Kolkata-based Sustainable Alternatives for Living Together (SALT) eschews frills and instead believes in infusing minimal elegance and high functional efficiency into their wide-ranging repertoire.
Founded in 2011, the firm works across a wide range of interests that includes residential buildings, commercial projects, installations and custom furniture.
As committed in its name itself, the firm tries to find sustainable solutions to every project’s demands, and their repertoire is marked by carefully planned, serene spaces.
Led by three partners – Jassu Singh, Animesh Nayak and Amit Sinha, SALT has a more holistic and substantial understanding of the term ‘sustainable’.The team believes that sustainability should encompass social, economic, vocational and financial parameters in addition to the more obvious environmental one.
Families in contemporary times prefer a nuclear living setup and the inherent privacy it offers, at the same time these families, for both practical and emotional reasons, are also gravitating closer towards their extended familial relations, especially in cramped urban centres.
These disparate functional pulls were critical to deciding the design of the multi-generational home project by SALT in Bengaluru. Built for three brothers and their families, the building was subject to spatial and financial restrictions, so verticality became a necessity, and so did the smart use of every inch of available space.
As a means of relieving the social, formal and environmental impacts of the given scenario, the vertical section of the three storied building was manipulated to create three multi-floor, common spaces at three strategic places in the plan. The central and side courtyards, form common areas to gather in and bump into each other.
As is prudent in any constricted space, the team has allowed for generous influx of natural light, ventilation and views. The facade of the building is appropriately restrained in shades of beige and brown, with cascading wooden screens that seem to hold all the levels together, creating a seamlessly unified look.
SALT designed this wall in the atrium of the Rice Institute of Kolkata, a project that must have required more dexterity than what the final result potrays.
Research institutes have long shed their pedantic colours, increasingly willing to adopt more whimsy on the walls and floors. Every design team that wants to figure out a note-worthy addition to such buildings must keep in mind this new predilection, but without forgetting its aesthetic origins.
SALT walked this line by sticking to a simple, solid form and enhancing its effect with careful accents and lighting.
To create a “monastic feel” in the space, the two walls were made to stand face-to-face in minimal, brick-coloured glory.
The bricks jut out in perfect harmony, forming two-layers of built space cutting the light that rises from fixtures on the floor. The black baffle ceiling finds a cousin image in the smooth black stone floor, with its black seating area, and elegant punctuations formed by shallow tubs of white pebbles.
The atrium’s elements come together to form a sublime but friendly space, surely a good sign for all the students who would want to unwind or think things through here.
Salons are supposed to be relaxing places, but more often than not, are actually mind-numbingly sterile. Pink Tree in the Topsia district of Kolkata aims to be an exception and succeeds convincingly.
The space takes a break from pristine whites and all black/grey surfaces, favourites of its ilk, and relies on swathes of smooth planks of polished wood as the highlight element.
The focus of the team from SALT was to realise the client’s express demand of creating a peaceful place from where content customers could emerge.
Wispy white curtains and the plenitude of natural light ensure this in good measure. It also helps that the shelves are unencumbered by department-store-like rows of beauty products. The careful masking of the commercial totems of the establishment actually helps elevate its charm further.
The black ceiling slats have light fixtures embedded in them, while the rest of the space’s warm yellow light oozes out of fish-bowl, and cone shaped lamps.
And, as is expected of a venture dedicated to looking good, there is a show-stopper here – a ceiling feature made up of 12-inch-deep cylindrical needles that hover over the main section upping the design quotient of this space.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy the Architect