Compiled by Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy LSDA
Noida-based LSDA excel at their recent non-intrusive landscape architecture that augments the beauteous resort ‘Aloha on the Ganges’ in Rishikesh…
To fructify our efforts at coexisting with nature, Nature herself lends a bountiful helping hand; a very basic premise that Neha Bhardwaj and Gaurav Kapoor, principals of Layers Studio for Design and Architecture (LSDA), recently discovered as they surveyed the terrain for the landscape project, ‘Aloha on the Ganges’.
At an absolutely breathtaking location, overlooking the mighty river Ganga in Rishikesh is the Aloha resort, literally in the lap of nature. Run by Leisure Hotels group, the resort is spread across 4.23 acres, out of which approx. 3.16 acres has been landscaped by LSDA. With nature having played its magic card, the architects decided to just flow with the natural gradient and topography, restricting site intervention in terms of grading and construction, resorting instead to the contextual use of local and sustainable materials, thus cultivating a serene and meditative feel.
Dividing the landscaping exercise into two majors regions - the entrance area and the garden adjacent to the river, the entire spread comes alive with lush terraces on one hand and sheer feel of the proximity to the river on the other.
The entrance is defined as a series of terraces planted with native trees along with a mix of auspicious and flowering trees, clearly focussed on weaving visual delight into the scenic vistas from the resort’s numerous lobbies and indoor restaurants.
The other side, the garden facing the Ganges, with its expansive lawns, restaurant and the infinity-edged swimming pool is naturally graded. Retaining walls are done away with throughout the entire landscape, thus reducing the need for cutting and filling or use of stone or concrete walls to hold earth. The area looks like a vast contiguous space, where guests can move freely from one level to another. By using the existing site levels and difference in ground levels, the restaurant kitchen is ingeniously tucked away under the swimming pool deck as well.
The highlight is the infinity-edged pool, perched as it is to create an illusory effect of the pool’s water seeming to fall directly into the mighty Ganges. Around this, the landscape features huge existing mountain rocks protruding from the lawns – a deliberately un-tampered with resonance with nature – with emphasis on coexisting and being one with the surroundings.
With attention to detail as the key underlining element, custom-designed lighting completes the picture. All path lights are actually planters that have lights incorporated at their bottom, so that during the day they do not stand as oddities in an otherwise seamless space. Even the pole lights are custom-designed using granite and mild steel frames giving them a sculptural look.