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© TAO Architects / PC: Hemant Patil


Scope of Work: Architecture & Interior Design Location:  Jodhpur, Rajasthan Team: Ar. Manish Banker, Ar. Shailesh Untawale Landscape Architect: Roots Design, Pune Structural Designer: Sunil Mutalik& Associates, Pune Plumbing: Salil Karkhanis Environment: UrjaMitra Carpentry: ChaganlalSutar Contractor: Mr. Sabir Shaikh, Jodhpur Photographs: Hemant Patil Plot Area: 67813 Sq. ft. Built up Area:7911 Sq. ft. Completion:2011


The site is located on the outskirts of Jodhpur and is surrounded by empty plots. There are hills on the North & West sides of the plot at a distance.

The team engaged in an exploratory exercise, soaking in the city of Jodhpur, and studying its vast cultural heritage. A peak into the local materials, crafts, and construction methods, along with the history and traditions of the people, made it obligatory to develop a design vocabulary, sensitive to the context of the site. The residence would sustain the modern lifestyle of the clients, while incorporating traditional elements connecting them to their roots. A study of the Rajasthani vernacular reinforced our belief in the inherent sustainability ingrained in the designs of our forefathers;inspiring the incorporation of elements like arches, jaalis, ‘Machans’, and pergolas into the design; not only for their aesthetic appeal, but also to counter the harsh climatic conditions of the site. Local sandstone, limestone, lime mortar, makrana marble, along with clay tiles and pots proved the most climatically efficient and economical materials for the project. Moreover, local crafts in wood, metal, stone and glass inspired the interior theme for the home.

The main house is located at the south-west corner of the site, which allows the living areas and terrace to open up on the north-east where there is low solar radiation. The office block located at the north-west corner of the site abuts the road displaying the character of the development.

Jodhpur city is replete with specimens of artistic and cultural heritage, its older extents dotted with majestic forts and palaces housing royal intricate pieces of art.
Set on a 2-acre plot in the outskirts of the ‘blue city’, Shunyam is a stately single-family retirement home, reflecting the grandeur of Jodhpur’s historic palaces while justifying the family’s necessities through an explorative integration of the vernacular with the contemporary. The project is the result of unrelenting teamwork and collaboration between the design team, skilled local artisans, understanding clients and a well-meaning team of passive cooling experts.
The central focus of thedesign was an architectural solution responding to local culture, aesthetics and climate through incorporation of traditional construction techniques to fulfil modern living requirements.  Semi-private living areas like the living room, kitchen, hobby room and family rooms are essentially free flowing spaces enclosing a set of twin courtyards.

Private living areas are seamlessly integrated with their outdoor environment through independent verandahs and sit-outs. Utilities and service areas are planned along the boundary as an insulating barrier against the elements.Separate built masses are segregated by jaalis and opened up to the outside through arches in sandstone.
Strategic placement of traditional elements like- stone jaalis, courtyards, recessed circular openings, arches and skylights breathes fresh air and daylight into the living spaces, interlacing the built elements with their site and surroundings. Evaporative cooling towers and stack ventilation towers with turbo vents set up an active cross ventilation system responding aptly to the extreme desert climate of the city.Passive ventilation techniques and traditional architectural language have been utilized with a contemporary approach, creating a statement that blends style with sustainability.
Local pink and red sandstone has been used for walls and ceilings to prevent heat transmission on account of its thermally insulative properties. The roof is insulated using clay pots loaded with lime mortar over sandstone slabs.Locally available makrana marble Is used for flooring in living spaces, whereas shisham wood flooring is used for warmth in the private spaces. Printed and woven textiles used as carpets and tapestry, add a splash of colour to the monochromatic hues of exposed local materials.

Colored glass mosaic, integrated with door panels transmit lively beams of daylight into the minimalistic interiors. Traditional architectural elements like carved brackets, jaalis, screens, arches, furniture and accessories; expressed in natural materials, synchronous with the local architectural vocabulary of Jodhpur, impart a homogeneity to the spaces; creating a single unified, interrelated composition.

The green environs of the building, combined with preserved fruit orchards and picturesque views of hilly landscapes to the north and west; give the home the character of a contemplative retreat.

Stone: Red and Pink Sandstone for masonry, slabs and compound wall; Local Makrana marble for flooring; Lakha red granite for kitchen tops and utility counters
MS I sections for slab as beams and columns
Lime and sand for mortar, joints and waterproofing
Lime plaster walls in toilets with organic pigmented blue color
Timber: Local Sisam wood for bedroom flooring, ceiling, furniture and doors
Colored glass: For door panels, light fittings and crockery
Textile: Local printed and woven textiles for curtains, furnishings and carpets
China mosaic for terrace floor finish
Earthen pots for air insulation over terrace stone slab
Colored glass for doors and hanging lamps
Jaalis, arches, circular openings, and jharokhas carve in sandstone integrate traditional construction elements of Rajasthani Architecture into the building
Hand crafted doors, furniture and accessories in wood, glass and metal revive local crafts while connecting the residents to their traditional roots
Locally available and recyclable materials like local stone, wood, textiles, colored glass, traditional furniture, artifacts & light fittings were used to minimize the transportation costs & bring in the local skill and character of the place.
All the Materials use in the house were sourced from within 200km radius of Jodhpur.

Traditional Stone construction to build the entire structure.
Load bearing RCC foundations (the only use of RCC in the entire structure)
All the walls are load bearing, with 300 mm thickness built in red stone with lime mortar. Use of concrete wasavoided making the design ecologically friendly.
Load bearing Stone Arches, 350 mm thick, define the language of openings in the entire house.
The slab construction uses M.S I girders to form the primary supporting members & stone slabs are laid on top of them.
Stone masonry is designed as three layers of 100mm. With both faces having full stone and central layer with stone pieces and mortar.
The twin courtyards develop positive and negative pressure areas, assisting in the passive cross ventilation of the entire house.
Conscious planning keeps all primary functional room insulated by peripheral support service room likes store, toilets, verandah, corridors, courtyards, etc.
Single loaded corridors as buffer zones, integrating storage, sit-outs, services and circulation; protect private spaces from harsh climatic conditions, by keeping direct solar radiation off the walls
Turbo vents set atop exhaust shafts extract hot air from the living spaces, while the cooling towers filter fresh air into the structure, chilling it with mist and integrating it with the cross-ventilation cycle to keep the house cool and comfortable.
Earthen pots form an insulation layer on top of the ceilings, protecting the interior spaces from thermal radiation, while China mosaic tiles used as roof finish reflecting sunlight and prevent absorption of heat.
Openings in parapet wall help to generate passage of air above the terrace, thus cooling the surface.
The enclosed and the semi covered spaces areclosely knit
All the enclosed areas are located at the north and south facades,whereas 90% semi  covered  and  open  spaces lie  along  the  east- west  axis,  thus  providing  a  path  for  uninterrupted  air  circulation.
The  house  opens along  the  east- west  axis  allowing uninterrupted  view all  along  the farmland.
Recessed glazing allows for shading of openings while admitting daylight into the spaces
Maximum advantage of Natural Light & Ventilation was taken from the Architectural envelope, reducing the energy consumption & achieving Energy Efficiency
Bare stone wall architectural envelope was used as an element to enhance the interior spaces, plaster, paints and false ceiling were avoided to reduce VOC emissions
Stone jails (screens) allow glare free light to penetrate in the interior spaces along with continuous natural ventilation
The colored glasses used in the door panels as well as walls allow diffused light in interior spaces.
Rain water is harvested every season
Project uses half of electrical energy compared to the neighboring houses