By Marina Correa
Photography: courtesy SNK Architects
|Fern Residency at The Acres Hotel|
Architect firm Somaya & Kalappa turn Indian ethnicity on its head to create a fine balance between culture-driven design and its contemporary idiom.
Often unseen and little-known to most Indians, the myriad and beautifully-formed Indian ethnic scripts are the fulcrum of design at the Fern Residency at The Acres Hotel in Chembur, Mumbai…
A fine balance has been struck between lucidly and subtly showcasing calligraphic scripts throughout the hotel’s public and private spaces. For instance, a large mural at the lobby lounge is a pastiche of Indian manuscripts interwoven with mythological imaginary as are the graceful and elegant strokes of inscribed Tamil lettering on a nearby coffee table. A more lucid interpretation can be seen in the works of art that adorn individual rooms with a description below explaining the antecedents of each script.
On a subtler note, one can appreciate the beauty of the Bodhi tree tile-mural without realizing that it is defined by the decorative, confident and sinuous strokes of the Bengali language characters. Similarly, calligraphic lettering on the background of the communication cubicles gives them an abstract art-like feel.
Since the site was not in the heart of the city, the design firm needed to focus on an inward-looking strong and intriguing concept; also they were keen to work on a never-before used Indian theme. “Inspired by the artwork of Ashok Parab and our interest in Indian scripts, we decided to amplify his work through varying mediums – paintings, film on glass, motifs on furniture…” says Nandini Somaya Sampat, project architect.
Using primary colours and a dominant script to represent each of the four zones - North, South, East and West, the rooms are assigned a thematic. For instance, the Gurmukhi script of Punjab represents the North zone and is accorded the radiant and resplendent red colour, which then permeates into the soft furnishings, headboards, tiles and walls on two floors of the hotel. Ditto with the others.
On the exterior front, the Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) fins façade not only lends a contemporary vocabulary to this 64,000 sq ft boutique hotel but also bifurcates each of the rooms visually and blocks out glare sans obstructing the view.
Surmounting the challenges posed in terms of detailing with several rounds of mock-ups, colour print checks, mounting, etc.; also the narrow site; maintaining a balance between getting a strong concept in place, yet not visually overwhelming a visitor; and working within a restricted budget, put the firm to test – but they seem to have passed with flying colours!