Based in Bangalore, Little River Architects is a multidisciplinary design firm with focus on architecture and interiors. The firm was founded by Ceejo Cyriac in 2002 and over the years has expanded to bring together an experienced and passionate team of architects and consultants.
The overarching philosophy that guides the team in all their projects is to connect their design sensibilities to the abstract but anchor the concept to the distinctive natural and cultural context of the project. From residential spaces to office to art exhibits and public spaces, the firm has cast its net across a variety of projects through India.
Deeptha & Santosh House, Vadodra
Playing peek-a-boo from behind the trees that line its periphery, this home by Little River Architects, is meant for three generations. Bare brick walls make up the street view of the ground level and dolomite plaster exteriors of the two upper levels mushroom out creating a distinct difference between the ground and the upper floors. Chief architect Ceejo explains, “It was a very small site. We were required to leave setbacks on three sides, but the upper floors could project out.”
The design driven by this constraint lends the house a light, floaty appearance, which is accentuated by the natural hue of the dolomite plaster that makes up the exterior of the upper levels.
While planning the layout and design of the home, the team at Little River had to keep in mind the requirements of the three different generations that live in this home. The ground level houses the common spaces and the grandparents’ bedroom. The public functions of the spaces justify a more open plan in this part of the house. The use of exposed brick walls inside the house and sunlight filtering through the abundant window spaces further augment the feeling of oneness with the outside.
A floating wooden staircase leads to the upper block. Besides the bedrooms for the couple and their two daughters, the upper block also contains a studio for the art student daughter and a library and office for the couple. While the use of a different set of materials and finishes creates an aesthetic that is unique from the lower block, the concept of being a part of a larger whole is maintained with seamless flow between the spaces. “Spaces were configured to bring in a sense of a larger continuum,” says Ceejo.
Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016
Come winter and the port city of Kochi and the surrounding islets are abuzz with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. An internation exhibition of contemporary art, the Biennale showcases film, painting, sculpture, installations, new media, etc across public spaces, heritage buildings and empty structures. In its third edition in 2016, Little River Architects was roped in to set up support facilities around the Aspinwall House, a sea-facing heritage campus in Fort Kochi. Ceejo elaborates on the challenges involved in a project of this nature, “It had to be set up in a very short time and at a low cost.”
Since the Aspinwall House was on lease for the exhibition, the team narrowed down on the existing sheds for the merchandise shop, the info counter, utilities and toilets; only the Cafe was made as a knock down structure. The Biennale seeks to provide visitors a glimpse of cutting-edge contemporary art from across the world and thus the design team at Little River decided upon a minimalist approach that would not intrude into the Exhibition’s creative space.
Designed along the lines of a beach shack, the café faces the expanse of the Arabian Sea. A graphite backdrop with the day’s specials handwritten in chalk and the white tables and chairs strewn along the backwaters blend in beautifully with the relaxed ambience. The layout of the other facilities has been planned to ensure easy accessibility without compromising on the aesthetics. Branding and graphics by the KMB Foundation combined with the design sensibilities of the architect come together to create the perfect setting for Kochi’s top cultural event.
Vibha Galhotra Art Exhibition
New Delhi based conceptual artist Vibha Galhotra uses her large-scale sculptures to make a statement on urban development and the shifting topography. The artist engaged Little River Architects to create an experiential space for visitors. The brief given to the design team was to create a layout design that would take visitors through a pathway amongst the rubble and would include appropriate pause points for them to view the art works. “Time,” says Ceejo, “was a major factor as the team had just 3 days to execute their plan.”
The team had to take into account the fact that the Gallery was made up of multiple pockets of spaces and there were level differences. Thus, the pathway besides highlighting the pause points also needed to unify these different areas to ensure the visitors had a view of the artists’s narrative. The artist had filled the gallery with rubble to drive home the point that concrete has become the top layer of the earth, and so the layout team kept this in mind and made rubble an integral part of the exhibition.
The team adopted an unobtrusive approach to ensure that the layout did not intrude the works of the artists and instead, contributed to weaving together all the sections and elements into one cohesive sequence. Little River also ensured that the pause points were strategically placed to draw the visitor’s attention to the arresting works on display.
Text by Himali Kothari
Photographs Courtesy Manoj Sudhakaran (Vadodara House & Kochi-Muziris Biennale), Little River Architects (Vibha Galhotra Art Exhibition)