Samira Rathod’s projects are unabashedly themselves: setting an urbane eye upon, and striking up conversations and frictions with the amorphous rough landscape. They create their architectural language in these negotiations for pleasure and sensorial experience that overturn conventional notions of building, of appropriate material, of comfort and design. Here is a list of some of her works-
1. The Broacha House by Samira Rathod
This house is a design exploration of Samira Rathod Design Associates (SRDA), reinventing for itself, ideas of what architecture can be, from its elements, language, and assumptions of appropriateness. She designed the house as a series of outdoor rooms that exploit the region’s cooling breeze to reduce reliance on power-thirsty air conditioning. Free and animated, it was less about formal composition, more about spatial freedom – which is the antithesis of life in Mumbai’s dense city center. By contrast, this is a place of well-being and, as Rathod explains, ‘the house is more about how light and air come into space, as I feel that spaces can define a person’s life, thinking, and growth’.
The architecture of this house is crafted as art, where the conventional modes of building thought have deviated. As one enters, it unravels spaces, each rendered in a different intonation of light. On the southern side, there is a thick, dead, colored concrete wall -a heavy thermal curtain to ward off the heat. Its three bedrooms and living spaces surround a half bounded courtyard that opens into a small plunge pool and spouts out gushing waters. The stairs and its sliced wooden railings, the windows of the living room, legs of tables, the flooring patterns, and soft cotton sheets- all form a larger subset of overlapping layers.
The architect and her team used this premise to design the spaces of a school in Bhadran in India’s Gujarat province. Designed and perceived to sit on four acres of a fruit orchard, surrounded by tobacco fields, the design of the school grew organically as a series of modular classrooms. It has been fashioned to let children prance their way through the trees, encountering different elements, forming a composition of experiences that weave together to bring forth the fabric of the school.
The dancing arches are designed as a reminder of this freedom – encountering alcoves, cracks and crevices, projections, niches, inhabited bridges, boxes, and mezzanines – adding to a composition of experiences that would weave into the fabric of the school, much like the maze-like town of Bhadran itself.
The Office space by SRDA was aimed to be kept simple and easy; a place in which almost everything could be moved around and altered, as and when required. It was not only meant to serve as a one-stop-shop for furniture, crockery, cutlery, plants, and mattresses, among others, rather, also hosts trade discussions and meetings. The architect used a range of materials, based on their ability to bring in and reflect light and to determine the vibe of the place based on its function. Some of the spaces are private, while others are meant for several people. Some are dedicated to phone conversations. There were no permanent partitions—everything can be reused. The material palette includes ribbed glass, polycarbonate, cork sheets, red acrylic, fabrics- all in a multitude of earth tones.
5. Wall as a Room by Samira Rathod
The Experimental Project was a response to the question that Charles Correa posed in 1989: “If there was any way in which the city streets and sidewalks could respond to the needs (of pavement dwellers)?” So, her team of SRDA, created ‘A Wall As A Room’, an experiment in the hidden geometry of the body, material, and the habitat. It redefines the wall as a container of space rather than a divider. Three feet broad, everything fits within this space—right from the water tank, cabinets, and vegetation. “It has to be sustainable for us to create mass, as land is a precious commodity. This wall can be thermally insulated while being a storage space and at the same time being a living space,” says Rathod.
One of her toughest assignments turned out to be the 3,000 sq. ft. apartment at Haji Ali that belonged to her parents. She converted the 4-bedroom apartment into a 3-bedroom one with a media room. Opened on 3 sides, it had views of the city and the Haji Ali mosque. In the living room, several colors and patterns appeared together through the fabrics used for the upholstery. The floor lamp was designed in-house using ceramic tubes, and the terrazzo flooring summoned an old-world feel. The house itself became a wild place that allows for the rough, the surprising, the mixed and the contrary.
7. The Rathod House
A 3000 sq.ft private residence incorporated the design concept of a warehouse; A singular roof with multiple built forms creating rooms and crevices within it. The special feature of the house is the sheath of artificial rain on its windward concrete wall that can be turned on to create a cooler microclimate when the wind blows through the porous barrier. Designed for family and friends, the house radiates a candid personality, being honest, forthright and welcoming, seeming much larger than it is through manipulation of the inside and outside.
8. Udaan- Farm House by Samira Rathod
The Vadodara farmhouse by Samira Rathod Design Associates sits at the base of a hill overlooking a river and consists of two parts, each on a small hillock with a seasonal stream in between. The valley of sorts was turned into one of the primary organizing features, splitting the building into one public half and the other with the more private spaces. The connecting element is a bridge that hangs over the valley between the two halves of the house. In the public half of the building, the darkened grotto-like interiors of the living space and the library at the lower level are contrasted by the glazed pavilion of the guest room hanging over the land. Furniture and details mimic strange anthropometric and animal-like forms.
9. Indigo Deli, South Mumbai
Runner up for Hospitality Spaces, 2004 -IID awards, This eatery space was designed to suit its core function. As Samira Rathod reveals the hypothesis of a ‘breadbox’ that has inspired this Deli – you begin to experience the tangibility of the notion. The whole 2,000 sq. ft is perkily segregated into the lower floor and the mezzanine with a lot of open spaces, office and utility areas and an open kitchen. A fluted ceiling in white paint contrasts with the cleverly designed storage area. While the recent boom of stylish eateries seems to impose varying degrees of social etiquette on the visitor, Indigo Deli stands as a refreshing one.
10. Kolkata High Rise by Samira Rathod
The building’s concept aimed to maximizes the potential of the site and urban context. She believes that small inadequate apartments have led the city inhabitants to encroach the skin of their building; to hang out their stores and linen and bulge into the balcony space leaving the façade bruised. This building aspired to create the skin using the concept of a geode which is smooth on the outside but crystalline on the inside. The multi-functional space changes over time and is adaptive to the lifestyle of the users. Thus, creating a glass facade on one side- opening to the view of the city and bamboo weave on its services side- allowing service activities with light and ventilation yet hiding them from view, avoiding eyesores. The openings in the apartment are planned in the wind direction to induce ample natural ventilation.
11. Poddar House, Alibaug
This 10,000 sq. ft. the large farmhouse sits in Alibaug on the edge of marshy land with one side opening up to it, embracing the water bodies and tall vegetation, and using the same to create privacy. The corridor is designed to connect the different spaces of the house and flaunts the fragmented roof which was inspired by the segmented nature of a caterpillar. The idea of the caterpillar was carried through into the interior design of the house as can be seen in the staircases and various louvered screens.
12. The Hariharan House
Designed for renowned Indian classical singer, Hari Haran, the house is conceived as a combination of a contemporary box and a pitched roof structure, forked to accommodate a fan-shaped swimming pool in between. The house had a defined brief and was devised as a series of spaces to create a narrative of tactile space. Large openings implemented in the structure blur the edge of the inside with the outside, allowing them to integrate.
13. Banglore House
Constructed in 2009, this 4000 sq. ft. the house was primarily a renovation/revamping project. A small old load-bearing structure enveloped by a large rubber tree was transformed. The house was opened up by removing several walls within and stringing a new flight of steps on its skin. The architect developed this skin in concrete and acrylic, especially to allow light into the building. The concrete panels were innovated and designed with an inlay of acrylic to allow for transparency.
14. Art Gallery
Completed in 2012, Art Gallery was an extension to the existing warehouse workshop in Gujarat. The building is a volume comprised of sheet steel that is meant to be a sculptural artifact in itself. The program creates a gallery and a cafe that invites passersby into the artist’s space, giving them a glimpse of his work and process. The steel volume is detailed with glass to allow in light along the stairwell, under which water flows down into a cafe space that is open to the public. It also curates and promotes local artists’ work.
15. Kolkata Batanagar Mall by Samira Rathod
This Ongoing project of SRDA provides a hybrid retail experience catering to the community of Batanagar, peripheral to the city of Kolkata on the banks of the Hooghly River. This 2-lac sqft. the retail project aims at redefining the idea of a mall, by combining the value systems inherent in traditional markets that makes it timeless, fulfilling the needs of the Gen Z user.