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  • The Wellness Retreat Near The Sahyadri Range Responds To The Setting | A for Architecture

    The first intention of this Wellness Retreat project was to design spaces that responded to this setting. The site sits between the gigantic Sahyadri mountain range, the mesmerizing waters of the Gautami Godavari dam, and a mosaic of multi-toned farmlands dotted with sporadic trees, cattle, cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, and more.

    Editor’s Note: “This majestic wellness retreat in Maharashtra embraces the timeless language of traditional architecture. The built spaces meld seamlessly with nature, inviting the serenity of the landscape into every corner. Constructed with basalt stone, timber frames, and a pot-tile roof, this haven is crafted by local artisans whose skills breathe life into every detail.” ~Simran Khare

    The Wellness Retreat Near The Sahyadri Range Responds To The Setting | A for Architecture

    Wellness Retreat

    Context

    The region has a hot and dry climate, especially during summers, but enjoys pleasant monsoons and winter conditions. The design of most spaces creates shade with minimal walls, allowing maximum natural light and ventilation.

    Wellness Retreat

    All the buildings have courtyards and green pockets, making the project breathable and decreasing the ambient temperature. Thereby adding the necessary moisture required in a hot and dry climate.

    Wellness Retreat

    Wellness Retreat

    The second intention of this Wellness Retreat project was to understand and incorporate building practices from the Beze village and surrounding settlements. Typically, houses here have a stone plinth, a timber framework, brick or mud walls, and clay pot tiles for roofing.

    Wellness Retreat

    The monolithic character of the buildings also helps in framing a continuous contrast between the landscape, the sky, and the space of the building, thereby always pushing the attention of the person from the building to the landscape, the environment around them, and perhaps even to themselves.

    Wellness Retreat

    Construction Decisions

    Construction activities, like most other activities, are seen as a cooperative set of activities and a form of mutual exchange of skills, labour, and resources. For instance, a mason builds a house for a farmer, who in turn pays him back in grains or by offering other skills. The project uses three materials: basalt stone, a timber frame, and a pot-tile roof.

    Wellness Retreat

    Since the project is in a remote location, it helped to employ and collaborate with the local craftsmen. They have a long lineage of working with these materials. Concrete and steel are minimal. They sourced all materials locally (within 20 to 50 km), reducing the embodied energy.

    Stone

    The stone work on the site was mainly carried out by the Wadari community. The Wadari caste, especially in the rural economy, forms a community of expert stonemasons primarily settled in the Maharashtra and Northern Karnataka belt of India.

    Wellness Retreat

    Basalt stone:

    The stone is plentiful in the region, hand-quarried, chiselled, and fitted on site by the stonemasons. The project extensively uses basalt for load-bearing walls, steps, courtyards, and landscape features. They deliberately created a monolithic character for the building, resembling a solid stone mould resting gently on the landscape.

    Wellness Retreat

    Wood

    This project uses two kinds of timber: 1) Haladu, a yellow-toned timber named after turmeric, is primarily used for the roofing system and columns in specific spaces. 2) Upcycled Wood: Indian teakwood, salvaged from 100 to 150 old dilapidated buildings in the region. It is mostly done by local carpenters headed by a sutar, who is a master carpenter, carrying his skills through generations.

    Wellness Retreat

    Clay Pot Tiles

    A kumbhar (from the potter community) makes clay pot tiles used for roofing using traditional methods learned over decades, typically within the community itself. The changing economy and building practices in the villages narrowed their practice down to only pot-making.

    Wellness Retreat

    This was the largest consignment of pot tiles the kumbhar had ever received. As the kumbhar involved various family members and other villagers in the process, it became a good economic opportunity for the community.

    Spatiality. 

    Spatially speaking, the project intends to deliberately invoke a sense of inhabiting the historically prominent architectural types of the region. Historically speaking, several political and spiritual practices have left their architectural traces in the landscape of the Sahyadri Hills and Trimbekashwar.

    Among them are the fascinating mediaeval forts, typically built on top of mountains; Wadas, beautifully crafted mediaeval houses of rich merchants; Kunds, subterranean water bodies popular since the Harappan cities and explicitly seen in temple towns across the regions; Chaityas, the beautiful and intricate Buddhist caves and monasteries; and Ghats, the sacred river-front stretches of steps leading to various rivers where architecture and landscape merge seamlessly. Each of these building types has a very specific and memorable spatial quality, which the project invokes in various parts.

    Spatial Planning

    For instance, the amenities block comprises five squares, each designed separately with five different functions and corresponding spatial qualities. Naturopathy cluster as Wada; massage rooms as courtyard houses; yoga and meditation dome as Chaityas; swimming pool as Kund; and the amphitheatre and restaurant as ghats.

    The five squares merge into one long block, with specific transition spaces. To create a spatial sequence with different volumes, qualities of light and shadow, textures, and movement patterns that are learned from the above-mentioned architectural types, from the region, and an in-depth understanding of the respective functions. One of the results of such an approach is that it creates a heterogeneously homogeneous space.

    Clusters of Settlements

    They conceived the guest rooms mainly as clusters resembling a small settlement with winding streets and courtyards. They organized each cluster as a circle, freely placing it on natural sloping ground to create a meandering path around all clusters at different levels.

    The common court shared by four cottages becomes a social space for the guests to interact with each other and enjoy the distant views of the landscape while sitting on their verandahs.

    Fact File

    Designed by: A for Architecture

    Project Type: Hospitality Architecture Design

    Project Name:  Viveda Wellness Retreat 

    Location: Trimbak, Maharashtra

    Year Built: 2019

    Area: 41979 Sq.ft

    Design Team: Ajay Sonar, Monali Patil, Tejas Pai & Sushil Sakhare

    Photograph Courtesy: Hemant Patil

    Clients: Viveda Wellness Retreat

    Landscape Design: Suman Shilp 

    Landscape: Monali Patil (a for architecture), Mahesh Nampurkar (Suman Shilp)

    Text By: a for architecture and Shreyank Khemalapure

    Source: ArchDaily

    The Firm’s Website Link: A for Architecture

    Firm’s Instagram Link: A for Architecture

    Firm’s Facebook Link: A for Architecture

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