60-second interview: Akshat Bhatt, principal architect, Architecture Discipline
Architecture Discipline’s latest is an urban regeneration project, commissioned by the Royal Family of Jodhpur and Motherland Joint Ventures. With an intention to restore the old Walled City of Jodhpur to its former glory, the project aims at breathing new life into its invaluable landmarks and livelihoods. Akshat Bhatt explains the process followed.
How do you approach a project that requires you to be sensitive of its legacy, while modernising its functional aspects?
What we have tried to do is to take symbols, materials and idioms from Jodhpur and abstract some of them, while placing the others within a space as a literal superimposition to remind the user of the architectural history and legacy of Jodhpur.
Looking beyond the clichés of the Blue City, the project endeavours to commence an inclusive urban revitalisation of the city to revive the momentous landmarks and encourage livelihood. The alliance of technology and sustainability guides the inclusive effort of revitalising the fortress city. An opportunity for integrating real estate development with architectural restoration has been explored through the creation of retail and cultural spots in the walled city, whilst preserving the inherent essence of the city.
Walk us through some of the 21 properties that you are tackling within this project?
Forest Essentials: A historic residential building was refurbished and adapted to house retail operations for the Indian cosmetics brand that bases its products on Ayurveda. The design scheme, in response, is replete with traditional and regional elements. The retail outlet also represents Art Deco in a contemporary chic avatar by exaggerating colour schemes and proportions.
Toorji Ka Jhalra: A decaying step-well in the heart of the city and the urban space surrounding it was turned into a retail and cultural hotspot. The stepwell, which dates to the 9th century, was filled to the brim with toxic water, which our team, in collaboration with the district collector, the Nagar Nigam, volunteers and local youth, cleaned up, revealing the architectural wonder buried underneath.
The Stepwell Café: Perched precariously at the top edge of the step-well, the café opens to the depths of Toorji Ka Jhalra on one side and the heights of Mehrangarh Fort on the other.