Designing Tomorrow's Spaces
Ar. Goutaman Prathaban Co-Founder of Architecture Interspace
"In this interview, we delved into the multifaceted world of the Ar. Goutaman's architectural practice. From the emotional impressions they seek to convey through clean lines and a connection to nature to the role of digital design and technology in their context and culture-focused approach.
The value of collaborations with artists and craftsmen in enriching their projects was a highlight. Sustainability challenges and material palettes were also discussed, providing insights into their environmentally conscious design philosophy."- Editor
1. Delving deeper into your approach, each of your projects exudes clean lines, a connection to nature, and contemporary finishes. What emotional impressions do you aim to convey through your designs?
The elements you mentioned—clean lines, a connection to nature, and contemporary finishes—are very much integral to my design philosophy. My approach to architecture and design has always been rooted in creating spaces that evoke emotional responses using these elements. I believe that well-designed spaces should be calming and easy on the eye, creating a sense of balance and tranquillity. Clean lines and a sense of simplicity in my designs are meant to convey a feeling of harmony.
Nature has always been an endless source of inspiration for me. Natural light and green spaces combined with timeless materials can evoke feelings of serenity, rejuvenation, and a sense of being grounded. Contemporary finishes and materials not only reflect the modern world but also convey a sense of sophistication and timelessness. This can evoke a sense of luxury and comfort, making inhabitants feel like they are in a space designed for the present and future. I want my designs to cater to the evolving needs and lifestyles of the occupants. This adaptability can create a sense of empowerment, as the space can grow and change with its users, fostering a deep emotional connection over time.
Ultimately, my goal as an architect is to craft environments that resonate with people on an emotional level. I want occupants to feel a sense of belonging, comfort, and inspiration and eventually foster positive emotional impressions.
2. Let's discuss digital design and technology. In an architecture practice deeply rooted in context and culture, we're curious about the role digital design and technology play in your creative process.
The role of digital design and technology is both transformative and complementary to our creative process. While our core values revolve around respecting and responding to the unique context and cultural aspects of each project, we recognize that digital tools and technology have become indispensable for architects in today's design landscape. Digital technology is involved right at start at site analysis level where it allows us to collect, analyse and visualize data about unique contextual factors. Digital design tools enable us to explore a range of iterations of the design by varying the parameters and constraints. We also use these digital tools in simulating and analysing building performance – wind studies, solar studies and thermal gains, ventilation strategies – focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency.
Additionally, we create 3D visualizations and virtual reality walkthroughs that enable clients to experience the design in a more immersive way. As an interdisciplinary ‘Design & Build Studio’, we focus on innovative construction and fabrication techniques for which the digital tools and technology plays a pivotal role. It helps to coordinate complex construction processes, bring out the true essence of a material and optimize its usage, and ensure that the built form remains true to the design intent and contextual sensitivity.
3. Could you share instances where collaborating with artists or craftsmen has added value to your projects in some way?
We strongly believe in using the expertise in our local artists and craftsmen and incorporate their technical skills from an early design stage. The foundation of it was laid during my post graduate degree in Design Research Lab, Architectural Association, UK. The course was open to multi-disciplinary graduates and focussed on hands-on approach in allied fields related to architecture. This enabled me to engage with craftsperson and technicians of different professions. It involved everything from carpentry to metal works to robotics. This became the core value in our design practise.
We value the craftsperson’s expertise in devising new fabrication technique for the project. India being rich in craftsmanship, we thought it is best to use their expertise. They also help us investigate a material’s innate property and its unique fabrication technique to the fullest potential and make it integral to the design. You can see in developing the moulds for concrete modules in Façade project for the Auditorium and Project 159 West.
4. Regarding the integration of sustainability into your designs, what challenges do you encounter, and how do you overcome them?
We believe sustainable designs are the way forward in contemporary architecture. Integrating sustainability has been an ongoing experimentation in all our designs and fabrications. While it is a commendable goal, it does come with its fair share of challenges. The client’s budget and project timeline are the main factors that steer the sustainability aspect of any project.
We aim to incorporate sustainable factors in our design from a very early stage, for example, we perform wind studies, solar and thermal studies, daylight strategies, heating and cooling strategies during the planning stage so that it does not affect the planning, timeline or cost later in the project. We aim to understand the materials that would suit the project in terms of their lead times and embodied carbon and advise the client on the advantages of long-term efficiencies of a sustainable design. We advise our clients and help them understand the long-term benefits of a sustainable design in terms of building maintenance, cost and operations.
5. Can you elaborate on the materials you consider as your signature palette? Which materials do you particularly enjoy working with, or are there any you'd like to explore further?
Our palette has always been a response to the design brief. The material palette we pick always corresponds to the typology we design for. We have worked on a wide range of colour and materials ranging from concrete, wire cut bricks to Corten steel for the exterior to fabrics, recycled pipes etc for the interiors. We love to work with concrete. The material is so versatile and has lot of opportunities to be explored. It offers flexibility in multiple scales ranging from in-situ construction to precast modules to pigmentation and even 3d printing. We are now exploring the material further to understand its combination with other materials and reducing carbon footprint.
6. Balancing heritage and local context with a modern approach is crucial. How do you maintain this delicate equilibrium in your architectural work?
Analysing local context and surrounding heritage is the key start to any design project at our studio. We thoroughly research and understand the historical and cultural significance of the site and its surroundings. This includes studying the architectural styles, materials, and construction techniques used in the region's heritage buildings. The aim is to come up with a contemporary design yet feel rooted to the context through material significance and style. We love to embrace modern construction techniques that open lot of possibilities for both traditional and new age materials alike. This contemporary interpretation of the local architectural language creates a dialogue between the old and the new, showcasing the evolution of design while still paying homage to tradition.
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