Simplicity, conceptual rigour and material innovation determine Mumbai based Urban Studio’s approach towards its projects – right from masterplanning of mega projects to the smallest product details. Headed by Pronit Nath and Amisha Thanwala, Urban Studio is a multi-disciplinary firm with a boutique vibe. The Architects share with Buildotech the design concepts behind two prestigious hotel projects of the firm – Devi Ratan hotel in Jaipur and Hotel Crest in Chennai, to showcase how Urban Studio strives to attain the bandwidth necessary in future markets.
The firm focuses upon simplicity and elegance. Its work operates within the cultural context of the country and yet suggests that each project is a product of cultural mutation and reinvention. The architects try and maintain the spirit of each location, desire of people and attempt to integrate the real, imaginary and the symbolic with ease. The work questions the political and ethical responsibility of the contemporary Indian designer and is concerned with its public consequences.
Completed in 2012, The hotel takes its name from the ‘Nav Ratan’ nine pure gemstones that are believed to focus on the cosmic energy of celestial bodies. Within the framework of the masterplan and RCC structure that were given to us, our brief was to create a modern luxury hotel in Jaipur. Abstracting the qualities of the Nav Ratan, our primary intent was to insert devices that would give every space its unique personality. Extending the Nav Ratan concept, the Lebua villas within the hotel complex are expressed as jewels set with gold, silver and copper metallic finishes. These devices– formal, material or programmatic, become anchors of each space and form the visual vocabulary for the entire project. The vibrant colours Emerald green, Ruby red, Coral orange, Sapphire yellow and the metallics – Gold, Silver & Copper give the project its unique colour coding. Most spaces are monochromatic with shades and tones of the same colour bathing guests in a pool of even light.
Modern techniques of conception and production have helped to create contemporary patterns at Devi Ratan. Reminiscent of the past, each pattern combines the aesthetics of the present with the emotional values of yesteryear and forms an eclectic language which has been used through the project ranging from the architectural scale of floors, walls, facades, jalis to the interior and product scale of accessories, cutlery and textiles.
Light is a powerful building material especially in a tropical country like India. It defines spaces and creates emotional engagements with the built form evoking moods, memory and sometimes fear.
Since the early days of our practice itself, when most of our projects were restaurants and nightclubs, we learnt to harness light and explore its potential to transform spaces. At Devi Ratan too, the hotel was conceived as a composition of jewels that glowed in the Jaipur light, the entire project was visualised with lighting in one completely immersive design experience. The jali is a shading device that is integral to traditional Rajasthani architecture. At Devi Ratan, the architects have designed jalis with varying tessellations to respond to programmatic needs. The scale, density, and porosity have been changed with reference to their context but the original hand carved nature remains. Jalis hence become the Skin of the entire project giving the facades much of their elegance.
Urban Studio takes the luxury of time to challenge and broaden established standards of craft and accepted categories of design. Their motivations often exist beyond market demands and are usually risky.