This studio is part of the extended old city of Rajkot in Gujarat, which has a distinct character of neighborhood formed by narrow streets linked with markets and single family dwellings. This project started as a renovation of a house built in the 1980’s for a close-knit Indian family located on a 7.5 meters wide street.
Project Name: THE LIGHT IN BRICKVAULT STUDIO
Completion Year: 2019
Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 39 m2
Project Location: Rajkot, Gujarat, India
Program / Use / Building Function: Studio space
Lead Architect: Anand Lakhani
Structural engineer: Kalpesh Satasiya, Biren Kansara
Contractor: Manish Tank, Kalpesh Tank, Hiteshbhai & Jignesh Chavda
Electrical agency: Alibhai & team
Plumbing agency: Nareshbhai & team
Photo Credits: Anand Lakhani, Ravin Padia, Darshil Rupareliya, Karan Maniar, Sagar Odedara
The overall existing architecture of the house communicates with the community and every spatial layer brings belongingness and privacy to the internal spaces. The house was built with the living areas at ground level, and private spaces at upper level, connected by a small courtyard containing the main stair.
A 4.2m x 6.4m studio space is laid out on an east west spanning terrace of about 60 m2 above the existing load bearing walls; keeping the new structure aligned to the eastern side thus maintaining a part of the terrace towards the street. This space closes itself from the adjoining houses located on the north & south side but remains completely open on the other sides, establishing a close relationship with the surrounding landscape on the terrace area. The adjoining north and south walls of the studio space borders neighboring houses, such that the locus of the openings are in the east-west axis which harmonize with its surroundings, letting in needed and valuable natural air and light.
The west façade of the studio is a simple play of open to sky cylindrical cantilevered volume as a kinetic element which encourages light to flow through surfaces and also offers a tough skin to the heat of south-west sun to the adjoining window on the second level work area as an engagement with environmental conservation. The achieved built form symbolizes the truth of the context, its material culture and a canvas, recording the light and circumstances of the setting. Materials and assemblies were chosen primarily for economy and sustainability.
The kotah stone floors are tinted with a convention matte-grey hue, while plastered walls are made of fire bricks chosen for its durability and simplicity of modules and colored in white as a cool and bright counterpart to the rich earthen hue of the bricks of ribbed reinforced hollow brick vault. The brick walls are built over existing load bearing walls. This studio space employs recycled and eco-sensitive materials in its making with much care all the while ensuring that the material limitations are overcome and a dramatic architecture is allowed to emerge from the limitations. Further green initiatives include a rainwater harvesting and recycling system while renovating the house and a responsive passive air circulation achieved through the careful planning of the openings and the facades.
The roof of the studio is in the form of a Composite Vault consisting of RCC ribs and reinforced hollow brick shell. These ribs are steel reinforced arched shells and they take equal load of respective reinforced hollow brick vault with effective thickness of 10 cm. The 1m wide reinforced hollow brick vaults spanning 4.25m between the RCC ribs are built in conventional style of vault building while an additional two 10mm steel bars are placed in the mortar joints between the hollow bricks to prevent hinging between hollow bricks when a load path cannot be contained within the vault and also prevents the lateral movement of seismic occurrences.
Looking at the local context, the project strikes out, humbly maintaining its commitment to the society and the environment. The internal contrast between the white of the plaster, the grey of the concrete and rich earthen hue of the hollow bricks creates reminiscent plays of the direct and reflected light, underlined by the glimpses that the studio skillfully offers. While the studio space uses numerous alternate technologies of the light with its own playfulness in design. Considering the local nuances and the economic constraints, the materials were responsibly chosen as the studio space gained a surprising shine and opened towards an external patio. The concluding result enhances the region, marvelously standout in perfect harmony with the surrounding cityscape.
Impressions that the front terrace left open were part of the studio space and vice versa and at the same time to raise a great barrier of privacy against the street. This design approach of the architect enables a carving of hollow space on the existing house at terrace level with natural sunlight, exploring continuity of space into another, see-through built-form and function. The refined and fresh materials provide the canvas for an immoderate range of variation in light quality and direction. Each space weaved into a composition of skyward views, the exterior and interior becoming a precise experience. It was intended for dwellers to use the spaces as well as navigate multi-leveled spaces through the light.