The 8000 square meter landscape design with a 3-meter overall height difference that was completed at Magic Breeze in 2016 in Hyderabad, India was inspired by the stepwell design. The 127 duplex apartments that overlook the landscaping are located next to Neknampur Lake. Originally known as Penda, Precht Studio was started in Austria in the year 2017. Penda’s landscape is a part of the residential complex at Magic Breeze by Pooja Crafted Homes for which it was designed.
About the Architect and Studio
Starting with winning a competition project with Sun Dayong, the current co-founder, Precht opened its first chapter in 2013. Being awarded the “Emerging firm of the year” in 2016 at the Architizer A+Awards in New York, Precht was also in the top 40 on “Dezeen’s Hot List” of best worldwide architects for two consecutive years. With a total of 40 constructed projects and 90 designs over four years, their designs can be seen across Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and Africa.
Their first office was opened in Beijing, after which the Austrian mountains in Salzburg became their home to maintain a healthy work-life balance and derive inspiration. Precht believes in the philosophy of authenticity to serve the needs of the rural area around. As a relatively young office, their primary motto is to promote novel ideas and to suit the voice and understanding of the current generation as the challenges of this time are different and must be treated separately. With a stark difference in comparison to the more generic firms that have a conventional design approach, Precht focuses on the smaller details and most importantly, the experimentation and learning process behind a project.
Not only focusing on architectural design, Precht (originally known as Penda) also has a diverse portfolio with projects in the domain of interior design, product design, high-rises, built form with bamboo, and visual identity design. The unique thought process at Precht drives them to support underprivileged students studying architecture, with less access to the facilities available to students in different communities and countries. Their concept is to share knowledge, collaborate, and try to find meaning in the work that is done. Precht involves themselves in work that matches with their concepts and ideas to produce work that they can achieve through their vision.
The “Era of ego” or the era of the star-architect does not pertain to them and there is a sense of questioning behind the design process in terms of the social, economic, and futuristic aspects. Chris Precht believes that architecture must not just aim to consume an island in the city, but also aid other processes like food production that feeds a growing city or contribute to the resiliency of cities that form future-proof communities.
Precht’s fascination with Indian traditional step wells and water mazes comes from the fact that they are pleasing to the eye and at the same time are functional. To describe a stepwell or a stairwell, it is a recessed well that has steps that reach the water level below typically used for irrigation purposes, bathing, and drinking. Stepwells were invented due to seasonal water changes that led to their smart use. Although they look aesthetically pleasing and were able to withstand earthquakes, they were not initially planned for that reason, but to use water carefully.
This design is a great example of how ideas and concepts can be inspired by traditional design features but can be implemented in a modern way. Precht’s breathtaking design is right in front of us, to understand and comprehend how we can still keep remnants of the past in our designs as a way to honor it and represent something that is unique to the place.
The steps in the design have been used as planters filled with plants, and flowers that act as a community garden for the residents of the building. A drip irrigation or sprinkler system has been developed for the design. The landscaping that starts at the ground level and the green planter zone that runs through the precast structure tie the project together.
An integrated design approach has been incorporated with the design and layout of the landscape. Instead of using a rectangular division for pedestrians, fire trucks, and planters, the stepwell design juts out into both areas, contributing to an innovative look.
Three paths can be taken to reach the residential zones- one being the stepwell area, one that is short and in a private zone, and the other in an exploratory zone. The shortest path allows residents to enjoy a park-like experience but also takes them to their destination quickly.
The other indulging experience is the one that takes people through a path meant for peaceful walks through nature with stop points at benches and water features which contribute to cooling the region. One of the paths is straight by design which allows fire trucks, runners, and fast walkers to navigate efficiently without obstructions. The path nature and type changes based on the type of activity and users which is a very thoughtful concept point.
- ArchDaily. Magic Breeze Landscape/penda. [online]. Available at: Magic Breeze Landscape / penda | ArchDaily [Accessed 27 August 2021].
- Arch2o. Magic Breeze Landscape. [online]. Available at: Magic Breeze Landscape | Penda – Arch2O.com [Accessed 27 August 2021].
- Pooja Crafted Homes. Magic Breeze, Narsinghi. [online]. Available at: Magic Breeze, Narsinghi | Poojacraftedhomes [Accessed 27 August 2021].