Designed by village-based architect Himanshu Patel from d6thD design studio, the eco resort is built with the overt principle of vernacular architecture.
The project is located on the edge of Gir lion sanctuary, is home to 20 triangular cottages built among old mango trees. The concern for climate as well as economic and cultural sustainability has been looked to incorporate into design without which sustainability may not work in the Indian context. Rather spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green building when very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford, architect have come up with simple, established and honest practice offered by vernacular architecture.
The old construction techniques like rubble stone packed foundation, load-bearing walls, arches, dome and pitched roofs have been used. Locally available materials like sand stones, bricks and terracotta tiles not only serve to be economical but also attempt to instil a feeling of pride and belongingness among the visitors.
The site was actually a mango farm having trees at 30ft interval in grid. Considering the huge foliage of mango trees, it was very challenging to build cottages without chopping out the trees and this constraint of the site became the source of creativity and ingenuity. The architect came up with the triangular-shaped cottages which took the place around mango trees effortlessly and beautifies the scheme. Also looking at an earthquake prone zone of the site location, using stable triangular form is wiser choice especially when the entire structure is built with load-bearing walls out of locally found sand stone in order to minimize the use of cement concrete.
As one enters the site, one is welcomed with a distant eye pleasing view of various plays of geometries and volumes but ambiguity and uncertainty hold one’s hand until one walks to a more distinguished reception area which is covered with dome and vibrantly glows with the rays of light from the skylight above.
All cottages are north-south oriented in order to take in the diffused north light in balconies from where the couple spends most of the time enjoying the panoramic view of the adjoined forest. What acts as a foyer space for the ground floor turns to be the balcony for the upper floor when the triangles are stacked systematically. A certain flavour of awe and possibility takes birth when one views the vastness of life from the converging triangular balconies. Moreover, L-shaped staircases leading to the upper floors add play and offers various perspectives to enjoy the beauty of solid stone mass created due to bathroom walls in south.
Centrally placed restaurant block on the site is designed to be the most flexible and comfortable to all. The central spiral stone pillar supporting the hexagonal roof acts as a pivot for the entire site wherein all activities smoothly flow around the block. The large brick arches of the dining hall interestingly frame the scenes of the exteriors and the extended outdoor seating sensitively blurs the boundaries of open and built.
The free-flowing spaces and the uninterrupted movements all minutely add up to create a drama wherein visitors’ inquisitiveness urges them to experience something unique and unexplored step by step.
The undisturbed, uncut mango trees proudly stand between the buildings which become an inseparable and important part of the architectural vocabulary. Inbuilt sit outs from sand stone below the mango tree allow for an intimate interface with the outdoors where one actually wouldn’t need a book.
Stone walls using locally available sand stone in its naked form gives the entire resort a very natural feel. Clay roofing tile and exposed stone surfaces will gradually get covered with radiant moss; nature will fight its way back. Living in a forest is all about witnessing this war.
When such simplicity and human craftsmanship is given the highest value, it is then that the architect’s idea of design comes to life and a resort like Gir Vihar starts to blossom to its ultimate potential.
Photography: Inclined studio
Project: Gir Vihar Eco Resort, Gujarat
Architects: d6thD Design Studio
Client: Mr. Vijay Talaviya
Principal Architect: Himanshu Patel
Drawings: Dashmeet, Nitin, Yohan
Text: Shubhangi Singla
Construction Team: Jagdish, Manu, Jitu
Built up area: 1600sq m
Cost of Project: Rs 2 crore
Year of Completion: 2020