Situated on an undulating site in the deserts of Ras, Rajasthan, India, Studios 18 apartments are a part of an entire layout spread over 36 acres. With no buildings or development in the vicinity, this layout is being created for the working people of a new cement manufacturing plant that has commenced production nearby. Close to the site there is no existing development and there are four villages at a distance of 1km from the site. Taking a cue from the organic layouts of the neighbouring villages near the site, the residential units are interspersed within the existing contours along organic streets that weave through the site.
The 18 residential apartments follow the organic nature of old Indian cities with houses stepping back and creating interlocked built volumes across three levels. A 4M contour difference is negotiated by the building levels stepping down accordingly. In response to the hot arid climate prevalent in the location–eight months of summer and temperatures in excess of 35°c– the apartments are all oriented towards the north, north east and northwest with no apartment facing the south. The low rise design allows the residents of studios 18 to be close to the ground level akin to living in individual houses.
The circulation spaces connecting the housing blocks are naturally ventilated with an abstract composition of square punctuations on either side facilitating air to move through. The harsh glare of the sun is cut off; yet allowing natural light within the linear corridors, and creating different patterns at different times of the day. The linear corridors provide a cool ventilated sheltered walkway between the apartments allowing residents to glimpse landscaped spaces on either side while walking through and making the circulation an interesting experience. Each apartment too is cross ventilated with deep recessed windows and open to sky terraces.
Most cities in Rajasthan state are identified by a colour. The color palette used is the most significant part of the visual impact of the units. The deconstructed cubes sport varied hues of the sandy region, at different times of the day – visually differentiating the stepped, recessed volumes as well as identifying circulation spaces. With lighter hues on external walls to reflect heat off the surfaces, and darker tones indoors to create a cooler feel, they add impact to the highly ‘responsive’ design solution.
Studios 18 is a contextually designed housing project that is sustainable by its design adhering to the existing contours, its orientation to reduce heat gain, its facilitation of natural light and ventilation and its low rise design.
Founded in 1992, the firm has successfully completed over 600 projects totaling over 60 million square feet. Sanjay Puri and his team of 72 architects now, continue their quest for creating sustainable design, charting new territories of spatial perception simultaneously imbibing the intrinsic values of Indian heritage & culture within their design solutions.