Ecology and sustainable architecture are the subjects that Ar. Chitra Vishwanath loves to explore, and the same can be seen in the various simple and complex aspects of her designs. She runs her architectural practice under the BIOME Environment Solutions Private Limited, which has been involved in more than 500 projects, encompassing construction of buildings of all sizes, and water harvesting and sanitation structures while giving utmost importance to the ecology of the site and usage of eco-friendly materials. With influential projects that stand still and speak proudly of her philosophy, let us see how nature is translated into architecture through the following top projects of Chitra Vishwanath-

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1. Swastika Dance School by  Chitra Vishwanath

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Educational & Institutional

The project of Swastika Dance School came with innumerable challenges of accommodating multiple spaces for various events and performing arts on a very tight small plot of around 2200 sq.ft. This project is a live example of Ar. Chitra’s magic. Here each element is designed to have multiple roles. The use of stabilized mud bricks and precast concrete elements not only render the structure a very classic and minimal look, the form of the structure helps achieve maximum daylight and ventilation and also help achieve a double-height space for the dance studio. The innovative use of skylights is seen throughout the design, especially above the mirror in the dance studio, which gives the mirror a backlit effect.

2. Buddhi School | Biome

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Educational & Institutional

Buddhi School is an institution where children with special abilities are nurtured and cared for. With the prime focus of the school on the physical activities, the design also gave utmost importance to the playground as the central space, while the other spaces were planned around it. Along with the use of stabilized mud bricks, skylights and sustainable techniques of ventilation and daylighting, one important feature here is the use of slit windows with slanted walls which help in day lightings and ventilation while keeping out the rainwater. Ar. Chitra’s sensitivity towards design is not only evident through the materials and design elements but also her approach towards water conservation, rainwater harvesting black water and greywater reuse, etc.

3. Olde Clubhouse by Chitra Vishwanath

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Hospitality

Olde clubhouse in Bengaluru is exemplary of the fact that architecture is mainly about the experiential quality of the space. Despite being a clubhouse and corporate training center for a high-end developer firm, the aesthetics and experiential quality are very simple, warm and traditional, rendering this space a very vibrant and homely vibe. The use of traditional Mangalore tiles for roofs and the mud bricks, the open to sky naturally lit spaces help in achieving this. The structure has perforated terracotta panels throughout, instead of conventional windows, thus establishing better ventilation and visual connect of the inside with the outside. This is evidence of Ar. Chitra’s love for nature and her simplicity.

4. Oland Estate | Biome

Location: Kulakumbai, Tamil Nadu
Type: Hospitality

Oland estate was planned to be a small set of 9 bungalows set on the hilltop of Nilgiris, offering a spectacular view and climate. But what’s more fascinating about this project is Ar. Chitra Vishwanath’s vision to make it a ‘Zero Debris’ Project. The entire construction is carried out with the mud, locally available on site. Furthermore, the interiors of the bungalow are painted with VOC or Non-Toxic paint. Along with stabilized mud bricks, the locally available stone is also used for construction. The slating roof not only adds an iconic identity to the project but also is a response to the climatic and rainfall conditions of the area.

 

5. Paper Workshop

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Commercial / Mixed-use

It is usually said that ‘Big surprises come in small packages. Paper workshop by BIOME, Ar. Chitra Vishwanath has set a new perception towards the planning of workspaces. The workshop is built in mud bricks and granite slabs and has skylights, patterned fenestrations in the ceiling for daylight. The hierarchy of spaces, the semi-open verandas, the landscape around, and the division of space between the staff accommodation units and the workshop shows the amalgamation on innovation and sustainability; which is, in fact, the most important quality here. The little experiments like incorporating coconut and teak leave in the RCC slabs and floors to imprint beautiful textures show how her style is deeply rooted in nature.

6. Sudipto Studio

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Commercial / Mixed-use

Every project has a story to tell and probably this project has the most interesting one, where even the clients participated in the construction process. The doors and windows were reused from an old project. The soil used here was made available from locations within a 10 km radius from the site, while beer bottles were used as glazing for the slit windows. The small house was designed in the cob shell method for ease in construction. The metal roof helps in rainwater harvesting and keep out the heat during summers. Sudipto studio is thus, an example of the Ar. Chitra Vishwanath’s free-flowing thoughts and her innovative yet sustainable approach.

7. Govardhan Eco Village

Location: Wada, Maharashtra
Type: Residential / Mixed-use

Built along the ridges and valleys on a massive site in the rural area of Wada, is Govardhan Eco Village, which is probably one of the biggest projects built using most sustainable concepts. The main highlight is the use of stabilized mud bricks, CSEB ‘U’ Blocks, CSEB tiles, timber, bamboo, and Mangalore tiles. The campus is meticulously designed to harvest and reuse the maximum of the natural resources. Apart from the provision for rainwater harvesting and daylighting, the fact worth mentioning is that despite having extremely hot summers, one does not feel the need for air conditioning or fans. The magic lies in the use of materials, techniques of construction and the scale of the spaces.

8. Jan Olof Eco House

Location: Wada, Maharashtra
Type: Residential.

In these present times where extreme commercialization has started to hinder creativity in architecture, the Eco House by BIOME stands against all odds. The provision for the summer bedroom & winter bedroom shows that the design of this house is as per the changing climate. The building comprises of a home, office and a rental penthouse. The use of metal painted in blur tint and the mud bricks, add a minimal and classy look to the whole structure, while the timber doors and windows, and the greenery planned around breaks the monotony. The open gardens attached to the basement spaces and the vertical slit windows help in bringing in maximum daylight. This is not just a house; it is a completely sustainable lifestyle in itself.

9. WRI Bengaluru Office

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Interiors

The workplace environment has a major impact on employees’ wellbeing and thus, on productivity. This thought has been very well translated into the design of the interiors of WRI’s Bengaluru office. Sustainability is not limited to the use of feasible materials and saving energy, it is an approach towards planning interiors. This can be seen from the usage of space below staircases as storage units. Moreover, each desk is designed to have ample space for indoor plants that help purify the air and have clean air quality. All areas were designed to have universal accessibility making the spaces usable, even for the physically disabled people. Thus, with several eco-friendly features like daylighting, brushless DC Motor fans, reusing of kitchen wastewater, open seating, and use of handcrafted materials made of plant fiber and other nature-friendly products; WRI Bengaluru office excels at being one of the most meticulously planned workplaces.

10. Biome Office

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Type: Office

Last but not least is Ar. Chitra Vishwanath’s own den – Biome Environmental Solutions. The office is designed with open spaces, levels aiding visual accessibility, using the lightest of the materials as the whole office was planned as an addition to the already existing structure. Despite this, the office is planned to use ample daylight through the metal roof and terracotta perforated panels. The spaces are also planned in such a way that a visual connection is created between the workspace and other buffer areas. This project has indeed helped the architects at Biome to try and test their skills and ideas.

All images are sourced from the official website of BIOME: www.biome-solutions.com/project

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

Sudarshan is a ‘Jack of all trades, but a master of fun’. Apart from being an Architect he has a flair for writing, manages family business & is now trying his hand at UX Design as well. He strongly believes that whatever one does in life, one must do it with passion & be happy with it.

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