Headed by Ar Neha Bhardwaj and Gaurav Kapoor from SPA Delhi, Layers Studios for Design & Architecture understands that built environments in today’s times are complex structures with numerous overlapping layers of activity, functions, usage patterns, aesthetics, desires and prospects for the future. The studio tries to understand the needs of the clients from their projects and provide comprehensive design solutions based on their individual requirements and aspirations. Working in the fields of Architecture, Landscape Design and Interior design, the aim of the practice has been to incorporate local traditions, international ideas, respect for the environment and cutting edge technology in its design sensibilities. The studio strongly believes that all design activity should be a “way of life” which governs our decisions at every point in our daily lives.
Take us through the design journey of LSDA?
Layers Studio for Design and Architecture was established in 2009. We both are graduates from SPA, New Delhi, 2007 batch. Prior to starting LSDA, I worked with TEAM while Neha used to work with Integral Design, a Landscape design firm. At that time, only a handful of firms were providing comprehensive design services catering to every aspect of architecture and design. In order to fill the void, we set up Layers Studios for Design and Architecture (LSDA).
We are also inspired by the work of great architects like Geoffrey Bawa and Louis Kahn whose work have no defined boundaries between building and landscape. We want to create more such spaces.
At LSDA while we work on every kind of project, our USP lies in hospitality project mostly situated on prominant tourist destinations on mountains. These are majorly resort projects where we create the plan for the entire facility. The USP of LSDA is that we are not just architects but comprehensive solution providers.
Your major breakthrough project?
The breakthrough came with Aloha on the Ganges which was our first project with Leisure Hotels, one of the biggest hotel chains in Uttarakhand with more than 20 properties across the state. It is one of the most popular resort properties in Rishikesh. The resort is a 4 acre property where along with other amenities, we have designed an Infinity Pool which creates an illusion of water falling in the River Ganges while still being on a cliff almost 30 mts above the river.
A challenge in a large-scale hospitality project is the higher number of parties involved, i.e., clients, consultants, etc. Here, the design has to be flexible enough to accept suggestions or incorporate changes.
What are the challenges of large scale hospitality project particularly in hilly areas?
The availability of materials is one of the prime challenges of designing a large scale project in mountains. Unlike any metro city where you have hundreds of materials at your behest, we like to design sustainable with the available materials around the site. The challenge of limited palette of materials causes you to create innovative solutions. In addition, barring Nainital and Mussoorie, all our sites are in the remote areas and thus we have to create design that respond to the context.
Another challenge in a large scale hospitality project is the higher number of parties involved, i.e., clients, consultants etc., and thus making a conducive design. Here, the design has to be flexible enough to accept suggestions or incorporate changes. There are instances where during excavation, we have encountered huge rocks which later became a part of design.
How do you select the material palette for any project?
In terms of materials, the foremost crucial factor is the availability. We tend to use materials that are locally available. Stone is one material that is abundant on hills and thus features heavily in most of our projects. Another important factor is the theme of the project. Our design language is very down to earth and hence we usually avoid glossy materials. However, if a project requires, we do choose glossy materials. In addition, our designs tend to flow from indoors to outdoors. Hence we choose materials that can be used anywhere in different finishes or colours. We also try to reuse whatever comes out of the site.
Being young makes you a little vulnerable to the client’s scrutiny as they often feel that we are not ‘upto the job’. In fact, I was once asked by a client younger to me that “don’t you think you should have some grey hair on your head?” the project didn’t work out and I think that was a good response.
Your advice to young architects and designers?
While trends may come and go, you need to be consistent with your work. As an architect, we should have a core set of principles which will help in the changing times. Architecture is a difficult field and needs a lot of patience. While there may be instances that are beyond our control despite doing a lot of hardwork, it must not deter your passion for work. Patience and perseverance are two things really required in this field. You also have to learn to say ‘No’ sometimes if you want to build up a good practice.
Being young makes you a little vulnerable to the client’s scrutiny as they often feel that we are not ‘upto the job’. In fact, I was once asked by a younger client that “don’t you think you should have some grey hair on your head?”. As expected, the project didn’t work out and I think it was a good response.
Message for SURFACES REPORTER
I have been following Surfaces Reporter for quite some time. I love your coverage of any project. Also, I truly appreciate your goal towards promoting women architects and designers through WADe. Instead of focussing on few big names in the industry, you also look for people who are working at ground level for an overall ideal coverage of the field. When a client sees that, they feel good and confident to give work to others and not just few renowned names.
Aloha On the Ganges
Aloha on the Ganges was LSDA’s breakthrough project, their first project with Leisure Hotels, one of the biggest hotel chains in Uttarakhand with more than 20 properties across the state. It is one of the most popular resort properties in Rishikesh today.
The most stunning and drop-dead gorgeous site in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. With minimum intervention and maximum effect, LSDA designed this landscape for a resort on the banks of the Ganges. The stones that came out of the rocky site itself lends a powerful character to the entire landscape design. With almost no retaining walls, the entire site, graded to form terraces, just blends seamlessly with the mountains and the river. And what can really be said about that Infinity Pool. A picture speaks a thousand words!!
High Above In a Glasshouse!!
Somewhere in Delhi, not too far away from Delhi life, on the edge of a self created Jungle of native trees, lies this small Glasshouse to give expansive views of the Jungle and the sunset!! The Glasshouse is literally all glass, including the roof!! A rickety guard room made out of bamboo and wood stood at its place. It was used by the owner to feed Nilgais in the Jungle. So, he wanted to make a space from where he and his family could enjoy the spectacular view!
Typology: Guesthouse Architecture
Client: Jamna Auto Industries
Location: Vasant Kunj, Delhi
Project Size: 1000 sqft
The Glasshouse is literally all glass, including the roof!! A rickety guard room made out of bamboo and wood stood at its place.