In a hot and dry land, one covered in sand, stands tall a creation by the architect duo – Manit Rastogi and Sonali Rastogi, about 12 and a half miles from the beautiful, walled city of Jaipur. Pearl Academy of Fashion is a building created by Morphogenesis architects that is the education hub of future creators in fashion. The institute is one of the top ten fashion schools in the country. The building is designed in a way to reflect the reputation it precedes. However, with cost-wise constraints and adverse weather conditions of the land, it stands on; the building design depended heavily on employing passive techniques to make it habitable in the scorching Jaipur desert.
To create a building in the hot and dry desert area, on the outskirts of Jaipur that would serve as an institute of fashion in a stipulated budget.
Designed by Morphogenesis architects, Pearl Academy of Fashion serves a highly creative student body in the hot and dry Rajasthan desert. To do so, it must fulfil the terms of habitability while keeping them in an aesthetically engaging environment. The building is designed in a way to create an ‘environmentally responsive passive habitat’ as called by the architects. Jaipur is a hub of different cultures – Rajput, Mughal and such alike. The designers picked up elements such as the jaali of Rajasthani culture and stepped well structures of the Mughal culture and infused them in such a way to create a contemporarily tasteful building.
As the building serves its function in a desert, it is planned in such a way to combat the heat. While it is designed with a courtyard planning to keep the building from heating, however as the designers – Morphogenesis architects seem to put a contemporary spin on elements, they have done so similarly on the courtyard. A stepped well or baoli adorns one part of the main floor, which is used to cool the temperature around and make for a more comfortable microclimate in the building.
Over, it sits an aesthetically moving stage of sorts which can be used as a performance area. The building is a beautiful mix of curves and corners and the segregation of these areas blend together in perfect harmony to create a space which is both inside out and outside in, i.e., a beautiful blend outdoors and indoors. Multifunctional spaces are present to bend the building into use as needed.
The building employs techniques to control a microclimate by low energy and cost-cutting methods. To do so, Morphogenesis architects chose to give the building rounded courtyards, a modern twist on the cubical courtyards seen all over India, mostly in hot regions such as Rajasthan. The courtyards are fixed in such a way so that they stop direct sunlight from reaching the insides of the building.
It also employs the stone screens – i.e. Rajasthani jaalis – as an outer skin that sits about 4 feet from the inner building. The jalis also have a drip system fixed to evaporate water and provide a cooling effect which in turn cools down the building further.
The stepped wells, i.e. baolis add to this effect, making it a low energy, cost effect and sustainable building. The building has been raised from the ground in such a way, so as to form a natural thermal sink and while the temperature drops at night, the heat is emanated from the so formed thermal sink, keeping the temperature regulated.
The building is made of local stone, steel and glass. This glass is employed in the majority of the insides to create clear partitions while local stone makes up for the most of jaalis and other parts of the buildings. Concrete creates the skeletal framework atop which the building sits.
The building took two years of time to be built. The foundation stone was laid in 2006 and the building was finished by 2008 from where the institute commenced serving students of fashion sciences.
The institute required the following:
- Interaction spaces
- Aesthetically stimulating environment
The institute, which serves a large student body, was based around the idea to have ample interaction spaces to stimulate the minds of young creators which was why a blend of the indoors and outdoors was created, then followed by the infusion of curves and corners in different aspects of the building. From the outside, it seems to be a rectilinear building, however, the insides paint a different theme. A gala of curves and playful corners can be seen in all interaction spaces, making both of those form types interact as well.
The building responds well to the climate of the hot desert which freezes by the night as sand cools as soon as it heats up. Hence, methods of sustainability from Indian history are employed with a modernistic approach. Exhibition zones are created to showcase the young talents and provide for the next generation of artistic changers. The building is a holistic fusion of old and new; past and present and all things that an artist requires in their environment.
The building is a success and proves itself to be the project that architects must look up to, to create what would be a beautiful and sustainable piece of architecture. It comes across as slightly imposing, however, bursts into a beautiful frame of corners and curves and rounded areas while keeping the heritage of Indian architecture intact. Hence, Pearl Academy of Fashion is what one might consider, a fashionably sustainable building.