CW Interiors |
 
Luxe Life | December 2012

Modern history

Topography and traditional elements are entwined into the frame of the luxurious Park Hyatt Hyderabad, an example of modern yet sensitive design by Architects John Portman & Associates.

Far from the madding crowd, harsh climate, traffic snarls and arid landscape into a little world of serene elegance, style and comfort - that is how it feels when one enters the Park Hyatt, Hyderabad. It is a journey cleverly orchestrated by the Gayatri Group of Hotels and USA-based John Portman & Associates, the brilliant architecture and design firm it employed to design the eight-storey 5-star hotel with 185 guestrooms, 24 suites and 42 serviced apartments situated in the upscale Banjara Hills.

The Gayatri Group, owner of the Park Hyatt Hyderabad, roped in John Portman & Associates, an international architectural design firm with a remarkable track record of some of the best designed projects in the world. Earlier, John Portman & Associates had done other projects in India like the Student Village and the Academic Centre of the Indian School of Business, and the Taj Wellington Mews, Luxury Residences in Mumbai. This experience came in very handy when they were designing the Park Hyatt, says Walt Miller, RA Senior Vice President, Design Director, John Portman & Associates.

Inner world

The hotel's central attraction is its poolside. Created much like the traditional 'baoli' or stepwell found in ancient Indian architecture, the pool is in the belly of the hotel, with terraced gardens descending into it. The design is further highlighted by a pristine white sculpture that soars nearly two storeys high. According to Miller, the design was conceived as a microcosm focused around an interior courtyard with abundant interior plant life and a large reflecting pool. The openness of the atrium space, natural light, the colour palette, the spa spaces and air conditioning all contribute to the creation of an indoor oasis.

During the day, natural light streams in through the vast skylights. At night, guests can delight in restaurant and bar activities around the reflecting pool. The large interior space was designed, in part, to accommodate the pageantry of grand Indian weddings, which were targeted as an important source of business for the hotel.

Challenges galore

As far as projects go, this one probably had more than its share of challenges, beginning with the site - picturesque, but on a hill top on the approach to the airport! So a strict height limitation had to be adhered to. Then there were Hyderabad's fabled boulders - awe inspiring and flaunting character, but also demanding in their requirement of space and presence. Any design concept had to work around these boulders. Site specifications apart, the project had two other issues to be taken care of: Hyderabad's torrid dry heat and vaastu norms. So how did the design company tackle so many challenges?

Says Miller, "Staying true to the design vision while working within given parameters is the most satisfying part of the project. We enjoy the problem solving aspect of design! Our prior experience with working around height restrictions and boulders-on-site helped, as did the insight of vaastu masters who collaborated with us and reviewed our designs."

True to tradition

A design often takes its cues from historic elements of the surrounding architecture to create a modern yet sensitive response, believes Miller. A project that creates a design vocabulary attuned to its community increases the aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood and provides a catalyst for the growth of the surrounding area. This is reflected in several design elements in the architecture of the hotel.

The 'baoli' is one such inspiration, and so is the latticed window or the 'jaali' of Rajasthan havelis. The 'jaali' are windows divided into three fields - a larger, almost square centre and two vertical panels at the sides. The top of each window is divided into latticed screens to break the sunrays and filter direct sunlight. The effect is not only decorative but also a functional cooling system - this is replicated in its modern avatar in the east and west elevation windows of the hotel, with its modern faÇade clad in traditional Madurai granite and an impressive porte-cochere with a shimmering steel mesh ceiling fixture.

This, and other such unique unions of the old and new that echo throughout the hotel is what sets this project apart.

CONTACT

John Portman & Associates, 303 Peachtree Center Avenue, Suite 575, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA. Tel: 404 614 5555. Email: info@portmanusa.com

Fact File:

Portman & Associates was established in 1953 and comes with 60 years of expertise in designing hotels, universities, offices, trade marts, and mixed-use urban complexes.

Site Area: 130,689 sq ft
Gross Building Area: 599,550 sq ft
Building Height: 89 ft
Materials and technologies Used:

  • Madurai granite for the faÇade.
  • Kalwall, a  highly insulating, diffuse light-transmitting, structural composite technology. Kalwall is very lightweight compared to glass, so the structural steel framing required to support it at the roof could be reduced.
  • A rain screen design featuring indigenous Indian granite cladding, extruded aluminum sunscreens, low E insulated glass and architectural metal accents in the faÇade.

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