An invigorating take on vernacular architecture and its psychological effects comes in the form of 20 exquisite cottages in Gir Vihar. A very interesting feature of this design is the community dining space under the hexagonal roof with a spiral column of bricks which apart from being a characteristic structure visually, brings a sense of social bonding. This bonding also extends to contextual references of untouched uncut mango trees, triangular roofs and locally available rubble stone packed foundation. It gives moments of unhindered interaction between wild and the world making it an unforgettable experience. With such a stimulating environment, could such designs give the template driven modernist high-rise blocks of living a gradual cease? ~Yamini Vaswani
Strategic Shift from Urban Living to Slow Living in the Vernacularly built Gir Vihar | d6thD Design Studio
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On the edge of Gir lion sanctuary, lies the Gir Vihar – home to 20 cottages; designed by village based architect Himanshu Patel from “d6thD” design studio with overt principle of vernacular architecture in mind.
The concern for climate as well as economic and cultural sustainability has been looked to incorporate into design without which sustainability may not work in the Indian context. Rather spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green building when very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford, architect has come up with simple, established and honest practice offered by vernacular architecture.
The old construction techniques like rubble stone packed foundation, load bearing walls, arches, dome and pitched roofs have been used. Locally available materials like sand stones, bricks and terracotta tiles are not only serve to be economical but also attempt to someday instill a feeling of pride and belongingness among the visitors.
The site was actually mango farm having trees at 30 feet interval in grid. Considering the huge foliage of mango trees, it was very challenging to build cottages without chopping out the trees and this constraint of the site became the source of creativity and ingenuity. Architect came up with the triangular shaped cottages which took the place around mango trees effortlessly and beautifies the scheme. Also looking at an earthquake prone zone of the site location, using stable triangular form is wiser choice especially when the entire structure is built with load bearing walls out of locally found sand stone in order to minimize the use of cement concrete.
As one enters the site, one is welcomed with a distant eye pleasing view of various plays of geometries and volumes but ambiguity and uncertainty hold one’s hand until one walks to a more distinguished reception area which is covered with dome and vibrantly glows with the rays of light from the skylight above.
All cottages are north south oriented in order to take in the diffused north light in balconies from where the couple spends most of time enjoying the panoramic view of adjoined forest. What acts as a foyer space for the ground floor turns to be the balcony for upper floor when the triangles are stacked systematically. A certain flavor of awe and possibility takes birth when one views the vastness of life from the converging triangular balconies. Moreover, L shaped staircases leading to the upper floors add play and offers various perspectives to enjoy the beauty of solid stone mass created due to bathroom walls in south.
Centrally placed restaurant block on the site is designed to be the most flexible and comfortable to all. The central spiral stone pillar supporting the hexagonal roof acts as a pivot for the entire site wherein all activities smoothly flow around the block. The large brick arches of the dining hall interestingly frame the scenes of the exteriors and the extended outdoor seating sensitively blurs the boundaries of open and built.
The free-flowing spaces and the uninterrupted movements all minutely add up to create a drama wherein visitors’ inquisitiveness urges them to experience something unique and unexplored step by step.
The undisturbed, uncut mango trees proudly stand between the buildings which become an inseparable and important part of the architectural vocabulary. Inbuilt sit outs from sand stone below mango tree allow for an intimate interface with the outdoors where you actually wouldn’t need a book.
Stone walls using locally available sand stone in its naked form gives the entire resort a very natural feel. Clay roofing tile and exposed stone surfaces will gradually get covered with radiant moss; nature will fight its way back. Living in a forest is all about witnessing this war. When such simplicity and human craftsmanship is given the highest value, it is then that the architect’s idea of design comes to life and a resort like Gir Vihar starts to blossom to its ultimate potential.
Designed By: d6thD Design Studio
Typology: Hospitality Architecture and Design
Project Name: Gir Vihar
Location: Gir Lion Sanctuary, Gujarat
Built up area: 17222 sq.ft.
Site Area: 2.5 Acre
Project Cost Appx: 2 Crore
Completion Year: 2020
Occupancy: 20 Cottages
Client: Vijay Talaviya
Principal Architect: Himanshu Patel
Drawings By: Dashmeet, Nitin, Yohan
Construction Team: Jagdish, Manu, Jitu
Photography Credits: Inclined Studio
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