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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.