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Stepwells inspired landscape design

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Based in Beijing and Vienna, Penda is an international design firm founded by Chris Precht and Dayong Sun. Drawing perspectives from Western and Eastern history, they have designed an invigorating landscape in Hyderabad, India.

Called Magic Breeze, the project is backed by Indian property developer Pooja Crafted Homes. The residential complex comprises duplex Sky Villas with double height gardens and sit outs and surrounded with open spaces on all the sides. The highlight of the project is the 8,000sqm landscape, inspired by the country’s stepwells and water mazes. The garden design is conceptualized by Penda and will serve the complex’s 127 residential units’ as a communal garden when completed.

The landscape’s maze-like characteristics allow for different experiences of the environment depending on the speed and purpose of the users. A wide, straight road is for runners, fast walkers and emergency vehicles, a narrower walking path accommodates residents who want to quickly arrive at their apartments and a third path takes more itinerant visitors onto the steps and through gardens in a more leisurely and transportive manner. Some of the landscape’s signature features are its bamboo coves, flower gardens, water displays, and built-in benches. The steps found throughout the landscape double as planters for flowers, herbs and grasses. The aim is to create a public where residents can simply spend some time away from their living spaces.

The studio’s design brings together elements of two traditional Indian landscape features: rectangular pools surrounded by steps and shallow decorative mazes filled with water. The stepwells provided the inspiration for a series of tiered planters and benches that frame the different areas of the garden, while the mazes directly informed the strict geometric layout. The raised elements are filled with different plants,including flowers, herbs and grasses. They also incorporate water features, seating areas and cluster of bamboo. “Based on Indian water mazes, the steps get shifted to create different sets of atmosphere, from private gardens for a stroll in the park to open plazas for larger gatherings,” added the architects.

“We were always inspired by Indian stairwells. It is very rare to find an architectural typology where function and beauty are so intertwined and a harmony of human needs and environmental impact is so in balance.,” Chris Precht and  Sun Dayong.

Dayong Sun and Chris Precht – principal architects at Penda – are no strangers to nature-inspired architecture and landscapes. Their first commission was for the ‘Blossom Gate’, where they used bamboo to replicate Chinese calligraphic brushstrokes. However, this parks stepped and rectilinear appearance may for some recall the mid-century modern landscapes of Lawrence Halprin or Dan Kiley’s roof gardens for the Oakland Museum; building by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo.

Images via Penda

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