Modern minimalism

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Goa-based Raya Shankhwalker Architects, a multidisciplinary boutique architecture and design studio sees each new project as an opportunity for a new design expression rather than being shackled to a singular style By Steena Joy

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Raya Shankhwalker

Raya Shankhwalker Architects draws significantly from the local culture and context while having an inherent clean, functional modern design expression leveraging the use of local, eco-friendly materials and techniques. Raya Shankhwalker, principal architect, says, “For us the use of local material and crafts in an essential part of design and adds accent to the modern minimal design. It also help to reflect the spirit of a place where the property is located. We constantly seek to use local arts and crafts in our efforts to conserve and revive them. Architecture to us must not only create wonderful spaces to live, work and play but it must be a key participant in the shaping of the built environment and the sustainability of our planet.”

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The architect feels that hospitality design has evolved significantly in recent years with the advent of large multinational luxury hospitality chains. He says, “These multinational hospitality chains have brought in some very modern design into Indian hospitality industry. However their overtly modern approach has brought in a certain degree of coldness in the look and feel of their hotels. However there has not been any significant change in the design and context of mid range hotels in India. The world over this segment has seen tremendous change with the shedding of non essential frills to reduce price points and bringing in a chic design sensibility.”

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The firm has recently designed ‘Soro The Village Pub’ located in Assagao, Goa. With a plot area of 3,000 sq ft, the design of this structure is centered around the concept of a 1940’s warehouse owned by a local dealer who traded in different merchandise. “Retaining as much of the original structure as possible became pivotal. The three walls that stand at the junction of the roads abutting the site have been left largely untouched. Their dilapidated charm became the perfect opportunity to create an understated entrance into the young, hip, industrial chic bar that unfolds within. The interior walls have been brought to life with vintage graffiti by Patanga Arts, a Mumbai based set design company,” explains  Shankhwalker. Bold elements of graphic design were introduced into the flooring by using an eclectic array of cement tiles in a customised pattern. All the ducting and electrical piping was left exposed carrying forward the theme of the industrial warehouse.

Sustainable spaces

Commenting on how architecture and design can help build sustainable environments, Shankhwalker opines, “Architecture and design has a big role in environment conservation. It is important for each designer to use all efforts in using energy efficient material and techniques and also reduce the wasteful use of resources. The use of glass facades indiscriminately in India appalls me when tropical conditions calls for sun shading. Glass on facades adds greatly to cooling costs. It is important to think of designing facades in a manner that one can create great design and yet not add to the carbon footprint.”

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The firm has also designed the Sinq Beach Club and Sinq Hotel in Goa. Sinq Beach Club is a luxury club which has multiple venues for indoor, outdoor and pool parties. The large complex comprises of an indoor nightclub, sprawling split level outdoor party decks with a large bar pavilion and a 100 ft party pool with wrapping around contemporary tropical cabanas and the Tavern, a retro-modern Goan bar.

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The Sinq Party Hotel is India’s first party hotel and is located within the precincts of the Sinq Beach Club. This hotel has thirty two party rooms and suites with a vibrant, chic and minimal design. Each of these rooms are equipped with a large bar with a bottle display unit and fitted out to transform into a private discotheque at the press of a few buttons, complete with club quality sound experience. The music played by the DJs of Sinq Beach Club are piped live into the rooms to enhance the clubbing experience. Giving his insights on the eternal minimalism versus maximalism debate, the architect comments, “Minimalism is the very basis of modern design and there is no doubt in my mind that it’s the age of minimal design in hospitality too. We believe that far too much money is being spent per key on hotels in India and this puts tremendous pressure on the viability of the project. The power of design can allow for maximum effect through appropriate minimal design.”

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