Innovative Use of Architectural Materials

Contemporizing Craft

Our experience of a space is determined by firstly the volume it occupies and secondly, if not more importantly, by the tactility of the materials that establish the space's character and give it a personality. <rt-red> Consequently, materials form a large part of our memory of spatial experiences as long as they are authentic and create a unique story. <rt-red>

At Studio Lotus, this choice is influenced by the vision we hold for each project. We believe that a material palette must help create an authentic, cohesive identity of a space while responding to the uniqueness of its context.

Innovation in material usage should be pared back to focus on technique and processes. By contemporizing craft, the use of everyday materials can yield stunning results. <rt-red> Artisans can be trained to adapt their craft to modern sensibilities, creating bespoke solutions that create a unique identity for a space and provide a platform for the revival of dying crafts. <rt-red> In fact, an extensive and iterative process of value engineering can help ensure the financial viability of customized solutions, ensuring the cost-effectiveness associated with off the shelf solutions.

While material application is always seen as a process of 'addition', we have explored using material as a process of 'subtraction' by revealing the basic structure and materiality of a space—this is especially relevant for historic sites. For example, at the Baradari at City Palace Jaipur, we stripped down the cement plaster from the 18th-century premises to reveal the stone masonry beneath, which helped reinforce the linkage between the heritage brand with its historic locality. In addition, the crafted, polished fixtures and fittings in the space created in metal and glass created a unique contrast to the historic shell.

Another innovative use of architectural materials can be explored by focusing on their eventual ageing, an approach we adopted when designing Godrej Imagine Studio at The Trees in Vikhroli. <rt-red> Corten Steel tends to 'bleed' over time. This weathering of material helped cultivate an authentic industrial aesthetic for the marketing centre, in tune with the area's cultural legacy in which it was situated. <rt-red> The Trees stand today where the erstwhile Godrej Industrial Complex once did, and the choice of material helps assert a sense of continuity.

Ultimately, the idea of innovation must be looked at in terms of the project intent; there is no one-size-fits-all approach that can be adopted to push the envelope in the field of design. <rt-red> Adaptation of traditional wisdom using contextual cues can be just as effective as technological innovations undertaken with a futuristic vision. As designers, the responsibility of choosing the appropriate approach is entirely ours. <rt-red>

Attached Projects