Architects’ philosophy 

In practice, at sP+a, it is believed that the vast breadth of India’s socio-cultural landscape requires multiple ways of engaging with the country’s diverse contexts. The processes of type, program, design, and construction are subject to the immediacy of each project’s unique frame of reference. Therefore, the studio’s approach is to view the context as a repository of latent resources connecting the production process and networks, appropriating techniques beyond their traditional use while allowing them to develop and persist through preservation and primarily through evolution. The firm practice questions the nostalgia involved with the static ‘museumification’ of craft and tradition as well as the nature of what today comprises the ‘regional’ in contexts amplified by their place in global and regional networks.

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sP+a location©https://sp-arc.net/contact-sameep-padora-and-associates/

Aatam Hostel at Kota

Architects: Sameep Padora & Associates
Photographs: Edmund Sumner

The project is located in the dry and hot climate of Kota, Rajasthan. The city of Kota in northern India is a training center for training students to take entrance exams to study at the coveted IITs in India. Around 200,000 students move to Kota every year, spending at least a year on coaching courses and living in private hostels specially created for student housing in the city. Kota’s economy is fueled by this temporary population.

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Aatam Hostel at Kota design illustrations©https://sp-arc.net/contact-sameep-padora-and-associates

For an IIT Kota aspirant, he takes center stage so much so that he has spawned a popular OTT show highlighting the travails and woes of student aspirants there. While the coaching centers are at par with any other such educational institute in the country, the student housing is neglected and lacks much thought. Working with elements of the traditional haveli (Rajasthan house shape) such as vertically proportioned courtyards, Jharokhas (view balconies) and stone Jali’s (perforated screens) the project is a redesign of the haveli form suitable for the students’ programmatic needs.

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Aatam Hostel at Kota©Suryan//Dang & Kunal Sharma
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Levelplaya©Suryan//Dang & Kunal Sharma

 In stark contrast to the surrounding terraced houses, which together form an impermeable wall to the street, the Kota hostel opens up and enlivens the street with views of the courtyard and then the playground behind the property. The combination of the social space of terraces and backyards creates an aerodynamic tunnel allowing the breeze to flow through the building. The open backyard is spanned at the top by a bridge that connects the two arms of the owner’s apartment unit. The building structure in the multi-level operation section of the screened social spaces for students creates a visual connection across the other levels as well as with the street and the courtyard.

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Central atrium©Suryan//Dang & Kunal Sharma
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Terrace©Suryan//Dang & Kunal Sharma

Temple of Steps – Andhra Pradesh

Architects: Sameep Padora & Associates
Area: 10000 ft²
Year: 2019
Photographs: Edmund Sumner

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Edmund Sumner©Edmund Sumner

The task was to design a temple for the people of the villages around Nandyal. In the arid terrain of Nandyal, the main concern was to provide a space that would marry the socio-cultural expectations of the temple with the ecological framework and dynamics of and around the site. 

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©Edmund Sumner©Edmund Su

The immediate context of the region’s cotton and cold farms was fed by a natural canal system that dried up. Thus, the ecological strategy for the temple began with groundwater recharge. The overflow of water from the limestone quarries was channeled into a low-lying recharge pit or ‘Kund’: the banks envisioned as a social space in the manner of a traditional ghat; a staircase leading down to a body of water. This negotiation of land and water using steps is a significant part of India’s architectural heritage as seen on the ghats of the ancient city of Benaras.

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©Edmund Sumner

The planning of the temple itself was based on the 10th-century temple for the same deity at Tirupathi in South India and similarly includes the shrines of Balaji & Varahaswamy and the Pushkarini (water tank). The construction process uses locally available black limestone slabs that form the central part of the temple. The same buttress profile also includes soil and planting in the lower half of the body of the temple to buffer against the heat, and eventually, this stone buttress turns into a ghat, i.e. steps that lead to the water

Design Approach,

This approach allows the practice to look at traditional types of projects and project their formal/relational history within the paradigms of current socio-economic forces. The studio structure actively engages research, collaboration, and collective models of practice not as isolated individual formats but as symbiotic streams that complement each other. We advocate this hybrid model as an alternative to traditional architectural practice. They believe that it allows us to respond to the specificity of the local environment with evolving methodologies of extreme subjectivity. The  firm 1997 started with UNESCO – ARCASIA Award for Best Thesis” and the latest award sustained by the firm was “The winner, Wallpaper Design Award for Best Public building  –2021– “Young Designer Award” for entry into the Industrial Design Category”. The firm still carries forward its design ideologies intertwined with the modern perception of buildings. 

References:

Anon, (2021). Temple of Steps – Andhra Pradesh – Sameep Padora and Associates. [online] Available at: https://sp-arc.net/temple-of-steps-andhra-pradesh/.

Anon, (2021). Home – Sameep Padora and Associates. [online] Available at: https://sp-arc.net/ [Accessed 28 Aug. 2022].

Author

Jasmeen kaur is best described as an inquisitive individual, who perceives architecture as an amalgamation of tangible and intangible aspects. The architecture, as a whole, is just like a riddle, with its segments lost in the perceptions of the classical and the contemporary era.

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