Three Squares is a seven acre landmark development in the heart of Mauritius. The project envisioned by Kolkata based design studio Salt Architects represents both the cultural traditions as well as the growing aspirations of a fast developing nation. As the first ‘true’ mixed use project of its kind, it is designed to be a responsible, community driven and sustainable approach towards development.
As the name suggests, “Three Squares” is centered on three distinctly designed open spaces which form the backbone of the development. Intended along ‘pedestrian first’ principles, these squares are strategically placed along street level retail to make them an integral part of its pedestrian experience. Doubling up as entrance gateways to the development, they will eventually become epicenters of public activity for the entire neighborhood.
Urbanistically, the project succeeds in integrating two distinct and contradicting facets of the neighborhood – the denser fast paced motorway to the north and the quaint suburban development to the south. The northern face of the project creates a significant presence along the motorway with two high rise icons – the four star hotel block and commercial office building. Both buildings are paired with a ‘square’ each so that commercially activity can spill over. Placed on either end, these two iconic buildings are connected by a long and linear street retail development below, which will instigate pedestrian movement, allow people & programs to mix and encourage cross usage.
While most of the commercial blocks face the motorway to the north, the residential component has a stronger presence on the Southern side, as a direct response to its immediate context. The only presence of the residences towards the motorway is four high rise towers sitting on top of a large roof garden, above the retail. This sprawling roof garden will a unique amenity dedicated solely to the tower residents. Towards the South, these same towers step down to merge with the built form of the existing neighborhood, creating a unique typology of terraced villas arranged in a courtyard configuration. These villas ultimately create the important urban transition from high to low; from fast to slow.
While, all the buildings have a unique architectural approach, they also work collectively to reinforce the tenets of the Master plan. This collectiveness will be represented by a common palette of traditional materials including stone, that will tie the buildings together and ‘situate’ the development contextually.
The retail block of 155,000sqft will be designed as a two level double-loaded shopping experience that will have the appeal & intimacy of traditional typologies of street retail but with a modernist aesthetic. This block will also form the base/podium for the commercial component of the project and will be represented by a heavy traditional local stone. The retail façade facing the motorway will incorporate a dynamic super-graphic that will engage people for a greater distance. Being naturally lit from above and interspersed with three open and one internal square, each square having its own character and event, these linear retail streets will provide a friendly, rich and unique shopping experience.
Hotel & Serviced Apartments
The primary intent of the Hotel & Serviced Apartments block spread over 152,000sqft is to serve as an iconic element at the urban scale and engage directly with the square below. This tower block will sit on a two level podium of retail and hotel functions with a terrace and pool area situated at the podium level. Rooms and apartments will be configured along a double loaded central corridor and their orientation will provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Salt is an emerging architecture, planning and interior design firm with projects across India, Mauritius and Philippines. The Principals of the firm are architects, Amit Sinha, Jassu Singh and Animesh Nayak collaborative work reflects design innovation and sustainability, successfully combining local expertise with international perspective. Likewise, the program for Three Squares too is designed around a diverse mix of uses that complement each other.
Similar to the Hotel block, the 42,000sqft commercial office main building fronting the motorway will be architecturally iconic and recognizable from a greater distance. Spatially, the office building differentiates itself from a typical office by creating a more intimate environment that is one with nature. This is achieved by placing the office block amidst a heavily landscaped roof garden above the street retail. Another unique feature of these workplaces will be their narrow floor plates, which will lead to better daylighting and greater energy savings. The daylighting strategy will also be supported by the use of high performance curtain wall facades and louvered screening systems on the east and west facades.
The 153,000sqft residential towers represent a ‘downtown’ form of living both as a result of programmatic adjacencies as well as their internal spatial organization. Four towers sit on top of the retail block along the motorway edge, and amidst the sprawling roof garden, which isolate them from the hustle and bustle of the retail shops below and provide panoramic views of the hills beyond. At the ground plane, their adjacency to the highly active retail street will be akin to a metropolitan lifestyle that is synonymous with all great cities around the world. This cosmopolitan image is further reinforced by the sleek treatment of high performance floor to ceiling glass, wood-like louvers and a canopy system that differentiate these towers from their commercial counterparts along the same edge.
Unlike the towers, 200,000sqft area of low rise apartment units is organized around courtyards. The layout characterizes a more inward environment and is a direct response to the less dense urban fabric of the residential neighborhood across from Tulipes Avenue. The ground floors of these blocks will be reserved as amenity spaces. Material palette for these blocks will be earthy with extensive usage of traditional stones, punched window facades with some continuation of the wood-like louvers to tie it with the residential towers at places.
The primary vehicular circulation is peripheral, designed with the objective of creating minimum interference with pedestrian movement which is inside the peripheral ring. All drop off points are adjacent to the three squares with parking, basement & service entry/exit points also located along this peripheral ring.
The sustainability goals for Three Squares mixed use development are a LEED NC Platinum for the office block and LEED NC Gold for the remainder of the buildings. Overall, the sustainable framework for project will be based on Environmental, Social & Economic parameters.
• At the master plan level, the development has been designed to integrate the community within the surrounding context through minimizing circulation and infrastructure impacts, reduction of air pollution by creating a complete car free zone and targeting local labor and construction skills.
• The landscaping has been conceptualized around non-invasive and local species with emphasis on creating a ‘working’ landscape that can treat water through a ‘living machine’, produce food through kitchen gardens and reduce site temperatures in outdoors areas.
• Water efficiency and conservation will be targeted through drought tolerant plants, on site waste water treatment and reuse for irrigation purposes, rainwater harvesting, groundwater storage and recovery and application of low flow devices.
• Greater energy efficiency is also achieved through efficient appliances, building-scale energy demand reduction strategies, passive energy design and active high performance systems.