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Vibrant Technik

Sustainable & Sensible Approach Can Create Better Designs

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Please tell us about your practice?

I started my architectural  practice in 1989, after graduating from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. The driving force behind the journey of over three decades has always been the openness to continuous learning, the quest for excellence and the sheer joy and pride in our work.

As an architectural firm, we have grown exponentially by accepting every challenge that came its way. We not only provide technically sound advice, but cutting edge technology and engineering, trendy, modernistic architecture, interiors and landscape designs.
I have poured in my passion, commitment, wholehearted enthusiasm, hope and my energy in all my work, maintaining a high level of integrity and commitment.

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At HPA, H stands for happiness, P for positivity and A for accountability. That tells our philosophy. We are a small team of 20 people based at Ahmedabad, the place is known as the Mecca of architecture. We do architecture, interior design and landscape design. We are constantly looking for timeless quality in all our works.

What inspired you to become an architect?

 

Facade Design

My father was a town planner and my two elder brothers studied civil engineering. I saw them making models and at a young age itself I came to know that an architect will design for engineers. Also, our neighbours were key faculties at NID, and that too made me get into architecture. Right from my childhood, I was fascinated by seeing architecture around. So I preferred to enter this field rather than any other choices. I could have chosen computer science or medicine as I was a bright student.

Could you please talk about a few of your ongoing projects?

 

Architectural windows

We are working on various projects in various places across the country – from hotels to private houses to small extension of community centres. For us, all our projects are quite exciting. Right now, we are working on an ITC hotel project in Ahmedabad which is an inspiration from Gujarat‘s heritages like step wells, Vadnagar’s Toran and the jaali at the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque.

This is a huge hospitality project. We have a green office, which has a free form of the roof and working spaces below, and the office is surrounded by a

beautiful garden.

Also, we have a private house built completely in exposed RCC (concrete) which has cantilevers in all sides. This floating house is in the middle of existing trees. We are working on a few big real estate projects.
We put our heart and soul in all our projects so that the end users get a better experience and living. HPA is doing a few projects for corporate companies including pharmaceutical companies, F&B, sanitary ware companies, etc., designing their administration building and also interiors.

Tell us about your completed projects featuring innovative façade and fenestration designs?

All our projects have a deep relationship with their surroundings and nature. This makes all our work more open to nature, having large fenestrations. In most of our projects, we have huge verandas in front of them to protect the windows. Considering the materials for façades, our choice could be wood, aluminium or uPVC. Also, screen façade is a major design element in our works. Recently we finished a house which has inspirations from western classical houses.

Such houses have wood windows, and we created a similar feel in thin aluminium sections. We have used wood for façade screens, as the wood gives a cosy feel and it cuts down the harsh sun and also creates interesting patterns of light and shadows. In one of our projects, we have used a pivoted window screen from wood which gives lots of possibilities for openings. A similar system was taken further and bamboo pivoted windows were created for the community centre for underprivileged kids.

Façades and cladding industries in India have gone through a sea change in the past decade. Tell us about the latest in façade & cladding material and technologies available in the Indian market and those used in your projects?
We have endless options for façade treatments and in the selection of cladding materials and techniques. In our projects, we use more of natural materials for cladding, but the other man made options are also very creative and we are open to those too.

Metal cladding options are available and they give a lot of design possibilities. Corten steel and zinc metal façades are quite in vogue and are popular among designers. Also, high laminated façades are light and easy to install. Such cladding materials work very well for high-rise buildings. The dry cladding technics are also good and give protection to the building too. Such cladding increases the overall life of the building.

What are the key factors to consider while designing and installing façades & fenestration?

The key factors to consider are the ease of maintenance and the timeless quality of the materials used in the façade / fenestrations. We prefer natural materials for façades. But at times, especially for high rise buildings, such natural materials for entire façade become difficult to source. Here designers use the lighter material with the impression of the natural materials and use the natural material only in areas where one can touch and feel. This is a very practical approach. This saves the cost of buildings, the maintenance cost of the building at the same time gives the desired results. For better outside views, the building requires large openings and also as the height increases, such large opening faces lots of wind pressure. Here one can go for thin window solutions in aluminium or steel.

Please brief on the technical factors which help to build energy efficient façades and fenestration?

Deep and wide openings bring in a lot of daylight inside the spaces and they can protect the interiors from the harsh sun too. This makes a building more energy efficient and is a basic design principle for a hot climate. We are lucky to have direct sun rays which is available in most part of the country throughout the year. Generating energy from the glass is a good idea even if it is a bit expensive. We need to invent and produce such glasses locally. Also, if the cladding is used for aesthetics, the same can help in sun protection too. The dry cladding generates a cavity between the external façade and the main structure. The air trapped in between keeps the building cool, as it works as an insulator.

What are your views on future façade & fenestration technologies, and materials?

jaali

In India, we are experimenting with various technologies for façades and it is just the beginning. As our economy is getting stronger, many more such options will get introduced which would be more affordable. With these, we will end up building much better façades and buildings in the future.

We are expecting a lot more changes with the introduction of 3D printing technologies and the use of the same at the site. Introduction of robotics in the construction of buildings caters to more accuracy and safety in construction.

According to you, what is an intelligent façade? How can intelligent façades bring in the greenhouse effect and also restricting intensive use of air conditioners?

sustainable facade design

The intelligent façade is not a complicated design solution. Simple, intelligent thinking can bring a great design solution and reduce the power consumption of the air-conditioners in the hot climate, and also make the interiors warmer in cold climate.
Sustainable approach and sensitivity can help for better design. In India, we are on the fast track and good policy making will definitely control the wrong deeds in construction and can make a better living environment for all.

Please tell us about the latest trends in exterior cladding designs and materials?

Green building

People and designers are looking for permanent solutions. That is why coloured or painted cladding is getting more popular compared to painted façades. I would say that exposed concrete or exposed brick work is still preferred by many designers over any cladding solutions. With so many design software available, the designers are driven by these tools which could help create a lot more design alternatives. This, surely, is good for the fraternity, but sensible work is a must.

There are many cladding materials available in the market. How do you choose the apt one for your project? What are the criteria?

Green Building facade

We look at the natural materials as our first choice. And second is the materials which emulate the natural materials. Many a times, we need to depend on various technologies which could help to make materials resembling these natural ones. We cannot keep cladding buildings with wood since this will lead to deforestation and we will end up not having forest anymore. Hence we have to make do with replica of it and that is what is happening at the moment. These are smart façade solutions, which are sensible, economical and easy to maintain.

What is your advice to young, aspiring architects?

Keep working, and be sensible to design and to your duty. We can’t take our profession lightly.

The Façade  of Courtyard House

sustainable building design

The courtyard house at Ahmedabad is designed with a grid of 7’x7’. The house has been designed in such a way that all the living spaces and passages faces and opens into a garden, which was also the main design concept since its inception, thus creating a central courtyard which holds the reflection pool making it a major design element.

This also makes the design an introvert one, leaving the garden at the backside, but still visible and accessible from all the rooms of the house. The formal living room comes first along with 2 bedrooms followed by 9’ wide passage parallel to the central courtyard and reflection pool. The passage ends to the dining room and family room. This area is a maximum used area, thus has a big verandah all three sides, which adds the value to the north side garden. This house has big openings and skylights to allow an ample amount of light inside the house throughout the day.

Courtyard House

It is also a crucial feature in Ahmedabad climate. Here light is essential, but not the heat. Screens and deep verandah protect these huge openings from harsh Sun. Verandahs also become wonderful outdoors spaces during relatively cool evenings and mornings. Courtyard House is made of RCC roof structure covered with wood. The verandah and upper rooms are also covered with wood. Floors are covered with natural marble stone and wooden planks. Custom designed doors and windows are made of wood and laminated glass. Basic principles of architecture have been applied to the house and use of art and art-objects make the spaces of ‘timeless’ quality. Architecture, interior & landscape design are done by HPA, thus The rooms and verandhas covered with wood, overlooking a central synchronised well with each other.

The Façade of Aerial Foliage

Building facade

The design for the house at Surat for a big joint family is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. We carefully crafted many small spaces, called dens, to give a family a place to explore one’s hobbies. The spaces were designed in order to connect the family at the same time provide the desired privacy too. The climate of Surat being hot and humid calls for competent ventilation as well as natural light. Since the plot being camouflaged by buildings from three sides, we had to offer various pockets at different levels, which aid in receiving proper ventilation and natural light.

The plot is linear and narrow, hence we had to majorly work in a 3-dimensional way, and emphasis on massing was one of the crucial aspects here. Hierarchy of spaces (open – semicovered – covered) has been taken into consideration while designing the house. The house comprises of 7 bedrooms for family members aging between 7- 70 years. Implementing our philosophy of greens and gardens, two small pockets of lush green gardens adorn the ground floor. Vertical gardens and a terrace deck with planters can be found on the double heighted family room on the the 1st floor.

Play of levels and volumes added a visual and spatial connection with the overall journey. Introduction of natural elements into the interior creates an interesting connection of landscape and interiors. The entire house is clad with natural stones (Travertine) to make it maintenance free. The internal floor spaces are finished with natural marble and wood. All the materials used is in its purest form. The house also showcases different art work promoting the work of the local artists.

The House with a Travertine Stone Wall

The House with a Travertine Stone Wall

The residences in Ahmedabad calls for competent cross ventilation as well as constant connection and openness to the outside green space, both physical and visual. The identity of the Parth Patel Residence is portrayed by the Travertine Stone wall on the entrance along with a rustic metal finish cladding that overlaps on the stone wall, which not only stands out but also prevents the sunlight to directly enter the house. Instead of creating dark, gloomy spaces, the residence has been planned in such a way that sunlight enters almost from all the directions so that the spaces inside are always lively and lit up. Implementing our philosophy of greens and gardens, we made sure that each room receives the view of the green spaces outside, along with natural light and cross ventilation to have a comfortable climate inside the house whilst battling the scorching heat outside. The house welcomes us with a huge double height entrance foyer and Statue of a Deity, along with a direct visual connection to the outside landscape.

The verandah connecting the garden is planned carefully and the water feature helps to create a cool environment around the verandah by a couple of degrees. Wooden louvered windows are placed on the outer façade of the master bedroom while sliding glass windows are placed on the inside that creates a buffer space to trap the heat so that the temperature inside the bedroom remains cooler by a couple of degrees. The louvered façade gives an interesting character in the elevation of the house. The roof above the master toilet is raised for the sole purpose to allow indirect light to enter inside and minimise the use of electricity in the daytime.

The identity of the residential project is portrayed by the Travertine stone wall on the entrance along with a rustic metal finish cladding that overlaps on the stone wall

The Curtain House 

The Curtain House

The basic idea behind the design of the Curtain House was to utilise the maximum area permissible under bylaws and spaces carved out from the cube to attain maximum light and ventilation. The outer skin was designed in order to filter out light at south façade. Provision of various pockets at different stratums aids in defining each space with its utility. Space is divided into three levels wherein the ground floor slots in for the parking area and, first floor slots in for all the common spaces and guest rooms and second floor covers of all the private spaces. The whole decorum of the house gives a very cosy impression of the internal spaces.

A very even character is given to the wood finishes and panelling which is very uniformly synchronised with the other elements of the house. The house is a perfect matrix of various elements like brass inlay, coloured tapestry, flamboyant paintings, illuminating light fixtures and various artworks to enhance the vigour of the house.

AR. Hiren Patel

Founder & Principal Architect,

Hiren Patel is an architect, interior and landscape designer known for his innovative designs that are in harmony with man, nature and materials. He has gone through several ups and downs in his 27 years of experience in this industry. But he still wakes up every morning determined to take any challenge head on. His philosophies include minimalism, exclusivity and sustainability, which are the essence of architecture. His eagerness to learn reflects in his persona as he takes pride in embracing change as he believes that it is the only constant in life. Hiren is also a vivid painter and makes big watercolour paintings inspired by landscapes. He is a teacher, mentor, friend and confidant to everyone who crosses paths with him. Ar. Hiren Patel talks about his design firm, his projects, his design principles and much more in a candid interview with Window and Façade Magazine (WFM).

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