Edifices rooted to the soil while roofs seamlessly merge into the foliage, creating built environments that breathe and thrive with vivacity—Architecture BRIO has created a definition of their own, one of sincerity and resilience in design. The studio extensively concentrates on sustainable design and vernacular solutions in a world that is haphazardly moving towards modern ideologies.
The immediate need for a reconnection with the natural environment has been exceptionally crucial in the last few decades, in the Indian context as well as around the world. This has led Architecture BRIO to create intertwining environments, where the city, architecture, landscape, and interiors merge to create rather eccentric relationships. The result is the production of experientially uplifting spaces that are also contextually appropriate and responsive.
Vision to Practice
The spark to ignite the passion of Architecture BRIO began in Sri Lanka, where the founders, Shefali Balwani (C.E.P.T, Ahmedabad) and Robert Verrijt (Technical University of Delft), had met as young architects, entrenched in the works of the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. The studio’s architectural style derived its essence from Bawa’s bold yet elegant vernacular structures. Although these breathtaking interventions seemed quite extreme in their style, they did not overpower their contextual environment.
The duality portrayed in his design eventually became one of the main themes of the studio’s works. Their vision has been to create architecture that stands as a backdrop to the ever-changing natural environment, especially in a world where modernism has led to drastic changes in our surroundings. Architecture BRIO established their firm in the year 2006 with their offices in Mumbai, India, and Rotterdam, Netherlands, and have been successfully running their studios with their enthusiastic team of highly talented architects ever since.
Today, the work of Architecture BRIO has spread far and wide, amalgamating their vision with multiple cultures, climates, and topography, predominantly in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Upon analyzing their wide range of projects, there seems to be a level of focus towards innovative private residential and weekend home design. These structures tend to portray a high level of aesthetic value through sustainable approaches while battling through the challenges posed by the location.
But their expertise doesn’t halt in this sphere alone. Hospitality, educational, humanitarian, cultural as well as institutional designs have also taken over a significant part of their project portfolio. Not just spatial configurations and façades, but the studio’s work also extends into the interior and landscape design quite effortlessly, bringing about holistic built-environments.
Each project is unique and so are the challenges they pose, which have always been the driving force of Architecture BRIO. The team dives deep into investigating and creating interventions that could positively influence their spaces while placing the unbuilt environment at the heart of their design process.
Although the appropriateness of any project is crucial, it is also the most challenging area of the process, and many a time not instantly evident to the designers. But the merger between multiple factors such as the climate, topography, functionality, cultural context as well as materials eventually evolves a design that would automatically resolve any possible struggle while providing spatial results like none other.
Scale of projects
Architecture BRIO’s practice relies on a wide range and scale of projects, spanning across multiple countries and creating exceptional environments in the public as well as private sectors. Their design strategies have been applied to small dollhouses to large-scale masterplans, and even at addressing humanitarian issues through architecture and design. Although the scale and the typology of their projects vary highly, it has never posed a barrier to them in bringing about smart solutions in all aspects of the structure.
The studio’s approach towards any design brief has begun with an open mind and a zest for exploration, followed by intense questioning and finding answers to them through collaborative thinking. These strategies eventually lead to the development of a strong concept that guides the entire design process. Their constant hunt for innovation and their exceptional skills in planning, design, and execution have resulted in the production of spaces that scream perfection.
Not Mere Architects
Although the studio’s name suggests the principal line of involvement, their employees, as well as clientele, go above and beyond mainstream architecture. Their core team of 15 to 20 passionate architects collaborate with engineers, consultants, designers as well as their clients to attain an interdisciplinary approach towards creating the structure.
The multiple perspectives highly influence the depth of solutions and the extent of creativity, and eventually evolves into an environment that is all-inclusive with a strong sense of purpose, the core of which is a design process directed by intensive dialogue. The modes of communication also take a visual form through digital as well as physical models, which effectively communicate strategies across to clients, engineers as well as other architects.
The Smart and the Sustainable
The philosophies of Architecture BRIO have evolved from a crux of aesthetic, technological, and environmentally friendly innovativeness. As scarcity is an important problem to address in most of their project contexts, be it in terms of materials, energy, building time, skilled labor, finance, or any other restrictions posed by the remoteness of the location, their design philosophies are deeply rooted in addressing these subjects through innovations brought about by focusing on multiple perspectives.
All these limitations led to their advancement towards smart solutions that resonate with the context while resolving their complex issues. The immediate need for widespread sustainability in design approaches has also played a major role in driving their designs. These approaches include self-sufficient systems, new building techniques, re-appropriating materials, and intelligent energy concepts. This resulted in a massive shift in the way they view and develop their impressive works while the natural environment of the varying contexts takes center stage.
Architecture BRIO collaborates with multiple organizations in order to expand their horizons and actively engage in research. The studio conducts regular principles lectures at the KRVIA school of Architecture and the Balwant Sheth School of Architecture in Mumbai. Their collaboration with the NGO, BillionBricks, has led to the creation of the Bb-Studio, a dedicated studio that is committed to eradicating homelessness.
As a part of the ‘Bandra Collective’, the studio is also currently involved in extensive research and design in innovative public spaces, which has been highly influential in bringing about substantial benefits in the livability factor of the neighborhood. They also consult and collaborate with many other communities, NGOs, and government bodies in order to develop buildings of quality and value to society.
The firm has been the recipient of multiple national and international awards during the past decade. Archiprix, Europan at the World Architecture Community Awards 2008, “Best Practice in India” at the Trends Excellence Awards 2014, and their selection into “AD100“, the Architectural Digest India list of the most influential designers in India and South Asia during the years 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, have been some of their highly notable achievements.
Their project ‘House on a Stream’ won the best residential design award at the NDTV Home Design of the Year Awards 2013, the Trends Excellence Awards 2014, and the JKC Architecture of the Year Award 2015. Casa Brio received the Best Residential Interior award at the NDTV Architecture & Design Awards of 2015, and the IIID Awards 2017.
The Riparian House bagged the JK Architecture of the Year Award 2017, the IIID Awards in 2017, and was featured on the Merit List of 2016-2017. The house was also featured in the architectural BBC / Netflix documentary “The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes”.
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