Monday, April 27, 2020

Mana Ranakpur: Contextually rooted in the sublime

IAnD Exclusive


By Ar. Akshat Bhatt
Photography: courtesy  
Read time: 2 mins 
"Mana Ranakpur Akshat-Bhatt Nostalgia Indiaartndesign"
Mana Ranakpur (inset) Ar. Akshat Bhatt

Ar. Akshat Bhatt of Studio Architecture Discipline goes down memory lane with a project that not only uses architecture as a reflection of time and place but engages with the future and is of a progressive disposition.

When asked to design a boutique hotel that would be a unique, iconic experience for travelers in all seasons, Ar. Akshat Bhatt was deeply influenced by the contextual vocabulary of the project. 

"lightweight steel roof Mana Ranakpur Akshat-Bhatt Nostalgia Indiaartndesign"
"cottage cluster Mana Ranakpur Akshat-Bhatt Nostalgia Indiaartndesign"

Sited in the vivid, enchanted Udaipur valley in the Ranakpur province, the region shows a stark change of seasons and landscape, where the forest changes from Lush Green to bare and arid and the hills turn red during spring as the Tesu trees come to full bloom. Through this apparent harshness, extreme weather and striking landscape, the vernacular acts as a bare canvas and forms a stoic backdrop for this dramatic change of seasons. Amidst the vernacular milieu, the site was extremely challenging as a reclaimed riverbed with the water table at 600mm.

The hotel is evocatively fabricated in frugal stone masonry which is locally available as an expression of timelessness, space and contrast, old vs new, and the light vs heavy expressing the changing landscape throughout the year. As a public space with a service-intensive program, the establishment was conceived to celebrate order and dissonance, continuity, stability, the experience of slow-moving time and the vernacular as an imbibed ethos. These values were celebrated through an architectonic intervention, form and material play using a minimal palette of stone, glass, steel and vinyl - not distracted by too many surfaces and adopted to craft an architecture that is intense and bare-boned all at the same time. Concrete is used to a minimum. 

"masonry walls Mana Ranakpur Akshat-Bhatt Nostalgia Indiaartndesign"
"Mana Ranakpur Akshat-Bhatt Nostalgia Indiaartndesign"
"interiors Mana Ranakpur Akshat-Bhatt Nostalgia Indiaartndesign"

Traditional Indian architecture is typically associated with ornamental detailing, and more specifically in Rajasthan, the architecture connotes the forts and palaces through techniques that are resonant of the wealth and culture of the region. Architectural experience is about creating memories, and often, to insinuate traditional architecture in order to create a lasting image while adopting a universal aesthetic, intervention ends up being kitschy and pastiche. Techniques, Technology and methods of construction that draw from the region and are ‘of the earth’ get lost amid mainstream processes. 

Within this context, the design of Mana Ranakpur attempts to demonstrate the studio’s agenda of regional expression within a global context while being environmentally conscious, without adopting a kitschy intervention and predictable construction techniques. The local and regional forms of expression are explored as vital resources to create an architecture that engages with the future and is of a progressive disposition.

The project went on to win many awards and accolades; some being the:

  • 2014, The Emerson Cup Excellence Award | New Building Category – Emerging City, Hotel Mana Ranakpur, Udaipur
  • 2012, Young Designers | Citation of Excellence, Mana Ranakpur
  • World Architecture Community: Mana, Ranakpur
  • IIID Awards: Hospitality Design: Mana Ranakpur: 2012
Project: Mana Ranakpur
Typology: Hospitality
Scope: Architecture and Interior

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