Sangath is Architect B. V. Doshi’s Studio designed by him located in the historic city of Ahmedabad. This cluster of white curved vaults with arched openings is one of the most recognizable buildings in India. The studio reflects upon his philosophies on architecture and influence from architects Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Completed construction in 1981, the total cost of the project was Rs. 0.6 million.
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Also designed by B.V. Doshi: The School of Architecture Learning – CEPT, Ahmedabad
Sangath stands for “moving together” in Sanskrit. Thus, the concept behind this masterpiece is evident through its fluidity and its interaction with nature. Although grounded to its local context, the structure has a modernist approach in its design.
The meandering trail towards the studio projects beautiful vistas on either side, while decorative pots and sculptures adorn the well-maintained gardens. The vegetation is strategically placed to the site conditions while bringing a visual appeal to the visitor.
The patterned tiles demarcate the direction while bringing mystery simultaneously. Since some of the vault structures are below ground level, one could easily walk on the terrace and peep through the windows. The environment organically modulates around the sunken vaults through landscape elements and reflective pools.
Sangath conceals behind a wall in a serene spot that contradicts the bustling city of Ahmedabad. The site area is 2346 sq. meters, while the total built-up area is 585 sq. meters.
The interior spaces are climatically responsive to the hot and humid climate by strategically orienting towards winds from the south-west and west side, thus facilitating natural ventilation. Dense trees tackle the intense heat from the west and south facade.
The studios have a double-height volume surmounted by vaults with skylights placed in different corners. They permit natural ventilation into the studio by forcing hot air to rise due to the stack effect. The studio also consists of mezzanine floors where people can work in intimate spaces.
The mosaic china tiles coving the vaults bring texture and simplicity to the façade. The white tiles impact the microclimate within the buildings in two ways. Firstly, the tiles provide the surface area to reflect the light and diffuse the intensity of light entering. Secondly, the white tone absorbs less heat into the building. Moreover, pavements and roofs make use of crushed tiles and other waste materials. Continuity and harmony are brought by infusion of the smooth white interior walls.
3) VAULTS AND STORAGE WALLS
The vaults increase the interior volume to provide space for hot air to rise. The radius of the vault structure is about 2.5 metres, while its thickness is about 22 centimetres. Its curvature causes light to reflect and redirect within as indirect sunlight.
The unplastered walls are about a metre deep and hollow that performs two functions. It is used as storage spaces for the studio while also cooling the interiors.
4) SUBTERRANEAN STRUCTURE
It facilitates natural insulation by using earth masses since the entire interior portion of the building is underground. The structure sits along the site’s contours, thus the undulating nature of its volume.
5) WATER CHANNELS AND POOLS
The water channels run along the periphery of the terrace. Moreover, it is slightly curved such that the storm-water collected drains into the troughs. The water passively cools the building while enhancing its visual ambiance and playfulness.
The main spaces in Sangath are as follows:
- Interaction Spaces
- Design Studio
- Conference Room
- Recreational Spaces
The great masters of architecture inspire and continues to do so through their buildings. A few of the inspirations observed in Sangath are as follows:
1) Ear shaped pool – Le Corbusier
2) Amphitheatre steps – Alvar Aalto and F. L. Wright
3) Broken china mosaic – Antonio Gaudi
4) Water pool and fountain – Louis Kahn
The climatic responsive architecture has created the following impact:
1) A significant difference in temperature of about 8-degree Celsius.
2) Reduction in cooling energy by 30-50%
3) Water conservation and cut costs on water
4) Cut costs on finishing by 10%
5) Recycling waste materials