Mumbai-based architecture and urban design firm IMK Architects was honoured as a Winner at the prestigious 2021 Surface Design Awards, London, for the Symbiosis University Hospital and Research Centre (SUHRC), in a virtual ceremony on February 11. The firm also won in the ‘Public Building Exterior’ category for its design of SUHRC, a 96,000-square-metre, 216-bed, multi-speciality hospital in Lavale, near Pune, India.

Winners in the 12 categories were chosen from a pool of over 100 projects across the world. The award jury, co-chaired by Nicola Osborn from London-based multidisciplinary design studio, Basha-Franklin and Steve Webb of Webb Yates Engineers, London, commended IMK Architects for the use of Compressed Stabilised Earth Bricks (CSEB) at SUHRC.

CSEB is a naturally-compressed, sundried earthen brick, which is low-cost and  environment-friendly.IMK Architects used a mix of locally available red soil, sand and murum (deep red/brown soil found in tropical regions) to create these bricks for SUHRC. These were then compressed, stabilised with 7% cement, to ensure durability, and later moulded. All bricks were made by hand during construction, by masons hired from local communities, providing them with employment opportunities. The on-site manufacturing process was done by a block-making machine that not only reduced transportation costs and material wastage but also significantly reduced carbon emissions. This marks the first time that CSEB has been used on this scale anywhere across the world.

SUHRC represents a new and progressive face for healthcare infrastructure in India. The project is an exemplar of passive design and sustainability. IMK Architects’ design draws from the ideas of biophilia (an innate human tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life) to promote recovery and rejuvenation for patients and healthcare professionals. With its state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and a research centre to enhance skill development, it is firmly anchored as a COVID-19 quarantine and treatment facility, contributing to Maharashtra’s fight against the pandemic.

Rahul Kadri, Partner and Principal Architect, IMK Architects and Nithin Hosabettu, Design Director, IMK Architects said, “We wanted to design a hospital that could last around 50-100 years. Driven by this aim, we designed a façade with natural materials that would save on energy. The facade reflects the light from the sun in different ways through its twisted brick-boxed forms, to reduce internal heat gain and create a gleaming effect of light. We would like to thank the Surface Design Awards jury for this award, and our visionary clients, the Symbiosis Society, for having immense faith in us”.

Founded in 1957, IMK Architects is an architecture and urban design practice headquartered in Mumbai with another office in Bengaluru. It is led by the father-son duo of I. M. Kadri and Rahul Kadri who are supported by a 35-strong multidisciplinary team of architects, designers, planners, engineers and visualisation artists.

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