iStudio architecture, a young firm in Mumbai, is setting the tone for the architecture of the future.
iStudio architecture, a collaboration of young architects that´s open to experiments and innovation in architecture and design, is the brainchild of Architects Shriya Parasrampuria, Prashant Dupare and Amit Patil who are batchmates from Sir J.J college of architecture, Mumbai. Refusing to cater to any typology of architecture, iStudio architecture strives to respond to each project contextually. The firm gets involved in all aspects of the project - design, costing, selection of contractors, site execution and supervision.
The partners believe that analysis and debate help create better design. Each project goes through vigorous discussions and design sessions, resulting in innovative, comprehensive and refined solutions. With young ideas and the dare-to-experiment spirit, what iStudio brings to the fore not just inspires but also provides a glimpse of what to expect the future of design to be. In a chat with SUMISHA GILOTRA, they share their design thoughts...
What kind of design excites you as a team?
Design excites us in its entirety.
We do architectural and interior design. We work on completely different levels where on one hand, we are looking at the master plan level and on the other, we are reworking a door latch. Such a vast difference in scale changes your perspective of looking at design, which comes through reaction to context or as a result of understanding the end user.
Our philosophy reflects in our choice of exciting design works of Nari Gandhi, Laurie Baker, Ricardo Legorreta, Tadao Ando, Elora Hardy, Shimul Jhaveri, Frank Lloyd Wright, Studio Mumbai and Surya Kakani.
What is the thought process behind experiments with forms and materials?
We engage with the site, the programme of the project and the possibilities of forms suiting the site. Taking into account the client's sense of aesthetics and the end user's requirements, we develop a vision, which we pitch to the client. Each form calls for a particular material and can be achieved with that material only.
Provide examples of how you have experimented with form and function in your work. One of our projects is the Mount Litera Zee School, a 1.2 lakh sq ft day school facility, located in a 4.5 acre plot in Kotshamir area, near Bathinda, Punjab.
The built environment of a school has the most subtle yet probably the strongest psychological effect on a child. The school has been designed to encourage interaction between students during the day. Nodes and spill-out zones have been designed to create interaction, while passages and staircases bifurcate into gathering areas. Clusters of classrooms are placed together and open out into waiting spaces, which allows conversation between students. Nooks and crannies have also been provided to encourage exhibitions and displays.
The hexagonal classrooms have been planned as self-sustained learning centres that open out into a triangular garden, blurring the boundaries between the built and open space.
In Apartment 801, Mumbai, we had to create an engaging experience of a play room for a 2-year old child. We created a small tree house within the room with a jungle theme. We prefabricated the MS structural frame of the wooden tree house and suspended it from the ceiling, leaving the floor space free for the toddler. An element of ownership of the child's own space was induced by giving him a special access through a child-sized tunnel. The play room was vibrant, dynamic and educational. We also created a wall with nine squares for storage and showcase.
Provide example of your experiments with materials in your work We enjoy exploring different materials, textures and colours. We often contrast natural stone or exposed brick work with concrete or painted surface. The contrast of texture achieved through this is stunning and brings out the properties of the materials.
In the Brick House, we had a vision of the roof form long before the selection of material. In fact, we explored the idea of various other materials before settling on ferro-cement with bamboo. Since the form had been visualised, we didn´t want an inflexible material. Certain materials were not in keeping with our theme of a low-cost and energy efficient structure. The support system in steel and wood required to be worked out on site, since the form was 3 dimensionally rotating. But skilled labour could not be found locally. We visited Auroville, understood the techniques of working in ferro-cement, made a physical model to explain the vision of the roof to the contractor and supervised the complete construction of the roof ourselves with local labour. The decision to retain bamboo as structural tensile material was taken a day before the execution. The roof was an experiment with ferro-cement and we had a hands-on experience of executing it.
Give examples of how you have based design justifications vis-a-vis climate and location.
Each project is different as the location, list of requirements, criteria and clients' aesthetic sense varies. We believe that architecture has an essential impact on every aspect of society and must be used responsibly. Eco-friendly, low-cost, locally-contextual and climate-based architecture is the way forward.
As a project subject to extreme weathers, climatology played a huge part in the design of the Mount Litera School in Bhatinda. The massing of the entire structure was planned in response to local solar path and wind directions. The structure moves from a single storey to a four-storey building, with maximum height in the southern direction. Thus, the building casts a shadow towards the central court, keeping it shaded and cool. The court opens towards the western winds that circulate through the building due to the negative pressure effect created by effectively placed smaller openings within the structure in the eastern direction. The western front of the buildings is flanked by shaded water bodies, which cool the hot western winds. The court and the buildings are interspersed with vegetation.
Is it difficult to convince a client to experiment rather than abide by the book? In a design project, any client has a list of priorities that has nothing to do with design, such as time, cost or an elevation. In such cases, clients prefer to go by the rule book. However, a client who comes with design as his foremost concern is open to new ideas and experimentation.
What is your dream project that is yet to be accomplished?
'The world is our oyster' and we are too young to have a single 'dream project.´ Any project with a client willing to look beyond conventions and willingness to explore ideas, design and technology is a dream project.
iStudio, G4, Building 19, Highland residency, Kolshet road, Dhokali, Thane (West) 400 607.