With the earth’s resources consistently depleting, it has become imperative for architects to look at design strategies that help use less and produce more. This idea forms the basis of ‘Regenerative Architecture,’ a concept which forms the very essence of the King’s House project in Bangalore.
Designed by The Purple Ink Studio, the apartment building is located in the heart of the city, at a convenient proximity with the best medical, hospitality and commercial facilities. Nevertheless, the site is reasonably tucked away from the surrounding hustle and bustle. The client envisaged creating ‘Sky Villas’, giving the architects the opportunity to explore a new definition of luxury in living.
From the beginning, the architects and the client shared a common vision for the building to be completely responsive to the context, and generate a low ecological footprint. The challenge posed by the brief was an effective capitalisation of the 30,000 sq ft site without disturbing the existing green cover.
The architects have always been of the firm notion that architecture, landscape and sustainability are to be viewed as one comprehensive entity and not treated individually. “We have always believed that being sustainable is not a part of the process, but a way of life, and this creates a very strong connect to blur the boundaries between the three,” says the studio’s principal architect, Akshay Heranjal.
Initially, the studio toyed with the idea of designing a tall building, thereby reducing the ground coverage. The prevalent building byelaws, however, restricted the height to a maximum of 12 metres. The master plan was reworked to comprise two main blocks, each housing an apartment per floor.
The green cover that had been uprooted was replaced in the form of sunken gardens encircling the apartments and merging with the peripheral greens on site. The architects introduced design elements like treed courtyards extending through the full height of the building, bio-walls or vertical gardens in certain portions of the building elevation as well as carefully articulated pathways aligned with shrubs.
As a result, they managed to achieve a three-layered system of vegetation comprising trees, shrubs and grass that not only contributes to maintaining the site microclimate, but its biodiversity as well.
In order to maximise the energy savings of the building, an integrated design approach had to be followed. In collaboration with McD BERL, a sustainability and MEP service consultancy, solar and other climatic studies were simulated to generate data on day lighting, shadow analysis, rainfall and wind patterns. These studies gave rise to the building form, the exterior boxing design and the overall planning. The fenestration was designed to best capture the breeze.
The vertical and horizontal shading devices were mathematically carved out to protect the interiors from the sun and rain. The aesthetic expression of the elevation also took its cue from this medley of chhajjas and fins. As the architects have rightly put it, “The building, thus, functions as a selective environmental filter, enhancing the best components of the regional climate to address the heating, cooling and ventilation needs of the structure.”
The data generated from the climatic studies played a big role in load calculations, as well as sizing and selection of the mechanical systems. In terms of electrical and cooling loads, the intensive research managed to reduce the total energy consumption by 30-35%.
The duplex unit layers a total area of 20,000 sq ft in two floors. The lower floor caters to the public functions of the house – the social spaces or the entertainment zone. The upper floor dedicates itself to the more private functions – the personal/ family spaces. Each unit has been intricately detailed to suit the respective client’s lifestyle. The clients predominantly hail from the Middle East but are Indian in origin.
The design blends Indian and Middle Eastern styles in a contemporary way. The ‘mashrabiya’ (similar to the Indian ‘jaali’) forms a key element in the design language. The interiors are fluid in nature, each space flowing into the next in a seamless fashion.
Spaces have been tied together with monolithic furniture elements for e.g. the kitchen counter transforms itself into the dining table, the wooden fluted wall paneling in the library converts itself into the working desk. Additionally, a meticulous composition of soft furnishings, wall coverings and light fittings creates a harmoniuous and uninterrupted connect between the spaces.
A conscious call was taken for the construction of the building to rely heavily on green materials. Using AAC blocks for the internal walls, double glazed windows, photovoltaic cells on the roof and solar reflective tiles for the external cladding, the design incorporates multiple sustainability features like thermal insulation, solar lighting and high heat reflectance into the project. Permeable paving and rainwater harvesting for ground water recharge further minimise the carbon footprint.
The wide range of sustainable initiatives bears testimony to the fact that the team has successfully seen their vision through. Looking forward, they say, “We are working with a vision to reach a stage where this idea (of a self-sustained, regenerative architecture) trickles down to each and everyone, and ‘inclusive’ living becomes a way of life.”
Text By Priti Kalra
Photographs Courtesy The Purple Ink Studio