Text description provided by the architects. The Saxena apartments are designed to accommodate three families within two typologically distinct apartments - single floor and duplex. Our design chose to work within the fabric and scale of the context, anchoring this building firmly between a neighbourhood park on the north and a busy street on the west. Each apartment is envisioned as a container of sunlight, mapping the changing intensity of the sun on a highly reflective limestone floor. Rooms are organized around an interior “plaza”, eliminating circulation corridors and facilitating visual links between the rooms to the park and street outside. The choice of monolithic, sandblasted Gwalior sandstone panels for the facades enabled us to collaborate with the stone craftsmen, creating shade screens as thermal buffers on the street. By reducing the density of the stone on the north facing balconies, we imagined them as lanterns illuminating the public garden.
As humanists, the social and contextual background of our material choices is as important as their aesthetic value. Designing and building thoughtfully are vital to the sustenance of our practice, if only as an antidote to the indifference with which the average Indian regards architecture.
By employing a spare palette of materials – limestone floors, plastered masonry walls, and insulated glass – the interior spaces echo variations in the quality of light, and the colour of the surrounding foliage, the only urban links to topography and landscape, making the inhabitants aware of a sense of the elemental. For this project, we chose to adopt a selection of surfaces whose long-term benefits are considerable; hence our preference to build with singular materials expressed in their natural state such as the Gwalior sandstone façade or the limestone floors.
We take great pride when our designs empower daily-wage construction workers to consider themselves artisans. Rather than bemoaning rapidly vanishing craft traditions, we are energized by the prospect of elevating standards of construction across the building industry. By discovering the roots of a place through such cues, we hope that small buildings may succeed in galvanizing their urban context.