‘What building does this site really want to see? What is the happiness quotient? What comfort spaces are we about to build? How should we design spaces that have the capability of being loved?’ (The psychology of design ll Sandeep Khosla, 2020) If we as architects answer these questions, many design problems are solved easily. But do we ask such questions to ourselves? There are few firms out there who think about it. One is the architecture and interior design firm – Khosla and Associates, started in 1995 in Bangalore, India, by Sandeep Khosla. As Amaresh Anand joined the firm in 1998, it is headed by Sandeep and Amaresh, dealing with projects from residences to corporate offices, retail to hospitality spaces. Their clients range from individual homeowners to companies like Biocon, Westbridge capital, The Park hotels, Nike, MTV, Hark Rock Café, and educational institutions like Delhi Public School and Doon School.  

‘Wallpaper magazine (U.K) listed Khosla Associates in 2011 as one of India’s 10 most innovative architectural practices.’ (Associates, n.d.) Architectural Digest listed Khosla Associates as the most influential name in Indian Architecture and Design (2014-19). Apart from these honorary mentions, the firm has also won various awards like ‘Inside Outside Designer of the Year Award, 2010’, Education category winner at WAF/INSIDE Festival 2013 in Singapore, Winner of WAN House of the Year 2017 in London, Winner of Bar/Restaurant Interior of 2018 at the Trends Excellence Awards, and many more.

The firm’s design philosophy revolves around drawing inspiration from traditional concepts, crafts, and local materials and working with a contemporary design approach. It focuses on creating experiential spaces that are beautiful, peaceful, dramatic, and have a narrative quality. The ones that reference the old give a hint of nostalgia and are innovative. While designing for a tropical environment, the architecture is climate-sensitive, and a relationship between the built form and the external environment gets created. They look at the design holistically by blurring the boundaries between architecture, interior, landscape, furniture, and lighting. Since the first project of a series of tropical homes, the firm did and is still doing, it is a continuation of traditional concepts with a contemporary approach in their projects.

Thakker House, Bangalore, 1999

The client Milind and Anjana Thakkar gave their requirement of clear lung space that can become the main interaction area for family and guests. Thus, the architects designed an L-shaped configuration opening into a private southeast garden and corner intersection of two wide roads.

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Thakker House, Bangalore_©Ram Rahaman

The design has an element of surprise and unfolding of visual experience. The double height volume of the foyer gets screened by a low wall. It partially and intentionally interrupts one’s vision from looking towards the entire view of the swimming pool and garden. The patio has a curved profile that extends to the vertical wall of the home office. A person standing in the garden gets to see the sweeping form of the house and the sloping roof forms.

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View from the garden of Thakker House, Bangalore_©Ram Rahaman

The house seems to float on the pool as if it is hugging its perimeter. The converging steel roof structure covered with a double layer of clay tiles keeps the space cool in summer.

Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore, 2018

The constraint of the project was the tight plot of land. The challenge was to maximize its efficiency while maintaining the feeling of openness and light. To solve it, the architects came up with the idea of column-free floor plates on each of the three floors. It worked due to the shuttered concrete lift, staircase core, and the peripheral upturn beams at sill level. Windows extended to the roof slab, and an overhang of 2ft protected the windows from rain.

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Ground Floor Plan of Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore_©Khosla Associates
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Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore_©Shamanth Patil J.

The wooden jaali box protected the openable windows. The jaali pattern derives from the whimsical ‘Dash Dash Dot’ series of Terrazzo Tiles designed by Sandeep and Tania for Bharat floorings. The wooden jaalis helped filter daylight, screening undesirable views, cross-ventilation, a layer of security to the building, and playful patterns in the interior space. The pattern of jaali became the backdrop for the reception area. The carved spaces foster creativity and promote collaboration between designers

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Playful patterns created by the jaali patterns at Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore_©Shamanth Patil J.
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Backdrop of the reception area at Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore_©Shamanth Patil J.

A lightweight staircase is constructed through blue steel and timber. It acts like a vertical spine that runs through all the floors. It is bathed through natural light every day. The environmental graphics on one of the walls of the staircase celebrates it by providing spaces for encounters, conversation, and landings to pause and continue. 

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Section of Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore_©Khosla Associates
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Staircase at Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, Bangalore_©Shamanth Patil J.

The materials used in the project are textural and monochromatic. The walls are of bricks with Kerala roofing tiles painted white. The concrete finished form with flooring made of screed cement. In rooms, flooring is of patterned terrazzo. Different colors create environmental graphics with loose furniture and cabinetry made of oak. Some mid-century furniture pieces are also in use. These are the pieces from the demolished 1950s Bangalore house.

Rain Tree House, Chennai, 2022

The recent project by Khosla Associates again proved that context plays a vital role in designing. The southern periphery of the house has a magnificent and ancient rain tree. Its sculptural roots define the entrance court of the house. It influences the spatial layout of the house and its four bedrooms. The L-Shaped plan placed at the N-S axis has a living area at its center. It is open to the giant rain tree at its south and a linear Koi Pond and garden at its north. There are a series of 4 sliding doors gathering at one end and merging the outdoors with the living area. The S-N direction openings promote cross-ventilation by keeping the space cool in intense summers.

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Ancient Tree at Raintree House, Chennai_©Shamanth Patil J.
Series of sliding doors at Raintree House, Chennai_©Shamanth Patil J.

The ground floor consists of living, dining, family, kitchen, study, and guest bedroom. The first floor has a master bedroom, an open family area, and two children’s rooms. The materials are polished grey Kota stone for flooring, walnut wood flooring in a few bedrooms, and accent cast concrete walls in the master bedroom.

For the past 20 years, Khosla Associates has been trying to develop the vision of ‘Indian Modern’ sensibility by using the traditional ideas implemented with an international style. Out of the various projects, the above-discussed three projects display its vision. The use of clay tiles in the Thakker house, wooden jaalis in Khosla Associates and tsk Design Studio, and the placement of the building in the N-S direction in Rain Tree House depict the modernity of India while using traditional concepts.

References:

  1. Associates, K., n.d. Khosla Associates Architecture + Interior Design. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.khoslaassociates.com/project/khosla-associates-tsk-design-studio/
    [Accessed August 2022].
  2. Pintos, P., n.d. archdaily. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/923428/khosla-associates-and-tsk-design-studio-khosla-associates
    [Accessed August 2022].
  3. The psychology of design ll Sandeep Khosla. 2020. [Film] Mumbai: FOAID.
Author

Nisha Dugar is a recently graduated architect from Nirma University (2022). She has an ambition of generating knowledge of architecture among the general public through her words. With an inclination toward urban and historical research, she is interested in architectural journalism and criticism.

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