Architects: RMA Architects
Location: Valpoi, Goa, India
Architect in Charge: Rahul Mehrotra
Area: 1,685.25 sqm
Year: 2009
Photographs: Romil Sheth, Rajesh Vora. Courtesy of RMA Architects

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The Think Tank Retreat, designed by architect Rahul Mehrotra’s practice, RMA Architects, is located in the picturesque environs of eastern Goa. In response to the local climate and site characteristics, the retreat design is modern and contemporary. It enhances building users’ comfort and health while reducing energy consumption and preserving the site context. The project incorporates integrated courtyards, indoor water bodies, planters, high and disconnected pitch roofs, a balanced solid and void ratio, and adequate space contingency to facilitate users’ movements. The project consists of several enclosed modules and has large glass windows for natural illumination. The color palette of the building was kept simple and modest so as not to detract from the philosophy of the project. The roof appears to be the major element that ties all of the spaces and amenities together. 

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Main Entrance Lobby_©RMA Architects
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Design Philosophy & Planning | RMA Architects

The design philosophy of Rahul Mehrotra has always been to adapt to inequity, climate change, and local material and technological availability. The company’s goal is to figure out how to attain a critical mass of change by effectively shifting the mainstream. The Think Tank Retreat is made up of eight living quarters and a complementary health center. The ancillary facilities of the health facility, like the massage rooms, a conference center, and a kitchen, are planned as independent boxes united by a common foundation beneath a large clay-tiled roof. The separate boxes have patios that may be utilized for informal meetings, yoga, and meditation.

The design concept prioritizes natural cross ventilation and built-in insulation through the double roof. The building will weather gracefully with minimal maintenance in the tropical climate of Goa, which is the central concern in the design strategy.

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Design Style & Materials

At first glance, the project resembles the usual pitched-roof structures that can be seen in the near vicinity of its location. However, once inside the building, one’s viewpoint changes. Everything about the layout, zoning, and materials seems to be well-planned and not at all random.

The principal construction elements are made of local materials:

  • Laterite walls (quarried within a 5 km radius of the location) give the structure a rustic appearance. They are quarried natural stones that aid in the cooling of the structure throughout the heat. They have strong thermal insulation capabilities, and they harden and strengthen with time. Because they are bigger, they are more cost-effective and save money on labor and other materials. Laterite stones are environmentally benign since they do not release CO2 or greenhouse gases.
  • The roof’s clay tiles (produced locally) localize and enhance the area’s traditional construction traditions. In addition to their rustic beauty, clay tiles are noted for being low-maintenance, long-lasting, and cost-effective. They are readily adjustable, ecologically friendly, and fire and weather resistant, which are all advantages of employing them. They contain insulative qualities that assist in regulating the internal temperature of the structure, in addition to permitting optimum ventilation.

In addition to the materials mentioned above, there is whitewashed wood, ceramic, metal, and concrete in a fair ratio.

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Elements and Technology used | RMA Architects

The majority of the materials were obtained and fabricated on-site, which is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Clay tiles were deliberately selected for the Think Tank roof, among other materials. Clay tiles are made to resist a variety of climatic conditions, although the climate of the project’s geographic location typically influences the choice of clay tiles. It is critical to inspect the underlayment material when laying clay tile. It will have an impact on the tile’s longevity.

A stylish alternative to the typical asphalt roof underlayment is tile roof underlayment. This type of underlayment, which looks like clay or slate, is a more cost-effective way to protect the roof from harm. This procedure, as long-lasting as it is, has advantages and disadvantages.

The following are some of the benefits of this method: The tile roof underlayment is available in a range of shapes and sizes. It can be modified according to the client’s requirements; it is cost-effective, ideal for most applications, and serves as a moisture barrier for the project. One disadvantage of this underlayment is that it might break in high winds or storms.

The construction also has several courtyards. When developing a structure in a tropical climate, courtyards help with natural ventilation, allow for easier access to natural light, and connect both interior and outdoor spaces to nature.

There is also a water feature in the project that is located at the main entrance. The inclusion of the water element was intended to enhance the retreat’s relaxing ambiance. Water features are proven to soothe people and boost humidity levels.

Floor plan_©RMA Architects
©RMA Architects

References: RMA Architects


Nadjath is an architecture graduate, traveler, and part-time freelance writer. She believes that the built and unbuilt environments are more than just about form and function. In a fast-growing culture where people are reading less and less, she is enthusiastic about transmitting the essence of architecture via words.