Morphogenesis envisioned a Forest Essentials facility perched on the edge of a hill in the village of Lodsi, Uttarakhand. The structure emerges out and merges into the hilly surroundings, rising above the smaller Garhwali houses that surround it. The aim was to construct a production facility for a modern skin care company dedicated to revitalizing Ayurveda’s old science. The brand philosophy of combining ancient wisdom with modern aesthetics gave Morphogenesis the ability to apply local building methods to create modern manufacturing facilities. “I would call it like a community building”, said Sonali Rastogi, Founding Partner at Morphogenesis also added “I wouldn’t call it a factory. This has to be a building which not only promotes the product that goes out but actually promotes the people who make the product possible”
The approach to the plan and advancement of the design was profoundly particular to the site’s geology, climate, and surrounding. It has been created in such a way that it does not expand on the footprint of the existing structure. Instead of removing the dilapidated structure and discarding most of what was there, it was utilized as the foundation. Furthermore, the project’s budgetary and construction limits were set by the site’s location and the restricted availability of resources. As a consequence, a net-zero and energy-efficient building was created using an integrated design approach, culminating in a self-contained, off-grid manufacturing unit.
Evocative of traditional form, the north-south-facing butterfly roof not only provides a modern aesthetic but also allows large open windows for ventilation by allowing northeast and southeast winds to flow in, providing 80% of the space’s natural light. The building’s material palette was also greatly influenced by its surroundings, with stones and wood sourced from the hill and valley. A central light well prevents the need for corridors, resulting in a well-lit social space for the staff. Certain items must be kept at a specific temperature, thus they have been relocated to the lower level of the building, while operations needing colder settings, such as herb-grinding and packing, have been relocated to the top floor.
Net Zero Building
Using the climate to one’s advantage, as well as accomplishing the net-zero aim, required some creativity. When a glacier melts in the upper Himalayas, water is gathered from a stream that runs by the location; the water from the stream is stored underground and utilized all year. When a glacier melts in the upper Himalayas, water is gathered from a stream that runs by the location; the water from the stream is stored underground and used throughout the year. To meet the facility’s water needs, a site-specific rainwater tank has been optimized and planned. The debris from the previous facility was not neglected either. Reclaimed wooden rafters were transformed into light fixtures, purlin offcuts were transformed into tube-light holders, stone chisels were fashioned into doorknobs, and rebars were linked to constructing a minimalist basin pedestal. As a result, the facility is completely net-zero in terms of energy, water, and waste.
A Place for the People
The existing ‘gaushala’ was used in the design and was supplemented with a community gathering place. This project employs 65 people and directly or indirectly supports 75% of the village homes. The provision of huge aangans (social places) encourages the region’s ethos of a close-knit community. “A lot about this project was about the Lodsi community, many of whom work at the Forest Essentials facility,” says Sonali. “We added open spaces into the layout; now, the children, on their way back from school, come here to hangout.” The facility’s concept is based on the utilization of local materials, skills, and labour, making it a project for the people, created by the locals, and employing locals. This multidisciplinary approach aspires to create a new standard for a decentralized community with a growing emphasis. “Decentralizing growth is something that is now seen as essential as a way going forward. This project is about decentralized growth”, says Sonali.
www.youtube.com. (2020). The Lodsi Community Project for Forest Essentials by Morphogenesis. [online] Available at: https://youtu.be/lgkgVBSCxbs
FOAID (2021). Performative Architecture || Manit Rastogi, Morphogenesis, New Delhi. Available at: https://youtu.be/koMAXj9OpPM
Morphogenesis. (n.d.). Best Architects in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Top Indian Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.morphogenesis.org/