Sunil Patil And Associates (SPA) has a design philosophy steeped in environmental sustainability concerns.An astute sense of functionality and minimalism, add to the firm’s distinct approach to architecture.
SPA was founded in 1994 and is based in Pune and Kolhapur. “SPA has completed more than 325 projects ranging from individual houses to large townships, from shopping malls to huge commercial complexes and corporate offices,” the team states. The firm’s signature approach to design is ‘contemporary vernacular architecture’ that aims to combine the good of the traditional and the modern, with a hefty dose of environment sustainability.
Circuit House, Pune
Of the following three projects, The Circuit House in Pune is the most complex in terms of ideation and functionality. The success of the team’s design here is in having managed to not induce acute culture shock by clipping nostalgia to good effect, instead of plucking it out completely. The team manages to bring great nuance in the design language of the government building, along with a fantastic veneer of sleek décor.
Right at the outset, a troika of inspirations was lined up – the climate, the site and time. “Here is an attempt to calibrate the architectural style of government buildings with the time – contemporary vernacular architecture,” attests the team.
The team added a healthy dose of passive traits to this project to make it friendly to Pune’s mostly-temperate weather. But even as government buildings go, Circuit Houses are slightly tricky. They are built to accommodate VIP and VVIP guests, so they need to incorporate hospitality features like cosy suites and prim dining sections. But there also need to be ample spaces for work, meetings and large gatherings.
“The occupancy in this building can vary. With VVIP ministers coming into the premises, occupancy can reach up to 100%,” states the team. The Pune VVIP Circuit House makes space for the CM and DCM suite, 18 ‘Class I’ suites and 15 ‘Class II’ suites; also included in the building are a 100-person dining area, a conference room, and service sections like laundry, pantries, and more.
The suites are equipped with VRV air-conditioning, as well as openable windows with overhangs to encourage the use of natural and diffused sunlight, as well as natural ventilation.
Efficient water fixtures cut expenses by 50%, and an on-site sewage treatment plant provides for the landscape irrigation needs, trimming the water demand by 48%. “The project is designed as a green building and has received a 5-star GRIHA rating,” states the team. The 52.81% building EPI reduction of the Circuit House has been aided by a 22kW solar photo-voltaic array that supports over 30% of the artificial lighting, and a heat pump that caters to 90% of the hot water demand.
The décor is peppered with jaali motifs, and 225 pieces of art produced by 30 local painters, sculptors, muralists and wall artists who worked under the umbrella theme of ‘Care for Earth and Nature’.
AAC blocks on the walls, recycled ceramic tiles flooring, roof insulation and double glazed glass that regulate heat gain and loss, exposed concrete, FSC-certified wood base materials, and low-VOC materials further reinforce the project’s green credentials.
Fratelli Wines, Akluj
The Fratelli Wines project in Akluj in Maharashtra, is a natural extension of the sensory experience that wine-tasting and buying has become.
“The soul of this building is the intricately designed spaces which interact with each other in such a manner that a visitor to the building can feel the process of wine making. One can enjoy viewing the vineyards and the workshop from a single point in a wine tasting lounge,” the design team confirms.
SPA added their signature sustainability features, and positioned a strong beam on timelessness and economy of construction. “This project was completed within a very stipulated budget, i.e. Rs. 850/sq. ft. This was made possible by fast construction techniques, low-cost natural materials and most importantly, reuse of materials from the site itself,” states the team.
The landscaping of the project had to be a critical microclimate element as well as a visual attraction. The basement excavation resulted in the soil that became ‘the mound’ here, providing natural ground cooling for the RCC-framed admin block, as well as making the drive in beautiful. The guest houses feature green roofs and all around, only indigenous trees have been planted.
“This project is cost-effective not only in terms of construction cost but also in terms of running cost; being naturally ventilated, the non-air conditioned building with good lighting helps keep the running cost much lower,”the team adds.
Fusion House, Pune
As is SPA’s modus operandi, in the Fusion House too the courtyard has been made to be the unifying factor, while also a visual masterpiece. A placid, blue-tiled water body borders a small pebble-encrusted deck-like space here, which is flanked by the living room on one side, and is separated from the staircase on the other side by multi-floor high railings that together look like giant micro-chip tendons.
But the highlight here is the two-storey vertical garden, which seems to be benignly overlooking the entire house. Turbo ventilators here also enable natural air-flow. But the best part? There is one more courtyard, connected to the puja room. “Both pour light into the linear-planned home. The third skylight is at the wall mural which continues from the ground to the first floor. These three sources of natural light keep the home naturally-lit,” states the team.
The Stataurio-floored, sparsely-decorated and roomy public spaces have an easy flow scheme, with their slick surfaces aglow with all the abundant natural light. “The design of the bungalow is based on our design philosophy – contemporary vernacular architecture. It incorporates vernacular ethos and features like courtyards, stone masonry in a highly contemporary style. The contemporary stone work along with metal pergolas and white masses creates an extremely humble composition,” states the team.
Text by Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Architect