Sanjay Puri, the Principal Architect of Sanjay Puri Architects
Situated in Ranchi, a city in East India, Ishatvam 9 is a residential building on a small plot of 1800 sqm. Most of this city has existed with low rise development over the last few decades. However, the last few years have witnessed rapid urbanization and in response to this the governing rules which earlier allowed buildings of only 15m height and a buildable area equivalent to the plot size have been changed to allow 50m height as well as a buildable area 3 times the plot size.
These changed rules necessitated building a 15 storeyed building. Most of the city’s inhabitants have been used to living in individual houses with private gardens and open spaces. As a result of this, the few high rise residential buildings that have been constructed in this city still remain partially unoccupied due to the lack of private open spaces in them. As a response to this need, the apartments in Ishatvam 9 have been designed to occupy a complete floor opening out on all sides with each room extending into twenty feet high, double height decks. Each of the internal spaces thus extends into private sheltered open spaces.
Temperatures in Ranchi vary from 31° C average in the summer months and 12° C in the winter months. The extended decks for each room shelter the internal spaces from the excessive heat in the summer while becoming landscaped outdoor extensions to the rooms. The apartments are designed with minimal internal circulation spaces with a large living dining area located centrally from which all the rooms are accessed. This layout is done in response to the social habits of the people in the city where 3 generations are generally living together in the same house. The living room becomes the focal place within the house allowing for increased interaction between the many family members.
Ishatvam 9 is designed in response to the social needs of the residents of the city of its location providing each apartment with 20% open area as extensions to the internal spaces. An interesting aspect of the design of Ishatvam 9 in Ranchi is that it has been entirely constructed by a local small time contractor who has earlier only executed only very small projects. In fact, the contractor did not even have an email ID or an office. The contractor had a workforce of uneducated workers and largely worked on small houses. Our office created models of the building with blown up models of the bent forms to explain the geometry to the contractor.
Shuttering was first tried in plywood and later in steel sheets for the desired results. This process led us to create this building at a very low cost of only 23 USD per square foot and simultaneously train an entire civil construction workforce of 72 people to be able to execute larger and more complex projects than they had done earlier.
Amongst the most interesting features of this building are the large twisted balcony spaces. As opposed to normal balconies which are completely sheltered by the ones above, the balconies in Ishatvam 9 have diagonally opposite ends. This allows a resident to sit within the sheltered portion or enjoy the completely open portion within the same space, creating choices depending upon the weather or mood.