A tranquil retreat from city-life | Studio IAAD
Biophilic Design Provides An Escape From The City-Life | Elevate by Studio IAAD
Located in the plush suburbs of Gurugram in NCR, Elevate is a co-venture housing project marking the collaboration of Hines and Conscient, two major league developers in the Indian real estate sector. Spread across an area of about 10,000 sq.ft., the design scope comprised architecture, interiors, landscaping, and FFE, skillfully realized by Studio IAAD.
The holistic design brief allowed for a versatile and flexible intervention; the idea was to ‘elevate’ the person entering the condominiums from the chaos of the noisy world’s frantic pace to a quieter, peaceful space where they can relax and take a breath of fresh air. The biophilic approach, a signature of Studio IAAD’s brand, nurtures an intimate connection of the user with nature without foregoing modern comforts, whilst employing greenery as a buffer to mute the clangour of the cosmopolitan city, enabling well-being.
Nestled in a forest-like setting, the approach to the house evokes tranquility. The visitor is greeted with a narrow pathway on entry, wrapped in an enclosing thicket of overarching trees. It trails up to a circular courtyard with a sculpture at its nucleus, that embodies the aesthetics of grace, harmony and serenity. This courtyard connects to the building through a dynamic walkway peppered with abundant tropical trees and blossoming petunia flower beds on either side, activating the pedestrian experience and crafting a blissful forest-like environment. Encompassed with green canopies, the building seems to emerge from the verdant landscape, akin to the trees that surround it.
Steeped in a contemporary theme, the design also nods to rustic simplicity and examples of European aesthetics in the interiors. The structure metaphorically manifests itself as a glass box at the ground level, wrapped in transparent ribbons of glazing and holding up the levitating opaque mass that houses the private enclosed spaces on top. The expansive glass walls offer unhindered views of the scenic splendour around, enriching the visual experience. A sleek metal skeleton supports the structure, framing the glass facade and giving it a modern edge, thereby reducing the need for boxy columns. An open courtyard that forms the nexus of the project creates a niche in the building mass, dividing it into two distinct parts that remain visually connected. A conscious intervention places multiple human-form sculptures by Mukul Goyal to adorn the courtyard space with their faces directed towards the sky, representing the notion of being liberated and ‘elevated’.
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Within the main dwelling, the ground floor accommodates the experience center, a lounge, a café, and the audio-visual room, leading up to the show apartment, kids’ room, lounge, and meeting rooms at the top level. The seating spaces of the reception, outdoor deck, café, and lounge, are stitched together around the central courtyard, in an unceasing dialogue with each other and the infinite open sky. The spaces flow into one another and unfold as one moves along, enabling a gradual unwinding of the sensory experience instead of making a colossal impact instantly. Careful planning allows the optimization of spaces and an easy concourse of commodious rooms. The audio-visual room is a theatrical experience that allows the visitors to watch a movie when the screen is down and reveals the model room as the screen lifts, unraveling an added dimension. For experience centres, it is imperative to hold the visitor’s attention, so the spaces have been designed cohesively in tandem with this intent. A specially designed kids’ room allows young families to explore the building in uninterrupted peace while their kids indulge in recreational activities. The staircase is designed using opulent chandeliers to usher the visitors from the lifts towards the stairs in order to make the ascent a part of the enchanting experience.
The three-bedroom show apartment is finished in inconspicuous, neutral tones and materials, allowing potential home-buyers to layer their personalities onto the house. Each user can relate to their own space, making it a unique selling point for the apartment. Taking a cue from the natural surroundings, a soothing play of textures by ribbed wooden cladding and mirror panelling in subdued browns forms the highlight of the living room, accentuated by flooring and furniture in pristine white. A wrap-around balcony ties two bedrooms and a corner of the living room, creating a sizable spill-out space for relaxation and recreation, enabling transcendence into the enveloping quietude. A juxtaposition of coarse with the fine; awe-inspiring artworks adorn the walls of the house, leaving a solid and lingering impression on the minds of the visitor with a recall factor long after they have left. The artistry conjoined with carpets and lighting accessories in fresh and vibrant hues comes together and serenades the space with a warm, welcoming vibe- constituting a harmonious whole that exceeds the sum of its parts. A view gallery outside the apartment frames the sylvan panoramic vistas beneath the blue banner of the sky, acting as the epitome of the experience of ‘Elevate’ housing.
Many accessories, including the lighting fixtures and furniture, have been reused from a previous project, facilitating a sustainable approach to waste management. The sculptures will also become a part of the landscape in the housing project. Concentric cut-outs in the ceiling are designed to achieve a minimal yet elegant look, integrating both HVAC and lighting services into one. The structure is designed with metal, glass and wood as principal materials for quick construction, deconstruction and reuse.
The design corroborates a dialogue between the experience centre and the show apartments through a similar theme and vocabulary. Envisioned as a boutique hotel, the building is averse to the prevailing treatment of experience centres as an afterthought to housing developments. The ethereal slow-burn experience compels the visitor to sit and ponder, escaping in the forest’s therapeutic solitude, away from the outer world, becoming a placid haven that people want to connect to, engage with and inhabit.