ambuja Neotia Realty Group) outlook helped the architects in making a connect with their design philosophy as lovers of original, livable and eco-friendly architecture.
The client was pretty emphatic about adherence to a simple brief (design with Vastu principles in mind and minimize operating costs) and since the site measured 50,000 sq. ft., the design team already had a lot of room to play with – not including the 25 club rooms they weaved into the master plan!
Salient’s need to honour the biophilic tendency that is biologically encoded in the course of human evolution was based on their realisation of the limitations of modern lifestyles: excessive time spent indoors and disturbed association with nature leading to increased stress, anxiety and depression levels. They set about imagining and building a place that would serve man’s need to associate with nature and bring back that connect to maintain a healthy mental and physical sense of well being.
Five biophilic design elements were considered in planning this club. Chief among these are environment elements, biomorphy and biomimicry (forms and shapes representing the natural world for façade and interior, like, spirals, ovals etc.) and creation of spaces keeping in mind natural patterns, processes and variability according to time.
The last two are light and space and an evolved Human – Nature relationship, wherein the intent was to present a design element reflecting the inherent human affinity towards natural environment.
Well, given the fact that the 4 acre (approx) site had a major challenge right in its midst (a gorge in the centre dividing the land into 2 levels), it did little to intimidate the designers, who creatively consolidated at the upper level.
In a similar vein, the natural beauty of the club’s backdrop captivates and beckons: after all, the grandeur, solitude and sheer magic of the Shivalik mountain range circumventing the site is hardly a sight that is regular fare even for the most hardcore globetrotter.
The horizontal lay of building humbly accommodates the majestic mountain grade in its skyline while the division of the club (into 6 clusters) is a planned element that maximises the biophilic element of the design.
However, each cluster boasts a sense of individuality of geometry and expression of freedom that spells simplicity and co-existence. Each block is interlaced with pedestrian pathways that abort and penetrate decisively and deliberate attempts have been made to restrict spaces so they don’t evolve as corridors.
Light, landscapes, aromas, sound of water, rolling green vistas all crowd the ambulatory areas in an unobtrusive way and 95% of spaces are well illuminated by daylight so natural, cross ventilation in fair weather and strategic wind passages made along the north south axis (to facilitate thermal acclimatization around the building) are a boon for those hungry to savor nature’s blessings.
Design downplays include a subtle geometry of fenestration, sublimity of art in white terrazzo flooring, hushed colour highlights and sensitive preservation of an existing water course at the base of the gorge.
Part of the gorge was partially filled for use as a swimming pool and interspersed with large boulders, used cement bags and top soil to enable a run-away stream to flow impishly along the slope.
Making a picture of perfect bliss, Club Montana Vista aims at being Uttarayan’s Utopia – perfect for reading, meditation and learning that more is less…
Text By Deepanjolie Sonya Figg
Photographs Courtesy Salient Design Studio