The firm believes in a clear emphasis on functionality and services, in exercising an extreme restraint whenever designing and using natural exposed materials where sunlight becomes the only embellishment as it varies and changes through the day and across the seasons. Their buildings are designed to be discovered; as one moves through them, they unfold around one’s body to reveal their secrets and meanings over time and spatial layers. Their office undertakes design work ranging from architecture, structural design, and master-planning to product and automobile design, so despite our dedication to clarity, we work in many different ways. The see all design disciplines as one, to remove boundaries and work with a fully combined approach. The interdisciplinary practice has become an important dimension of how we make all our designs.
Here are 15 iconic projects by Matharoo Associates:
1. Indian Pavillion
The India Pavilion was visualized as an ‘Urban Tapestry’. A montage of diverse cultures, faiths, and races, each creating its imprints on the ethos of the nation, best symbolized as a tapestry woven from many different threads, an existence dependent on the strength of their standing together as a single, if highly patterned, fabric.
Extending the tapestry motif into the built form of the India pavilion, the structure becomes a large tapestry, a giant system of interlocking warps and wefts. The structural elements are ‘threads’ pulled taut from the bellowing metal roof. ‘Tears’ in the fabric open up to form courts that are real Indian court conditions in Scale and form. ‘Runs’ in the Fabric of the roof become skylights that illuminate activity paths. An edge of the Tapestry roof dips to the ground, allowing for a gentle pedestrian upsweep garnering added visibility for the India Pavilion at the Expo.
The roof curls into a tunnel at one end that provides a grand scale to the culmination of the journey through the pavilion.
2. Prathama Blood Centre, Ahmedabad, India
The plan is an outcome of a rational step-by-step intervention that resulted in the basic defining lines. The exterior ‘Skin’ that presents an image of ‘the simple and one’, disintegrates into subspaces as soon as the entrance ushers one into a four-storey ‘Void’. From this buffer, one becomes visually conscious of the activities carried out. The glass wall disappears showcasing the complete ‘Process’, Highlights like the Blast Freezer, Conference room, and a Hangout balcony are further accentuated by protruding them out of the glass wall. Standing mute and staid, The ‘Support’ block of services, silently feeds the Process with its requisite demands. The building stands manifested in its intrinsic nature within and an object rooted in nature without.
3. Oval Retail outlet for ONGC, MRPL, Mangalore, 2005
The inspiration for the design was the massive refinery structures situated atop the hill in Mangalore and the rugged oil rigs, so synonymous with ONGC for the last 30 years, coupled with their obsession with light and brightness. In the bid to ‘belong’ to a deep-rooted, downward integrated company rather than one only handling the trading of fuels, the chosen imagery is one of robust dynamism. Their design exudes lightness and translucence through the use of membrane structures – a first for fuel outlets in India.
4. ESIC Hospital
Inspite of immense development in India in the last 20 years, there is still a large section of society to whom basic medical facilities are not available. Most private facilities are directed towards the affluent while the ones provided by the government are in a perpetual state of dereliction and neglect. One example of a government-run facility is ESIC (Employees State Insurance Corporation Hospital) where the employer by way of insurance, mandatorily deposits funds for his laborers. With a network of 120 hospitals across the country, medical care is met for the poorest of sections with an inward fee of only Rs 5 ($ 0.1), However, inattention and apathy in maintenance have resulted in deteriorating conditions of these hospitals.
5. Dharamshala Set in Stone
From its humble inception as an initiative to feed, shelter and protect stray cows otherwise intended for slaughter, this expanse at Pavapuri in Rajasthan has grown into a large religious campus containing temples, prayer halls, and residential facilities, visited by 500,000 people yearly – not to mention the herd of 6,000 to 12,000 cows that comprise its permanent residents. Traditionally having been constructed by Sompuras, temple craftsmen, buildings other than the main shrines remained in the shadows. The need for a new Dharamshala – religious guest house, which would stay true to its spiritual roots whilst performing the seemingly contradictory function of providing pilgrims with creature comforts, created a rare opportunity.
6. Sand Stone and Water, a house in Jodhpur
If you are thinking about amazing geometry and curves of this house so effortlessly mingling with each other then also note that this house accommodates a family swimming pool in just 450 sqm plot. And let me tell you everything has a functional aspect other than just design. This stunning house is situated in Jodhpur city, in the middle of Thar Desert. Composite walls of dressed stone on the outside and brick on the inside are used as construction methods. The brick stone composite wall insulates much more than ‘all stone’ traditional walls.
Another great insulator is the predominant focus of the design – water – in the form of a swimming pool.
7. Gihed House
Set within the upcoming urban metro scape of the city of Ahmedabad, this corporate Head Quarters for the Gujarat Institute of Housing and Estate Developers required us to house workspace for 50 employees. Apart from containing the obvious function, this 40,000sft corporate house was to be majorly developed to act as a catalyst to bridge the gap between society at large and the estate developer community portraying an image justified in the community.
This would mean portraying
transparency of the inner system of their workings and such a place where everybody feels welcome and free to walk in unhindered.
Adhering to this, the building duals up its functionality by opening up into public forums when needed where opinions are respected and discussions are generated, at the same time working as a corporate Head Quarters for its employees.
8. Sajuba Girls High School, Jamnagar
Sajuba Girls High School at Jamnagar, a century-old former palace of Raja Jam Sahib Of Jamnagar, is the largest Government-run girls school in Gujarat with close to 3000 students. The palace once occupied a dignified location in the center of the city with ample space all around but with growing city and encroachment a figment of that remain today and this once important landmark is now completely hidden in the myriad of buildings that have sprouted around. Badly damaged in the devastating earthquake of 2000, under the PMO earthquake rehabilitation programme it was desired to completely maul the entire structure and build a completely new school as land for the newly added requirement was found to be not sufficient.
9. House with Balls
Scooped out of a plot of farmland twenty minutes outside Ahmedabad city, this house has been built for an aquarium shop owner to function as a place to breed fish as well as to serve as a weekend retreat. (Photo 3) Its design is centered around four fish breeding tanks and an observation room which could double up as a living room. Every aspect of this design is set out to strip expenses from the project; be it using 125mm thin concrete walls with standard concrete, one duct space for its three bathrooms, doors, and windows made by pressing GI sheets or using bent rods to function as a handle and locking drop.
10. Steel House
Set in the high-density metro scape of Delhi, this 50’ x 90’ site was to house four generations of family for a steel businessman. Within these confined extends of the site, the spatial arrangement was vertically split into 6 floors, as are the adjacent houses. Having to work within these parameters, the complexity of design was to cater to the nuances of the
social integrity of an Indian joint family at the same time maintain a fine balance with the growing urban characteristic of the younger generation, also tackle the extremities of the Delhi climate.
11. Parents House, Ajmer, Rajasthan
The Rajasthani city of Ajmer is an important destination on the Muslim pilgrimage trail and its suburb Pushkar also bears huge religious significance for Hindus. With a complex, dense, and at times chaotic urban grain, despite its mofussil flotsam, Ajmer exudes a slow pace of life. Pensioners typically retire to Ajmer, eager to enjoy its adjacency to both the Aravali foothills and lake below and retreat into laid back twilight years.
The House is a residence for its architect’s elderly parents and their visiting sons, daughter, and grandchildren. Conceived as an exercise in the optimal use of space, detail, and material, these are refined to their bare essentials. The $22,000 house fits snugly into a humble plot left over by the ramshackle development of Ajmer’s fringes.
12. House with Wall of light
Being the largest exporter of polished diamonds, almost 80% of the world’s diamonds pass through the hands of Indian diamond merchants. Most of these merchants, surprisingly belonging to a close-knit common background from Palanpur and Kathiawar, in the state of Gujarat, run their centuries-old family businesses based on ethnic ties and traditional family values. Business dealings are often managed in ultra-orthodox settings, are informal, and deeply interlocked with private community affairs. These community institutions create business advantages and the architectural interpretation for a diamond merchant’s home translates into a complex program that requires the cautious separation of family spaces, social and private spaces such that both business and family activities are not disturbed. The house requires a host of spaces including spaces for business dealings, guest rooms for long-term visits by relatives, social and entertainment spaces, and core family activity spaces together with the dilemma of housing the family in the busy urban setting of a city. This program inevitably creates the need for a house within a larger house, a challenge for us.
13. House with the warped court
In the heart of the industrial city of Surat; with a recent history of plague, riots, earthquake, and floods; and dealing with the side effects of industrialization, is the 2650 square meter oddly shaped plot for housing a migrant diamantaire, his textile designer wife, two sons, and aging parents; and a large collection of art. The challenge was to provide the family with space into which they could retreat and not become a spectacle for the high-rise buildings all around.
The intention was to use traditional design solutions, one of which is to center the spaces around a courtyard that provides a reclusive family area also benefiting the micro-climate of the house. The other was to use “haveli” inspired closed outer shell and hollow insides. Irregular site lines act to generate a skewed wood form finished concrete box that encloses the house and provides a vision, climate, and noise buffer. These lines also help in making the best of the required margin space, engendering individuated clear and green spaces on all sides of the house enjoyed through the selective openings into these landscape gems.
14. Ashwinikumar Crematorium, Surat
Although there is no archetypal form for a crematorium, the cremation place is marked by a pavilion-like structure standing in the open ground outside the city limits. However, in most cities today, these sites have been engulfed by urban growth, making the pavilion lose its symbolic significance. The Ashwinikumar Ghat (crematorium) is located on the banks of the river Tapi in Surat – a large city towards the West of India Situated in the Western state Gujarat, Surat is a busy business center trading for the diamond and textile industries. In a span of four years between 1992 and 1996, Surat was ravaged repeatedly by terrible natural and man-made calamities: A violent spate of communal riots in 1993. A severe flood in the river Tapi, resulting in a catastrophic epidemic in 1994, which may be identified as the dreaded plague. Severely criticized for its filth and squalor, the city finally woke up to its conditions; a competent administration succeeded in mobilizing the citizens to the extent that within a span of two years, the city was transformed. During this period, the competition for a new crematorium was launched, resulting in this entry being selected from among 28 other entries.
15. Weekend House at Raigad
The marooned ship, long lost fortresses dotting the western coastline, and unseen aquatic life are some of the inspirations for this outhouse meant for family and friends to unwind from the drudgery of city life.
The anchor of the design of this house is a long curving ‘wall’ that acts as a threshold, both physically and mentally. The winding wall in local basalt locks the city into itself, liberating the living into nature. One passes through this wall shedding all baggage, leaving the city behind and comes out on the other side: to the sea.
Placed between the waters of the sea and the pool, the living is an open pavilion lifted on a solid plinth containing private areas. The services are all tucked into the wall and the private areas are in the semi-basement and under the pool and deck.
Of the many tactile experiences in this house are the massive rough Basalt stone walls, the wood finish concrete walls, the deep dark recesses in the curved wall, and the water, both bound and infinite …