Sign of the Times
Spaces that are contextual but at the same time sustainable are giving a new face to the world of architecture and interior design. Architect SANJAY PURI tells us how things have changed and what’s more in store.
Architecture is the only form of art that affects human behaviour both physically and emotionally in a number of ways. How we approach our homes, offices, schools and entertainment spaces, what we see when we are inside them, what we look out towards, how we move within them and how we perceive all these spaces are all governed by their architectural and interior design. We all know that the process of making an inhabitable sculpture begins when two bricks are put together and when form follows function. As Pritzker Prize-winning starchitect Frank Gehry has said, “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” So, in order to evoke a response, it has to cross boundaries and create new spaces and spatial relationships. Take the case of Aman Sveti Stefan Resort located in the
centre of Montenegro’s Adriatic coastline. A 600-yearold village on a small hill surrounded by sea and linked to the mainland by a 100-metre pedestrian walkway and no vehicular access, it is ideal for exploring the Montenegro’s sun, sand and sea and take in centuries of history on the peaceful Adriatic Sea. The beautiful old village which also has small existing churches within it with a piazza at its highest point has unrestricted views of the sea on all sides. Each of the 30 rooms and suites were existing houses that have been restored with minimal intervention, with each one being different in size and scale. Exuding a rustic charm, the organic spaces created within its structures linked by stone pathways, which vary in spatial configuration in each part makes the luxury resort a discovery every time you walk through it.
Closer home, Rajasthan in India offers several heritage hotels such as the Samode Palace in Jaipur and Rohet Garh, Jodhpur which are ancestral properties converted to hotels. These too are a few 100 years old allowing one to experience history and revel in the craftsmanship of its intricate architectural detailing and spatial configurations while being pampered by their effusive traditional hospitality. There are these hotels that transport you back in time making your stay memorable in myriad ways.
This of course is one end of the spectrum. At the other end, there are new hotels being designed across the world where the sheer magnitude of facilities and their size makes one want to experience them. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is one such hotel. Who would have thought of making a 100-metre long pool suspended over 500 ft up in the sky. This one factor along with the experience of swimming in the pool above the entire Singapore skyline makes it worthwhile to experience the hotel. The credit for its design that is so unique goes to architect Moshe Safdie as well as the developer who had the foresight to allow such a design to be realised.
Design of hospitality spaces are changing much more radically than the design of other building types and these trends are being witnessed worldwide. Not only in terms of design but also in terms of facilities, hotels are evolving constantly. Landscaped areas are being interwoven with built spaces merging seamlessly and automation is being used to reduce energy consumption. Bathrooms are also being enclosed in glass to create openness.
That the world of interior design is fast changing is also visible from the cutting edge materials and technology being used, new ideas being given shape and oddly-shaped structures coming up every now and then. For instance, one of the newer hotels in Barcelona is a red-coloured undulating cylinder, one in Milan has a pink-hued lobby while another one is being built under the sea in Dubai. Then there are a few coming up in India—in Lucknow, Jamshedpur, Pune and Coorg and Delhi—which transcend the stereotype hotel to create new experiences for their eventual users. If in Lucknow, the design is inspired by origami with an organic flow of spaces within and Lucknowi
chikan embroidery motifs imbibed in the interiors, in Jamshedpur, every part of the hotel opens into large landscaped spaces elevated to different levels. In Coorg, the Hillside Retreat 405 hotel is constructed from bamboo and stone making it eco-friendly.
Hillside Retreat 405 resort in Coorg is made from materials like bamboo and stone
Bathrooms are making use of lots of glass to exude an air of openness (above); this hotel in Dubai is built under the sea (below)
Stunning view of the Samode Palace, Rajasthan which revels in its architectural details