Vastu-Shilpa Consultants
Architecture, Planning, Urban Design, Landscape and Interior Design
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Note on Design Philosophy
The work of our firm deals with the issue of form making, our purpose is to give form and significance to the fundamental human concerns that remain constant from period to period. The environmental problems that we face have changed dramatically in the recent past, yet mankind has not. It is the timeless qualities of human nature that provide a thread of continuity and familiarity amongst different cultures and different moments in history. In our view, it is the role of the architect to focus on these fundamental characteristics and needs to translate them into forms appropriate to their context and cultural milieu.

Alone among the arts, architecture offers both the opportunity and the obligation to explore issues of technical proficiency, aesthetic delight and human accommodation. Discourses on architecture treat aesthetics and technical concerns with certain ease, but issues of comfort, emotion, pleasure and pain do not easily find their way into discussion….. yet all buildings have the potential to elicit powerful responses from their inhabitants. To understand the link between our client's emotions and aspiration and the evocative aspect of built form is the basis of our architectural philosophy.

Developing a Program for Design
For us the design process begins with a period of familiarization, a period of the aspirations of our clients and codifying their specific goals. The summation of this will provide the basis for a critical appraisal of the final result.

Sometimes clients feel that it is their responsibility to develop a building program before commencing work with an architect. However, it has been our experience that the building program contains in it numerous design decisions decisions not necessarily understood as such. The architect brings to the programming discussion the ability to anticipate the physical implications of certain conceptual notions of how a facility is to function. Conversely certain functional considerations may only arise as one addresses the physical opportunities and constraints of a given site. To calibrate the client's needs and desires with the project budget is a critical undertaking that must be carried out and understood jointly.

The process of developing the program establishes between the architect and the client the possibility to establish a personal rapport and mutual respect for the particular roles of the each participant in the design process. If not already anticipated in the make-up of the team it usually becomes clear early on, that various forms of expertise will required to assist in developing the project. We have found that to engage considerations of the specialist at the onset of the work sets the stage for a properly balanced project.

Fundamental to our arriving at an appropriate brief is the study of similar projects world wide and a through analysis of their constraints and advances.

Approach to Design
To design a building is to synthesize a broad range of fundamental concerns: human accommodation, construction integrity, the economy of means questions of appearance and aesthetics. We are consciously committed to its inhabitants. The link between our projects has been the design of processes that created them. Each building derives its form from a very specific architectural response to its programmatic intent, site, environmental conditions and dialogue with its patrons.

A review of the project designed by us will reveal that we do not favour the imposition of any particular style on our work. The firm’s architecture is conceived not as a synthesized container of specific activities but as a place to be inhabited, as a place to facilitate the course of human environment, the ultimate resolution of the form maintains a level of independence and presence that is unique to itself. It is the tensions between these seemingly contradictory qualities that is the genesis for our search for architectural form.

Central to our search for an appropriate architecture has been the attitude towards energy. All our projects have evolved around themes which highlight the conservation of energy whether it is human or mechanical. The use of local materials, craft persons and appropriate technologies has been an extension of these attitude.

Not only have we endeavored to optimise available technologies but have constantly emphasized the adoption of new and innovative ways of building and alternative materials.

The firm places an important emphasis of urban design as an approach to the design of individual building, rather than focussing on simple projects as isolated elements. This holistic and comprehensive approach to design has been the objective in all our master plans at al scales and encompasses detailed site studies, transportation studies, the context and the surroundings.

We have noted that numerous events in contemporary society have conspired against building construction as a craft oriented enterprise. The often heard condemnation of contemporary architecture as inhuman is partly due to the deterioration of building quality and lack of attention to the kinds of details that we experience such as when we open or close a window or run our hand along a door frame. It has been one of our objectives to restore the craft of building to the process of both design and implementation. A thing made well will work better, age gracefully, and be better appreciated by its users.

Considering architecture mainly as an art form, the participation of the artists and crafts people at the inception of projects has become a goal we like to actively pursue in all our future projects with the conviction that from these joint efforts architecture acquires a more precise and comprehensive expression reflective of the cultural perspectives and values of the time. In addition, creating a link between the artist and the building tradesman will serve to raise aspirations regarding quality workmanship and the building.

Methodology of Working
A tightly knit working method and design philosophy has resulted from limiting the size of the firm and by having substantial participation in all projects by the principals. In the same vein we have developed and consistently embraced a design methodology that revolves around design teams framed at the outset of each project. It is not enough to arrive at a design concept and then to treat the design development and working drawings as an independent activity. The development of design details follows from the conceptual decisions also develop construction details for the building review fabrication drawings and observe construction at the job site along with the various specialists and consultants added on board at the inception of the job.

As the work progresses through the design phases, close contact with the client is maintained to assure that there is agreement at every step on the way. There is nothing more troubling than to reach a point where the client feels that he or she is not being heard – or that the design is not responsive to the stated needs.

An essential part of this philosophy is the construction of scale models and of full scale mockups to make decisions jointly with the client about the building. At this stage alternative specifications, construction techniques appropriate monitoring schedules can be fine-tuned with the contracting agencies to prepare detailed construction documents. Greater involvement, greater care and more testing at this stage, we have found, pays tremendous dividend at the later stages.

In fact the success of any project depends on effective construction, contracting, logistic planning and co-ordination. There has to be a more detailed planning of the distribution of the construction of the construction activities over time on a critical path basis to meet the overall schedule targets. The client must develop the means of monitoring the progress vis a vis the construction plan as well as cost and cash flow requirements compared to the budget. A management information system is essential to give early warning of potential deviations from the plan and assist the client the to correct the deviations.

As a rule we stress post-occupancy evaluation so that our clients and us get a true feedback on the assumptions we have proceeded along and adjustments and further improvements that can be added as the various phases proceed.

In summary, it may be said that architecture for our firm is fundamentally a social enterprise. The form it takes is a result of personal expression informed by history, culture and human behavior, is the way in which it is appropriated by its inhabitants. And secondly, the degree to which it is imbibed with a timeless and memorable presence.


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By  Seven Hill Naturstien Ltd.
Planet - Earth