Showcasing the versatility of the local brick, the Red Oasis by PMA madhushala is a transformative space of interaction and wellbeing in a packed neighbourhood
The course of globalization has seen the need to find homes for the ever increasing population grow exponentially. In the process, we have created jungles of look-alike buildings expecting the immense diversity to inhabit, adapt and surrender to this monotonous fate. The expectation of a home has largely become a mere four wall requirement, rather than a promotion of social wellbeing and interactive involvement with the surrounding ecosystem. Architecture holds the power to transform this perception and show people what their lives can be, despite economic barriers. When people start to identify with it, all future developments will be expected to comply, and that is when sustainability in every aspect will begin to bloom.
The ‘Red Oasis’ is an experiment in that direction. It celebrates a small open space in a densely packed neighbourhood of residential complexes, and tries to create an ideal for an alternative lifestyle. By understanding the current ways of life of the people, an alternate program was created consisting of a multifunctional community hall, a playground, a library, seating areas, walking pathways, an open-air amphitheatre and a temple. With a total area of 715 sq m, this was the only open space left after the mass construction projects that surround it. The design philosophy was thus focused around maintaining that open space and building with minimal footprint. Accordingly, the major part of the project is covered in greens and trees that enclose and detach it from the surrounding, creating an ecosystem within itself.
In an attempt to build an oasis, the project intends to contrast itself from its neighbourhood and showcase the versatility and potential of the local brick, along with its economic advantage. The structure intends to intensively experiment with the brick’s versatility and was crafted on site engaging the local labour, thus promoting a circular economy. The project comes together as a monolithic composition of a single module (the brick), used in varied combinations based on different functions. In the open spaces, the brick folds and moulds with the floors, walls and plinths, creating spaces for seating, walkways, planters and more.
The only enclosed volumetric requirement of the community hall was treated as a shade or pavilion, and was taken further lower into the ground to minimise its dominance over the rest of the space. The long walls of the pavilion are built in 9-inch thick brickwork, with the walls curved to achieve the required centre of gravity and minimise the material use. These are then made porous with traditional jalis and openings to maintain a passive source of air movement. In an attempt to perpetuate the ecology, the brickwork drains within itself, directing the rainwater from across the space to a storage tank. Planters are also detailed within the walls of the pavilion to enhance its connection with the surrounding greens. The additional materials required in the project for the roof, doors and furniture was sourced from the metal scraps of the nearby construction waste.
Now standing in their full form, the unrendered bricks naturally weather and transform as life dwells around them over time. The project is an abode of enthusiasm amidst the lethargy of everyday life. It is an escape from reality, an oasis in the desert.
Photography Accreditation: Hemant Patil
Project: The Red Oasis, Pune
Architects: PMA madhushala, Pune
Client: Ankit Soni
Design team: Naresh Shivakoti, Prasanna Morey
Structural designer: Subduction Zone Consultants
Site area: 715 sq m
Built-up area: 150 sq m
Year of completion: 2020